An updated edition of this post from March.
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 this year 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 some of 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 some touch screens 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 clearly displayed). Once the taxi company of your choice has informed you (via the screen) how long the taxi will take to arrive, and what ID number the taxi has, you simply go outside to wait for your taxi. Make sure you get into the correct taxi: check the company name and ID number match. Also, not that while most of the rip-off taxis of yore have now gone, there are still sometimes touts hassling visitors inside the arrivals hall: ignore them.
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 – including what kind of ticket you need to buy – here. The train into town is a total waste of time.
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 most of 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 Caru’ cu Bere: 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 from the stadium. 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, and if the game in March is anything to go buy, the city will run free buses to and from the stadium before and after the game: these will probably depart from the bus stop in front of Hanul lui Manuc (see the map below).
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).
Stray dogs? Will not be a problem if you stick to the city centre. We have info on what to do if you do get bitten 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, and then pick up a hard copy when you arrive: ask your concierge for it by name if you do not find one in your hotel room. Our mobile platform at m.inyourpocket.com might also prove to be mildly useful.
If anyone wants to ask us anything about Bucharest between now and Tuesday, feel free, either here or on Twitter. Also, while we have tickets they are for the Steaua section: if any Chelsea fans come to town carrying two spares do get in touch.
Costs: One British pound is currently worth 5.32 lei, and a pint of local beer in a central Bucharest bar or pub will cost you around 8 lei (£1.50). A McDonald’s Big Mac costs 11 lei (£2.07), while a packet of 20 international brand cigarettes costs 14.50 lei (£2.72). One litre of standard unleaded petrol 5.95 lei (£1.12). A one-trip ticket for public transport ticket costs 1.30 lei (£0.24).
Finally, the UK embassy’s (mainly common sense) advice sheet for football fans visiting Bucharest is here.