Keep your eyes open on the streets; on the steps of old monuments and around inner city sidewalks (particularly near University Sq.), you'll spot casual traders selling collectibles, including books and old Romanian LP records. You can also browse for bargains at shops beneath the city surface in its subways.
Art, Antiques & Collectibles
Antiques lovers can have a lot of fun poking through Bucharest's innumerable antichitati stores. Typically, you'll find a mix of furniture, ornaments, knickknacks, and artworks that vary dramatically in value. You'll come across items that were salvaged during the Communist era, when homes and neighborhoods were destroyed, or things that have been kept in basements out of harm's way for decades. Start at Hanul cu Tei, Str. Blanari 5-7 (tel. 021/313-0181; www.hanulcutei.ro; Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-2pm), an arcade in the heart of the Lipscani District; there are a range of stores and an extensive selection of artworks. Around here, you've every chance of finding street traders with something worthwhile to sell (old coins, fascinating prints, and unusual antique items). Also in the Lipscani area, you can admire antique furniture as well as smaller decorative items at European Heritage, Covaci St 19 (tel. 021/315-9537; www.european-heritage.ro; Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun noon-5pm). Stefan Vezure sells bronzes, porcelain, paintings, and sculptures as well as religious icons from his store, Stef Art, Str. Buzesti 19 (tel. 0720/32-7338).
For paintings, rare maps, and manuscripts, as well as antique photographs, visit Galeria de Arta Zambaccian, Str. Blanari 12 (tel. 021/315-3485). If you'd like to visit an artist's studio, try Iuliana Vîlsan, Lascar Catargiu 45 (tel. 0722/69-2892; www.iuliana-vilsan.net), but call first to make an appointment. At Atmosphere Deco, Str. Eremia Grigorescu 5, you'll find smart antiques, paintings, and decorative trifles. Calea Victoriei can also be good for art purchases; you could pick up an interesting canvas or two at Galateea, Calea Victoriei 132 (tel. 021/317-3814), a contemporary space hosting provocative exhibitions with work for sale. Nearby, the Nemtoi Gallery (tel. 021/312-9800) carries extraordinary glass sculptures by Ioan Nemtoi, who enjoys an international reputation.
Anthony Frost, Calea Victoriei 45 (tel. 021/311-5138) is Bucharest's first proper English bookstore, located just off Revolution Square. Carturesti is a fabulous bookstore chain with the best music collection in the city; head straight for the branch located on Strada Pictor Arthur Verona (tel. 021/317-3459; firstname.lastname@example.org). You'll find brilliant art books, coffee-table glossies, and also the most relaxingly atmospheric tea shop in town.
Also worth browsing is Libraria Noi, B-dul Nicolae Balecescu 18 (tel. 021/311-0700; www.librarianoi.ro), which is well stocked (with an extensive range of English books, including fashionable publications about Romania). You can also buy DVDs and CDs here (admittedly the selection is limited), but the real find is the little side-outlet with old maps, out-of-date prints, and lithographs, which you can paw through to discover that something special.
For all sorts of upmarket retail therapy, head for Calea Victoriei, where you'll find Hugo Boss, Stefanel, and Guess, next door to which is Catwalk, a stunning shoe boutique. Directly across the road from these, is Musette with fabulous ladies' shoes and accessories, and nearby Man & Manetti is an exclusive menswear store. The most fun clothing store we've come across in Bucharest is ummagumma (tel. 0751/180180; www.ummagumma.ro), tucked away in a small arcade at Calea Victoriei 122; owner Oana-Maria Toma stocks innovative, imaginative garments for young women and most of the designers are Romanian.
Souvenirs & Handicrafts
Rather pricey souvenirs and books can be purchased from this small shop at the end of your tour of the Cotroceni Palace, at Cotroceni Magazin de Arta; consider buying one of Ana Ponta's Dolls of Romania, lovely soft toys dressed in traditional costumes that are perfect as gifts for young children, or for collectors. The shop at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant Shop, Sos. Kiseleff 3 (tel. 021/650-5360), is arguably the best place in the country to pick up authentic yet well-made handicrafts, traditional costumes, and folk art. A great memento for anyone with an interest in sports is a branded Steaua Bucharest football shirt from the country's most important club, at one of the Nike outlets in either the Unirea or Bucuresti mall.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.