Bucharest, Romania’s capital, is the most popular destination for people visiting the country. A city that will probably leave you with mixed feelings, Bucharest certainly holds some impressive sights.
We’re going to talk about these in today’s article, where I will share the top 10 things to do and see in Bucharest.
This will make it a lot easier for you to see the best that the city has to offer, which is extremely useful if you’re only planning to spend a short time here.
Even if your stay will be longer, have in mind that Bucharest is a very large city and getting from one attraction to the other can take up to an hour if they are in different parts of the city.
Now let’s check out below the top 10 things to do in Bucharest!
Palace of the Parliament (Casa Poporului)
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 really impressive thanks to its sheer size, but not only.
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 to please your eyes.
There is a nice offer that allows you to skip the line. Book your ticket here (or at least check it out).
If you want to read more about one of the most iconic places in Bucharest – and Romania, actually – make sure to read about visiting the Palace of Parliament here.
Bonus: Since two humongous buildings are always better than one (or at least so the people in charge seem to believe), right next to it you will see the People’s Salvation Cathedral.
At the moment of writing this article, the building is still not finished, but pretty close. Have in mind that it’s going to be 123 meters long and 125 meters high and able to house 125,000 people. Wow!
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 the green grass and flowers and nice weather. You also can drink a coffee or eat something in a beautiful restaurant on the lake or see peacocks in the park.
The Old Town
Called “Centrul vechi” in Romanian (meaning “The Old Center”), we’re going to call this hip and touristy area The Old Town since this is how it is named by most English language blogs.
This is a relatively large area in the heart of the city, filled with charming shops and souvenir stores, but also a ton of restaurants.
The architecture is also beautiful and you will really feel that you’re taking a trip back in time when Bucharest was called “The Little Paris”.
And even though this area is extremely touristy, you will find some of the best restaurants serving traditional food here for very budget-friendly prices.
Don’t know what to order? Check out these 20 delicious Romanian foods for some inspiration!
The Villacrosse passage
The yellow glass-covered passage can easily be missed, but you shouldn’t when you’re visiting the old town.
Nice, small restaurants and artsy shops are there and it tends to get warm and cosy even during the colder months. It’s marked here on the map to make sure you don’t miss it when exploring the area.
Another attraction that awaits for you in the Old Town, this church can’t be missed if you’re traveling toward Caru’ cu Bere. Or just wander around.
The church itself doesn’t really seem impressive when you walk by it, but do get inside for the real treat! The backyard is absolutely amazing and the trip to the past will do you good, I am sure of that.
Plus, you will get a few moments of silence, right in the heart of Bucharest. Again, something that you can’t often get.
The Stavropoles church has been around since 1724, so it’s extremely old (and still standing), having been a nuns monastery until recently.
Muzeul Satului (Village Museum)
Fully named Muzeul National al Satului “Dimitrie Gusti”, the Village Museum in Bucharest gives you a glimpse into the life of Romanians back in the day.
And trust me when I say it – visiting those old houses and the entire village is a lot more impressive and fun than it might sound. You will love it, especially when you will see how much things have changed over the years in terms of living conditions and activities.
I recommend visiting this place when the weather is nice (spring to fall) because that’s when you get to fully experience the whole thing.
If you are lucky, you might even get there during one of the many various events that are organized inside. If not, you still have a bunch of restaurants serving traditional Romanian food to feel well.
One of the largest, most popular and most beautiful parks in Bucharest is Herastrau Park (where you will find the Village Museum recommended above).
It has a bit of everything, from tons of alleys to explore, to lots of green areas and beautiful views, but also a lake where you can practice your rowing (or just look at and relax). There are also lots of pubs and restaurants around, in case you need to take a break.
It’s a huge park, so make sure to plan accordingly (both in terms of time allocated to spend there, as well as clothes and especially shoes). In can be tiring, but totally worth it!
The Romanian Athenaeum
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 (which will definitely require a reservation in advance).
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!)
House of Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceausescu was Romania’s dictator that was overthrown back in December 1989. He is the one who built the massive Palace of the Parliament, but also a guy who loved luxury. Like all dictators, of course.
You can now get a glimpse into the luxuriant life he was living by visiting the House of Ceausescu in the Primaverii neighborhood – an area that even today is for the high class of the city. Find the exact address, prices and more details on its official website.
Located pretty close to the Herastrau Park, this is an impressive, must see place that shows how the leader of people that were poor and hungry lived: he had a private pool, a private cinema room inside the house and all the luxury you can wish for.
And if you want to learn more about Romania’s dictator prior to getting to his former residence, read some interesting facts about Nicolae Ceausescu.
Romanian Kitsch Museum
Described as the “most awesomest and coolest place on Earth” this is surely a place you don’t want to miss if you’re looking for an authentic, off the beaten path expereince in Bucharest, Romania.
Everything you will see there will actually bring back all sorts of memories to Romanians. Because everything that you see there is what we all saw – we grew up surrounded by those items and in rooms looking more or less like the one below.
I am not really sure how this would feel for non-Romanians, but I can only guess that it will be amazing and somewhat surreally scary at the same time.
Make sure to visit the museum’s official website for all the details you need to plan your visit.
These would be my recommended, top 10 things to do in Bucharest.
Of course, being such a large city with a rich history, Bucharest has a lot more to offer.
For example, visiting the Grigore Antipa museum could be a good idea if the Romanian Kitsch Museum doesn’t feel right. Or visiting the Unirii Square when it gets dark to see the beautiful fountain shows. So two more bonus activities for you!
I hope you will have a lot of fun in Bucharest and enjoy the attractions that I recommended!