Bucharest charmed the pants off of me. Well, not quite. It did do a delightful job of appealing to my romantic side as well as my business-minded digital nomad one. Bucharest is a fantastic city to drink in the sights, explore architecture or just get some work done.
The longer I travel, the more my desire for planning new destinations has fallen by the wayside. Not due to laziness, rather because I am coming to enjoy the last-minuteness of it all.
After a short ride exchanging stories of misunderstanding Bulgarian culture came to an end, we pulled into the heart of Bucharest. I treated this fleeting flirtation with Romania as a business holiday. Bucharest is becoming a popular hub for remote workers; boasting some of the fastest internet speeds in the world, a host of gorgeous architecture, fascinating history and excellent cafe culture. This trip was the perfect excuse to get some work done and see the sights.
Arriving into Romania overland
I hopped out of the van a little underwhelmed at the typical rural landscapes en route, said my goodbyes, and made my way off in an arbitrary direction. It didn’t matter which way I went as I had nowhere I needed to be. The bus from Ruse was easy, frequent and cheap; my severe lack of either language didn’t seem to hinder the process either.
It was Easter Sunday when I arrived. The shops sat closed and the streets empty. The sun was shining though and the few people about seemed to have a pretty good grasp of English. I spied things that normally send me running for cover: H&M, McDonalds, Starbucks. Instead I took a breath of relief from the familiarity of it all. A month in Bulgaria had taken its toll.
Leu, the Romanian Currency
Bulgarian Leva weren’t going to get me far here, so I stopped in at the nearest bankomart. Right, how many Leu would I like, it asked nonchalantly. Good question, I wonder what a lei is worth? I stopped to ponder. I got out a hundred and stuffed them into my wallet. Would my wad of cash would pay for a weeks worth of hotels or a single coca cola?.
I took a leisurely jaunt down a wide tree-lined boulevard with patches of vivid purple irises where families basked in the shaded grassy knolls, and in the distance a giant fountain marked the entrance to Palatul Parlamentului, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. So impressively large, In fact, it can be spotted from space.
With all the cafes shut for the day, I resigned myself to the steps outside of a store with free WIFI and browsed my phone for somewhere to sleep.
Bucharest hostels are stunningly affordable
I made my way toward a cheap, nearby hostel, taking me past the river and some impressive historical buildings. The old city of Bucharest was marked by charming cobblestones and a narrowing of the walkways. A lone violinist belted out Vivaldi under the facade of a grand historical building.
Bucharest was a much more delightful capital to explore than Sofia ever was, for a moment I regretted spending quite so long in Bulgaria. Known as the ‘little Paris’ of Eastern Europe, it doesn’t stretch the imagination too far to see why. It even has its own ‘Arcul de Triumf’. The old city is the pulsing heart with its uncovered ruins, cobbled walkways and stretches of restaurants that come alive in the night. Although not quite the same experience as Paris, it is a bucket load cheaper and affords many of the similar charms.
Co-Working in Bucharest
Other than that first day of glorious sun shine, the rest of my short visit in Bucharest rained. This was fine by me as I had a ton of work to get through. It was a great opportunity to explore Bucharest’s thriving digital nomad scene.
I spent a day working from Puravida hub; a co-working space, co-living space (in cahoots with the glorious Little Bucharest old town hostel next door) and tea house. Beautifully decorated with old speakers, retro posters and provence-esque tins of fragrant fresh lavender. I indulged in high-speed wifi to the ambient sounds of french jazz and looked out over the old city streets. Gazing down to the rounded copper roofs I spied the yellow umbrella of a lady walking in the rain. For a moment, this could easily be Paris.
Exploring the rest of Romania
I only had 4 days to spend in Romania, but in my time there I learned of many other natural wonders in the country – spectacular mountains, picturesque villages, impressive castles (including Dracula’s castle!) and beautiful coastlines. Perhaps someday I will return to see what the rest of this unassumingly gorgeous, and often misunderstood, country has to offer.
(Check out The Culture Trip’s ‘The 12 Most Beautiful Spots in Romania’ for some more inspiration!)
Stayed at: Antique Hostel I could immediately see why this came so highly recommended. Beautiful space in a multi-story old Bucharest building. Very clean, quiet-yet social and good Wifi. A bunk bed in a dorm will set you back between £5- £10, with enough change leftover for a coffee afterward.
Worked at: Pura Vida Hub, a delightful space, other co-workers and good Wifi, all for just 5euro for the day and nestled right in the heat of the old city. Perfection.If Pura Visa Hub isn’t to your tastes, Bucharest is a popular hotspot for digital nomads and remote workers so you’ll be spoiled for choice.. try out Seneca AntiCafe, ImpactHub, ConnectHub or TechHub, just for starters.
Ate at: Dristor Kebap, just around the corner from Antique hostel. A mere 20-30 lei gets you an epic kebab plate loaded up with everything you could ever want (and things you probably hadn’t even thought of). Even cheaper if you’re happy to go gyros-style for a snack on the goArcade Cafe Bucharest, well at least the old city, was a bit of a challenge to find breakfast, with most of the restaurants catering to the lunch and dinner crown. Arcade cafe was open each morning though, with good omelettes for 15-20lei and free wifi. Always busy and seems to be a popular choice for locals.