Bucharest for Chelsea fans

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.

Other venues which will not panic at the sight of you include St. Patrick, Bordello’s and Van Gogh.

(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.

As you have come all this way, it would be daft to leave Bucharest without at least seeing Casa Poporului from the outside. We list the other sights we think are essential in Bucharest here.

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.

  • Roger

    Well worth a bump of this thread πŸ™‚

    • Yep. Still pretty much relevant. I await the fixture dates.

      • Roger

        Yes, agreed and also await ticket prices πŸ™‚

        An altogether different Chelsea this time in Bucharest, not least a Mourinho side with Eto the latest recruit and Champions League at stake …….. Should make for a better showing from Chelsea as last time they were woeful (I was at game in Bucharest) ……. And should be more away support this time as the majority wont be in Amsterdam this time! πŸ™‚

        • Mr Rearguard

          Chelsea will be back in Bucharest with their amazing away support of 20 fans, FACT!!!! I counted them last season when they were plying their trade in the Thursday league 5live!!!

          • Roger

            Yes, I was in the ground too (Steaua end) and was shocked at the piss poor following of Chelsea BUT in their defense, due to Ajax V Steaua score (first leg) …….. It was odds on Chelsea would be playing Ajax away on the day they actually ended up playing Steaua ………. So a fair few had already booked flights to Amsterdam instead!

            Their own fault granted, but a partial reason for such a poor away following!

            I’m pretty sure they’ll be a few hundred more than last time …. I’ll guess around 1000 plus will travel, compared to the few hundred who came earlier this year.

          • Afraid to admit you are right: there’ll be even less this time.

            • Roger
            • Mr Rearguard

              I now make that Pep 8-3 Maureen!

              • A Mickey Mouse cup.

                • Mr Rearguard

                  To you yes of course because you lost but I wonder if you would have taken that same point of view if you had won it? Pep could play Maureen at conkers and the score would still remain the same.

                  • If Chelsea had won it would have been a top, top cup. Personally though, I wouldn’t have had penalties: we don’t have them in our own charity shield. Encouraging performance though: we were a long way behind Bayern last year: the gap is much closer now.

                    • Mr Rearguard

                      Be honest now, if Chelsea were to play Bayern 10 times on the trot, it would be 9-1 in favour of Pep’s side, fact!!!

  • Giuseppe

    If Torres was a horse, he’d be in a lasagna by now. πŸ˜€

    • Did you see when he was clean through, and instead of sticking it in the net he basically cleared it for Steaua. It’s bad enough when he does nothing, now he has started actually helping the other team.

      • laur

        i think Chelsea had 8 months in Europe of scoring in every game.

      • Giuseppe

        Yes, it was a wonderful bit of defending.

  • Giuseppe

    I wonder if this chick actually read and understood the article or if she already was in some sort of anti-English/anti-football rage :))

  • Mister Rearguard

    I’ve got 10 barmen all waiting on me in the Gin Factory. They foolishly believed that 10,000 supporters were coming. I had to remind them that we are talking about Chelsea and NOT Leeds United!!!!

    • Mister Rearguard

      Cheslea away support = pathetic.

  • kassia

    Nice article. Sounds like the British are going into Africa. By the descriptions, it looks like everywhere you go, from the minute you leave the airport, the romanians will try to rip you off. Better head to the English Pub run by an English owner, just to be on the safe side. Installing fear, unsecurity and an overall sense of the idea that foreigners are stepping into a third world country, is a bit over-rated, given that as bad as it sounds, Romania is part of the modern EU Community.
    On a personal note, I have visited London a few times and got mugged by Morrocans. Also BBC stated that the muslims are creating their own religious neighbourhoods.
    Also, if you go out at night in London, especially if you are a group of young foreign girls, I would watch out for all the drunks that tend to get violent after a soccer game.

    • marie

      Well said!!
      Better look into their own backyard before criticizing others….soccer hooligans, most of them anyhow……..they have no lives other than breathing through their beloved soccer team….and beer. Sad…

      • Next time wait a little longer and use a different ip when making multiple comments under different names. It looks more realistic.

        • Anon

          Hahahahahha priceless

    • There is a huge difference between installing fear and providing useful, pertinent and accurate information.

      And why bring London into it? This is about Bucharest, which is the safest capital in Europe. We have written as such many times.

      • Mister Rearguard

        Just been now in Lipscani and I counted the Chelsea away support on one hand!!! Pathetic!!!!!

        • You could count Chelsea’s goals on the hands of a Saudi Arabian repeat offender.

          • Mister Rearguard

            Basingstoke Town take more away than Chelsea!

  • Mister Rearguard

    Who watched the footy last night eh? Great to see ManU’s influence doesn’t reach into Europe. So I sat down in front of the box (tv) after reading all the hype surrounding this fixture only to find TVR1 was showing bloody Borusia Dortmund (check spelling) vs some manky Russian team, WHY?! What the ruddy hell is going on there eh??? Don’t they the read the bloody papers? Don’t they follow who’s hot and who’s not? Even Jose Mourinho (check spelling) said the whole footballing world will be watching this (ok apart from the fans who went to witness Dortmund of course). Gawd knows what TVR1 will be showing next week when Barca try to wiggle out of another hole against AC Milan? Anyway, all was not lost. After messing around flicking through channels I found the match everyone wanted to see. Rant over.

    • Parmalat

      Besides the fact that I’m a fan of Borussia Dortmund and we’re gonna be European champions this year and they aired the game especially for me, the OTHER team is managed by Mircea Lucescu and its left-side defender is Razvan Rat who played in the first 11.

      So they aired the Dortmund game for the same reason they used to air the games of Galatasaray in the times when Hagi & Popescu were playing there or Besiktas when Lucescu was manager and Pancu used to play.

      • Mister Rearguard

        It’s interesting, but every Rom I chat to about football they only want to talk about the English clubs and no one else! I’m sure most Roms last night couldn’t give a Rats (pun intended) arse about Dortmund with the Russians and they no doubt watched Madrid V ManU.
        I looked up that Lucescu geezer. He’s a crap manager. Blew his one and only chance with a big club, Inter Milan back in 98. I doubt he could even keep a rabbit going with lettice.
        I remember last year watching the champions league final here in Romania (somewhere) and I accidently sat down on my remote and changed channels by mistake. I could not believe my eyes. Whilst the European cup was being fought over, some piddly meaningless football match in Romania was taking place at the same time?!?! Duh, but I was always lead to believe that the European cup final was something sacred. A time when every fan, player, referee, coach, manager, chairman etc etc all sat and watched the two best teams in Europe fight it out to be crowned the Champion of Europe. Alas not in Romania it seems.

        • Well done for calling bullshit on the myth of Mircea Lucescu. He has never won anything of note. Look up Stefan Kovacs: now there’s a Romanian coach who won stuff (back to back European Cups, with Ajax, in 1972 and 1973).

        • Parmalat

          Back in 1998 after Mircea Lucescu, it was Marcelo Lippi to get fired from the same Inter team with the same players.

          Let’s face it, that wasn’t a team it was just a collection of star players: Ronaldo, Zamorano, Roberto Baggio, Taribo West, Pagliuca, Bergomi etc… too many strong personalities in that team, it couldn’t possibly be made to work. With Lucescu on the bench and with all their star players in the first 11, Parma beat them 3-0 in the Coppa Italia and they didn’t even cross midfield. The team was badly built, it wasn’t Lucescu’s fault.

          I agree that if I had spent 100 + million Euro as Lucescu did with Shakhtar, I could have won the UEFA Cup myself. But he did win it and he also won many internal trophies with 4 clubs (Shakhtar, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Rapid Bucharest, Dinamo Bucharest), he built the best Romanian national team in history (the squad that participated in Coppa del Mondo Italia 1990) so he is the best Romanian manager in history.

          • Giuseppe

            I don’t know what’s funnier: Borussia Dortmund winning the Champions League this year, or Mircea Lucescu being half as good as you make him out to be. πŸ˜€

          • Mister Rearguard

            Parmo my son…you’re talking rubbish if you’re saying Lucescu is the best Romanian manager of all time! You’re forgetting Stefan Kovacs. Back to back European cups taking on the likes of the mighty Leeds United and Juventus etc. The only thing Lucescu has done is to wrap his car around a tram!

            • Giuseppe

              Precisely. Only two managers from this country were ever crowned European champions. Neither of them was Lucescu. As far as I’m concerned, 100 league titles in Ukraine or Turkey (or Romania) aren’t worth 1 champions cup.

        • marie

          People have other things going on in their lives besides soccer; and here in Romania nobody worships a soccer team; GET A LIFE!!
          The league or team do not know and do not care that you even exist or that your life revolves around their achievements – it’s truly PATHETIC to worship a soccer team; that’s all you have going on in your lives??

          • Mister Rearguard

            @Marie. We all here have got a life. I think it is YOU who needs to get a life. ps. Do people still use that term “get a life”? Sounds so 1990’s.

      • Mister Rearguard

        ps Parmalat. It’s a pathetic reason to show that match because of Rat and Lucescu. Almost as bad as Channel4 20 years ago in England by dropping my Sunday afternoon tv show ‘The Waltons’ so they could bring us Italian football so we could see Des Walker getting raped week in week out.

        • Parmalat

          Des Walker, what a defender!!! But English defenders just don’t fit Italian style, Italians have their own defenders and they are the best in the world :mrgreen:

          Well, since we have no team playing at this level – we do want to see the teams where Romanian players actually play. Same thing with internal championship games: you’re gonna see a lot of Ajaccio, Granada, Chievo, Inter etc… on Romanian tv channels because we have players in those teams and we want to see them playing.

          I’m sure Japanese tv stations used to air Borussia Dortmund in the previous years when Kagawa was playing for them. And now they’re probably showing Man United for the same reason…

          • Giuseppe

            Regardless, it’s a pathetic reason to show (and watch) a football match. I used to curse a lot when I missed a big match because of this. At least with Digi’s 3 channels, it’s not as aggravating as it used to be, though it still occasionally happens.

            On a slightly related note, I’m also quite happy that these days I have the choice to watch an interesting European cup tie, instead of some Romanian team I don’t care about. There’s only one Romanian team whose European matches concern me. πŸ˜€

            • Glad to hear that. I have never understood why so many fans of Romanian teams always support other Romanian teams in Europe. Any good Dinamo or Rapid fan should want Steaua to get stuffed tonight.

              • Mister Rearguard

                There’s a story in todays The Sun (maybe it’s true) about Becali saying Steaua are gonna rape Chelsea because they are too slow etc etc. Maybe so, but if it’s going to be so easy tonight for Steaua, then why aren’t Becali’s boys ever reaching at least the last 8 of the Champions League?

                • For once he might have a point. They do have some pacey forwards.

                  • Mister Rearguard

                    I heard a rumour that if Steaua get at least a draw tonight with Chelsea, then there will be an open top bus parade through Bucharest city centre tomorrow midday.

                    • πŸ™‚

                    • laur

                      why the hell not!!!)))) champion league holders drawn to piss)))

                • Parmalat

                  God wouldn’t help Gigi Becali because he’s not a good enough Christian. But he will become better and God and Jesus Christ will help him to reach the last 8 of the Champions League.

              • Giuseppe

                Personally, I don’t have a problem with that in itself; I can understand it to a degree. What really annoys me is when people expect you to do the same, and they put on this incredulous visage when you tell them otherwise: “You’re not gonna support Dinamo/Rapid/CFR?!” Like hell I will, I hope they crash and burn.

                I’m only going to support someone if I feel like it, not because it’s somehow the right thing to do; like when I attended Urziceni’s CL matches a few years ago. It didn’t hurt that the matches were played at Ghencea, either.

  • Andy H

    You still have to run the gamut of taxi touts. I flew in on Monday and there were loads of them all over the airport, like cockroaches. Possibly getting ready for the Chelsea fans in fact.

    • I did wonder how long it would last.

      • Phil

        Yeah, the touts are still about, even if the taxi desks seem to be functioning ok. Small mercies etc.

        • Anon

          Guess we need more rapes and murders for some serious action to be taken…
          But then again, if the Govt and courts don’t respect Romania’s laws, then you can’t expect the general population to either.

  • Great posting, Craig – again !

  • nick

    Good article and well worth a read! This will be my 4th time in Bucharest and I am still learning all the time! Nice to hear of other places for ex-pats to hang out!

    Just one question, may have an answer from someone in Dubliner but where is the best exchange rate for UK pounds in Bucharest?

    BNR is the best I can find so far around 5.02 lei / 1 GBP.

    Oh and will they accept UK Β£50 notes as even in the UK it’s hard to spend them without people thinking they are fake lol !

    Cheers in advance!

    • Mister Rearguard

      Best place to change cash is inside that large Unirii shopping centre. You will find it on the ground floor opposite the revolving doors and smack bang next to a little whisky and fine cigars shop.

      • Parmalat

        =)))))))))

    • Β£50 notes? You shouldn’t have any trouble changing them inside a bank.

      • nick

        Yes notes, the exchange rate is so poor in the UK at the moment 4.72 with ICE ………. So it seemed sensible to bring cash and exchange in Romania instead as a far better exchange rate (from what I can gather) ……… Is the Unirii shopping centre one of the many dubious ”exchange” places in Bucharest? I was intending to stick to the banks!

        I only asked if they will accept 50 pound notes as anyone from the UK knows that people can be funny about accepting them as I found out in ASDA earlier today! I would hope a Romanian bank will be fine though, just wanted to ask people who have far more knowledge than me!

        Cheers for the advice, appreciated.

        • Parmalat

          Look, I was about to let Mr Rearguard to make fun of you but you seem to be a nice guy πŸ™‚

          – don’t exchange in Unirea Shopping Center; it’s the worst exchange rate within city limits

          – instead just walk from Piata Unirii to Universitate and on both sides of the road you’re gonna find about 10 exchange offices where you can compare prices

          – if you really prefer banks, there’s a RBS headquarters over the road from Unirea Shopping Center, they may have the best rates for GBP from all banks (not sure, but worth checking)

          – if you want to check more banks, just walk from Piata Unirii to Piata Romana and you’re gonna find at least 5-6 different banks

          – no matter where you exchange your money, before signing the bill that the cashier hands to you, make sure the figures on the bill match your calculations; the law says that an exchange is not accepted until the receiver signs the bill so if the bill doesn’t match your calculations you can ask for explanations and even for a cancellation of the transaction

          This rule was passed by a good friend of mine which was director of the Consumer Protection Office and is now in charge of the Registrar of Commerce. A wonderful lady, member of PSD.

          That’s about all you need to know, enjoy your stay in Bucharest πŸ™‚

          • nick

            Parmalat

            Thanks for all of that, I guess that is pretty much all I need to know!

            I kind of had an idea rearguard was taking the piss so to speak judging by his other posts on here but there is always one as they say!

            It seems to be that I would be wise to check around all exchanges as banks are not certain to be the best rate!

            Interesting point about the signing of an agreement prior to checking the figures! I suppose it makes sense anyway but nice to know there is consumer law on my side in this instance!

            Once again genuine thanks for the advice, always nice to hear the views of others and especially those who know far more than me and willing to help!

            kind regards Nick.

        • Mister Rearguard

          @Nick. Regarding Unirii. In the past they were iffy but not today. The place I’m talking about is run by Iranians. They have a motto. No trust, no business.