Once upon a time, somewhere at the clash of worlds, a chaotic and vibrant city appeared: Bucharest. Welcome to my home, heroines! May your visit be memorable and storybook-worthy!
We’ll start our journey in the Old Town, then go off the path and off the grid in Cotroceni neighborhood, only to come to the city center for an epic finale to our adventure.
Breakfast at Carturesti Carusel
First things first: b&b as in breakfast and books because we know our priorities! My proposal is to combine these two in the best possible way and have breakfast in a bistro in a bookstore. And this is no regular bookstore but the famous Carturesti Carusel.
Set in the heart of the Old Town, in a newly refurbished 19th century building, the Carusel is quite the Mecca for all book-loving heroines: 6 stories, an art galley, a bistro with a panoramic view over the bookstore and no less than 10 000 books to browse. Just when you thought things couldn’t get better than this, the Carusel has yet another surprise in store: a glass ceiling which allows natural light to come in during the day. It’s not nicknamed the Carusel of Light for nothing!
Go to the Carusel early morning for breakfast and coffee, pick a table at the bar and ease into your day with light reading and people watching!
Chase Legends at The Old Princely Court
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s go into some heroine-worthy sightseeing. Not far from the Carusel, on the oldest street of Bucharest, Franceza Str., you will find the Old Princely Court and the statue of one infamous Vlad the Impaller aka Dracula.
Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula is a real Romanian historical figure, only he was not a count but a prince and he did not rule Transylvania but Wallachia. His nickname was, however, Dracula and the fortress of Bucharest used to be his home during his reign.
Dracula’s legend is well worth some exploring whether you are a Stoker’s fan, history aficionado, or just curious – the Old Princely Court is ground 0 on your quest! I do need to warn you: Romanian medieval history makes Game of Thrones look like child’s play.
The Sutu Palace
We are not leaving the realm of magical history, but moving to a different era: Bucharest at the beginning of the 1800s, with a visit to the Sutu Palace.
Overshadowed by the chaos of its present day surroundings, I am confident to say that the Sutu Palace is the underdog among the grandiose palaces of Bucharest.
But this petit palace with a simple-looking exterior has a secret that makes it one of my favorite spots in the city: a staircase so beautiful and impressive that it’s impossible not to feel like you’ve landed into a Disney movie. If I ever see Cinderella running down those stairs, I wouldn’t be surprised.
The Romanian Athenaeum
Next on our list is the Romanian Athenaeum, which I personally fancy as the most beautiful place in the city. No matter how many times I pass by or visit, I am always fascinated with the craftsmanship of this building.
If you are the singing type, try a couple of notes in the concert hall. The Romanian Athenaeum has one of the best acoustics in the world.
Insider tip: on the right side of the Athenaeum you’ll find a small candy shop, The French Revolution. They have the most delicious French eclairs that you can enjoy on a bench in front of the Athenaeum. Sweetness with a view!
Afternoon Tea at Infinitea
As the afternoon settles in, it’s time to slow the pace and trade the hustle and bustle of the city center for the peacefulness of Cotroceni neighborhood.
Cotroceni is a maze of quiet streets full of Art Deco villa’s, Neo-Romanian townhouses, magnolia trees and one Infinitea.
Tucked away in a beginning of the century villa, Infinitea tea house is the perfect place for afternoon tea. The atmosphere, sweet tea scent, delicate porcelain cups, and fairytale garden add a glimpse of magic to the mundane and can keep you day dreaming for hours.
Faraway realms, heroines, mythical creatures… Infinitea is best served with stories, so pick your book or notebook & pen and enjoy your magical tea moment in Bucharest.
Escape the Mansion
To continue our story book journey in Bucharest, we’re leaving Cotroceni and heading towards the city center. At no. 3 Banului Str. you will find a mid 19th century mansion – dark, eerie and still, if you ignore the whispers and the heavy feeling that you are being watched.
There’s a mystery to be solved, dear heroine, so gather your courage, ring the doorbell and step into the fascinating story of the Lockworth family:
It’s 1856. One night, during a family dinner party, Olivia Lockworth is poisoned and the entire family disappears. Some say it’s the work of the unnatural, others blame the mysterious experiments of George Lockworth, member of a certain secret society that toy with newly found materials and obscure inventions.
You arrive at the party just a minute after the family is gone. Doors close behind you and there’s only one way out: you have to solve the mystery of the mansion to help you and the Lockworth family, otherwise you will be caught in the party forever!
Insider tip: If you manage to solve the Lockworth mystery then it’s time to celebrate it in 2016. Next to the mansion you’ll find Stirbey Palace. Behind the palace is Eden Garden, perfect for spring and summer nights. Get yourself a delicious smoothie, heroine, you deserve it!
Alexandra is a tourist guide and entrepreneur living in Bucharest, Romania. She owns a travel business and writes about travel in Romania on www.roaringromania.com. She is a bit of a history nerd (and proud of it!), an amateur photographer with a harmless obsession with Instagram, and always ready to pack her bags and go. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @roaring.romania or misadventures on snapchat @alex_chirila.
Xandra recommends: Bucharest for Book Lovers