The temperatures have dropped and the warm clothes already occupy significant space in the wardrobe - the cold season has begun. Many are looking for gifts for their loved ones during this period. Christmas fairs attract many visitors in December, but there are many other seasonal activities you can enjoy in Bucharest, even when the weather is less friendly.
It’s December and the weather is cold today, but rainy. So we choose to spend the day somewhere indoors and we go to the Cotroceni neighborhood, where we find the largest shopping center in Bucharest.
It’s Saturday before noon but the mall is already crowded. Despite the rainy weather, groups of young people enjoy their coffee on the terraces in front of the shopping center. They talk loudly, laugh and make plans for the day that is just beginning. We enter the mall and we soon find one of the main attractions of this place: the ice rink. It’s arranged indoors and this means that the ice skating enthusiasts are lighter dressed here, unlike those who choose an outdoor ice rink.
Some children are already enjoying this activity with their parents while others have just rented skates and are getting ready to get on the ice. It costs RON 13 to rent a pair of skates here and an ice skating session takes 90 minutes, with 30-minute breaks between sessions. For the children who can’t skate, the parents rent plastic seals that the kids can use as training aids or seek the help of an instructor.
Near the ice rink, younger children are having fun at the playground specially arranged for them. There’s a lot of joy in this part of the mall and sometimes the kids’ laughter and noises cover the music coming from the shopping center’s speakers.
We leave the ice rink, but we stay in this mall and test our senses. So we head to the Museum of Senses, which is located on the 1st floor, not far from another popular attraction among the juniors: a small roller coaster that takes the brave ones through the air for a few minutes, making them shout for joy.
We arrive at the Museum of Senses at the same time with a group of children, all eager to discover the place. It takes us a few minutes to get to the front desk, where we pay the entry tickets and we get information about how this adventure will go. We enter the museum and the first steps we take are in a maze of mirrors that make this first room seem infinite. We stop for a few seconds to figure out which way to go. The children are laughing and their enthusiasm excites us too.
We spend almost an hour in this place, going through many rooms and trying many of the exhibits that test not only our sight, but also our smell or perception. Among them, the upside down room, the nail bed or the three-dimensional images. An employee of the museum explains how some of the exhibits work, but also helps us take the best pictures. The location can also host parties for children or other events.
The day is not over yet and after all this hustle and bustle so far we decide to go for a more relaxing activity, so we head to the cinema. The main cinemas in Bucharest are located in shopping centers, with the offer also including 4DX or IMAX cinema halls. There are also some small movie theaters spread throughout the city, such as Cinema Union, Cinemateca Eforie, Cinema Elvire Popesco or Cinema Muzeul Țăranului, where movie fans can see film productions at lower prices.
We choose to go to one of the big cinemas . Movies for all tastes are screened these days, from animations to action films and we choose to see one of the most successful productions of the year, in which Joaquin Phoenix plays the main role. But the winter months will bring many top films to the cinemas in Bucharest, such as “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Bad Boys for Life,” “Dolittle,” “The Gentlemen,” or “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
The ticket offices are quite crowded, but it doesn't take us long to buy the tickets and choose our seats in the cinema hall. Tickets can also be bought online and printed at the cinema. The movie starts in 20 minutes, so we have enough time to buy the traditional popcorn with salt and a few soft drinks. Some choose to wait for the movie to start at the nearby tables, while others stop to take pictures with figurines of movie heroes that look like guardians of the cinema. A children's train runs past the movie theater. It is a cheerful atmosphere, but relaxing, perfect for the end of a busy day.
Finding the perfect gifts for the loved ones remains, however, the most popular activity of the season in the first month of winter, so we also go on a "gift hunt" in Bucharest. The first stop is, of course, at the Christmas Market in Constituției Square, the central point of the winter holidays in the Capital. We find here more than 100 stalls with traditional goodies and unique gifts, many of them attracting large groups of curious people. We’re also approaching one of the stalls, where a young couple has just bought some jewelry with special design. But we also find other types of gifts at the fair, for both children and adults, from handmade dolls to traditional blouses, wooden products or special Christmas decorations, of different colors and sizes.
The Christmas Market in Constituției Square also hosts one of the first outdoor ice rinks open in Bucharest this season, so the winter fun is in full swing here, despite the high temperatures. Other ice rinks will be set up in large parks such as Cișmigiu, Drumul Taberei Park, Titan (IOR) or Herăstrău Park (Mihai I), as soon as the outside temperatures will allow it.
Many other Christmas fairs will open in Bucharest in December, such as the peasant fair at Muzeul Țăranului Român, the designer gifts fair at Hanul Gabroveni, the handmade products fair at Impact Hub or the Christmas fair at Palatul Telefoanelor. Until then, we continue our "gift hunt" in bookstores. Here we find our favorite writers’ books, but also many other gifts for the whole family, from toys for children to music and movies for friends, quality coffee for parents or pens for work colleagues.
It is already late afternoon when we arrive at one of the most popular bookstores in Bucharest, located on Lipscani Street in the Old Town, and the warm atmosphere here combined with the relaxing music convinces us to go up to the bistro, located on the top floor. Up here we find a warm but minimalist place with a design intended to make you feel at home, a combination of colorful paintings, books and plants of different sizes. Plus, from here you can take spectacular photos with the entire bookstore. We sit at a table by the wall and enjoy the delicious combinations of teas we receive while browsing a book.
We also find some gifts in shopping centers or at the souvenir shops in the city. The map of a "gift hunt" in Bucharest can include a large number of places, you just have to make a list of what you think your loved ones would like to receive from Santa Claus.
A new day, a new opportunity for fun activities. This time we choose a bowling and pool club located in the western part of the city, not far from the Petrache Poenaru subway station. There are many such locations in Bucharest, some of them open inside the shopping centers.
We choose to play pool, so we head for the bar, choose a table and start the fun. The hall is not that busy now and the prices are not very high either, during the week varying between RON 9 and RON 24. Of course, depending on the day and time, the price on a weekend day can go up quite a lot, reaching up to RON 30. Next to us other customers of the club are playing bowling, while the area dedicated to table tennis is still quiet.
It’s just after 16:00 when we leave the pool club, but it’s already getting dark outside. We decided to take advantage of this and head to the city center for a few pictures with the Christmas lights. The Capital is decorated with millions of LED bulbs, as well as thousands of light elements and figurines. We stop on Unirii Boulevard, where we find light installations dedicated to sports, specially prepared to mark the fact that Bucharest will host matches of the European Football Championship in 2020. Many visitors of the Christmas Market stop in this area to take pictures with the "EURO 2020" installations and the small Christmas trees.
We decide to end the day at the Christmas Market, where we warm up with a glass of mulled wine. Served dry, with apple slices or with cinnamon, the mulled wine is one of the hot drinks most appreciated by Romanians during the cold season. Near us, some visitors are taking pictures with the Christmas tree while others are looking for the best gifts.
This material is part of a project under the program of promoting the touristic heritage “Destination: Bucharest”, carried out by the Bucharest City Hall through the Public Monuments and Touristic Heritage Administration (AMPT).
photos by Romania-Insider.com for AMPT