March 11, 2021

Top 10 Things to do in Bucharest

Prior to the Second World War, and the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, Bucharest was known as the 'Paris of the East'. Fifty years of unbridled construction of ugly Soviet-style utilitarian buildings has definitely put a dent in that image, but it still remains a great city to visit with plenty of activities for the visitor.

Here are our top 10 things to do in Bucharest.

1. Get under glass the Macca-Villacrosse Passage
Opened in 1891 this glass covered arcade is host to a number of bars and restaurants, and provides a hint of why the architecture here once rivalled Paris. Relax in the outdoor lounges and plan where next to visit.

In the Old Town, nearest Metro station is Piata Unirii.

2. Walk around one of the largest buildings in the world, the Palace of the Parliament
A grandiose attempt by Ceausescu to provide a lasting monument to his regime. So ridiculously over sized that only a small number of rooms are actually in use today, most are closed off to save on electricity bills. Tours can be easily booked in advance.

Although it does contain the Romanian parliament, you can even rent rooms for wedding receptions!
Head to Izvor Metro station.

3. See where the Romanian revolution started.
The complete confusion on the face of Nicolae Ceausescu as the crowds beneath him booed and shouted anti-government slogans in December 1989 is one of the most memorable images of the recent Romanian revolution.

You cannot enter the government building but you can  see the balcony where Ceausescu's last speech was made from, as well as monuments and sculptures celebrating the revolution. The nearest Metro is Universitate.

4. Get close to Vlad the Impaler
You don't have to traipse all the way to Transylvania to get close to Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler as he is better known. In fact many of the links to the Dracula castles in the Carpathian mountain range are tenuous to say the least. While the Citadel in the centre of Bucharest was actually built by him.

You can visit the remains of Vlad's palace in the Old Town, nearest Metro station is Piata Unirii.

5. Grab a book at Carturesti Carusel
Possibly the most impressive looking bookshop I have ever visited. Six floors of books built around an atrium with spiral staircases heading skywards. And one of the nicest hot chocolates I have tasted at the bistro upstairs.

Midway between Universitate and Piata Unirii Metro stations.

6. Really get confused which country you are in at the Arch of Triumph
Continuing with the Parisian theme this arch was built in 1935, and, not surprisingly was based on the one in Paris. Surrounded by traffic, just as in Paris (!), it comes alive at night when floodlit.

Close to the Metro station at Aviatilor.

7. Be prepared for some poor decorating decisions at the Ceausescu's residence
For a communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu certainly enjoyed the good life at his main residence in Bucharest. A massive swimming pool, bar, cinema, fallout shelter and indoor garden are just some of the delights at Casa Ceausescu.

Unfortunately he and Elena, his wife, had an interesting taste in decor. Gold bathrooms and over the top flashy mosaics dominate. And his obsession with peacocks knows no bounds, in both the art and his private gardens.

8. Have a beer at the Caru 'cu Bere
A restaurant and bar housed in a Gothic-style building from 1899. The food is traditional Romanian, heavy on meat, and brews its on beer on the premises. The interiors seem not to have changed since built, and the building has a great ambience.

Incredibly popular, it is best to make a booking in advance. Located in the Old Town, nearest Metro stations are Izvor and Piata Unirii.

9. Learn more about Romania's past
Bucharest has a number of excellent museums devoted to history and art. Our favourite is the George Enescu Museum. The Romanian composers life and works are interesting, but the Baroque building in which the museum operates, the Cantacuzino Palace, is stunning.

The closest Metro is Piata Victoriei.

10. Hide from the rain in the Victoria Passage
A colourful street covered in multicoloured umbrellas. Fun for photographers but the best bit is the pizza restaurant beneath. Tasty meat and vegetarian pizza at a more than reasonable price, as most things are in Bucharest.

In the Old Town, nearest Metro station is Piata Unirii

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