In between the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube River lies Romania’s capital city of Bucharest. Just two decades on from Communist rule, Bucharest is growing into a sophisticated city. Amongst the bland, endless grey apartment blocks and municipal buildings that were constructed during the Communist era, you’ll find art galleries, world-class museums, parks and wide boulevards, modern chains like Starbucks, and some gorgeous Neo-classical buildings.
There is no port in Bucharest: passengers are transferred either from its closest port, the Port of Giurgiu on the Danube River, or the main Romanian port in Costanza, on the western coast of the Black Sea. The port of Giurgiu is a 1-hour bus-ride from Bucharest. The bus trip from Costanza to Bucharest takes 3 to 4 hours.
In Giurgiu, cruise ships dock on the Danube at the port located on Street Portului 1. Many shops and facilities are close to the port on both the Romanian and Bulgarian sides of the Giurgiu-Ruse Friendship Bridge.
In Costanza, the passenger pier is located 800 metres from the main entrance of the harbour and 1.5 kilometres from the town centre. Taxis are available from the main gate.
How To Get Around
Bucharest is easy to navigate as the roads and public transport systems are very similar to their western counterparts. The entire city is well covered by a network of buses, trams, trolleys and subway trains.
Travel times from the main train station (București Gara de Nord):
- It is a 24 minute journey to Cotroceni Palace
- It is a 24 minute journey to Cismigiu Gardens.
- It is a 6 minute journey to Cotroceni Palace
- It is a 6 minute journey to Cismigiu Gardens
- It is a 7 minute journey to Palatul Parlamentului.
- It is an 8 minute journey to Cotroceni Palace
- It is a 10 minute journey to Palatul Parlamentului.
- Currency – The currency in Bucharest is the Leu (L); Lei is used for the plural. Leu are divided into 100 bani (singular ‘ban’). Notes come in L1, L5, L10, L50, L100 and L500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 5, 10 and 50 bani pieces. Romanian currency is unable to be sold or purchased outside of Romania, so remember to convert your Leu into the currency of your choice before leaving the country.
- Time Zone – Bucharest follows Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC); daylight savings changes Bucharest to 2 hours ahead of UTC between March and October.
- Weather – Bucharest enjoys a humid continental climate, with warm to hot summers, windy winters and a dry summer season. July is the hottest month in Bucharest, with temperatures reaching an average high of 22 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month, with an average high of only -2 degrees Celsius.
- Cotroceni Palace – The official residence of the president of Romania, Cotroceni Palace is surrounded by security guards. Visitors must ring ahead to book their tour and bring their passport as a security deposit. Built in the late 19th century by Carol I, this palace is ornate and decorated in various styles, from gilded Corinthian columns, to an Oriental art room and the German New Renaissance dining room. During the Communist era under Ceausescu’s dictatorship, the palace was used as a training ground where young leaders were taught the ways of Communism. It was devastated by an earthquake in 1977 and restored shortly after.
- Palace of Parliament (Palatul Parlamentului) – This gigantic, concrete square building, with its dramatic classical façade, is the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon) and has a unique history. Communist dictator Ceausescu began constructing the building in 1984 and intended to use it as his seat of political power, as well as his home. However, the building’s construction came to a halt following the execution of Ceausescu in 1989. The Romanian Government considered tearing the palace down, but realised it was cheaper to complete the building. Today, it houses the Romanian Parliament, as well as the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Much of this gigantic building remains unused. Visitors must bring their passports with them for an ID check prior to taking a tour.
- Bucharest City Walking Tour – Discover the history and charms of Bucharest in this half-day walking tour. You’ll visit the Village Museum (with exhibits on life in a traditional Romanian village), various architectural works, and Parisian-style boulevards, as well as getting the chance to learn about Bucharest’s Communist Era. The tour visits all the major historical attractions in Bucharest — including the Palace of Parliament and the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral — before ending in Revolution Square, the site of the end of the Communist period in 1989.