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Americans Can Fly Nonstop To One Of The Safest And Cheapest Destinations In Europe This Summer

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Europe seems to be on every American's radar this summer, with world-famous destinations like Barcelona, Paris and Rome all leading booking trends, with one slight caveat.

They're all expecting the biggest crowds ever, not to mention the now-typical spike in prices.

If you're planning on crossing the pond over the next peak travel season but you're looking to escape the ordinary this time—or just beat the tourist crowds—I'm happy to report that nonstop flights are finally launching from the U.S. to one of the continent's most underrated cities.

View of Parliament building in Bucharest, Romania

Called ‘Paris of the East', it's got the tourist offer and lively social scene to match, and even better: it's comparatively safer and much cheaper to visit.

Nonstop Flights From New York To Bucharest!

For the first time in 20 years, Transatlantic flights to Bucharest, Romania will operate, linking New York (JFK) to the Eastern European country that recently went viral on social media as the filming location for Netflix's hit show Wednesday.

Cobbled Streets In Bucharest Old Town, Romania, Eastern Europe

The inaugural flight set to end the two-decade pause is scheduled for June 7, and based on latest booking trends for Romania, a highly sought-after destination right now, this could become a profitable route for HiSky, the Moldova-based airline behind the historic relaunch.

Out of all of the amazing city breaks in Europe, however, why give Bucharest a chance?

Is This One Of The Most Unique Cities In Europe?

Dambovita Riverfront In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

Bucharest is a vibrant city where nearly 2 million people live, with a skyline dominated by towering high-rises, wide leafy boulevards, and concrete juggernauts.

It's far grittier, and it's arguably got far more edge than your average European capital.

In many ways, to a curious onlooker, it looks like it could belong in communist Russia, with the rows upon rows of apartment blocks that stretch as far as the eyes can see, and vintage 20th century tramways that rattle along old tracks through a messy maze of modernist buildings.

Vintage Tramway In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

This perception is not too far off, as Romania did belong to the Eastern bloc prior to its adoption of Western values.

As brutalist as Bucharest may be, it continues to serve as a window to times past (and the best place to go to quench your Soviet nostalgia).

Europe's Capital Of Brutalism

While Russia remains off-limits, you can marvel at Bucharest's imposing Palace of Parliament, the world's second-largest administrative building after, you guessed it, the Pentagon, and one of the heaviest in the world, weighing an estimated 9.04 billion pounds.

Romanian Parliament Pictured At Night With The Romanian Tricolor Flag Displayed In The Highest Tower, Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

Revolution Square is yet another communist-era gem that's remained virtually unchanged since democratization, surrounded by the Royal Palace and the (former) Senate and a historically-charged venue that hosted the popular revolt that would eventually overthrow the socialist regime.

Bucharest's ‘commie fest' continues in the House of the Free Press, modeled after Moscow State University, and once the headquarters of the regime's printing press and newsrooms, and the unfinished, box-like Radio House, on the Dâmbovița riverfront.

Communist Era Building In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

Bucharest's architectural heritage is not limited to Brutalism, however: it's called the Paris of the East for a reason, right? Right…?

On The Paris Comparison

While the comparisons are limited to a handful of streets in the historic center, they are warranted considering Bucharest's wide, tree-lined boulevards, triumphal arc, noteworthy Belle époque efforts, such as the Romanian Athenaeum and the landmark Stock Exchange Palace, and its ‘high life'.

Arcul De Triomf, A Triumphal Arc In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

A warning, though, if I may: do not fly all the way from America to Bucharest expecting to find a ‘mini Paris' in Bucharest.

That might not have been the case in the early 20th century, but they are now almost complete opposites aesthetically, as Bucharest spent much of the past century undergoing a modernist makeover, so you'll make the most of your trip by first managing your expectations.

Second, learning and appreciating the History.

Belle Epoque Building In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern EuropeBrutalist Buildings In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

Bucharest is a classic Eastern European metropolis, with the different shades of gray and oppressive urbanism that typically accompany them; in other words, it's not the kind of obvious beauty commonly associated with Europe.

Don't expect to find an abundance of ornate facades, nor the kind of elegant palatial complexes the City of Lights is known for.

You will, on the other hand, have a cracking time.

Bucharest Is So Much Fun

Crowded Street In Bucharest At Night, Nightlife, Romania, Eastern Europe

The local nightlife is among the wildest, and most unhinged anywhere in Europe—if you hold more conservative values, you'll do well to steer clear of Strada Smârdan in the nighttime, if you know what I mean—and the art scene is unrivaled.

Much like its German counterpart, there are quirky, niche museums at every corner, from retrospective galleries depicting the horrors of communism to a ‘Little Paris' exhibit, housing heirlooms that recall Bucharest's most pompous turn-of-century, and even a Museum of Senses.

Aerial View Of Bucharest At Night, Romania, Eastern Europe

The historical monuments aren't as significant as a Roman Colosseum or a Brandenburg Gate, but Bucharest does have a few surprises up its sleeve, with the charming Eastern Orthodox Savropoleos Church, and the ruined, medieval Curtea Veche Palace to name a couple.

The latter was once ruled by Prince Vlad III—you may know him by the name of Dracula—a fearsome, bloodthirsty leader (not literally), who achieved notoriety for the rather cruel torture methods to which he submitted dissidents and enemies alike.

Stavropoleos Monastery In Bucharest Old Town, Romania, Eastern Europe

There's not much left of it nowadays, and you can thank the passing of the centuries for that, but the site of the former castle houses a princely church, built as early as 1559, and the oldest religious building that's remained intact in Bucharest.

There are also a plethora of city parks to escape to when the hustle and bustle of the metropolis gets a tad too overwhelming, and as the famous saying goes, ‘people make cities‘, and Romanians might be some of the warmest, most hospitable Europeans.

Romanian Athenium In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

Don't get us started on Romanian cuisine, a blend of centuries-old traditions with elements of Hungarian, Turkish, Slavic, and even Mediterranean diets: I still remember every rich, meaty ciorbă, and to this day I'm yet to find a country that does pork stew as splendidly as Romania.

Order tochitura from any local restaurant, and you won't be disappointed.

Then of course, there's the fact Bucharest is an absolute bargain:

Bucharest Is One Of The Cheapest Capitals In The European Union

Bucharest Old Town, Romania, Eastern Europe

Unlike other European cities in its league, like Berlin or Budapest, it has not become a playground for affluent tourists, and prices continue to reflect the local purchasing power, despite it being a major, fairly international economic center.

According to Budget Your Trip, a tourist will spend on average 271 lei, or $58 on meals per day, $26 on transportation, and $125 on hotels per day, and that's affordable enough, though based on my own personal experience, Bucharest is in reality a lot cheaper than that.

Communist Era Apartment Block In Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe

Whenever I ordered a three-course in a local restaurant (not one of those fancy ones up Calea Victoriei), I would typically be billed between $20 and $25, tips excluded, and I'm talking full-bodied soup for starters, a generous meat-based main, dessert and freshly-squeezed flavored lemonade on the side.

It's been a while since I was last in Bucharest, but I don't reckon I ever spent more than $50 per night on any hotel or Airbnb, and judging by the prices on Booking.com, adjusted for summer 2024, it's not like it's changed much.

Parliament building or People's House in Bucharest city. Aerial view at sunset

An overnight at the Hotel Sir Gara de Nord costs $30, no prepayment required, while a private double room with shared bathroom in Bucharest's centrally-located Sector 1 is a surprisingly affordable $25; as you can see, Western European hostel prices for single accommodation.

4-star hotels are not that expensive, either, with Filitti Boutique Hotel listing rooms for $63 per adult, and the luxurious Tomis Garden Aparthotel Bucuresti advertising old money-style queen rooms for an acceptable $106.

Cobbled Strada Postei In Bucharest Old Town, Romania, Eastern Europe

I'm not sure how tourists are spending $26 per day on transport, either, as a 7-day metro pass is a negligible 30 lei, or $6.44, including unlimited travel underground, as well as buses and tramways, but then again, I'm not usually catching cabs to go anywhere myself.

Besides being super affordable and trendy, Bucharest is very safe for tourists.

Romania Is A Low-Risk Destination

Romanian Flag Flying Over A Mountaintop In Romania, Balkan Peninsula, Eastern Europe

Never once did I feel ‘on edge', even though parts of the city, particularly the outer suburbs, are somewhat run-down, and the historic center, notably around the Stock Exchange Palace, where tourists are usually flocking into, is incredibly well-surveilled by security officers.

The risk of robbery is low, if not inexistent in Bucharest, and in all honesty, your main concern here is getting pickpocketed by ill-intentioned Țigani without even noticing.

Usually, not leaving your belongings exposed on tabletops, not putting wallets on back pockets, and being extra vigilant riding the metro suffices—and call me a mind reader, but no, there is absolutely no risk Romania would be dragged into a war with Russia.

Haussman Style Buildings In Old Town Bucharest, Capital City Of Romania, Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

Yes, it borders Ukraine, and yes, it's one of the Easternmost states of the European Union, but it's a member of the EU, nonetheless, and a NATO ally, meaning it is just as safe from potential overspills of the conflict as England, France, or Italy are.

If you don't believe me, you can take Washington's word for it: Romania is officially a Level 1 destination, as low-risk as Finland, Iceland, or neutrality-personified Switzerland.

Once again, it may have been commie back then, but it is now a free, democratic country, and Americans truly have nothing to fear in that respect visiting Bucharest.

People enjoy spring time downtown Lipscani Street in Bucharest, Romania

What Else To See In Romania

If you're flying all the way from America to Romania, don't just stay in Bucharest, either:

This is a fascinating country dotted with Gothic castles that have inspired Bram Stoker's most iconic creation, ancient cobbled towns that, unlike the capital, have not at all lost their historic charm and retain the medieval cathedrals and pointy spires, sites of outstanding natural beauty and even a coastline.

Bran Castle, Romania, Eastern Europe

Romania is in fact best known for its Transylvania hinterland, home to fairytale cities like Cluj, Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisoara, and its Black Sea provinces, where the coastal resorts of Constanța and Eforie Nord, casinos and sandy beaches bounded by warm, azure waters await visitors.

So, about those nonstop flights.

More Information On The New York-Bucharest Flights

Traveler Holding USA Passport At Airport

They're operated on an Airbus A330-200, HiSky's first wide-body aircraft and presently the only one of its kind registered in Romania.

The flight frequency is four times a week, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with outbound flights leaving New York at 1:25 p.m. and landing in Bucharest (Otopeni) at 6:15 a.m. local time on the following calendar date, completing the journey in just over 10 hours.

There are two classes on sale, with Economy seats starting at $374, and Business seats at a much pricier $2,036.

Booking Economy, your in-flight entertainment is included, as well as a hot meal and snack. Returning home, planes leave Bucharest at 8:00 a.m. and land back in New York at 11:25 a.m. local time, on the same day.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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↓ Elevate Your Travel↓

Sign Up Now For Travel Off Path Premium! No ads, VIP Content, Personal Travel Concierge, Huge Savings, Daily Deals, Members Forum & More!

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Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Nicoleu

Wednesday 8th of May 2024

"One of the safest destinations in Europe"

🤣

No, it definately is not.

I love my country, but it is not (by far) one of the safest in Europe.

(I'm from Bucuresti)

Piet

Sunday 5th of May 2024

Safest?? Please do take a walk in Ferentari, Rahova, Giulesti, Colentina, Straulesti, Baicului, Pantelimon... especially at night.

And this is just Bucharest.

Don't get me wrong... Romania is amazing. But calling it one of the safest countries in Europe is like calling Afghanistan a gay safe zone.

Speaking of gay safety...

Dan

Monday 6th of May 2024

@Piet, Vinicius is right. Been living in Bucharest last 12 years. It is safe except the pickpocketing. And if you take basic, common sense, measures, all is good. Out of the areas you mentioned only a small part of Ferentari is dangerous, but why would care to visit a ghetto at night? I had people from Canada wanting to see that slump, took a taxi during the day and no problems. The rest is right, not Paris or Barcelona, but a good place to try for fun.