Cold, dark winter may not seem like the best time to visit Bucharest, but the snowy months turn the city into a winter wonderland that’s worthy of exploring. Perhaps the best thing about it is that everything slows down when the snow falls: drivers have to take their time, the people passing by on narrow sidewalk paths make room for each other, and the locals have mastered the art of staying cosy even when the weather gets chilly.
A winter’s day in Bucharest could have you wandering along snowy paths through the park before settling into a comfy chair in a tea house. Or you could spend a bundled-up morning touring the city under a bright winter’s sun, then spend the entire afternoon lost in a bookstore, finding the perfect tale to read under the covers that night. No matter your preferred way to warm up when it’s cold out, here’s how to make the most of Bucharest even on the coldest days of the year.
Browse through a book lover’s paradise
If the winter months make you want to curl up inside with a good book, then you should go to one of the great book stores of Bucharest. One must-visit is the Carturesti Carusel on Lipscani Street 55 in the Old Town, also called the “Carousel of Light.” The 19th-century building was transformed into a wonderful book store with six floors and a collection of over 10,000 books. At least one book will catch your inner bookworm, and the exquisite, elegant architecture will charm you completely. Besides all that, Carturesti also houses a media collection space, an contemporary art gallery on the first floor, and a bistro, giving you plenty of options for staying warm when it’s too cold to go back outside. Wander around the space for hours, just like you do in your mind when you get lost in your favourite fairy tale.
Take a magical walk through a wintery park
When your feet are warm enough go back outside, head over for a walk through the beautiful Cismigiu Park. It is absolutely magical and the perfect spot for a snowball fight or for building an army of snowmen. If you are up for something more vigorous, head to the ice skating rink in the middle of the park. Some rounds there will take your breath away — if the winter beauty doesn’t!
Warm up inside a cosy tea house
When you need to warm up your fingers again, go for a tea tour through the cosy tea houses of Bucharest. There are plenty to visit, many of them in the most beautiful of neighbourhoods. The one closest to Cismigiu Park is Bohemia Tea House — the name suggests exactly what kind of vibe you’ll experience inside. The arrangement of the furniture, all of it barely higher than the ground, will transport you to a dream-like world. If you’re planning a gathering with friends or a romantic date, there is no other place more suitable than this one.
Another great tea house is Serendipity on Dumbrava Rosie Street 12. You’ll find tea and gingerbread, books and swings in which to read them, and beautiful people and great events that gather them together.
Mellow out at Europe’s largest spa
For those of you who prefer to relax inside all the way, the biggest wellness, relaxation, and entertainment spa centre in Europe is in Bucharest: Therme Bucuresti. The thermal spa features water temperatures that are always 33 degrees Celsius and the air temperature a very warm 29-30 degrees. Thermal water is extracted from 3,100 metres underground, and brought to the surface to feed the spa’s eight swimming pools and, yes, 16 waterslides. And to help with with the natural vibe, Therme Bucharest also boasts the largest botanical garden in Romania, with more than 800,000 plants, including 500 palm trees and other unique species.
At the end of a jam-packed winter’s day, you may want to go straight to sleep… or you could so as the locals do and muster up some energy to head to Clubul Taranului, near Victoria Square. Grab a cup of mulled wine with new local friends or ask around to see what live music might be on that night. Venues like Green Hours or Control Club will always serve up live jazz, funk, electronic, or alternative music for any taste.
Bucharest just might be Eastern Europe’s best kept secret. “Little Paris,” as it was called by the first travellers, combines French sophistication with true Balkan passion for a bit of chaos and a whole lot of culture (and delicious food!). Few other cities better embody the wonderful clash of East and West, with plenty of friendly, loud, and colourful locals ready to welcome you.