25 Perfect Things to Do in Bucharest
Who would have thought that I would live in the capital of Romania for a few weeks? Not me. But Bucharest became my base when we rented an apartment there. We spent our free time roaming the city, and it was a nice start for our trip through Romania. Here’s my guide to all the best things to do in Bucharest, so you know exactly what to see, where to eat, and where to stay on your own trip!
Romania Travel Guide
- 6 Things to Do in Sibiu
- 11 Things to Do in Brasov
- 7 Dreamy Things to Do in Sighisoara
- 17 of the Best Places to Visit in Romania
25 Things to Do in Bucharest
1. Enjoy the Old Town
The Romanian capital is not at all as old as you might think. It only really became known in the Middle Ages as one of Vlad Dracula’s residences. The local myth states that the shepherd, Bucur, founded the city, and that myth is so simple that experts have not yet been able to prove it wrong.
In the Old Town, you’ll find many beautiful art deco buildings, so it is sometimes just as if you are walking through Paris! The city was actually a big inspiration for Bucharest in the twenties and thirties because it was seen as the epitome of classy and style at the time.
2. Take a Free Walking Tour
One of my favorite ways to discover a destination is via a free walking tour. Just about every major city (and certainly capitals) will offer free walking tours. Google and you will find. In Bucharest the tour was offered by Walkabout. The tour is offered every day at 10:30am and 6:00pm and takes about two to three hours. For the meeting point you look best on the website , or in my card above.
If you’d like different tours, check out the following:
3. Visit the Parliament Palace
While Paris has the Eiffel Tower and London has Big Ben, Bucharest has the Parliament Palace. The building is both the most beloved and the most hated building in the city, due to its difficult past.
It was built by the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, who wanted a gigantic palace to receive his friendly heads of state from mainly communist countries such as China and North Korea. He died before the building was complete, but (despite the fact that the building is not finished) it is still the largest building in Europe. It’s no less than 86 meters high and 92 meters deep underground. Inside you will find more than 2,000 rooms.
If you want to visit the palace, you can book tickets on the website, which you pick up at least fifteen minutes before the start of the tour and settle in the palace. Note: you need your passport to enter the building. If you do not reserve tickets in advance, you have to hope that someone will not pick up their tickets (and we were lucky!).
- Opening hours: March to October, every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (last tour at 4:30 pm). November to February, every day from 10:00 – 16:00 (last tour at 15:30).
- Address: Strada Izvor 2-4, Bucureşti
- Cost: 35 LEI for an adult. Reservations are required.
- Book a tour of the palace here
4. See the most beautiful park in Romania: Cişmigiupark
The most beautiful park in Romania is the Cişmigiupark. This park is both the oldest and the largest park in Bucharest, and the perfect place for a picnic, a walk or to rent a boat and sail on the lake. It reminded me a bit of St. James’ park in London.
- Address: Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta, Bucureşti 030167
5. Visit the Stavropoleos Monastery
In the heart of the center you will find a building that is quite different from the other buildings: the Stavropoleos Monastery. Surprisingly the church, originally built in 1724 by a Greek monk, managed to survive the fire of 1847. Not many buildings in the center of Bucharest were able to escape that fire.
It was even able to survive Ceauşescu’s communist era when religion was not encouraged, and he even trie to abolish the church. However, since the church and state had a deal where they would not openly attack each other, he couldn’t openly order the monastery’s demolition. Instead, he tried to make the whole neighborhood move, and the only way the church could remain is if it moved as well.
Now… can you imagine trying to move a church? It’s kind of impossible! However, a group of inventive Romanians managed to make it possible. They moved the entire church to where it stands now!
- Address: Strada Stavropoleos 4, Bucureşti 030167
- Opening hours: 08.30 – 18.00
6. Visit the oldest in-use hotel in Bucharest: Hanul lui Manuc
Just a look at history? Then go to Hanul lui Manuc, the oldest hotel in Bucharest still in use. The building dates back to 1808 and has been closed for renovations for several years. But when I was there, the building was open and you could also eat at its restaurant. Be sure to enter the courtyard, and admire the beautiful wooden balustrades.
- Address: Strada Franceză 62-64, Bucureşti 030106
7. Wander around Curtea Veche
Hanul lu Manuc is located at Curtea Veche, the old royal court of Bucharest. You can visit Biserica Sfântul Anton, an orthodox church. You’ll probably recognize the mustachioed bust of Vlad Dracula. Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, was prince of Wallachia in the 15th century and got his nickname for impaling his victims.
Why is best known as Vlad Dracula? You can thank the writer, Bram Stoker, who probably used Vlad III as inspiration when creating his iconic character, Count Dracula.
- Address: Strada Francezâ 29
8. Visit CEC Palace
This beautiful building is the head office of the CEC bank. The building was completed in 1900 and was designed by a French architect (because of that aforementioned fascination with all the Paris). Although you can not visit the building as a tourist, it is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive buildings in the city and it is worth a look if you are in the area.
- Address: Calea Victoriei 13, Bucureşti 030022
9. See the famous umbrella alley, Pasajul Victoria
Have you ever seen social streets on these streets with cheerful umbrellas? You can find them worldwide in many big cities, but all the best photos you’ve seen of them have most likely been in Bucharest! It’s nice to pass by and enjoy.
- Address: Calea Victoriei 48-50, Pasajul Victoriei, Bucureşti 010082
10. Enjoy the area of Piata Romana
Next to the old center, the area southwest of Piata Romana is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. Here you will find all kinds of trendy restaurants and cafes, so if you want to eat well you have to be here.
11. Get lost among the books at Carturesti Carusel
If you, like me, have a weakness for beautiful bookshops, then you should go to this one. It’s a beautiful, high white building with several floors and spiral staircases where you can wander endlessly. Thoroughly recommend!
The Museums in Bucharest
If you want a change of pace in Bucharest, and prefer to learn more about the history or art and culture of the country, then you can visit one of the following museums.
12. National Village Museum
In this open-air museum, you can see how people lived in the Romanian countryside, and you can visit more than 300 traditional buildings (houses, churches, etc). I visited a similar museum in Sibiu and that was fun :-). Visit the museum as a part of this city tour.
13. National Museum of Romanian Art (MNAR)
If you want to see the best of country’s art, then you have visit the National Museum of Romanian Art.
14. Cotroceni Palace
This palace has a fascinating history. It began as a monastery in the 17th century, after which it became the summer residence of King Carol I. In communist times it was the headquarters of the youth movement. Now it is a museum, and you can admire art.
15. Museum of Romanian History
To learn more of the country’s history, spend an afternoon at the Museum of Romanian history. You can see objects from the prehistoric to modern times in Romania.
16. George Enescu
This museum is about (how could it be otherwise) George Enescu, the most famous Romanian music composer. If you like classical music, then this museum is for you.
Where to Eat in Bucharest
These are my favorite restaurants that I visited during my time in Bucharest. If you want a more guided experience to Bucharest’s food scene, check out this tour with a local guide.
The cute café has a great garden with a mix of furniture and cheerful colors. You can also sit inside.
18. Gradina Eden
If you arrive at an abandoned and dilapidated mansion, you may have some doubts. There isn’t a sign anywhere indicating that there is a super cool bar here. But are hip people are always going in all the time? Just walk around the building, and you will end up in a beautiful large green garden, with a bar, sitting corners, hammocks, and even food trucks.
It no longer feels like you’re in the busy center of Bucharest. The coolest hidden bar in Bucharest, and certainly worth a visit. Going out in Bucharest is also possible at Eden Club, a nightclub in the basement of the building that is only open on weekends.
19. Shift Pub
Hidden behind a fence and leafy green is Shift Pub, one of the hippest restaurants in this part of the city. If you want to sit in the garden during the weekend you will have to reserve. The cheeseburger is really divine and has just enough cheese to my taste (namely: much too much).
The best Eggs Benedict of my life (my favorite breakfast) is at Chocolat. Really: not normally so good. The sandwich is lightly grilled, the eggs cooked to perfection, and the combination with the perfectly prepared asparagus … divine.
Of course, this restaurant is also a big tip if you like sweets: the cakes, macarons, and eclairs looked fantastic.
21. La Cena
The main reason we went to this Italian restaurant several times is because it was very close to our house. But luckily that is not the only reason: the food is also very good. I loved the salmon pizza and mozzarella salad.
22. ZenSushi Sarroglia
Cheap is not it by Bucharest standards, but if you want to treat yourself to good sushi, then I can recommend ZenSushi. Insanely delicious, and very good quality.
23. El Torito
If I stay somewhere for a long time, I always have to eat Mexican food, and that’s what I did at El Torito this time. A super nice place with live music and large portions of delicious Mexican food.
If you are a digital nomad and looking for a good place to work then I can recommend M60. They also serve delicious and healthy food here.
25. Pura Vida Sky
If you’re looking for a nice rooftop bar in the center, then this is a good tip. You have to know where to go, because you just have to go inside the hostel, and climb to the top floor. There you can enjoy a drink with nice weather with a view over the old center.
Where to Stay in Bucharest
Budget: Antique Hostel
On the banks of the Danube River and in the heart of Bucharest is Antique Hostel where you have different option. You’ll have rooms with a balcony, rooms without and with private bathroom, and even dorm rooms if you really want to save money. Check the current prices here.
Mid-Range: Grand Boutique Hotel
Go for a classic stay at the beautiful Grand Boutique Hotel . This hotel is also super central, between my two favorite neighborhoods (and close to the restaurants that I recommend in this blog post). Admire the beautiful spacious rooms with comfortable beds for a wonderful stay for a fair price. Check the current prices here.
Luxury: Epoque Hotel – Relais & Chateaux
For ultimate luxury stay at the Epoque Hotel – Relais & Chateaux, a 5-star hotel on the outskirts of Cişmigiu Park. As a guest you not only have a comfortable room, but also access to the spa, and a great breakfast. Check the current prices here.
Trips from Bucharest
Bucharest is a great base for traveling around the rest of Romania. Besides Sibiu and Sighisoara, you can visit the famous Bran or Peles Castles, Transfăgărășan Road, and more. You can also go all the way to Istanbul from Bucharest via the Bosphorus Express.
What are your best tips for a city break in Bucharest?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe