Bucharest Basic Information
Feeling dogged on your walk? Bucharest’s 100,000-odd stray dog community is an ubiquitous sight in the capital. Originating from when pet pooches were evicted during the Communist-era housing collectivisation initiative, the problem of strays is a decades-long ongoing issue with Bucharesters divided on whether to eradicateor keep the pups. Although they rarely attack, be wary of dogs in packs and mindful that canines are territorial in nature to avoid being bitten. Most strays are now found in the outer ‘burbs although a number still call the Old Town home. Woof! For more need-to-known info before your Bucharest trip, here’s the lowdown.
Australian passport holders going to Romania on holiday for less than a total of 90 days do not need a visa to enter the country. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from the date of your entry into Romania. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Romania.
Romania uses the Romanian Leu as currency. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Romanian Leu changes constantly so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase the currency when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Like most Eastern European cuisines, Romanian food is meat-heavy but also influenced by neighbouring countries like Hungary, Germany, Turkey and Slavic nations. Typical dishes (and acquired tastes) include mititei (skinless sausages), sarmale (stuffed cabbage leaves), tocaniţa (meat stew), slanina (smoked or salted pork fat), piftie (jellied pork offcuts) and ciorba de burta (tripe soup). If traditional dishes don’t appeal, Bucharest also has a wide variety of international cuisines from Asian to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern as well as high-end dining. Sweet tooths should definitely try kurtoskalacs or ‘chimney cake’ – a Transylvanian specialty treat of sweet dough spirals topped with sugar, and papanaşi – donuts filled with jam or sweet cream cheese. For drinks, there’s tuica (a potent plum brandy), visinata (a sour cherry spirit) and vin fiert (mulled wine). Be careful though, tuica has been likened to rocket fuel and there’s an ever stronger version called palinca!
Bucharest’s central entertainment precinct can be found around Calea Victoriei or the Lipscani area with no shortage of places to party from mega clubs hosting international DJs and live music venues to retro cocktail lounges and hidden basement bars. Rounding out the after-hours options are casinos, jazz clubs and pubs. Some popular hotspots in Lipscani include expat fave Mojo, uber-club Fratelli for the scenesters and popular pub Beraria Hanul Cu Tei. For a surprising mix of people from 18 to 80 years, the legendary Green Hours Jazz Cafe is pumping most nights of the week. Another must-visit venue to soak up the atmosphere and alcohol is Caru’ cu Bere – Bucharest’s oldest beer hall in Gothic surrounds with a touristy folkloric night-time show and Romanian food. Some venues also have microbreweries onsite or you can try Romanian beers like Ursus, Ciuc and Timisoreana. Romania is also well-known for its excellent wines, which you can sample at a number of wine bars in Lipscani.