Romania-2181 - Covered Stairway by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr Creative Commons

Shopping in Romania may be challenging, but its fun and there are bargains to be had. Bucharest is its heart, and fashionistas should head for Calea Victoriei for a great choice of Western designer gear as well as stunning boutiques selling leather coats, jackets and shoes to die for. The small arcades off the main drag are well worth exploring for unique, innovative, locally-designed, articles. Exclusive, upscale, menswear stores are found here as well.

Bucharest is an antiques-lovers dream city for its innumerable antichitati stores crammed with artworks, furniture, ornaments, paintings and more rescued from demolished homes during the Soviet era’s soulless redevelopments, or dug out from basements and sold to the dealers by locals. Blanari Street is a good place to start, as it has the largest selection of stores as well as street stalls selling everything from old prints and coins to artworks. Cash is king here, so make sure you have plenty. Moving on to the slightly more upscale Lipscari antiques area, here you’ll find a fine selection of decorative items to be admired.

If you’re looking for traditional handicraft souvenirs in Bucharest, the best-quality items are found at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant’s shop, which stocks authentic handicrafts, traditional costumes, finely woven and embroidered linens and a wide selection of folk art. Another option is a trawl around Bucharest’s open-air markets, where you’ll find local pottery, handmade glass, wood carvings and even more remnants of the city’s communist past. Perhaps the best buys in Romania are leather fashion products, stylish, well-made and very reasonably priced. In the markets, most traders will expect you to haggle.

One of the best shopping and people-watching experiences in Romania is had at a traditional country fair. These weekly events take place in all small towns across the country, usually on a Sunday, and bring locals and country people together in a hectic riot of color, stalls, music and dancing, amusement rides and street entertainers. Everything is sold here, including farm animals and second hand tractors, and catching a local fair will take you back to centuries-old life in Romania. The best are held on traditional religious festival days.

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