20th Oct 2012 11:33am | By Helen Elfer
Any European city exhibiting the smallest spark of creativity is instantly branded ‘the new Berlin’, but Bucharest, with its mix of heady nightlife and highbrow culture, might deserve the tag more than most.
10:00 Start your weekend with croissants, omelettes and pastries at Grand Cafe Galleron (mains from £4).
This elegant cafe is right in the middle of the city, serves breakfast dishes all day and has great coffee, too.
11:00 From here, head to Revolution Square, which was Palace Square until 1989, when it was the site where Romania’s last Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu lost power.
TV stations around the world broadcast famous live scenes of Ceausescu on the balcony of his former headquarters, staring in horror at the angry crowd gathered beneath him – a defining moment for Romania.
12:00 A short walk away is the Piata Amzei (Str. Christian Tell 6, tel. 021 2116726), an outdoor market selling fresh meat, artisan products, medicinal plants and flowers, which is worth a browse on your way to lunch.
13:00 For an outstanding Italian eatery sure to keep you going for the rest of the day with its pizza and pasta dishes, Trattoria Il Calcio (mains from £5) is the place.
The restaurant has some bonus cache courtesy of its football hero owner, Gino Iorgulescu, who is fondly known as ‘Romania’s George Best’ (we assume this refers to his footballing skills rather than personal life).
The football photos on the walls date back to the Sixties.
15:00 Unbelievably, the lavish Romanian Athenaeum was financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. Pay a visit just to see the opulent decor – the lobby’s ceiling is decorated in gold leaf and columns are made of pink marble.
This is Bucharest’s most prestigious concert hall and home to the Romanian George Enescu Philharmonic. Concerts run all year.
19:00 For dinner, treat yourself to some traditional Romanian and Baltic grub. Taverna Sarbului (mains from £5, Bdul Tipografiei Nr 1, tel. 021 4906050) serves up filling, homecooked-style schnitzels and soups. And the service is super quick.
20:30 Appetite sorted, it’s time for some culture. Green Hours (pint of beer approx £2, Calea Victoriei 120, tel. 00 4 0788 45 24 85) is Bucharest’s most famous jazz club and hosts events almost every evening – mostly live music, but you could also catch live theatre or comedy.