But Bucharest uses the best bits from around the continent and blends them into one destination.
The Romanian capital has the ability to make you feel like you’re in multiple cities at once.
A quick stroll through Cismigiu Gardens will have you thinking you’ve stumbled into New York’s Central Park. And you could be forgiven for confusing the columns on the Romanian Athenaeum with the entrance to a Roman amphitheatre.
Once known as the Little Paris of the East, Bucharest’s very own Arcul de Triumf could easily be mistaken for the famous French monument.
A stroll down the Macca-Villacrosse Passage will add a little Parisian flavour to your afternoon. But nothing in Bucharest is more impressive than the Palace of the Parliament.
Built in the 1980s by former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, it’s the second largest administrative building in the world behind the Pentagon. It even dwarfs the Great Pyramid of Giza, covering 360,000 square metres, and has a network of tunnels so large they doubled as a racetrack on an episode of Top Gear.
The British are spending less on holidays, with Brexit worries seeing staycations rise in popularity. Just over half of us feel we can’t afford an overseas getaway, according to a recent study by Expedia.co.uk.
But for those looking to go offshore and explore a unique city on a budget, Bucharest is the answer.
A three-night stay in the capital took us to the Grand Hotel Continental on the edge of the old town. For £98 a night, we stayed in five-star luxury with a complimentary breakfast.
And it’s not just accommodation that offers great value for money.
Most local restaurants won’t charge more than 130 leu (£25) for two courses and drinks for a couple.
Visit Vatra Restaurant just next to Cismgiu Park for an authentic meal accompanied by traditional dancers performing right next to your table.
Once you’ve become familiar with the landmarks, get out of the city and see Romania’s most globally renowned territory. Bus tours run daily from Bucharest out to Transylvania, where you’ll get to experience the slower pace and visit Bran Castle, also known as “Dracula’s Castle”.
We booked a Dracula’s Castle day tour with GetYourGuide for £70 a head. Picked up from our hotel, we spent 12 hours exploring the region with local tour guide Mr Tripp. Fortunately, you won’t run into any blood-sucking characters during your visit to Bran Castle, but you will get to see the spot where infamous Vlad the Impaler — rumoured to be a distant relative of Prince Charles — was imprisoned.
One of the most vicious rulers in history, it’s believed Vlad would taste the blood of his slain enemies — making him the perfect model for the Dracula fantasy.
Take a stroll down to the lake beneath the castle, and if you get the angle right, you’ll get the perfect spooky photo through the trees looking up at the enormous structure.
As part of your day trip, you will also see the unusual neo-Renaissance Peles and Pelisor Castles.
Both are less than 200 years old, and are far from the extravagance of the castles of our royals.
A trip to Transylvania would not be complete without a stop in the medieval city of Brasov. Dating back more than 800 years with German and Saxon origins, it still has its walls to protect from invaders.
Finished with its own Hollywood-style sign on the hills, Brasov is a great spot to get a taste of traditional Romanian shopping, food and architecture.
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