First off, the airport.
Do not change any money here, as exchange rates are poor (as in the rip-off end of poor). Instead, use one of the many, many ATMs in the arrivals area.
Next, getting into town.
Since the beginning of February passengers arriving at Otopeni have been able to call a taxi of their choice from any of the main Bucharest taxi companies. That makes you the luckiest football supporters ever to arrive in Bucharest. (In the past, you had to run the gauntlet of taxi touts, who thought nothing of taking you for every penny you had). As you exit baggage claim, you will see a desk where you can order a cheap taxi (the rates of all the main companies – do not pay more than 1.69 lei per kilometre – are displayed next to the desk. A girl will be on hand to call the taxi for you. A standard Bucharest taxi (a Dacia Logan) will take four passengers at a push. More details about how to get a taxi at the airport here.
There is also a perfectly good bus which goes right into the city centre (it stops at Piata Victoriei, Piata Romana and Piata Unirii). Details here. The train into town is a total waste of time.
Unfortunately, elsewhere in the city you still need to be very careful about which kind of taxi you jump into. Only ever take one from a trusted company (we list those here). Some fans and journalists here in 2011 for a Manchester United game were right royally ripped off.
While some Romanian news reports have suggested that Chelsea supporters with deep pockets will do wonders for the stalled Romanian economy, note that not all of Bucharest’s bar, pub and restaurant owners are likely to welcome big groups of lads with open arms. Best stick to places used to accommodating football fans: Mojo, on Strada Gabroveni in the Old Town, is one such place. It’s our local for a start, it has an English owner, Sky Sports, the beer is cheap and these days it’s pretty much the city’s main expat hangout.
(You night also be interested to know that Bucharest is a big casino city. The best, by a mile, is the Casino Bucharest at the InterContinental hotel).
Lots more Bucharest nightlife listings here.
For food, we suggest City Grill or even historic Hanul lui Manuc: both are big enough to cope. There are plenty of other options in the Old Town area, everything from kebabs (the best is Gyros Thessaloniki) to high class French cuisine courtesy of La Bonne Bouche and Bon.
Lots more Bucharest restaurant listings here.
The Steaua-Chelsea game will be played at Bucharest’s impressive Arena Nationala (and not Steaua’s own ground). The closest metro station is Piata Muncii, about ten minutes walk away. There’s a map of the metro (designed by Son of Bucharest Life) here. Piata Unirii is the closest metro station to the Old Town. It should take no more than 15 minutes to get to Piata Muncii (change at Dristor).
There is also a bus, No. 104, direct from Piata Unirii to the stadium.
The chances are, however, that you will take a taxi. Be careful, and pay no more than around 15 lei (it isn’t all that far).
And be warned: getting back into the city centre after the game could be a bit of a nightmare. Expect to do a bit of walking.
We have mapped all of the places we mention above:
View Chelsea in Bucharest in a larger map
Don’t forget to download a PDF copy of Bucharest In Your Pocket before you leave, download the iPhone app and then pick up a hard copy when you arrive: ask your concierge for it by name if you do not find one on your hotel room.
Finally, if anyone wants to ask us anything about Bucharest between now and Thursday, feel free, either here or on Twitter. And if you want to buy us a beer as thanks for getting Chelsea to stop taking the piss with the ticket prices, we will almost certainly be in Mojo on Wednesday night.