Steeped in history with a vibrant nightlife scene, top-quality beer, and sublime local food, Romania’s capital, Bucharest is a feast for all the senses. As a tourist destination, Bucharest is getting better and better.
Bucharest is a three-hour flight from London, two hours from Frankfurt and a mere one hour flight from Sofia. Currently, there are no direct flights from the United States to Bucharest. But you can easily catch a flight that connects with all the major airports in Europe.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, don’t overlook Bucharest. It remains one of the cheapest European cities to visit and is still uncrowded. Here are five of our favorite things to do in Bucharest:
1. Eat Romanian food
Like most of the Balkans states, Romanian cuisine has Turkish, Hungarian and German influences. However, in the last few years, the city boasts of world-class contemporary Romanian restaurants. Many internationally trained chefs revolutionized the city’s food scene by transforming traditional dishes into modern Romanian cuisine. Some of the well-received restaurants include Mahala, Maize, and Gusteria. If you have to choose one, we suggest going to Mahala, located in a 19th-century palace, a short walk from Casa Poporului (Parliament Palace).
For traditional Romanian food, go to Caru’ cu Bere. It’s Bucharest’s oldest beer house and the most iconic place to eat in Bucharest. You don’t have to venture out of the Old Town to get the best food. For popular restaurants, it is best to book in advance or get there during lunchtime.
2. Explore Romanian traditional village houses at The Village Museum
Set on 37 acres at Herastrau Park is The Village Museum, Bucharest’s outdoor museum showcases 60 original houses, windmills, farmhouses, churches and watermills. These old buildings are taken from Romania’s regions of Transylvania, Moldavia, Dobrogea, and Oltenia. Most are from the 19th century, but a few are dated back to the 1700s.
3. Enjoy the parks
Bucharest is one of the greenest cities in Eastern Europe. There’s a park in every corner of the city including playgrounds for kids.
Here are three parks to choose:
Designed by a German landscape architect Carl Meyer in 1845 and completed in 1860, Cismigiu Park is filled with more than 30,000 trees. It’s also covered with beautiful lawns, flowers, lakes, and exotic plants. There are refreshment kiosks, cafes, kids playgrounds and a boating lake in the park.
It’s Bucharest oldest and most central park, located just a few blocks from the Old Town.
Vacaresti Nature Park
Located just a 30-minute walk from the city center, Vacaresti Nature Park is Bucharest’s 450-acre wild wetland, the biggest urban nature park in Europe. Started as an unfinished urban water infrastructure and abandoned in 1989 (the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu), it’s now a nature park filled with all types of vegetation and over 100 species of birds.
Bucharest’s Botanical Gardens (Gradina Botanica) were founded in 1860. There’s a fee to enter the gardens.
4. Discover Old Town and Bucharest’s nightlife
Bucharest’s Old Town can easily be explored by foot. Try to include these sites and streets:
- Victoriei Street to see French-style buildings
- Stavropoleos Monastery
- The National History Museum of Romania
- C.E.C. Palace (The Palace of the Savings Bank)- an example of French architecture built in the late 19th century between 1896 to 1900
- Manuc’s Inn – located by St. Anthony Square, one of the most well-preserved inns in Bucharest
When night falls, enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene in the old town. Check out these venues for a fun night out of drinks, dance, music, or just hanging out:
- Interbelic – now located in a bigger site on Victoriei Street
- Mojo – a pub with three levels offering live music, karaoke, big screens for sports and drinks
- Linea Closer to the Moon – this rooftop bar is the best place for cocktails and sunsets
- Nomad Skybar – a place for drinks, food, and music
5. Visit Parliament Palace (Casa Poporului)
Also known as the House of the People, Parliament Palace, created by Romania’s dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is Romania’s most iconic landmark from the communist period. It’s the second largest administrative building in the world with over 1,000 rooms with 12 floors and 3.5 million square feet.
You must make a reservation in advance for a tour of the palace and the opening hours are subject to change. Your passport is required when entering the building. There’s a fee to visit Casa Poporului but free for under 18.
To learn more about the communist era and the rise and fall of communism in Romania, visit:
- Revolution Square
- Heroes’ Mausoleum
- Casa Presei Libere
- Ceausescu Mansion