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When you see a bustling metropolis with its grand Belle Epoque buildings and wide tree-lined boulevards, you know you are in Bucharest, also called “Little Paris” in the early 1900s. Bucharest experiences hot summers with temperatures going up to 40 degrees Celsius and severe winters when the temperature drops to minus 20 – 30 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit Bucharest is from April – May or September – October as the weather is balmy and pleasant, and the average temperature is 25 – 29 degrees Celsius. You may experience a few rainy days, so remember to pack your umbrella and rain boots.
British Airways, TAROM, Blue Air, Ryanair and Wizz Air provide direct international flights to Bucharest from several destinations in UK. Other airlines flying to Bucharest include KLM, Iberia, Lufthansa, Pegasus Airlines, Aegean Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Air France, Air Siberia, LOT, Turkish Airlines, Alitalia, and many more.
Henri Coandă Airport, also known as Otopeni Airport, is located 16 kilometres north of Bucharest city centre and is accessible by train, bus or taxi.
Local bus Express #783 leaves from the airport terminal every 15 – 30 minutes and makes several stops in the city including the Piata Unirii (Union Square) at the city centre. Another local bus Express #780 leaves every 30 minutes from the airport and makes stops at the Baneasa Airport as well as the Gara de Nord (main railway station). The price for a single trip is 3,5 LEI. Tickets are usually purchased in the form of a contactless card called MULTIPLU (the card costs 1,6 LEI), on which a minimum of 2 journeys must be loaded. The journey time varies between 45 – 90 minutes based on traffic conditions.
Henri Coandă trains run every hour from the Airport Train station to Gara de Nord. The Airport Train station known as Punct Oprire Aeroport is 2 kilometres from the terminals and can be accessed by the airport mini-bus. A one-way ticket costs 7,7 LEI on the Regional (R) train (including the transfer to the airport station) and the journey time is 50 – 60 minutes.
Licensed taxis with fares between 1,39 lei – 3,5 LEI per kilometre are available on the ground floor, in front of the Arrivals terminal. Typical fare from the airport to main railway station will be 30 – 50 LEI depending on traffic conditions and the taxi service you choose to take.
Offices of various car rental agencies are located in the passageway between the departures and arrival terminals. You can also look for the best deals online for car rentals with momondo.
Aurel Vlaicu Airport, commonly known as Baneasa Airport is the hub of low cost airlines and is located 8 kilometres north of Bucharest city centre. You can travel from the airport to Bucharest city centre by several local bus routes (#131, #335, #148, #112 and #301), one tram line (#5) and one metro line (M2). A one-way ticket costs 1,3 LEI. Express Bus #783 and Express Bus #780 which link Otopeni Airport to the city centre and main railway station respectively, also make stops at Baneasa Airport. The ticket cost is 3,5 LEI for express routes and 1,3 LEI for all other routes. Your travel time is between 20 – 35 minutes. Taxis and car rentals are the other options to travel from the airport to the city centre.
Ground Transportation – Buses, Trams and Trolleys
Bucharest has a dense network of buses, trams and trolleys operated by RATB and they cover virtually every area of the city from 5 am to 11.30 pm. Tickets are interchangeable and typically cost 1,3 LEI for a single journey on local routes and 3,5 LEI on express routes. You will need to purchase a Multiple card for 1,6 LEI and load it with 2 – 10 trips of 1,3 LEI per trip or a 1-day pass for 8,0 LEI. The day pass allows you unlimited usage of buses, trams and trolleys (excluding the express line routes) all day long.
Underground Transportation – Bucharest Metro
The subway is operated by Metrorex and lines M1, M2, M3 and M4 cover all of Bucharest underground transportation from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm. Metro tickets cost 5,0 LE for 2 trips, 20,0 LEI for 10 trips or a 1-day pass for 8,0 LEI allows unlimited trips for the day.
Most top attractions in Bucharest are scattered throughout the city, hence exploring Bucharest on foot may not be worth it, unless you have plenty of time and are an avid walker with high endurance.
Several taxi companies operate in Bucharest and charge by the taximeter but the fares per kilometre will vary. Remember to check the fare written on the rear door of the vehicle you travel in, and ensure that the taximeter charges you on the basis of that rate. Also, try to schedule your journeys keeping in mind that traffic during rush hour is quite heavy and your travel time can increase significantly. This applies to traveling in local buses as well.
UK citizens must have a passport, but no visa is required for up to 90 days. Passport endorsed British Citizens, European Communities, British Dependent Territories Citizens or British Subjects only need a passport.
Romania is not yet part of the Schengen visa agreement. However, Schengen Visa holders do not need to get a (special) Romanian visa to visit Bucharest provided their Schengen visa allows at least 2 entries in Schengen space and the number of entries and/ or length of stay has not yet been utilised. To check if you need a visa, please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Bucharest’s landscape is an interesting mix of old historic buildings, ancient churches, lush parks, lakes, and elegant boulevards. In recent years, several restoration projects have been undertaken to bring the older structures and architecture back to their former glory. Here are a few things that you must see and do when visiting Bucharest:
Try some traditional Romanian fare such as the tripe soup, the sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), or the large range of borsch dishes, as well as the mititei (grilled minced-meat rolls). Also try out the tuică, a traditional spirit made from plums. Visit Carturesti Carusel, one of the coolest and prettiest bookshops in the heart of the city’s Old Town with a huge collection of books, vinyl, stationary, and novelty items. As is true of any busy city, be careful of pick-pockets and keep your wallets and sundry items safe in crowded public places. Also be alert around stray dogs.