Bucharest Mall opened in 1999 as Romania begun emulating the
shopping habits of its traditionally capitalist neighbours. Inside
are over 70 high-end stores across four levels, with the usual cast
of restaurants, fast food joints, cinemas and a games arcade. The
largest mall in Bucharest however is Plaza Romania which has a huge
range of retail stores inside its cavernous interior. The former
Communist department store Unirea Shopping Center has now been
transformed into a mega-mall containing several hundred small shops
catering to the more middle-class shopper.
Although convenient, these two malls are hardly representative
of Romanian culture; luckily there are many other options when
shopping in Bucharest. For gifts and souvenirs in that vein look
out for the numerous Artizanat stores around the city. Top sellers
are embroidered clothing, hand painted Easter eggs, woven carpets,
nesting dolls, and carved masks, among other items. Traditional
Romanian goods such as costumes and handicrafts are also available
in the Museum of the Romanian Shop and the Village Museum. Prices
are remarkably low compared to the level of quality you get.
Other popular souvenirs to buy in Bucharest are Romanian wine,
particularly those from Transylvania, anti-ageing products from Dr
Ana Aslan, and Romanian Monopoly - a great hipster party gimmick.
For Romanian music look no further than the branch of Carturesti
book store on Strada Pictor Arthur Verona. They have an excellent
collection of local CDs and DVDs, art books and great coffee to
enjoy on the expansive couches.
Open-air markets are always fun, if only to see the local people
shopping much as they always have. Visit Amzei Makret, open daily
from sunrise to sunset, for excellent fresh fruit and artisan baked
goods. The weekend flea-market at Strada Mihai Bravu is really
worthwhile to pick up Communist era souvenirs like medals, army
gear and various antiques always popular with the folks back home.
Don''t bother bargaining as no-one speaks English.