Bucharest

Where to Stay, When to Go, Why Pick Bucharest - Tips from a Digital Nomad

The Romanian capital of Bucharest was known as ‘Little Paris’ during the 1930’s but a series of events starting with the allied bombings during WWII followed by the Communist-era and then the Romanian Revolution meant that much of beautiful Bucharest was destroyed. The destruction that led to years of austerity wasn’t all down to man either, mother nature struck the city not once but twice with strong earthquakes.

But today Bucharest is bouncing back, with its mismatched buildings of Parisian-style Baroque architecture, Communist-era housing, and modern glass structures, the city is emerging from its dark past into a vibrant cosmopolitan city that’s dynamic and fun.

With its picturesque narrow cobbled streets  the restored old town, known as Centrul Vechi, is full of museums, shops, cafes, bars, and local life to keep visitors happy as they discover that Bucharest is much more than simply a gateway to Transylvania.

Visit Bucharest to discover vibrant nightlife, cool street art, and a trendy street cafe scene. See the elegant tree-lined avenues with art nouveau villas. Visit the 17th and 18th century Orthodox churches to catch a glimpse of the past golden-era and marvel at the gigantic Palace of Parliament and the towering Memorial of Rebirth.

Despite all that it has to offer visitors, Bucharest still hasn’t quite made it as a mainstream city break destination but that time is sure to come soon making now the perfect time to visit!

The capital of Romania is a city of contrast and conflict, a long history of shifting dynamics readily apparent in its mix of architecture and emerging cultural scene. While Bucharest has often in the past been defined by its imposing, Communist-era structures, this is also a city of hidden gems: vibrant bars and terraces are tucked away amongst elegant 19th and 20th-century villas, working neighborhoods have transformed into trendy culinary hotspots, and ancient churches rub elbows with Byzantine mansions.

Where to Stay in Bucharest

Bucharest is now also blessed with a good public transportation system, which makes searching for the perfect neighbourhood a rather enjoyable task; there is so much of this fun city to explore, after all. Whether its green spaces, exquisite architecture, or boisterous nightlife you’re after, somewhere, Bucharest certainly has the answer.

[Top Pick] Lipscani: Dating back to 1459, Lipscani is Bucharest’s oldest neighbourhood and one that is nowadays known best as ‘the old centre’. Perversely, this is also the place to go to sample the best of the city’s nightlife: housed in fully renovated buildings behind stunning facades lie some of Europe’s best bars, terraces, and clubs.

[Second Pick] Tineretului: Developed by the younger generations of the city – including students – in the 1960s, Tineretului was originally designed as a worker’s neighbourhood. Now it is a lively residential district, with its location and proximity to the centre making it one of the most popular, too.

Centrul Civic: A grand vision brought to life by Romania’s former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, this neighbourhood, divided by the imposing Unirii Boulevard, is largely characterized by concrete apartment buildings and fading marble. Recently, however, a more upbeat vibe is starting to emerge, thanks to lively terraces and small, funky shops taking root amongst the cracks of the area’s stern facades. You can also find some gems for eating too, such as a restaurant serving excellent traditional food in a 1914 Neo-Romanian villa.

Cotroceni: Cotroceni is a sought-after neighbourhood, and one of Bucharest’s most charming. It is largely residential, with well-preserved 19th-century villas lining cool, tree-filled avenues. It’s also where the city’s Botanical Gardens are situated, as well as the official residence of the president Palatul Cotroceni.

Dacia: The elegant Dacia boulevard links Piata Romana with Calea Mosilor, and its villas showcase some of Bucharest’s best examples of 19th and20th-century architecture. It’s also a popular residential area for well-off locals, with some upmarket hotels and restaurants on offer.

Dorobanți: Dorobanți is one of the capital’s wealthiest areas, but it actually makes for a nice wander while admiring the many, very impressive, villas and embassy buildings. There are also a number of appropriately upscale eateries offering quality brunches and vegan fare in the neighbourhood, too.

Dristor/Titan: Dristor and Titan are popular for their convenience, with great transportation options, malls, restaurants, and the lovely Titan Park. By metro, it’s close to the Old Town, and all the local amenities in the area are within an easy walking distance of each other.

Floreasca: A neighbourhood in the process of a transformation, this area is distinctive not only for its mix of architectures but also for being one of Bucharest’s greenest. Floreasca boasts many beautiful parks and green spaces, including the fabulous Gradina Floreasca which plays host to numerous live concerts throughout the summer months. You can also find some of the best restaurants in the city, offering a range of flavours and cuisines.

Piata Revolutiei: Historically significant, Piata Revolutiei was the site of Nicolae Ceausescu’s final moments as the leader of the country, and now the square is dominated by a large monument to the revolutionary movement. There’s a wealth of other quite wonderful architecture to marvel at too, such as the former Royal Palace, which is now the National Art Museum.

Primăverii: Another affluent and exclusive district, the very fashionable Primăverii is actually home to some of the country’s former presidents. It’s also home to what was once the Primăverii Palace and Nicolae Ceausescu’s former residence, which is now a museum that’s well worth a visit.

Rahova: Regarded by some as a physical representation of the city’s transformation before and after the Communist regime, Rahova is certainly worth a visit. Echoes of Bucharest’s eclectic past as a cultural melting pot are still very much a contributing factor to the authentic charm of this neighbourhood, and it’s a great place to see the changes that the city has undergone in recent years.

Universitate: The area gets its name from Bucharest University, which presides over the large square and the heart of the city. The square has been the scene of much fierce conflict and revolution throughout the years of Bucharest’s turbulent history – now, the streets surrounding it are full of kooky bars and fun little cafes. The Old Town is directly south of the square, too.

How to Get a Visa to Bucharest

Deciding on the right Romanian visa to suit your purposes can be challenging due to the many different types available. In this post, we will break down the various types of Romanian visa and detail the different documents needed to apply for them, as well as giving you the information you need to extend them.

Who Needs a Romanian Visa?

Passport holders from a list of 59 countries which includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States do not require a visa to enter Romania. The length of stay permitted varies with each country and should be checked with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or at your local Romanian embassy. Some examples have been given below;

United States – Stays of up to 90 days are permitted

Canada – Stays of up to 3 months are permitted

When this period has expired, if you wish to remain in the country, you may apply for an extension of your right of stay.

Airport Transit Visa (A)

The Airport Transit Visa permits the holder to transit the international area of airports and remain there until boarding the plane to the destination. The Airport Transit Visa is only required by the following passport holders;

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Syria
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka

 A few exemptions from the obligation to obtain an airport transit visa exist such as if you are family members of an EU citizen or if you hold a diplomatic passport. To be eligible to apply for this visa, you will need to provide the following documentation;

  • Evidence showing your intention not to enter the territory of the member states
  • Proof of the continuation of your journey to your final destination following your intended airport transit

Transit Visa (B)

The Transit Visa allows the holder to enter Romania for transit purposes and stay for a duration of no longer than 5 days. This visa may be issued for multiple transit periods providing that each period is no longer than 5 days in duration.

To be eligible for the Transit Visa, you will need to supply;

  • A visa for your destination country (if required).
  • Travel tickets to your destination or a driver’s license, registration documents of your vehicle and green card identifying the owner, and the country of destination and country to be transited.

Short-Stay Visa (C)

The short-stay (C) visa permits you stays in Romania of up to 90 days in any 180-day period and can be issued for several different travel purposes;

Tourism (C/M)

The Tourism Visa can be issued to foreign nationals who wish to visit Romania for the purpose of tourism. To be eligible to apply for this visa, you need to supply the following documentation;

  • Trip itinerary including a valid travel ticket to your destination OR a driver’s license, green card and registration documents for a mode of transport (it is not necessary to produce these documents if you are accompanying somebody who can evidence them).
  • Proof of financial sustenance for your stay unless you can prove full payment of accommodation and food in advance.
  • Travel medical insurance.

Business (C/A)

The Business Visa can be issued to visitors who are travelling to Romania for business purposes such as economic and commercial reasons, to negotiate contracts, training Romanian nationals, or for investment purposes. To be eligible to apply for the Romanian Business Visa, you will need to evidence the following documentation;

  • A valid travel ticket to your destination OR a driver’s license, green card and registration documents for a mode of transport (it is not necessary to produce these documents if you are accompanying somebody who can evidence them).
  • An invitation letter from a company in Romania for the participation in business meetings, conferences, fairs, or trade- or industry-related congress that states that your expenses will be covered in the event that you do not exit Romania before your visa expiry date.
  • Proof of financial sustenance
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Proof of accommodation

Other Short-Stay Visas

  • Transport (C/TR)
  • Sport (C/SP)
  • Visit (C/VV)
  • Official mission (C/M)
  • Cultural, scientific and humanitarian activities, AND short-term medical treatment (C/ZA)

It should be noted that, as a holder of a short-stay visa, you do not have the right to extend your stay beyond the 90 days granted.

Long-Stay Visa (D)

A long-stay visa permits the holder to enter Romania and stay for a duration of up to 90 days and the right to apply for permanent residency.

Employment (D/AM)

The Romanian Employment Visa may be issued to foreign nationals who are employed by an employer in Romania and authenticates their right to work in the country. This visa can be obtained for permanent or seasonal employment positions.

To be eligible to apply for the employment visa, you must supply the following evidence;

  • Proof of financial sustenance (must meet the national minimum gross salary for the duration of the visa).
  • Criminal record check
  • Medical insurance for the duration of the visa
  • In the case of an employment visa issued for seasonal work where the employer does not provide accommodation, you must provide proof of accommodation that shows adequate living standards for the duration of the visa.

Upon obtaining an employment permit from your employer in Romania, you have 60 days in which to apply for the employment visa. In cases such as these, the Employment Visa shall be approved within 10 days of your application submission.

Studies (D/SD)

The Romanian Study Visa can be obtained for undertaking pre-university, university or post-university studies at a Romanian educational institute accredited by law. Certain documentation is required for the student visa application.

In the case of students;

  • Proof of acceptance onto an educational course form an accredited institute of education in Romania
  • Receipt of payment of the course tuition fees for a minimum of one year
  • Proof of financial sustenance (must meet the national minimum net salary for the duration of the visa)
  • Criminal record check
  • Medical insurance (must cover the full duration of the visa)
  • Parents’ or foster parents’ approval of studies in Romania if you are underage

In the case of exchange students;

  • Proof of acceptance onto an educational course form an accredited institute of education in Romania
  • Proof of your attendance on a student exchange program operated by an organisation in accordance with national law
  • Proof of financial support and the provision of any costs related to repatriation from the organisation
  • Medical insurance (must cover the full duration of the visa)
  • Proof of accommodation with a family that has been chosen by the organisation
  • Parents’ or foster parents’ approval of studies in Romania if you are underage

Note:

  1. If you are granted a scholarship by the Romanian state you are not required to provide evidence of financial sustenance or tuition fee payment
  2. If you are of Romanian origin you do not need to provide proof of financial sustenance
  3. You must be aged between 7 and 19 years to be eligible for this visa

Other Long-Stay Visas

  • Economic activities (D/AE)
  • Professional activities (D/AP)
  • Commercial activities (D/AC)
  • Secondment (D/DT)
  • Family reunification (D/VF)
  • Religious activities (D/AR)
  • Scientific research activities (D/CS)
  • Other purposes (D/AS)

All visa applications can be made in person at your local Romanian embassy or submitted to the diplomatic mission/consular post of Romania online via the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs eVisa website.

If you’d like to get more information on these visas or on any other visa we have mentioned in this post, please visit your local Romanian embassy for the latest updates before booking your trip as immigration rules and regulations change frequently and without notice.

Extending Your Romanian Visa in Bucharest

If you hold a long-stay visa, you can make an official request to extend your stay or to apply for permanent residence at the Romanian Office for Immigration which is a section of the Romanian Ministry of Administration and Interior. You must submit your application in person at least 30 days before your current visa expiry date.

Short-stay visas cannot be extended.

Ministry of Internal Affairs Bucharest: Piata Revolutiei nr.1 A, sect. 1, Bucharest

Overstaying Your Romanian Visa

Overstay occurs when you remain in the country beyond the expiry date stated on your visa. Overstaying your visa can lead to fines, ban on entry and even detainment. Always double-check your exit date and apply for all extensions in good time as a late extension application will not be deemed a valid excuse for overstaying by the Romanian authorities and you will have to leave the country.

Best Time of Year to Visit

Bucharest experiences all 4 seasons of weather throughout the year with hot summers and cold winters, sometimes with heavy snowfall. The best time to visit Bucharest is late Spring – early Summer (April-June) or early to mid Autumn (September-October) to enjoy the most comfortable weathers without the extremes of summer or the lows of winter.

Spring: March-May

You never know what March will bring in terms of weather, it could be snowing early in the month or it could be very mild. From April and throughout May the temperatures rise making this a very pleasant time to explore the city, though do expect some spring showers, especially in May. Spring is a time of fun, festivals and fairs, the end of March witnessing the Freedom Dance Festival followed by the Bucharest Dance Festival at the end of April and then the Bucharest Jazz competition in the middle of May, with Easter in between all that. You’ll be able to see rituals and traditions going on around you throughout Spring, particularly with Martisor – a small red and white decoration that should be worn or carried all through March and tied to a blossoming tree in April.

Summer: June-August

The temperatures climb higher with the arrival of June, peaking in July and August, the hottest months of the year with nights almost as hot as the days which can make for an uncomfortably sticky stay. There’s plenty going on though and the heat doesn’t deter the tourists too much, this being a busy time due to vacationing Americans and Europeans. An array of music festivals take place over the Summer months with the folk music festival Outernational Days in July complete with gypsy orchestras, Zutopia in August plus Time Shift and Summer Well, both popular international music festivals.

Autumn: September-November

The temperatures gradually fall through September making this a pleasant time to visit, not too hot, but not chilly either. October and November are variable, sometimes feeling miserable due to grey rainy days, November turning chilly especially at night. Culturally, the city is still alive with activity with plenty of exhibitions and concerts taking place. Heavy metal music fans will be in their element during these months with Folk & Metal Fest taking place in late September and Old Grave Fest in the middle of October. Wine is also a big thing at this time of the year due to the grape harvesting season, enjoy a glass from a clay glass as you chat with local winemakers who ladle it out from their big vats.

Winter: December-February

Winters in Bucharest vary, they’re either relatively mild with little snowfall or freezing cold with a lot of snow, January being the coldest month with temperatures dropping below freezing. The Christmas/New Year period is an exciting time to be in the city, if you wrap up warm, with Christmas markets, Christmas lights, kids going door-to-door singing carols and many other festivities all wrapped up as the clock strikes 12 at midnight on the 31st December. After the New Year Celebrations the city settles down again becoming rather quiet – This generally being the worst time of year to visit because there’s not so much going on, people are staying indoors, some of the tourist attractions are closed and the snow can disrupt transport.

Bucharest’s Best Festivals

Bucharest is the dynamic, energetic and fun capital of Romania. Visitors will be able to see this energy through the variety of different festivals on offer which are designed to entertain all kinds of people. Although not well known, Bucharest has many areas to explore – attending one of these festivals is a great place to start!

Youth and Children Dance Festival (March) – The main objective of this festival is to promote  preschool children and young amateurs with skills in the cultural, sports and entertainment fields. This includes having some form of dancing as a specific activity in school. There are special prizes awarded during this festival including, biggest group, most beautiful costumes and best artistic impression.

Bucharest International Light Festival “Spotlight” (April) – This festival sees Bucharest transformed into an open air light art exhibition. Visitors will be able to enjoy more than 25 different light art installations and projections.

Bucharest Wine Fair “Revino” (May) – An international trade fair for wine and spirits which aims to draw in companies that manufacture, import and distribute wine and alcoholic beverages. Visitors will be able to find in-depth information about the latest developments, trends and products from these specialised fields.

EuropaFest (May) – EuropaFest is a unique 10-day event that aims to liven up the musical scene. Visitors will be able to enjoy over 300 musicians from around 26 different countries across Europe. Genres include, jazz, blues, pop and classical. There will be also be a chance to attend workshops for those who want to learn more.

Bucharest Jazz Festival (May) – A 7-day festival that offers visitors free concerts and events across Bucharest. Visitors can expect to enjoy well-known names in the international jazz world, young talents, journalists, theoreticians, musicians and jazz specialists in live concerts.

Bucharest Burger Festival (May) – BurgerFest offers visitors 3 days of burgers, music and beautiful green scenery. Up to 3,500 people can attend this festival to enjoy a relaxing atmosphere with their friends and family. Expect to simply be able to enjoy a refreshing beer with a burger and live music.

East European Comic Con (May) – Comic Con is a speculative fan fiction convention held annually. It is one of the most important events in Romania and is dedicated to fans of comics, animations, video games, TV series and much more. Those attending this event will be able to take part in contests, video screenings and sessions with movie and comic celebrities.

Bucharest International Jazz Competition (May) – Bucharest Jazz Competition is ranked as the second most popular jazz contest in Europe and the third in the world! The competition gathers bands from 4 different continents to come together and perform jazz concerts, host jam sessions, workshops and more.

Museums Night (May) – On Museums Night in Bucharest, over 40 museums and cultural spaces will open their doors to visitors during the night. This event is often free of charge, with visitors being given the chance to attend tours, visit exhibitions and attend various craft workshops. Some museums will also host music and dance performances, as well!

Green Hours Jazz Festival (May) – Green Hours Jazz Festival has been described as one of the most important landmarks on the Bucharest music scene. With over a decade of experience under its belt, visitors can expect a very daring program that brings together international artists in a beautifully bohemian atmosphere.

Bucharest International Film Festival (June) – This is a 6-day film festival that presents visitors with screenings of quality movies. Bucharest Film Festival is organised into several sections to cover the essentials of the filmmaking industry and is also comprised of workshop open to anyone who wishes to attend.

Bucharest International Air Show (July) – Over 300 airplanes will put on a show for visitors. White Wings are a two-sail band and they have attended many world championships and international competitions. The Blue Wings are a paratroopers band that will reveal, in air, the tricolour flag of 400s. This festival is perfect for anyone who appreciated aircrafts.

Summer Well Music Festival (August) – Although not directly in Bucharest, this festival only takes place 14 miles Northwest of it. Those who love alternative-style music will fit right in at this 2-day event. This festival is normally hosted at Stirbey Domain, which is probably one of the most beautiful green spaces around the Bucharest area.

George Enescu Festival (September) – This festival is the biggest classical music festival and classical international competition held in Romania. It is also one of the biggest classical events in all of Eastern Europe. The George Enescu Festival is held in the memory of George Enescu, who is a celebrated Romanian composer. In each edition of the festival, around 20 works of Enescu are interpreted across 3 different venues in Bucharest and elsewhere in Romania. Visitors will be joined by over 4,000 others.

Theatre Undercloud (September) – Undercloud provides an alternative for those who would rather a less formal theatre experience. It prides itself on being simple, straightforward and distancing itself from anything artificial.

Bucharest PhotoFest (October) – This is the most important international photography festival in Romania. Visitors will be able to enjoy several exhibition spaces and a great opportunity to join others in trying to perceive a better world.

Bucharest Auto Show (October) – Bucharest Auto Show brings together over 100 different exhibiting companies. The event usually takes place at Romaero Baneasa centre and showcases the latest automobile novelties.

Author

Tal Gur is a world traveler and personal development enthusiast. An adventurer at heart, after trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, Tal spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey continues as a location-independent blogger, lifestyle entrepreneur, and coach. Tal’s published two books: One Year to Freedom, a 1-Year Roadmap to Living Life on Your Own Terms; and, his most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living – 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World.

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