Travelling with a baby
Romania is still little known, especially for such a close European destination; authentic in so many parts and quite affordable. So here are our suggestions for a Romanian itinerary, based on our extensive knowledge of the country – afterall our country of origin despite leaving it 18 years ago!
Bucharest is a good starting point given how well connected is the airport and how poor the road infrastructure remains in the country. From London there’s quite a number of flights and some convenient airports and timetables: BA and Tarom (Romanian airline) from Heathrow as well as few low costs: RyanAir, Blue Air (Romanian low cost) and Wizz Air (Hungarian low cost) from Luton and Stanstead. Bucharest in a nutshell: urban delights from gastronomy and vibrant nightlife, eclectic mix of architecture – beautiful houses French style that managed to survive the communism fury and dictatorship madness; orthodox churches, communist ugly blocks of flats for brutalism aficionados; the second largest building in the World after the Pentagon with the kitschiest mix of marble, grandeur and terrible history; old cobbled streets that used to be commercial centre and now host a myriad of cafes, pubs and restaurants; next door to old graceful buildings (like CEC / Romanian National Savings Bank). 2 days in Bucharest are a good introduction and late spring or early fall months are best given how temperatures soar in here above 30 and even 35 degrees in July and August.
The perfect pied a terre in Bucharest is Athenee Palace Hilton, we wrote about in here. Bucharest culinary scene is delightful and very diverse. Caru cu Bere remains a charming Romanian culinary institution, with typical dishes at very good value for money in atmospheric gorgeous house – high ceilings, dark wooden stairs and seating areas, stained glass. That is to be paired with a stroll in the old city centre. For something more contemporary and delicious – head to Caju – Joseph Hadad cool restaurant next door to the Romanian Atheneum. We spent 2 evenings out of 3 at Caju with friends indulging in tuna tartar, octopus and calamari dishes washed with great Romanian white wines – few kids around even late and no one batting a lid. And for best Sunday brunches, live music and kids activities, head to Athenee Palace Hilton’s Roberto’s – a delight for all parties.
A second day in Bucharest I’d recommend spending at National Village Museum – to soak in Romanian regional village culture – from houses to clothes and habits; Herastrau and Antipa. For travellers with kids, Herastrau or Kiseleff are great parks for kids to run off some steam or simply relax in the greenery by the lake with a frappe (Romanian ice coffee with ice-cream and cream that I can not recommend enough).
A trip to Antipa (National History Museum) takes between 30 min to an hour and could be quite educational; just go prepared with modest expectations especially for London based kids who regularly go to NHM of Kensington. To soak in views of Bucharest from above, 18 lounge is a great place – delicious trendy cuisine and chilled vibes. On the other side of Herastrau, for dinner Il Calcio or Embassy Park; first with a play area, second just next to the park.
If you are in desperate need like us to relax and take a break from urban pace, Pescariu swimming pool is a great place – lunch by sunchairs and kids splashing just in front of you are a magic combo. It is rather expensive for Romania, on the other hand this keeps the crowds away at least during the week and makes it properly Zen. Therme are another alternative but a bit further. Our dedicated Bucharest article with kids in the summer in here.
The infrastracture is rather poor again, so do expect an average of 3 hours for 100km. Ioana hotel in Sinaia is a good base for the night, we dedicated an article earlier this year. We also discovered one week ago Castelul Cantacuzinilor for a delightful afternoon and dinner – amazing sunset over majestic Bucegi and the Heroes’ Cross.
Brasov is the next place, we’d recommend 2 full days to enjoy it properly. Our dedicated article in here – for a 2 days trip I’d pick the City centre paired with Parc Aventura for one day and the other Poiana Brasov, a mountain trek and/ or horse riding.
If you get tired of packing and unpacking like me, you could chose Brasov as a base for the next 4 days and also opt for a couple of daytrips. Dinoparc and Rasnov fortress will keep both kids and parents happy for one day and are quite must I would say.
This summer new discoveries and delights have been Yaz (wakeboarding, SUP and kayaking) and Fish 4 Life 7/8 minutes further drive – both Harman based (20min drive from Brasov city centre) and delightful. This would make a second daytrip from Brasov chilled but still active – best to leave it for the 6th day and before embarking on the trip & day back to the airport.
Fish for life has next door a working farm – lots of geese and ducks that our boys loved chasing; a stunning traction horse and a funny donkey, lots of pigs, goats, sheep and chickens. Next door there are 2 trampolines and swings, a pond/ little lake and even boat – our kids have been so mesmerized and unwilling to leave even after 5 hours. The food is great – best tarama salad I had in a long while; trout baked in maize, butter and so on, fish soup etc – our 16 months old spend 30 minutes with us at the table eating solidly the soup and the fish.
For the last day and returning to Otopeni, one could opt for the road via Bran – Dracula castle and its stories are fascinating but the immediate surroundings a bit on the touristy side.
For lunch better off head to Fundata and after; landscapes are just amazing, with mountains both side with great Romanian cuisine . My personal favorite spot it’s been few years is Garden Resort; we also been recommended Cetatea Carului next door.
Romanian Carpati and their crisp air, the hay stacks and mountain flowers, the hills and the friendly people, the gorgeous heavy dishes will charm and delight; off the beaten track, still unspoilt and stunning – little known gems.