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Why This Lesser Known European City Is Surging In Popularity

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There are some places you know instinctively you want to visit. You learn about them in school, read about them in books, and hear about your friends and family members' adventures there.

But there are some lesser-known destinations that you discover later and unexpectedly.

One relatively new trend in finding these unexpected spots is choosing to visit a destination because you saw it in a television series or film.

Bucharest, Romania. Panoramic view Palace of the Savings Bank in the historical center or old town of city

This is sometimes known as the ‘Game of Thrones’ effect because the number of visitors to Dubrovnik exploded once it was featured in the series.

And now it’s set to happen again.

Here’s why this lesser-known European city is surging in popularity:

Beautiful Bucharest

Research by Expedia has found that search volume for trips to Romania is up 105% since the Netflix series Wednesday aired.

Filming for the series partly took place in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, and this beautiful city is seeing a huge increase in tourism as a result. A trend that is only expected to increase in 2024.

And it’s easy to see why.

Architecture in a busy city street in Bucharest Romania

The city’s architecture is considered some of the best in Europe. The Romanian Athenaeum is one of the most beautiful and photographed buildings in the city and puts some of the architecture in Athens itself to shame!

The Palace of the Parliament is another awe-inspiring structure worth exploring. This is the world’s second-largest Parliament building as well as the heaviest building in the world.

And of course the highlight of any visit to Bucharest is a trip to the Old Town where you will find neoclassical and neo-baroque buildings alongside terraces, cafes, restaurants, and shops.

This is the bustling heart of Bucharest and is a particularly popular spot with tourists year-round.

A Winter Wonderland

Winters are cold in Bucharest and the city often sees snowfall. This creates a winter wonderland effect and if you visit in December this will only be enhanced by the twinkly lights and the abundance of Christmas markets.

decorated tree and ornamental lights in Revolution Square of Bucharest in Romania

Though not as famous as the Christmas markets in Germany or France the Christmas markets in Bucharest are just as well regarded.

Targul de Craciun Bucuresti includes over 100 Christmas cottages and is just one of several Christmas markets spread out across the city.

Although not an obvious choice for a winter vacation thanks to the harsh cold weather and the shortened daylight hours, Bucharest is a city that comes alive during the winter months and the locals certainly don’t let the weather stop all the fun you can have in the capital.

The Arch of Triumph (Arcul de Triumf) from Bucharest Romania

Because winter is low season in the city this is also the most affordable time for budget travelers to visit Bucharest and a great time to really immerse yourself in the local culture.

A Hub For Relaxation

Romania is a country best known for its fictional vampires and its incredible castles and fortresses. But not many people know that it is a European hub for relaxation too.

Therme Budapest is Europe’s largest wellness and relaxation center. Therme is a temple to relaxation and is so much more than a simple spa. It offers 10 pools, scented saunas, and the largest urban beach in Europe. You’ll also find waterslides or aerobics sessions depending on the kind of experience you’re looking for.

Therme Bucharest - the largest entertainment and wellness family complex for rest and relaxation

It’s also incredibly good value: a 3 hour session costs from just 59 Romanian Leu ($12.72).

Prefer something smaller and more intimate? Therme isn’t the only thermal spa in Bucharest, although it is the most famous. Romania has a long history of mineral springs and thermal bathing and there are several other smaller spas in the city.

Beat The Crowds

Even though Bucharest is poised to witness an explosion of popularity, it will remain considerably less crowded than other major European destinations like Rome and Paris.

Bucharest city street

It hasn’t been on the tourist radar for long which means that it’s still considered an off the beaten track destination with the low crowd levels to match.

That’s not to say there won’t be tourists and tourist crowds in the city. But Bucharest is not suffocated with the long queues that you often find in other European cities, particularly during the height of the summer season.

Make the most of Bucharest’s vibrant cultural scene. Submerge yourself in the local culture such as theatre, ballet, music, and contemporary art.

Bucharest Romania

And enjoy the large parks and green spaces such as the Cismigiu park, which has an old-world charm and is just a few minutes' stroll away from the Old Town.

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