Touring the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest: Complete Guide

The mammoth building – Palace of Parliament in Bucharest – is one of the must see attractions in the city. However, I had never visited the place until 2017 – and I did realize that I had missed out. But today I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Palace of Parliament!

Regular readers of this blog certainly noticed Kemkem from Nextbiteoflife commenting regularly. When she decided to visit Romania’s capital, I was more than happy to show her around.

I went with her and her husband, Federico, to see the Peles Castle in Sinaia, but also the Palace of Parliament (among other attractions). And today, I will talk about the latter.

Meeting fellow blogger Kemkem and Federico
We finally managed to get a photo together during the second day we spent together

Things to know about the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest

The Palace of Parliament is the second largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon) and a mammoth building that Romania’s former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, decided to build for himself.

He never got a chance to actually live there because the revolution happened. But the building outlived him and today it houses Romania’s parliament, plus a ton of usually empty, yet still impressive rooms.

It is also built next to a newer (still in progress, at the moment) similarly humongous building: the People’s Salvation Cathedral. So you’re really up for a treat if you decide to visit.

Back to the Palace of Parliament, let’s check out some fun facts about it:

  • It has 1,100 rooms spread over 12 floors
  • It covers a surface of 365,000 sq meters (3,930,000 sq ft)
  • Due to its sheer size, even when large events take place, about 70% of the building is still unused (empty rooms)
  • It is valued at over 3 billion Euros
  • Electricity and heating alone cost around 6 million Euros each year
  • Up to 100,000 people worked on building it, in three shifts, “supervised” by 5,000 soldiers
  • Building started in 1984, and just 60% of it was built by the time of the Romanian revolution

When you tour the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, the guide will have a lot of nice stories and anecdotes to share. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, but I can say that it is indeed worth it!

Touring the Palace of Parliament

The tour we booked was a limited one since a NATO conference was about to begin in a couple of days and many of the places normally included in the tour were off limits as a result.

We still spent around one hour exploring the building – and at the end we were told that we only saw 3% of it. This means that this building is so large that 24 hours are not enough to see it entirely. Pretty amazing, I’d say!

Before visiting, I was sure that the building is nothing but a cold, empty mammoth that only impresses because of its sheer size.

But the truth is that – at least the places we visited – are built with a lot of attention paid to detail and impressive on their own.

Here are some photos of the Palace of Parliament tour that we took, with some extra details and comments from my side:

Palace of Parliament Hallway
The first hallway paints a solid picture of what’s about to follow: truly impressive stuff!
Palace of Parliament Romanian Leaders
Some of the most important figures in Romania’s history, from the left to the right: Stefan the Great, Alexandru Ioan Cuza and Mihai the Brave
Palace of Parliament Chandelier
A mammoth building needs a mammoth chandelier. This is the biggest in the Palace of Parliament, weighting 2 tons. Yes, it was HUGE!
Palace of Parliament hallway
This looks like and endless hallway. There you go in terms of morning exercise!
Palace of Parliament meeting room
One of the conference rooms with translation booths to the right and a secret door (not pictured) to the left.
Palace of Parliament stairs
This beautiful staircase looks like the perfect place to shoot some great wedding photos. They were built, destroyed and rebuilt a few times until they were perfect for the leader: he was a short man and wanted the stairs to be of a lower height in order for him to easily climb them.
Palace of Parliament art
Most of the art there is really impressive too!
Palace of Parliament meeting hall
Another impressive room, reserved for some of the most important meetings in the area.
Palace of Parliament round table
The only round table in the room. The carpet on the floor mirrors the pattern around the chandelier above. Imagine how much work was required to complete all these details!
Palace of Parliament view outside
A beautiful view from one of the balconies. I can only imagine how nice the panorama would look like from even higher!

Palace of Parliament Entrance Fee

This is clearly one must see attraction if you happen to be in Bucharest, but you must book your tour in advance. It’s not possible to just show up there to visit.

Until the virus hit, you could only book a tour by personally calling the place 24 hours in advance.

However, starting December 1st 2020, tours are only allowed for organized groups of at least 10 people. Bookings are made via email, at least three days before the date of the visit (email address – [email protected]).

In order to be allowed to visit, you will need to have an ID with you (passport is fine, driver’s license is not accepted!).

Things might change – regarding the rules – so make sure to double check.

Different tours available

There are six different tours you can take including more or fewer rooms and areas and I would recommend the 4th option: Standard Tour + City’s panorama and Terrace.

Bucharest is not the most beautiful city to have a panorama of, but it’s still extremely impressive. Unfortunately, because of the upcoming NATO summit, we were not allowed to take this tour and had to go for a smaller one.

Here are full details and pricing valid at the moment of writing):

  • Standard Tour (the short one): 40 Lei (8.20 Euros) for adults and 10 lei (2 Euros) for children under 18
  • Standard + Basement: 45 lei (9.3 Euros) for adults and 15 lei (3.1 Euros) for children under 18
  • Panorama Tour (only for maximum 6 people): 600 lei (123 Eur) for the the entire group

There’s also a 30 lei tax for those who want to take photos with a camera (but photos with your phone are free of charge).

Opening hours

Have in mind that special events could change these one way or another. But generally, these are the operating hours:

  • March – October, daily between 09:00 – 17:00 (last tour at 16:30)
  • November – February, daily between 10:00 – 16:00 (last tour at 15:30)​

You can find more about the tours, schedules and most importantly the phone numbers to call to make a reservation on the official website of the Palace of Parliament.

It is indeed a really nice place that teaches you a lot about Romania and can be considered one of the main attractions in the city.

Wrapping up

After visiting the humongous building, we were tired and hungry so we went to grab something to eat at the renowned Caru’ cu Bere restaurant in the old center.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, the place was packed and they only had a table in the wine cellar (the basement).

To make things even worse, our table was glued to a wall with absolutely no view – and the service was horrible.

Fortunately, the food was really good: we had some delicious Romanian bean stew served in a bread which you can see below:

Kemkem and Federico also ate some other traditional Romanian food – the Sarmale & Mamaliga which looked and smelled very good – and they both said they were delicious.

I, of course, forgot to take a photo of the food, so you’ll have to take my word on it.

But keep this in mind – the Palace of the Parliament is really close to the top restaurants in Bucharest’s old center, where you will find good food at decent prices, perfect after exploring the huge building for at least one hour.

If you have additional comments or questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!

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12 thoughts on “Touring the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest: Complete Guide”

  1. Great pictures Calin, very much different to the ones I took from a distance in the very early 90s when you couldn’t get close to it that’s for sure!

    Mmm bean stew in bread, We are in Romania next week and for sure one of our first meals at Hanul Vassy opposite the Gara at Baile Herculane will be exactly this. Will be in DTS during the week too if you fancied a meet for a coffee.

    Reply
    • Hello Shane,

      Yes, it is really impressive. It was my first visit too and because of that huge fence surrounding it, I always thought that you can only see it from afar 🙂

      I had no idea that Vassy serves this soup in the bread. I remember loving eating there – huge portions and delicious food indeed. I will send you an e-mail shortly!

      Reply
  2. Having read many of KemKem’s comments on this site, I’m glad to learn of her (and Federico’s) blog. I will certainly check it out. Even though I am an artist and third-rate musician, I wish I had the skill of writing. Quite envious of those who do.

    Also, thanks for the tips regarding the Palace of Parliament. I’m frequently in Bucharest now and have often had the desire to just “pop” in. Now I know better. Already enjoyed Cara’ cu Bere, although I got to experience a power outage while there. All part of its charm. By-the-way, when is it not packed?

    Reply
  3. Hey Calin,
    I am glad you and Kemx2 and hubby had a good time.
    Great pictures, by the way. Looks like Kemx2 was
    well-armed with her Nikon.;-)
    So is the palace fully utilized, space-wise? If not, it
    would be a waste. I mean, it could also serve as a
    movie set/studio, too.
    What other things did you do in the capital? (Or maybe
    you didn’t have time to do other things and were on a
    tight schedule?)
    I think I like the interior of the palace more than the
    exterior. To me, the exterior looks like it was designed
    by a Roma architect with dyspepsia.;-) No offense meant
    to the Roma–it’s just their houses look over-the-top
    to me.
    ~Teil

    Reply
    • Hello Teil,

      The interior is indeed more spectacular than the exterior which only impresses by sheer size in my opinion. We didn’t have much time together in Bucharest unfortunately, but we did get to visit the old town center and one of my recommended monasteries in a previous article, as well as the Cismigiu park. And ate 🙂

      I am sure Kemkem’s pictures will be even better thanks to that pro camera and the fact that her and her husband also have a lot of background in professional photography.

      Reply
  4. It just boggles the mind how much money was spent on that Palace. I took a tour of it back in the late 1990s. The tour guide proudly described all the luxurious details of the interior trappings. Every area of Romania had supposedly contributed some finery. I remember I got into an argument with a British tourist who proclaimed that Ceasescu’s Bucharest reconstruction efforts were “fantastic.” I could only think of the debts incurred and the hardships the Romanian people had to suffer because of them. I got the same feeling when I saw Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. There, the crazy King Ludwig II bankrupted Bavaria to build a series of fantasy palaces and castles. Today, everyone says King Ludwig was a genius because of all the tourism his buildings have attracted. It’s true, from the pyramids on down, megalomania has given us many constructions that would not have otherwise been built. But I still don’t like it. Now a massive cathedral is being built right next to the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest. No matter how things change, they stay the same! Although I am not religious, I certainly subscribe to the sentiments in that song “Dumnezeu preferă lemnul și spațiile mici!” (“God prefers wood and small spaces,” an allusion to the famous small wooden churches that still exist in Maramures and other places in Romania) That was a controversial song protesting the building of the cathedral to which many Romanian celebrities contributed their voices. It was very moving. There is a YouTube of it.

    Reply
    • I totally agree, Stuart. And building the mammoth cathedral near the palace… that sounds mostly like a bad joke. It could offer a boost to tourism and look nice in photos, but there are so many other places that are equally – if not more – beautiful without being so huge. The song you’re talking about caused some stir in the media and scandals, resulting in one of the people in the video being removed from it after his fans criticized him for bashing the church. Since his fans were mostly people living in villages, it was understandable, but it’s still sad to realize that, despite all common sense and everything, there are many people who consider building the huge church a good thing.

      It’s just yesterday that I read an article about a 93-year-old lady living in a poor village, with a pension of 500 lei per month (about 120 Euros) who donated 10,000 lei to the church over the years and does everything she can to save more money in order to donate. One of the thing she does? Eats just once per day in order to keep costs low. This is really sad but paints a better picture of how less educated people have their mind washed by the church.

      Reply
      • Yes! I googled that article about “Tanti Gherghina.” It’s simply amazing. Her priest praises her as an “example of humility.” What about his church and himself? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones setting examples? Thanks for the update on the “Lemnul” song. I wondered who those celebrities were, they all looked like very interesting people. They radiate talent, goodwill and intelligence, it almost makes you think there is some hope for Romania!

        Reply
  5. OMG! The above story truly infuriates me! I am currently home for my mum’s funeral and the church service was marred by so much begging from the pastors. It was embarrassing. I will save that rant for later. Anyhoo.. C. Thanks so much for taking us around Bucharest. We truly enjoyed time spent with you. I didn’t know it was your birthday, Happy belated one. Nothing makes a trip more special than meeting special people such as you and the Mrs. She is so sweet and we had a blast which made our visit even more special. This palace is ginormous and truly if you can’t climb stairs, you have no business going in.. The chandelier alone is worth the price of admission and l agree that it’s a must see in Bucharest. We have been online friends for so long and when Federico asked me how old you were, I was like 27..haha! because you never aged to me. You know we consider you family now (like it or not 🙂 ) and we look forward to seeing you guys again soon, along with the not so small baby :-). Thanks again. I just had lunch but that soup in the bread bowl, I could have it again right now and it’s saying a lot because l just had a whole plate of plantains (my favorite food in the world).

    Reply
    • It seems that many of those who should be God’s people totally forgot about that…

      But thank you so much for your kind words, they mean a lot to us and I am extremely happy that you liked it here. I am sure that our paths will cross ways in the future as well and I can’t wait to meet you guys again!

      Reply

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