Four Day Trip to Romania
During my most recent trip to Israel I spontaneously decided to join a friend on a trip to Romania, the country where my Saba (grandpa) is from. I never had a desire to go to Romania before getting invited to join my friend’s trip. My Saba isn’t connected to his Romanian identity (he left the country due to anti-semitism), and it isn’t a particularly popular travel destination among people I know. When my friend started telling me about the country and places he was visiting it sparked my interest, and after having the most incredible time on my most recent trip to Morocco this year, I have wanted to travel more around the world.
I was also excited to go to Romania because I am on a very tight budget, and Bucharest was one of the cheapest flights to get to from Tel Aviv (round trip was less than $300 without any layovers, including one check in baggage and snacks). Here were the highlights of my itinerary (including at the end places I was recommended to go to but didn’t have a chance to visit).
Arrived late at night to JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel, which is a phenomenal 5 star hotel by the way! According to hotel staff it is very reasonable if you come during the weekend since it is a business hotel. The service at this hotel is impeccable, the staff remembered our names after check in whenever we needed anything. Also service at the restaurants and bars at this hotel was incredible, the waiters were very friendly, and for every item I ordered I ended up getting something complimentary with it.
First Day (Sunday):
Started out the day late since I got in from the airport so late. Spent the day exploring the old town. Here are some highlights:
- Had traditional Romanian Breakfast at Caru cu Bere and walked around and got lost in the old town. Stumbled into the Stavropoleos Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox monastery for nuns right next to Caru cu Bere restaurant.
- While wandering around the old town we also discovered an artisan market across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn in the old town of Bucharest. Everything in the artisan market here looked handmade, and inside there are artisans making their crafts and buy jewelry, art, and vintage items for a very cheap cost. According to different tour guides and locals I’ve talked to, bartering is not a custom at the markets here. What is nice is that prices are VERY affordable and no one will pressure you to buy anything, which is a stark contrast to my recent visit to Israel where almost every salesman will call you beautiful or say “special deal for you my friend” to try to get you to buy/taste one of their items.
- National Museum of Romanian History- highly recommend this one. This goes through the history of Romania (important information for any new visitors in the country) and gave me a helpful background of Romanian history to start my trip with.
Second Day (Monday):
- Day trip to Bulgaria. Read more about it here.
- Booked hostel at Little Bucharest, located in the old town. The hostel is situated in a prime location, and has friendly people and affordable prices (I chose the most expensive option at 4 people per room and it only cost me 11 dollars a night!) The hostel has a gorgeous view of the old city, but gets really loud at night, so if you are a light sleeper this place isn’t for you. (Picture below from the balcony of the hostel)
Third Day (Tuesday):
- Walked around parks and explored restaurants and cafes in the old city. There are plenty of beautiful parks to explore around the city, including Parcul Cismigui and Tineretului Park
- Free walking tour in Bucharest on Monarchy vs. Communism lasting 2 and a half hours. The tour happens every day at 6:00 pm at the Romanian Athenaeum by the building’s columns (Strada Benjamin Franklin 1-3). The same tour company also hosts an Old Town Legends and Stories tour that meets everyday at 10:30 am at hanui fui Manuc (Str. Franceza 62-64 Plata Sfantul Anton).
Fourth Day (Wednesday):
- One day trip to Transylvania including Sinaia- Peles Castle, Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) and Brasov. I booked this day trip through my hostel. It was incredible to see the contrast in the castles and learn about the Romanian monarchy/Romanian history through the castle visits. Brasov was a beautiful city, but I found it very touristy, and the prices even more expensive at restaurants and shops than what I had seen in Bucharest.
Fifth Day- Morning before my afternoon flight (Thursday):
- Explored the Dorobanti neighborhood (beautiful homes, restaurants, coffee shops and stores)
- After an awful night’s sleep at the hostel sharing a room with an elderly couple that got up every few minutes in the night to do their nightly stretches, I decided to have a rest day and get a massage at Balinesse Spa, located in a beautiful residential street in the Dorobanti neighborhood. Massages in Bucharest are very affordable (especially compared to Miami). For an hour and a half I spent 50$ and got a customized treatment. I will say the style of massage was different from what I’ve had before (the masseuse sat on me for some of it), but I did enjoy it! They also had lounge areas for you to rest in with complimentary snacks and tea.
- I also decided to get my nails done, since it was much cheaper than I would get in America or Israel, and decided to go to a nail salon in the Dorobanti neighborhood as well. I chose the place based on high reviews I saw on google maps, but the level of treatment was nothing like I was used to, and the manicurist was so aggressive cutting my cuticles that she ripped a part of my nails. This might seem obvious, but be careful where you choose to go!