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Where to go out in the Old City Center in Bucharest

"There is no nightlife in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not nightlife. That is delaying the day. Nightlife is when you get up with a hangover in the morning. Nightlife is when everybody says what the hell and you do not remember who paid the bill. Nightlife goes round and round and you look at the wall to make it stop. Nightlife comes out of a bottle and goes into a jar. If you think how much are the drinks it is not nightlife." Ernest Hemingway

...I’m downright sure Mr. Hemingway would have loved Bucharest.

Just like any other European city, Bucharest has its own Old City Center. An Old City Center that since its massive refurbishing that has started in 2007, has gained the reputation of one of the best places to have fun, day or night.

The nightlife here is pretty awesome: bars that stay open till dawn, good prices, pubs that serve food in the middle of the night. What else is there to wish for?

I personally love to go out in the Old City Center but to certain spots. Not a big fan of the terraces on Smardan for example. It seems like everybody and their mother is cramped up on this little street, dodging tables and waiters, popping their eyes out to a find a free table, music, the occasional bikes, dogs &other stories. It’s just too chaotic even for me and I love crowded, busy places.

For stories on the Old City Center read this article.

I put together a list of my all time favorite spots in the Old Town, be it for going out to have a coffee or to party. Chances are that if I’m out in the town you will find me at one of these places.

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foto source: Grand Cafe Van Gogh on Facebook

1. Grand Cafe Van Gogh- Smardan no.9

This is one of the oldest cafes in the Old City Center. It’s set at the end of Smardan Str., so in the quiet part. I used to love this place but lately I go here only for two things: the window table and their soy milk cappuccino. Summer or winter, sipping a cappuccino and looking at people from the window table is more relaxing than watching fish swimming in a tank.

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foto source: Laborator Cocktail Bar on Facebook
  1. Laborator Cocktail Bar- Stavropoleos Str.

They serve shots in test tubes and a blue cocktail that to this day I have no idea if its name is Bull Frog or Blue Frog. Doesn’t even matter...it has been the reason of some legendary partying. Plus the music and people that usually come here are pretty cool.

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foto source: St. Patrick Pub on Facebook
  1. St. Patrick Pub- Smardan 23-25

...I am starting to regret saying that I do not like Smardan since it seems that almost ALL my recommendations are on Smardan.

Irish bars and pubs are on a trend in Bucharest. No, wait! That’s an understatement! They are everywhere and some of them are not good. You need more than a wooden bar to actually call yourself an Irish Bar. I won’t even get into the Irish bar/ Italian food mix- just NO!

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But St. Patrick is the real deal- from beers which are the foundation of the Irish bar to food and atmosphere. I like it so much that during summer, I prefer to go there and stay inside rather than on a terrace. AND they have window tables.

Opposite St. Patrick Bar is St. Patrick Eatery which is just the fancy shmancy version of St. Patrick, but otherwise- same menu, same atmosphere, same friendly staff.

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  1. Nomad Skybar- Smardan 30

A bit further down on Smardan you’ll find Nomad Skybar. It’s new, it’s posh and it’s definitely a must do on a bar crawl in the Old City Center. Calling it a bar is not really accurate since they also serve food and it’s open during the day too. It’s more a day bar/pub/club.

I really love it’s NY vibe and the glass ceiling. Nomad is one of those places that I hope to pass the test of time since we need it to polish up the bar offer in the Old City Center.

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foto source: Bruno Wine bar on Facebook
  1. Bruno Wine Bar & Nenea Iancu Brewery- Covaci 3

I put these two together because they share the same address: Covaci no. 3. They are my favorite spots in the Old Center. I’m actually having conflicting feelings about writing about them. These are places visited mostly by locals. Tourists come here either on recommendation or if they stumble upon them by chance.

Bruno Wine Bar opened its door in 2008 when the Old Center project was only at its beginning. Few places are still around from that year so Bruno must be doing something right.

It’s the place to come if you want to enjoy a glass of wine. Their selection of Romanian red wines is good and the personnel well trained and ready to help you choose something from their list. Trust me, trying a glass of Romanian red is a must.

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foto source: Nenea Iancu on Facebook

Nenea Iancu Brewery next to it, is my usual go to place. One thing that I miss in Bucharest is the total lack of the idea of community. Or to have that one place where you feel comfortable and people seem familiar even if you don’t know them. Nenea Iancu is the closest thing I got to having that experience.

It’s small, unpretentious and perfect to unwind after a long, hard days work.

Honorable mentions:

100 de beri- Covaci 8. In English: 100 beers. They literally have 100 beers on the menu. For those days when you can’t be bothered to put make up on and you just want to relax.

Bicicleta- Selari 2.Voted among one of the most original looking bars in the world. For photos and story: 5 Cool Places for Fun Times

Carturesti Carusel Bistro- Lipscani 55 I like Carusel a lot but I am yet to figure out if the Bistro has the power to turn me into a regular customer. The view, though:

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Have you tried any of these places? Do you have other recommendations? Share your opinions with us!

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