Bucharest Unveiled: Discovering the Must-See Gems of Romania's Capital
Best sites in Bucharest that are a must see during your travels
Bucharest was once called the Paris of the East. While for many, this nickname no longer fits the bill, there is an elegant charm about the city. Yes, Bucharest is a little gritty and run down in areas, but this only adds to its unique character and counter-culture appeal. Historically rich, culturally fascinating and brimming with bars, cafes and shops, Bucharest is ideal for a city break packed with unique sights, tastes, sounds and experiences.
The Palace of Parliament
Bucharest is home to the world’s biggest parliamentary building. Also known as the “People's House” or “Casa Poporului” it was constructed during the time of former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu to house the presidential offices and the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party. Here are some of the prime reasons why visitors opt to see the Palace of Parliament from up close:
- It is the heaviest building in the world and holds the record for the largest administrative building
- The building's Neoclassical and Socialist Realist architectural style blends seamlessly, creating a visually striking presence
- Exploring the palace allows you to understand the ambitions and extremes of the regime while reflecting on the socio-political context in which it was built
The Old Town
Step into a world of captivating history, vibrant culture, and charming streets as you venture into the Old Town of Bucharest. Bustling with locals and visitors alike, the area comes alive with an array of lively cafes, restaurants, and pubs. Stop for a delightful cup of specialty coffee or savor the flavors of traditional cuisine at one of the many charming establishments that line the streets. There are so many places to choose from its difficult to know where to start, but whatever time of day you go, you’re sure to find somewhere to suit your taste.
The stunning Cișmigiu Gardens located right in the centre of the city, are a perfect place to enjoy the warm Romanian sunshine. Discover the perfect retreat from the urban chaos as you meander through the paths of this enchanting park, immersing yourself in nature's embrace. Admire the carefully manicured gardens, serene lakes, and picturesque bridges that adorn the landscape. Throughout the year, the park transforms into a captivating backdrop for various cultural events and festivals. From open-air concerts to art exhibitions, Cismigiu Gardens comes alive with the vibrant spirit of Bucharest's artistic and cultural scene.
This gorgeous little monastery, situated right in the heart of the Old Town, tucked in between the towering statuesque buildings typical of the area, is an Eastern Orthodox building designed in the Brâncovenesc style. Originally intended to house nuns, the cute little building is now best admired for its stunning paintings and peaceful atmosphere. Beyond its spiritual essence, the monastery embraces music and arts, hosting enchanting choral performances and captivating concerts in its intimate courtyard.
If you are even the slightest interested in learning something about Romanian history during your city break in Bucharest, paying a visit to the symbolic Revolution Square is an absolute must. This iconic square has witnessed pivotal moments in Romania's history and stands as a symbol of resilience, change, and the pursuit of freedom. Discover the stories of those who fought for change and visit the nearby Memorial Cross, erected to honor the memory of those who lost their lives during the 1989 Revolution. The square is home to the Romanian National Art Museum, the Athenaeum, the University of Bucharest, the Memorial of the Rebirth and the former Central Committee of the Communist Party. Trace the footsteps of revolutionaries as you explore the square's grandeur, where the echoes of the past still reverberate through the air.
Caru’ cu Bere
This iconic restaurant and beer hall is one of the oldest and most traditional in Bucharest. Housed in a beautiful old building in the old town, the interior is exquisitely adorned in an other-worldly style with ornate wood carvings, stained glass windows and home-brewed beers served in tankards. Prepare your taste buds for a culinary journey through Romania's rich gastronomic heritage. Sample traditional dishes bursting with flavors, such as sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), mici (grilled sausages), and hearty stews. Pair your meal with a glass of locally brewed beer and savor every bite as you immerse yourself in the authentic tastes of the region.
Wander through the city's neighborhoods and witness the transformation of once-ordinary walls into captivating works of art. Artists from around the world have left their mark, infusing the city with an explosion of colors, shapes, and messages. From the lively streets of Lipscani to the gritty charm of abandoned buildings in industrial areas, street art can be found in unexpected places, inviting exploration and discovery.
The Museum of the Romanian Peasant
Bucharest has lots of great museums, retelling the story of a long and intricate history, but if your city break only leaves you time to visit one, make it the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. Discover the ingenious tools used in farming, experience the captivating rituals and ceremonies through multimedia displays, and learn about the profound connection between the land and the Romanian people.
The Triumphal Arch
Standing tall and proud in the heart of Bucharest, the Triumphal Arch is a magnificent structure that pays homage to Romania's rich history and the indomitable spirit of its people. Inspired by its Parisian counterpart, this iconic monument embodies triumph, resilience, and the enduring legacy of the nation. As you approach the arch, you'll be captivated by its grandeur and intricate architectural details that tell stories of heroic feats and national unity.
Located in the northern part of the city, this expansive urban green space invites you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. As you step into the park, you'll be greeted by the shimmering waters of Lake Herastrau, the centerpiece of this natural paradise. Rent a paddleboat or rowboat and leisurely navigate the tranquil lake, reveling in the peaceful ambiance and enjoying stunning views of the surrounding scenery. For those seeking an active adventure, Herastrau Park offers a variety of recreational opportunities. Rent a bicycle and pedal along the dedicated bike lanes that wind through the park, or challenge friends to a friendly game of tennis, volleyball, or soccer on the well-maintained courts and fields. Beyond its natural charm, the park also hosts an array of premium restaurants, cafes, and cultural venues.