Despite living in Bucharest, a big city wrongly considered to be a bit grey, we live on the edge town where things are a bit different. Our street is lined with houses, we have a parking spot that is never taken, there is no through traffic and there’s not a high rise apartment block in sight.
We love the restaurants, nightlife, museums and attractions the city can offer but we like to be able to jump in our car and leave it all behind as quickly as possible. We opted against living in the city centre to avoid queuing in traffic every time we had that very urge, instead we live just a stone’s throw from Bucharest’s ring road. A few minutes driving and we can be heading east to the coast or north to everyone’s favourite place, the mountains of Transylvania.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the time or money to be driving off to the mountains every weekend and we’ve started to look a little closer to home for our taste of nature. Everyone who’s been to Bucharest will know that the parks here are very impressive, better than anywhere we’ve seen in fact, but we were looking for somewhere a little more secluded. Somewhere our dog can run free off the lead without the worry of obstructing cyclists, runners, children or roller bladers (surprisingly popular here?).
Research proved tricky, so we went with our favourite travel planning technique, picking somewhere on a map and checking google images to see how it looks. While there are a few green spaces within Bucharest that looked pretty, Baneasa Forest was picked as this past weekend’s adventure. Located in the north of the city, just inside the ring-road, Baneasa Forest is located right next to the Bucharest Zoo, making it nice and easy to reach either by sat-nav or as a landmark to mention to your taxi driver.
Entering the forest on one of the main paths it was clear to see that it’s a popular place with the locals on a sunny day. However, like most city folk in these sort of places, they all follow the herd. Immediately turning off down one of the smaller side paths we soon found ourselves alone in the forest, over the next two hours we would only bump into a group of mountain bikers, a couple of other dog walkers, a horse and cart and a few deer.
Heading east into Tunari Forest, which is only separated from Baneasa Forest by a small dirt road, it was clear we had unintentionally timed our visit to perfection. Spring has arrived in Bucharest and turned the forest floor into an incredible shade of green, with only the colours of the first bright flowers breaking it up. It’s impossible to say how many times we commented to each other how lovely a setting the forest was, it’s exactly the sort of place we had hoped to find and a great venue for our long Sunday strolls.
My concerns about a forest within the city turned out to be unnecessary, not only was it very clean but the two areas combined, Baneasa and Tunari, were much larger than I expected too. In over two hours of walking, we didn’t cross the same path twice and still left much of the forest untouched.
So if you’re visiting Bucharest soon and want to break up your days of taking in the architecture of the old town and sampling the different coffee shops, flag down a taxi and ask for Bucharest Zoo, it’s only 20 minutes away and well worth the journey.
Next week we’ll be picking another of those green spaces on google maps and seeing what else we can find around the edge of Bucharest. After all, you can never have enough ‘Sunday walk’ options…
Have you been to any forests or parks in Bucharest? If not, is this what you expected to see?