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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Football fans of Athletic Bilbao are the latest victims of a serious case of destination mix-up. The group of fans thought they were heading to Bucharest for the Premier League and found themselves in Budapest. Despite the name, Budapest and Bucharest actually don’t have too much in common.

It was quite the unfortunate turn of events for the 400 football fans who arrived in Budapest last week to see the game of their lives: Bilbao against Atlético Madrid in the league final. Except that… the match was planned to take place in Bucharest, not Budapest. As soon as they realized their mistake and the “We’re in the wrong city!” light came on, the fans tried to reach the Romanian capital in time for the game, some 650km away, but without success.

You can just imagine the let-down of those fans in the wrong place at the wrong time but we hope they at least were able to find a sports bar to cheer on their team, despite the 0-3 loss. As sad as it was for those 400 fans, you have to admit, it is pretty funny! It reminds us of that time two tourists ended up in Sydney Canada instead of Down Under: “Welcome to Sydney… Canada!”

From Budapest to Bucharest

Swap a few letters and the two city names are identical, it’s an easy mistake to make, especially for those who maybe aren’t up to scratch on eastern and central European geography. The two cities have always rivalled each other because of their names and if you really want to get a Hungarian going, jokingly call their capital Budapest, Bucharest.

Budapest, capital of Hungary


In the last couple years Budapest has picked up speed as a top European capital to visit. The city lures visitors from all over the world to experience its historical thermal bath houses and spas, fed by natural mineral springs under the city.

Not to miss:

  • The beautiful bridges over the Danube and Margaret Island
  • St Stephen’s Basilica and the royal castle
  • Hungarian sausage, Tokaj wine and the local spirit, Palinka
  • The old derelict buildings turned into trendy “ruin” bars
  • Budapest for all 5 senses
Flights to Budapest


Bucharest, capital of Romania

Bucharest (sorry to any Romanian readers out there), has nothing on its Hungarian counterpart. Less known and less popular, Bucharest is still a tourist destination with a lot of potential. The city’s dynamic nightlife, arts and cultural scenes are known throughout Eastern Europe.


Known locally as the “Little Paris” because of the city’s wide boulevards, Bucharest also boasts a large number of parks and its smaller streets are packed with little cafes and bistros that spill out onto the pavement come spring. The city has definitely captured the bohemian atmosphere that some parts of Paris are famous for.

Not to miss:

  • Village Museum, an open air historical village in Herăstrău Park next to the Arc of Triumph
  • Palace ruins from the sixteenth century, called “Curtea Veche”
  • Parliament Palace, the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon
  • Orthodox churches, especially the Patriarchal Church built in 1658
  • Bohemian bistros
Flights to Bucharest


Back where we started

Let’s go back to that football final because the story doesn’t end there, nor are the Spanish tourists the only ones to mix up Budapest and Bucharest. The official sports announcer for the game welcomed the thousands of football fans to the game with, “Welcome to Budapest!” If only he was mocking the Spanish tourists who got stuck in Hungary but no. It doesn’t stop there. Swiss news site,, was meant to mock the Spanish fans and their mistake by explaining,

“Four hundred fans of Athletic Bilbao went to Bucharest… only to find that the game was being played in Budapest.”

Ahem, actually… it’s the exact opposite!

Have you visited either of these cities before?

Imgs: Reuters, Arian Zwegers, serzhile, Neil and Cathy Carey, Panoramas / Flickr cc.

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4 responses to “Budapest & Bucharest: totally same, but different

  1. I saw both. I adore Budapest, I just moved here this year. I spent my childhood here. Here’s a lot of thing to do, party places, cultural events, etc… I was born not far from Bucharest, btw.

  2. I lived in both cities and I still prefer Bucharest..Yes, it doesn’t resemble to Budapest, but it is as nice as this one, in a different way. People are friendlier, waay much friendlier in Bucharest. And the cultural life just excellent.Yeah, anytime Bucharest over Bp.

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