After spending 3 months in Brazil we decided to hop around Eastern Europe for a few weeks before heading back “home” to Chiang Mai.
Getting from São Paulo to Budapest ended up being a very long trip!
We almost always fly using our miles, and because of this, our options are sometimes limited with flights. We ended up flying overnight São Paulo to Miami (with a 12-hour layover in Miami), then a second overnight flight from Miami to Zurich, and finally Zurich to Budapest!
Our trip consisted of stays in Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; and Sofia, Bulgaria. While we had a great time in all three cities I decided to only film enough for a video while in Bucharest.
Of all three cities we visited, we spent the most time in Bucharest (about 9 days!) and really enjoyed our time there! For about €100 each we took a 16-hour overnight train in a private sleeper compartment from Budapest to Bucharest. It was well worth the extra money for the private sleeper compartment because we both slept at least 6 hours of the train ride. The train stops for about 45 mins before and after crossing into Romania for passport control checks in each country (Romania is a non-Schengen state).
Once we arrived in Bucharest we were pleasantly surprised by how much nicer the train station, Gara de Nord, was in comparison to the station, Keleti pályaudvar, in Budapest. We had a really cute studio apartment which we rented from AirBnB. It was located about a 15-minute walk from the Old Town area where we spent most of our time and it was only steps away from a large “non-stop” supermarket (which we learned means the same thing as “open 24 hours”).
Our favorite spots and things to do in Bucharest:
- Therme Bucharest
Without a doubt, Therme was our absolute favorite thing about Bucharest. Therme is an indoor / outdoor waterpark, thermal spa, and pool bar plus so much more. This is an absolute must in Bucharest. We spent 2 days at Therme and easily could have come back for another day there. Apart from the 7+ waterslides (with no wait!), the wave pool, the relaxing (and kid-free) indoor to outdoor pools with several bars, the multiple thermal mineral pools, saunas, salt room, and steam rooms never left us bored! They even have game systems, water massage chairs, outdoor hammocks, lounge chairs, restaurants, and MORE bars! We spent about $30 USD per person on our first day there and this included: rental of two towels, unlimited access of all areas of Therme, and 4 beers! We spent even less on our second visit because we only visited two of the three sections.
- Old Town
The Old Town district of Bucharest is very touristy but fun! It is very beautiful and fun to walk around. It is full of delicious restaurants and bars. We visited a small rooftop bar, Pura Vida, which had a nice view but is completely over priced compared to pretty much every other bar in the area. I didn’t enjoy the nightlife scene there as it was too crazy for me, I prefer quiet bars.
- Malls in Bucharest
Bucharest has some of the biggest and most interesting malls I’ve ever visited. We literally spent almost 5 hours in Mega Mall without realizing how long we’d been in there. It was that fun! We also visited API Cotroceni which had a small rollercoaster, bumper boats, IMAX theater, and a ropes course through the mall! Other honorable mentions were: Promenada Mall (closest and easiest to access via the metro from the city center), and Băneasa Shopping City Mall which was next to one of my favorites: IKEA!
- Palace of the Parliament
The Palace of the Parliament has a very interesting past. As Wikipedia puts it, it is “a colossal building built upon the order of a megalomaniac communist dictator”. This building is the world’s heaviest building (weird, right?) and the world’s second largest building used for administrative purposes only second to the Pentagon. We didn’t go in for a tour as we’d heard there wasn’t much to see but we definitely walked by to check it out!
Cereal Crunch Cafe
We LOVED the Cereal Crunch Café! It’s a café with over 100 different types of breakfast cereal. You can choose to mix different varieties and even add colored milk and candy on top! This was a very fun experience that I definitely recommend!
Oh my god – one of the best meals of my life! We chose the “Ca La Mama Platter” for two and it came with a mountain of fresh off the grill chicken, lamb, pork, and beef! The service was a little slow but the food more than made up for it!
The Antipa Natural History museum was fun, full of 19th century dioramas of animals from around the world. It reminded me of a tiny version the Natural History Museum in New York City.
The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum was also worth a visit, located within the King Mihai Park, the National Village Museum is full of real homes moved to the location from villages across Romanian to teach about the ways of village life in Romania in the past.