In the last few years, Bucharest has once more become the vibrant, multicultural city it was before World War II. Bucharest’s biggest boom started during the mid-19th century and, together with the weakening of the Ottoman Empire, allowed the city to become a neutral trade hub for merchants from both Europe and he Middle East. In those days, Bucharest was known as the “Paris of the East”, had large Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, and various ethnic districts, like the French, Jewish, and Armenian Quarters. These golden days came to an end with the Soviet occupation, and the 45 years of communism that followed. Until its fall in 1989, the communist regime locked the city down, destroyed many of its beautiful buildings, and left it in ruins socially, economically, and culturally.
Now, more than 30 years since the communist regime’s bloody downfall, Bucharest still looks a bit rough around the edges in place, but that’s being solved thanks to massive restoration efforts. Bland communist buildings are being rehabilitated and given new facades, the Old Town, Belle Époque architecture, and palaces of Victory Avenue have been almost fully restored, and modern glass towers rise from the ashes of the former merchant districts. Architecturally speaking, the city is an interesting combination of French neoclassical, Romanian Brancovenesc, Soviet, and modern architectural styles.
In terms of business, the city is naturally home to the branches of many major corporations, but the number of local and foreign entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads is on the rise. This new wave of creative, independent thinkers is reshaping and improving the city at every level, from social behavior and events to interconnected businesses and a rise in much needed eco-friendly thinking. Before the Soviet eradication of intellectuals and artists of the 1950s, Bucharest was known for its artists, writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and doctors. Suppressed for decades during communism, and forced to flee the country in the early 2000s due to rising corruption and low wages, these creative people are now slowly starting to return. They are the people who are rebuilding Bucharest, and in this piece, you’ll learn where you can meet them.
Seneca Anti Café
- Website: https://www.senecanticafe.ro/t-en
- Neighborhood: Aviatorilor, close to Victory Square subway station, ultra central, perfect for expats.
- Ambience/Style: Quiet and cozy, good for work, casual with warm décor, friendly people and staff, out-of-the box.
- Cost of a cappuccino: For $3/hour, you have access to free coffee, tea, water, snacks and all office equipment, including printers, scanners, and projectors.
- Is food served? You serve yourself from Seneca’s buffet – they have a large variety of snacks, and basic drinks. You can also bring your own food and store it in their fridges.
This is one of the best places in town for freelancers, expats, digital nomads, or anybody who wants to run away from the office and work in a friendly, cozy space while having access to great coffee, cookies, fruit, and vegetables. It’s a combination coworking space and a self-serving buffet/café, but with a very chill, casual vibe. Seneca has relaxing décor, a library, private meeting rooms, office equipment, a lounge, buffet, and events areas. This place has it all and it looks great. All drinks, snacks and utilities are included in the 12 RON (under $3) hourly rate. After paying for the first five hours, the rest of the day is free, so you never pay more than $15. Seneca is ideally located in the northern part of the city center, close to quiet, green residential neighborhoods like Aviatorilor, Primaverii, and Cartierul Francez (“French Quarter,”) which are top picks for expats.
- Website: https://theatelier.ro/
- Neighborhood: Old Town, the city’s very center
- Ambience/Style: Cozy café and coworking space
- Cost of a cappuccino: You pay 10 RON ($2.2)/hour, drinks and office equipment included.
- Is food served? No, but you’re in the Old Town, so good food is everywhere. Right next door there’s a Greek gyros tavern that offers takeout if you want to eat at your desk.
Bucharest’s first combined café/coworking space, visitors pay around $2/hour for a desk, $8/hour for a five-person meeting room, or $25/hour for meeting room that can fit up to 25 people. The Atelier offers a relaxed work environment in the heart of the Old Town. Once you finish work, you don’t need to go any further to get the party started, since you’re already surrounded by dozens of pubs, clubs, and lounges.
Beans & Dots
- Website: https://beansanddots.ro/ and https://www.facebook.com/beansanddots/
- Neighborhood: centrally located next to Old Town and Victory Avenue, very close to Cismigiu Gardens.
- Ambience/Style: industrial-style café, creative hub, minimalist.
- Cost of a cappuccino: $2.5
- Is food served? Yes: sandwiches, pies, veggie treats, desserts
Unlike Seneca and Atelier, this café doesn’t officially include a coworking space, but serve as a de facto one. You’ll notice many freelancers and their laptops, wall sockets everywhere, and a creative vibe in general. The specialty coffee, an exclusive from The Barn Berlin, is great too. This case also features a concept store with cool design objects from around the world, plus magazines on art, design, and fashion.
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/Coftale
- Neighborhood: close to the Armenian Neighborhood, about a mile from University Square.
- Ambience/Style: Belle Époque style mansion, cozy, hipster vibes, relaxing garden.
- Cost of a cappuccino: $2.5
- Is food served? Yes: all-day breakfast, appetizers, burgers, quesadillas, salads, and desserts.
A bit beyond walking distance from the Old Town, yet an easy 5-10 minute Uber/taxi ride, this den of creative freelancers is located in a recently restored, gorgeous 19th century French neoclassical mansion. The owners are entrepreneurs themselves, and you can meet many interesting people involved in equally cool projects. Other highlights: specialty coffee, great American pancakes, and a few sockets at the garden’s outdoor tables!
Located in another great 19th century Belle Époque style villa with preserved original architecture, Lucrativ’s owners are a young couple who market the location as a “house of free trades” or coworking boutique. It’s a place where entrepreneurs, freelancers, digital nomads, and out-of-the-box thinkers are always welcomed. There you can organize events (launches, conferences, art galleries, etc.), make new friends, or simply work in a relaxed, uber-cool environment.
Artichoke Social House & Café
Another creative and hip den, Artichoke is very centrally located. It serves all-day breakfast, London specialty coffee, Transylvanian organic tea, homemade juices, and coffee-friendly cakes. Aside from hanging out, you can have casual business meetings, work from your laptop, or learn more about photography. The locale also hosts regular photography exhibitions, building bridges between art makers and customers.
Coffee Factory by Contego
This charming café has with a large variety of coffee from all over the world. Very quiet during the day, this perfect spot for freelancers offers plenty of power outlets under its couches and tables. The garden is the best asset, a true oasis of calm ideal for creative work.
- Website: https://lente.ro/en/welcome/
- Neighborhood: Piata Romana (Roman Square) area
- Ambience/Style: cozy, friendly, open-minded, casual, Belle Époque villa.
- Cost of a cappuccino: $3
- Is food served? Yes
Short description: Your “living room” away from home, Lente can be found into a 19th century mansion. It has three floors, board games, an unconventional office, urban art, bistro, sockets (even in the garden), and a smart hipster vibe. This location’s identically named twin can be found on 8 Arcului Street.
Other places to consider:
- Klauss Coffee Shop: Magheru Blvd, cool “hanging” sockets, good coffee and sandwiches.
- Meron Café: Speciality coffeeshop next to Cismigiu Gardens. Refined but casual, work-friendly, beloved by entrepreneurs.
- Saint Roastery: cool family owned micro-roastery with a nice café, work friendly, relaxed, close to Victory Square.
- Urbarn: Quoting the owners, this is an “urban barn, open daily for trips back to childhood.” They serve specialty coffee and snacks in a small, super cozy and work-friendly place.