Exploring Bucharest in winter
-12°C / 10°F, snowy sidewalks, sunny, clear skies. Does it seem too cold to enjoy a holiday?
Well, in the last couple of winters we have welcomed travelers from Florida, Sicily, why even Hawaii, and not only did they all survive the cold & snow, but what’s more: they absolutely loved the city!
Here’s a list of tips to ease your way as a tourist in Bucharest in winter time:
1. Minimize the time spent outside. Sure, there are some beautiful landmarks and important squares to see from outside. And Bucharest’s main historic highlights are in walking distance from each other. What I recommend is choosing wisely the time you spend outdoor: try to sync with the warmest temperatures of the day (usually 11 a.m. – 4 p.m).
2. Keep warm and visit the best museums in town! In the morning, while temperatures are still low, you can visit one of the many museums and palaces open to visitors. Just a couple of examples on what can be visited indoors:
- in Revolution Square, one of the main historic areas to visit, there are several things to visit, besides the imposing former Royal Palace now hosting the National Arts Museum of Romania. You can also visit the Romanian Athenaeum and the Theodor Aman Museum (smallest art museum in town) – they both beautiful and rich interiors, but will not take more than 30-40 minutes of your time!
- interested in communist heritage? There are several museums to visit: the Palace of the Parliament (formerly known as the House of the People, about which I wrote a set of practical tips here), the Spring Palace (Palatul Primăverii, former residence of the Ceaușescu dictator family) or the “Memory as a Form of Justice” Exhibition, part of a memorial dedicated to the victims of communism.
3. When you step outside again, keep on walking, as we say! Try to set a walking itinerary that will burn a few calories (traditional Romanian food is very rich in calories, anyways) and every now and again
4. Take a break and warm up indoors. The Old Town is just perfect for a cold afternoon: it’s pedestrian, filled with history, cafes and restaurants. In between a museum (National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest History Museum) and a historic Orthodox church (Old Princely Court Church, Stavropoleos Monastery), you can also do a bit of shopping for souvenirs or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate!
A perfect place for spending a couple of hours is the Cărturești Bookshop, on Lipscani Street nr.55. Set in a historic building from the end of the 19th century, it has books in English and other foreign languages, authentic souvenirs, vinyl, presents, tea, wine, an art exhibition and a bistro on the top level.
5. In the evenings, enjoy the local cultural scene. Bucharest is a vibrant cultural city and tickets to most cultural events are very accessible. Moreover, there’s always some performance, concert or event going on. Try to book in advance tickets and enjoy a lovely cultural evening at the National Opera of Bucharest, Romanian Athenaeum – Bucharest Philharmonic, the Operetta or maybe a jazz concert at the historic venue Green Hours.
6. A city of tea, mulled wine and țuica (Romanian plum brandy)! When in Bucharest, do as the locals do a warm up with a cup of tea, a mug of mulled wine or do a shot of țuica!
There’s something about this season that makes it beautiful, despite the low temperatures! When you come from the cold and snow outside and you step into the warm and friendly indoor atmosphere infused with cinnamon perfume, you feel like home in any place in Bucharest!
All of these tips would be no help at all without warm and comfy clothes – gloves, bonnet, boots, you name it – to help you enjoy your holiday in Bucharest!