Trying to buy all things in one place if you are organizing a gathering or throwing party or simply for daily shopping is not that easy in Romania, unless you live next to a mall. If you don’t, then you will have to go to a supermarket to buy the practical things and most of the items you can find there. But when it comes to meat or fish, then we will recommend you to find a meat or fish shop because the variety is just bigger there. When it comes to vegetables, traditional markets are preferred because the vegetables are just so much tastier if bought from local farmers.
At every corner you will find a pharmacy, a bank or a place where you can make copies or have your papers printed out, but then there are also these shops that you won’t find in many other places, small, older shops where you can repair your typewriter or have your stockings fixed. Little shops that have survived a rapidly changing market. They are somehow still there and usually the person behind the desk has been working there their entire lifetime.
It is good to see the many places where you can buy books; there are many street corner shops that sells books, most books are in Romanian. But among the bigger bookshops here you will find books written in English; the variety is not so big and they are quite pricy, but then there is always the possibility of doing some online book shopping and having them deliver to Romania; but be aware that sadly not all bookshops online deliver to Romania.
There are also a lot of flower shops in Bucharest. You can also go to one of the small corner shops, where you can either buy a bouquet or individual flowers for a more affordable price. Remember, if you buy individual flowers, the bouquet has to have an uneven number, otherwise it is considered to bring bad luck.
Shopping in Romania is not full of negotiations, what you might expect from your traveling experience.
Usually you can get a fidelity car or use coupons or leaflets with a discount, that you are handed over in the streets by a person, or reduction coupons within magazines (the ones you have to cut out yourself), part of a goodie bag from an event you have attended, or even part of your salary since many companies in Romania will offer food coupons to their employees.
If you go to the countryside, and want to go shopping, it is a whole different story since in the small villages, there will maybe be one store or kiosk where you can buy milk, bread, meat, vegetables etc, if you are lucky and the village is big enough. Otherwise there are the little one-person shops that you will see along the roads. It will sometimes be a person selling homemade cheese, honey and syrup – these are natural products, very tasty and you feel that you are something good both to yourself and also by supporting this little one person enterprise.
You can find all sorts of things in these little enterprises, depending a bit where you are in the country. One village will specialize in selling home knitted sweaters, socks and shoes. In another town it will be all sorts of homemade baskets of straw, another one will sell cobber pots and pans. And then there are of course the markets and the small shops, where they sell vegetables. There is just nothing better than stopping at one side of the road to buy a huge watermelon, onions, apples or carrots, depending on the season
Romanians are becoming more and more aware of eating healthy, they talk about eating natural food without the feared E additives, that you will see on many store shop products. Instead they search for ecological or natural food, and when there is an invitation to a gathering between Romanians most of the food will be homemade and then added to with fresh vegetables and cheeses from the market. And it is just tasty.
Like most countries, Romania has its fair share of generic shopping malls – but it’s far more rewarding to shop with the locals at your nearest market. Even the smallest Romanian village usually has a regular market, and in some areas wares are still transported from place to place by horse-drawn wagon. Local cheese, fruit and fresh vegetables are all daily staples, while some markets also sell national specialities such as embroideries, pottery, porcelain, silverware, carpets, ceramics, crystal, glassware, fabrics, wool jumpers, woodcarvings, metal, leather goods, rugs, glass paintings and silk dresses. Transactions at markets almost always take place in cash – and don’t be afraid to haggle if the price isn’t right.
Bucharest is the country’s shopping hub. As well as several city-centre malls, it has a colourful flower market, regular arts and crafts events and a thriving antiques industry. Nose out a gem in Str Hanul cu Tei, a narrow cobbled alley in the historic town centre lined with galleries and antiques shops. Or, if your taste runs to luxury, take a stroll down Calea Victoriei, where you’ll find an expensive selection of jewellery and designer boutiques.
Prices in Romania have crept up over the past few years, but it’s still possible to pick up high-quality, handmade jewellery for a song in some areas.
Mon-Sat 0900-1800, although this may vary according to season and area. In urban areas, supermarkets can remain open for much of the night.