Top 10 Things to Do in Bucharest

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Bucharest is one of the most popular destinations for people visiting Romania and, even though regular readers know that I don’t hold it too close to my heart, I must admit that there are some nice things to see there. In order to make your life easier and hopefully help you check all the “must see” and “must do” things on your list while visiting Bucharest I decided to write this article and share my thoughts on this matter with you.

And if you’re planning to visit, why not check out my recommended hotels near the airport? And now that accommodation is accounted for, let’s check out the top 10 things to do in Bucharest – mostly things to see!

Casa Poporului / Palatul Parlamentului / Palace of the Parliament

01 palatul parlamentului

The second largest building in the world after the Pentagon and the largest parliamentary building in the world, this mammoth building has 1,100 rooms (out of which about 500 are empty & unused) and is clearly pretty impressive. You can take photos of the building outside, but you can also visit it – a small part of it, of course – with some large rooms and nice architecture waiting for you. Bonus: depending when you’ll visit, you’ll also see the next mammoth building in Romania, the People’s Salvation Cathedral which is still under construction on a nearby hill at the moment of writing this article.

Cismigiu Park

Image source: Wikipedia
Image source: Wikipedia

After Casa Poporului, take a short walk down to Cismigiu park, one of the most iconic parks in the city and definitely one of the most popular. I have a love/hate relationship with it since it was pretty dirty and disappointing the last time I visited, but you might get lucky and see the best it has to offer. When to visit? Anytime between May and September to fully enjoy all that it has to offer.

The Old Center

03 old city center

Also pretty close to the previous two attractions, Bucharest’s Old Center awaits. Take a short walk on the pedestrian streets and enjoy the shops and architecture: a trip back in time when Bucharest was called “The Little Paris”. When there, make sure you don’t miss:

The Villacrosse passage

04 villacrosse

The yellow glass-covered passage can easily be missed, but you shouldn’t since you’re in the Old Center. Nice, small restaurants and artsy shops are there and it tends to get warm and cosy even during the colder months.

Carul Cu Bere

05 caru cu bere

Translated roughly as “the cart filled with beer” and easy to find in the old town, Carul cu Bere is probably one of the most famous restaurants in the city and in Romania. The food is delicious and the entire place looks absolutely amazing – just make sure that you reserve a table in advance because it’s usually packed, especially during lunch times and especially for dinner.

Hanul lui Manuc

06 hanul lui manuc

Manuc’s Inn, situated in the same area as Carul cu Bere is another place that you should visit for some amazing food and drinks, all served in an amazing setting. This place also has a beautiful garden, so it’s really best to visit it during the late spring, summer or early autumn months.

Stavropoleos Church

07 biserica st

A church that it’s easy to miss and even easier to ignore if you pass by it, this is also a must visit place situated in the central area of Bucharest, just like all the attractions so far. Do yourself a favor and visit it – especially its backyard which is absolutely amazing. Great architecture in this church build in 1724 and used as a nuns monastery until recently.

Muzeul Satului (Village Museum)

08 muzeul satului

A really beautiful place that takes you back in time and shows you how the Romanian peasants lived back in the days. It holds various types of houses you can still find in Romanian villages today and various events throughout the year. And if you can’t get there, you can go for a virtual tour thanks to Google (although you won’t be able to enter the houses and really get the feel of everything there).

Herastrau Park

Image source: Wikipedia
Image source: Wikipedia

One of the largest, most popular and most beautiful parks in Bucharest is Herastrau Park which houses the Village Museum and a lot of great walking areas, great restaurants and even offers you the chance the row a bit if you want to burn some calories after all that delicious food.

Romanian Athenaeum

10 romanian athaeneum

Built in the late 1800’s and rebuilt in 1992, this is must see place in Bucharest – and ideally when there’s a concert or event inside. And do explore the area around it – there are some nice views as well, including the National Museum of Art and a great La Mama restaurant where you can eat real Romanian food – if there’s room for more (but, hey, there always is!)

These would be my top 10 recommendations when it comes to Bucharest and things to do / visit. There are a lot more nice and charming churches throughout the city, as well as other attractions, but if you travel a lot you’ve probably seen a ton of churches already and it’s time to check out something else as well. I hope that you enjoy these places!

19 COMMENTS

  1. Calin:
    You trickster–you!;-) You threw us a curve ball and posted pretty pictures of Bucharest (and they are pretty!) instead of Budapest. The joke is on us?
    Did you see this headline? “Four dead in Moldova after Romanian medical helicopter crashes” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/4-dead-in-moldova-after-romanian-medical-helicopter-crashes/2016/06/02/b0826b86-28c0-11e6-8329-6104954928d2_story.html)
    When I read about these types of accidents–and we’ve had our share of similar ones, too–it makes me question the “existence” of a merciful God. (Of course, by now, I’m pretty much of an agnostic.)
    Sorry, for the downer!
    Have you enjoyed your first week in Budapest? Hopefully, you’re able to cram in some fun between your blogging.;-)
    Thanks for this unexpected post of Bucharest!
    ~Teil

      • Hi Calin:
        You are so right about Bucharest and Budapest being easily confused. As my hearing is going, the two sure sound the same!;-)
        So, your mission–should you decide to accept it;-)– is to compare the plusses and minuses of each city.
        For instance:
        -Which mass transit system (subway, bus, etc.) and taxis are better?
        -Which is safer after dark? Are there major slum areas to be avoided?
        -Which is cleaner, and less tagged with graffiti.
        -Which has less homeless and people begging? (I hold nothing against that–people do what they must do.)
        -Which has more friendly people, in general.
        -Which one has more arts, culture, libraries, theater, museums, etc.?
        -In which one would you rather raise little Eric. Are there places where he’d enjoy spending a day–zoos, amusement parks, toy stores, etc. (I love toy stores–even as one way past the age he should!;-)
        -I know one can go to “Numbeo” to get relative cost of living information, but I’m curious what you find.
        -Which city is easier for a non-native to feel comfortable living in?
        Well, you get the idea. I still can’t get over the language difficulty, though. At least with Romanian, I can decipher some meanings–but with Hungarian–forget about it!!!
        Hope you and the family continue to enjoy your Hungarian sojourn!
        I wonder if Kemx2 is having Wi-Fi issues, again?
        Best!
        ~Teil

        • Hello Teil, that’s a good idea although some things will be difficult to compare – we’re rarely out during late hours since Eric is sleeping so we’re inside and we won’t visit the “Ferentari” of Budapest. This city is so big that I don’t think we’ll be able to visit it entirely during our stay. But I will surely try to compare what I know of it with Bucharest (I’m not really an expert in Bucharest either, so there will be some sort of a balance)

  2. Hi Calin!
    Thanks so much for the highlights and suggestions of things to include in a trip to Bucharest! For any of us either planning on retirement or extended holidays in Romania, it only makes sense to include a visit to the capital city, that has a lot of interesting history, culture and architecture. Also looking forward to your experiences in Budapest, but from a resident’s perspective, instead of that of a tourist. Keep in mind that many of us would like to hear your thoughts on best ways to travel around Eastern Europe too, be it by train, bus or in some cases, renting a car may have advantages. Also Calin, just curious, how many languages do you speak? Besides Romanian, English, and maybe a little Hungarian, anything else? And how are you mostly communicating there in Budapest? I’m sure you’ll be discussing this more on your posts about Budapest soon. Thanks, and enjoy your time there! Best Regards, JC

    • Hello JC,

      I speak Romanian and English and tiny amounts of Spanish and German. I speak no Hungarian at all (although I’m starting to learn a few greetings) and we’re talking in English here – it’s full of tourists and a really nice community and most people speak English. When we go to local playgrounds here in Budapest with our son, we often find Italians, English/US people, Germans and many other nationalities.

      It’s a good idea to write about traveling by bus/train in Eastern Europe and I will make sure to write about that sometime in the future. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Speaking of the cathedral that is under construction, did you get wind of the controversy surrounding that music video “Dumnezeu prefera lemnul si spatile mici”? Many Romanian celebrities participated and sang in the video. The backlash of the Orthodox Church was instantaneous and fierce.

    • Yes, I know about that – it was pretty strange. I know that the band had to edit their video and remove one of the celebrities that appeared initially there because of this backlash – and he wanted out. Some things still seem to come from the late 18th century here in Romania… :))

  4. Salam Calin,
    So intresting to know all about those wonderful places starting from parks , building, culture and other historical values. However for the last 2 week until now we the Jordanian people have cellabrating a big matter called ” Great Arab Revolt Cencennial” against Othmans Accupations. All cities as well as villages are into that big party.

  5. Maybe this is a first, but I would have to disagree with you about Cismigiu Park, in the sense that it should NOT be in this article at all and you should’ve put IOR Park instead, and you also forgot the Antipa Museum, which has a lot to offer about Natural History and it is pretty nice one too.

    • Thank you for your input! We must tell Calin that is why it’s always important to find out what the wife thinks! We need your opinions too! Thanks again! Regards, JC

      • Haha, it’s always impossible to keep everybody happy when dealing with “best of” types of lists. Both recommendations are really good, too, with the note that you will see the IOR park referred to as “Titan Park”.

  6. All beautiful places that l plan on seeing when we finally make it over there. Thanks for this post and thanks to the input of the Mrs too πŸ™‚ . I know it’s always hard what to include in the best of series. I’m so glad you guys are enjoying Budapest. Maybe a cost comparison between both places when you get a chance. That would help me as Budapest is still very much in contention on our list. Yes.. Tell, l had wifi issues the first week and the second week, l was having too much fun πŸ™‚ . I’m back now..so l will be tops again! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰

    • Welcome back, Kemkem! I am keeping all the bills here (and they’re piling up as we can’t seem to be able to stop eating out) and I will surely do a cost comparison one we’re back home! So far, Budapest is clearly on top of Bucharest in terms of things to do & see…

  7. Hey, really excellet article πŸ™‚ It gives me many ideas what to in Bucharest. I’m just planning to travel there by plane. What do you think what is the best way to the city from OTP airport? I was looking at http://bucharesttransfer.com/ as a transfer services. I read many places how taxis are dangeorous so I was thinking maybe a prebooked transfer is better but I am really not sure what and how to choose.

    • I am happy to hear that was helpful! Regarding the transfers, I don’t really know what to say as I have never used that website. As long as you can agree to a price before the trip starts and you know about how much you should pay, probably a pre-booked thing would be best. However, I know that lately the airport started to have their own supported taxi companies which reduce the number of scams greatly.

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