Dishes like traditional Romanian food spiral (cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with meat, rice and vegetables), polenta, ciorba (sour soup) and Transylvanian goulash cooked in a wood fire for eight hours. Two restaurants in the historic center are good for these: Lacrimi și Sfinti and Hanu’ lui Manuc. There’s a lot for street food saorma (shawarma) Thanks to the Turkish population and for something more contemporary I enjoy fresh pasta at 18Lounge. they do too papanashi, one of the greatest Romanian desserts: a donut filled with sweet fresh cheese (similar to ricotta) and topped with sour cream and jam. Mango Tree cafe in Therme spa serves plant-based main dishes and Thai dishes, but is also known for its colorful vegan desserts, such as the mango mess made with meringue, mango, kiwi, and papaya.
A classic Bucharest gallery is the Romanian National Museum of Art on Revolution Square, and I find it a comforting place to visit the massive Carturesti Carousel bookstore, housed in an old bank from the early 20th century. But the place that inspires me the most is the National Museum of Romanian Peasants. It’s the country’s largest collection of peasant artifacts and tells us why Romania is such a mix of cultures, from the Romans to the Turks to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Showcasing how our homes differ from north to south, the thousands of objects on display include pottery, furniture, ironware and tapestries.
Bucharest is divided into six sectors, like a pizza. I grew up in Pantelimon, a working-class district in Sector 2 where people of many nationalities live. But the most beautiful neighborhood is Sector 1, in the north of Bucharest, which includes the affluent Primăverii district: I take visitors there to show visitors the different architecture, old and new. Next, we stop at the Cişmigiu Gardens for a coffee near the more than a kilometer long lake, before taking a walk to see the Arcul de Triumf in Paris. And it’s an easy walk from Cişmigiu to the old centre.
Each sector has its own green space but my favorite is Parcul Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Sector 3, known as Titan Park. It is one of the biggest in Bucharest with a beautiful wooden church and a lake around which I run regularly. It is located among many skyscrapers so residents can enjoy the fresh air and quiet corners. Then the Trattoria Monza next to the park does Italian food at really affordable prices.
A Romanian night out means moving from one pub or bar to the next: It’s like a journey, we never stay in one place. There is loud music and everywhere is open late, until two or four in the morning. For cocktails try Freddo or Interbelic, the best clubs are BoA and Loft and Control is a great live music venue. My recommendation is Beraria H, the huge brewery bar where you can sip a locally crafted pint: in an old warehouse where live bands and plates of sausage, meat and veggies are shared.
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The Old Town Boutique (from €80, room only) is comfortable, well priced and well located for shopping. Autograph by Marriott reopened in the art deco Marmorosch building; I like to go there for dinner or massage, but rooms are around 150€. Vienna House is close to the Therme and the airport and from €71 for couples, room only.
Cosmin Cîrîc is wellness manager at Therme Bucharest, a thermal spa. with mineral water pools, saunas, water slides and tropical parks