Top 10 best things to do in Bucharest Romania

The Highlights of Bucharest

In Europe, Romania by Jurga20 Comments

I have to admit that I knew very little about Bucharest before my trip. I googled best things to do in Bucharest and the must-see places of Bucharest and was quite disappointed to see that there is so little quality information available on the main highlights of Bucharest. After all, if you only have one or two days in Bucharest, you probably want to visit the landmarks and see the main highlights of the city.

I have been to Bucharest as a kid and had vague memories of this big city with wide boulevards and huge communist-style buildings. I remember Roma children begging for food on the streets… But that was Bucharest 25 years ago. The city has changed beyond recognition! And if you see all of the activity going on, you cannot help but wonder if it will become the next top destination in Eastern Europe in the next couple of years… Bucharest exceeded all my expectations! Five days flew by and I left the capital of Romania with the feeling that there was still so much more to explore…

And now back to the topic. Let me share  the main highlights of Bucharest with you and show you the must-see places of Bucharest. Make sure to also check my other post on Bucharest where I share the less known places, the hidden gems of Bucharest that – in my opinion – are just as worthwhile seeing as the main landmarks of Bucharest. But in the meantime, here are the main things to do and places you shouldn’t miss in Bucharest.

Top places to see and the best things to do in Bucharest

1. Palace of Parliament

If there is one place you just cannot miss in Bucharest, it’s the Palace of Parliament, also called the People’s Palace. With a surface of 365,000 m2 and 1,000 + rooms it’s the second largest administrative building in the world. Make sure to visit inside, as seeing it from the outside just isn’t the same!

It’s a controversial place, and we were told that Romanians still haven’t decided whether they love it or hate it. However, it’s such an integral part of what Romania is today and it will give you a much deeper insight and understanding of Romanian history, so I really recommend to visit the Palace of Parliament when in Bucharest.

Practical info: There are several tour options, but you have to reserve in advance. Check the official website for more info. Alternatively, you can visit with a guided tour (which is what we did), just look for one that goes inside the Parliament. Make sure to carry your passport or ID card.

The Palace of Parliament of Romania is one of the must-see places in Bucharest

The Palace of Parliament

Senate Plenary Room in the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest Romania

Senate Plenary Room

 

2. Old Town

In the past Bucharest didn’t really have one central place where people would go out or meet with their friends. So a couple of years ago the City Council decided that the city needed such a place. They designated a couple of streets for this area, laid cobblestones and forbid most traffic, and so now Bucharest has an Old Town. The locals were joking that it must be the newest Old Town in the world

The Old Town of Bucharest is a real success story, one that has transformed the city completely. Hundreds of bars, trendy cafes, and restaurants have opened in Bucharest in the last few years. The Old Town is the place to be in Bucharest now, and you’ll instantly fall in love with the incredibly lively atmosphere. A bit quiet in the morning, lively during the day, and bustling with activity in the evening, The Old Town is the place that you will end up going to every day of your stay in Bucharest.

Colorful Old Town of Bucharest

One of the Many Cafes in the Old Town

 

3. Revolution Square

Revolution Square in the Centre of Bucharest is a place with lots of history. The monuments and the buildings that you see today have been completely restored and you wouldn’t tell that some of the darkest chapters of Romanian history have been written here.

Tip: I strongly advise that you visit the Revolution Square with a guide. Best is to join one of the walking tours of Bucharest.

Revolution Square is one of the places you must see in Bucharest

Revolution Square

 

4. Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum

Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum (Muzeul Satului in Romanian) is an open-air exhibition showing traditional Romanian village life as it was in the past. It’s also the most visited museum in Romania.

The Village Museum is a nice place to visit on a sunny day. Ideal for families with kids as well. There is lots of place to run around and kids will love exploring the 200 year old buildings.

Tip: Combine your visit with the adjacent Herăstrău Park.

Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum in Bucharest Romania

Village Museum

 

5. The Parks of Bucharest

Bucharest is a very green city and there are many parks you can explore. I only visited three – Herăstrău Park, Cișmigiu Park, and Parcul Izvor. I was told that these three parks are not to be missed, but if you have more time you can also visit the Botanic Garden, Parcul Operei, Parcul Tineretului, and the Urban Delta – Parcul Natural Văcărești – is supposedly very nice as well.

Herastrau Park

One of the biggest parks of Bucharest – Herastrau Park – is definitely worth a visit. You can rent a bike, go on a boat ride, or tire the kids out in one of the playgrounds. There are several food stalls in the park, and if you go on a weekend or in summer, the chances are high that there will be some kind of an event here.

Tip: Combine the visit to Herastrau park with a visit to the Village Museum and don’t miss the Arch Of Triumph (Arcul de Triumf).

Herastrau park and the Arch Of Triumph in Bucharest Romania

Herastrau park and the Arch Of Triumph

 

Cișmigiu Park

Cismigiu park right in the centre of Bucharest is as nice as a park can get. You will find beautiful green alleys, the most colourful playground for children I have ever seen, a couple of places where you can eat or just have an ice cream, and a small lake where you can rent a rowing boat in summer or go ice skating in winter. If you visit just one park in Bucharest, make it Cismigiu Park.

Cismigiu park is probably the most beautiful park in Bucharest Romania

Cismigiu park

 

Parcul Izvor

Parcul Izvor, located right in front of the Palace of the Parliament, is probably the most quiet one of the three parks I visited in Bucharest. It’s one of those parks where locals come for a stroll or to run. There are several playgrounds too. And, of course, you have a beautiful view over the Palace of Parliament.

Spring flowers in Cismigiu park in Bucharest

Spring flowers in Cismigiu park

 

6. The Churches of Bucharest

You cannot walk for five minutes without running into a church in Bucharest. Some of the nicest churches in the centre of town are:

  • Stavropoleos Monastery – Biserica Stavropoleos
  • Church of Saint Anthony – Biserica Sfântul Anton
  • Kretzulescu Church – Biserica Crețulescu
  • St. Nicholas Church – Biserica Sf. Nicolae – Șelari
Stavropoleos Monastery is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Bucharest

Stavropoleos Monastery

The little garden of 18th century Orthodox Stavropoleos Monastery in Bucharest Romania

The garden of Stavropoleos Monastery

Kretzulescu Church in Bucharest Romania

Kretzulescu Church

 

7. Romanian Athenaeum

Romanian Athenaeum is a beautiful building and one that Romanians are most proud of. It’s actually the main concert hall of Bucharest, so if you like classical music, try to attend one of the concerts. But you can also visit the Athenaeum and admire its beautiful architecture during the day. Check their official website for the tickets and practical information for your visit.

Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest

Romanian Athenaeum

 

8. Romanian Traditional Restaurants

Enjoy a true Romanian peasant meal in Bucharest!

  • Probably the best known restaurant that serves local food is the Caru’ cu Bere in the Old Town. It’s a bit touristy, but the food was good, and it’s worth going just for the interior. We had dinner on Saturday and they even had some traditional dance performances during the evening.
  • Another good place to try some local cuisine is Hanu’ Berarilor Casa Oprea Soare, just across the river from the Old Town.
Caru cu Bere traditional restaurant in Bucharest Romania

Caru cu Bere restaurant

 

9. Curtea Veche

Curtea Veche is a small archeological site in the Old Town of Bucharest. There is not that much to see actually, but it used to be a residential palace of Vlad III Dracula in the 15th century. So if you want to see the statue of Dracula, this is the place to be.

Romanians will tell you the whole story about how Vlad the Impaler had nothing to do with the fictitious character in the Dracula Novel by Bram Stoker. But it’s become a big commercial thing, so I think they kind of made peace with it.

Statue of Dracula at Curtea Veche archeological site in Bucharest

Statue of Dracula

 

10. Museums of Bucharest

Bucharest has many museums. In addition to the Village Museum that I already mentioned above here are some of the most noteworthy museums in Bucharest:

  • Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History
  • National Museum of Art of Romania
  • Museum of Art Collections
  • Museum of the Romanian Peasant
  • National Museum of Contemporary Art
National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest

National Museum of Romanian History

 

So these are the main highlights of Bucharest that you really shouldn’t miss. As already said, make sure to read my post about the hidden gems of Bucharest as well. You really have to see both sides of Bucharest in order to truly appreciate this city of contrasts!

Practical information for your visit to Bucharest

How to get to Bucharest

Bucharest is a perfect destination for a short city break. You can find many affordable direct flights to Bucharest from pretty much anywhere in Europe. Check here for the best flight deals.

Best area to stay in Bucharest for sightseeing

Without a doubt, the best place to stay in Bucharest is the area around Calea Victoriei street, approx. between Blvd. Regina Elisabeta and the Revolution Square. I visited Bucharest on a press trip with many other bloggers and here is a selection of some of the best hotels everyone was very positive about:

These are all really nice hotels and very well priced compared to most other European cities. You can find plenty of accommodation in all price ranges Bucharest. Check here for the best accommodation deals for Bucharest!

Is Bucharest safe?

One of the main concerns to me before traveling to Bucharest on my own was if Bucharest was safe. As a woman traveling solo and carrying expensive camera equipment I never felt unsafe in Bucharest. I have to say that it’s probably just as safe as any other European capital, and if you stay in the city centre it’s probably even safer than most other major European towns. Of course, there are some areas where you better not walk alone at night, but that counts for any other city I know.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

If you found this post useful, please share it. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Top-10 places to see and best things to do in Bucharest Romania


You May Also Like
The Highlights of Bucharest was last modified: May 22nd, 2017 by Jurga

Like what you've read? There is more...

Comments

  1. How come you didn’t include Ibis to the list of the best hotels? Just joking! Great post, Jurga! I enjoyed reading it! And amazing photos as always ☺ Seriously, I’ve been there twice already, and I still feel like I don’t have enough photos!

    1. Author

      Thanks, Liza. I know what you mean about pictures. I always take so many, but even then sometimes I don’t have the right picture for the blog… I met a few bloggers who said they took more than a thousand a day, just in case they afterwards needed it for an article…

  2. Well that’s firmly put Romania on my radar in a positive way. Like many I only had images of the old regime and terrible human rights abuses. It’s great to see the old Eastern Bloc countries as they are now. We have travelled to the Czech Republic, Hungary and the delightful Slovenia but Romania has never really even entered my head. Looks like there are some great places to visit so perhaps one day we will go!

    1. Author

      I think that many people don’t even consider these less known destinations simply because they don’t know what to expect there. I had a completely different image of how Bucharest would be, but it was so wrong. In a positive way. So hoping that this post will inspire others to discover a new destination that wasn’t on their radar before.

  3. @Jurga -Great article. You should visit Transylvania too!
    @Tracy – You should definitely visit!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Andrei. I will definitely be planning a trip to Romanian countryside as well. Looks beautiful there!

  4. Just recently they opened up a new flight connection to Bucharest from Hanover, which is my closest airport at the moment and I´ve been playing with the idea to visit. The architecture looks amazing! Great photos, this post totaly inspired me to go as soon as I can 😉

  5. Bucharest has been on my list for ages! I am not sure when I will be able to go, but I will definitely be saving this for when I finally make it there!

    1. Author

      Well, it’s probably a good thing you waited this long as the city has changed a lot (for the better). 😉 I would say now is a good time to go before the word is out and Bucharest becomes the next hot destination in Eastern Europe and get overrun by tourists.

  6. the Parliament is stunning… And your photography skillls, top ;)!
    I’ve never been in the whole area, this place inspires me to explore the region.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Anna

    1. Author

      Thank you, Anna. If you haven’t been to Eastern Europe, then I definitely recommend it. So many beautiful places to visit: the Baltics, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, the Balkans… That would require quite a few trips to cover even a small part of it 😉

  7. I didn’t know much about Bucharest before reading your article. It certainly looks like an interesting destination! The monastery gardens look so beautiful. And I love the photo of all the hanging umbrellas!

    Hopefully I can go to Romania soon. I love visiting more off-the-beaten-path destinations!

    1. Author

      I’ll probably repeat myself, Kat ;), but I don’t think Bucharest will remain ‘off the beaten path’ for long. The city has so much potential, it’s definitely going to get more popular in the near future. So if you like to see it before everyone else gets there, I wouldn’t wait too long…

  8. I don’t even consider this “less known” destination simply because I don’t know what to expect there… In fact, people who have traveled to Romania normally advice others to spend as little time in Bucharest and to instead focus on the Transylvanian region. Is Bucharest worth visiting ? Reading your post, I would say, yes! Bucharest seems to have beautiful places to discover ! Your post definitively inspires me 🙂

    1. Author

      From what I hear (and remember), Bucharest used to be a very different place. But the city has changed a lot and is still getting stronger and more beautiful every day.
      My first idea before I went was can I please get a tour outside the city. But I spent 5 days there and didn’t even find the time to leave the city. There was so much to do! So yes, Bucharest is definitely worth visiting. Although next time I’ll definitely be taking a few days for Transylvania and Danube Delta as well!

  9. There are lots of sights in and around Bucharest, 3-4 days should be enough to cover most of them. However, the beauty of Romanian culture and local life can be found in the countryside, when you cross the Carpathian Mts. inside Transylvania (start from Brasov or Sibiu).

    In any case – Romania is a country to visit twice, there are so many interesting and unique things to do. I know someone teaching you how to make cheese or taking you on pure wilderness trips, just to give you a couple of examples (see my link for more).

    1. Author

      I am sure it is, Marius! Bucharest was already so much better than I ever expected and Romanian countryside looks beautiful! We’re actually more for nature destinations, so we’ll definitely be back to explore more.
      From everything I heard, Romania has a lot to offer, especially for those looking to go a bit off the beaten path.

  10. Hi, Jurga! I think Bucharest is a nice travel destination for a couple of days, an there are certainly plenty of things to do and to see. Another fun idea is to dedicate some time to visit some of Bucharest’s surroundings, like a trip to the Mogosoaia Palace or a boat ride on the Snagov Lake. These are some great option for some leisure time.

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing this, Luminita. We went to Mogosoaia Palace and it’s indeed a nice short trip away from the city.

Leave a Comment