Best Places To Visit In Bucharest For The First-Time Visitors

Best Places To Visit In Bucharest For The First-Time Visitors

The capital city of Romania, Bucharest encompasses a true fusion of uncombinable influences. The architectural styles include neoclassical and Art Nouveau on one hand and socialist era buildings on the other. Despite the fact that the city was partially destroyed and neglected by the communist regime and 20th-century wars, there is still a lot to see in this Eastern European gem. Bucharest is a city of fine arts, rich history and delicious food. Let’s dive in and examine popular attractions in Bucharest that every tourist should consider visiting. 


Top-Rated Places to Visit in Bucharest

In this part, we will go into detail and explore the various tourist attractions in Bucharest. We will talk about historical and art museums, natural parks, beautiful churches and more. So what are the best things to do in Bucharest?


The Old Town

What locals refer to as the Centru Vechi, the Old Town has a long and tumultuous history. Aging back to the 15th century, the Bucharest center has been a vital trading stop that connected the Ottoman Empire in the South to the German Leipzig in the North. Having been ruled by Ottomans, Russians and Germans at various points in history, the Old Town has a unique eclectic atmosphere that lures in thousands of tourists. Unfortunately, the past was not kind to the historic district as it was partially destroyed by earthquakes, major fires and the unforgiving communist regime. 

Old Town in Bucharest

Take a stroll through the Old Town of Bucharest to admire 18th and 19th-century architecture and stop by the oldest brewery in the country. Most of the town’s historic landmarks, including churches, museums, bookstores and more are also located in this part of Bucharest but we will explore these destinations in the next sections. 


Palace of the Parliament

While on one of your Bucharest tours, you should not miss the Palace of Parliament. Known as the heaviest building in the world, weighing 4.1 tonnes, and the second-largest administrative building, Palatul Parlamentului was constructed to appease Nicolae Ceaușescu who was president at the time. To put things into perspective, the building is larger than the Pentagon and bigger than the Pyramid of Giza in terms of volume. What’s interesting is that the palace was built using only materials sourced in Romania which makes it a unique construction. The materials include crystal, steel, bronze, marble, various wood and more. 

Palace of Parliament in Bucharest

All in all, the palace is absolutely gorgeous and will not leave you indifferent, albeit it is associated with a lot of controversies. For example, experts say that the building is sinking 6mm (0.24 inches) every year due to its overwhelming weight. You can learn a lot more about the building and the Old Town in general on a free tour to Old Town and the Parliament


Attend a Concert at the Romanian Athenaeum

Another Bucharest must-see is an impressive historic landmark known as the Romanian Athenaeum which acts as the concert hall and offers musicals, philharmonic concerts and even theatrical plays. The building was erected in 1888 and was crowdfunded using the slogan “Donate one leu for the Ateneu!”, where leu is the Romanian currency. The interior features mosaics of Romanian leaders, including Vasile Lupu, Wallachian Matei Basarab and King Carol I. Inspired by Greek temples, the concert hall incorporates the 19th-century French style and elements of neoclassicism. 

Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest

Visit the Museums

The Old Town is brimming with arts and culture and attracts visitors who are interested in the country’s and town’s history. In this part, we will go over a few museums that are worth visiting during your stay. History buffs that would like to learn more about the Romanian past, can hop on walkabout free tours that are available in the city. 


The National Museum of Romanian History

If anything will tell you an in-depth story of Bucharest, it’s the history museum. A massive three-story building decorated with Doric columns, the National Museum of History holds artifacts that date back to prehistoric times and take visitors all the way to modern history. The museum is home to the most valuable items in the Romanian past, including Dacian jewelry, Trajan’s Column, the flying brevet by inventor Aurel Vlaicu, ancient coins and treasure and much more. 

National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest

Tickets: $4.4  for adults, $2.2 for pensioners and $1.1 for students.
Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.


Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History

Thanks to Grigore Antipa, the museum’s administrator, this museum of natural history is regarded as the most prestigious in its field. The exhibitions elaborate on the flora and fauna of Romania, going back to prehistoric times. Here, you will see the obligatory dinosaur skeletons, interactive 3D installations and a plethora of plants that are native to the region.

Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History in Bucharest

Tickets: $4.4  for adults, $2.2 for pensioners and $1.1 for students.
Working hours: From April to October: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm; November to March: Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday to Sunday 10 am to 7 pm.


Curtea Veche – Archeological Museum

Arguably the most known person in Romania of all time, Vlad III Dracula used the castle as his primary residence during his reign in the 15th century. Nowadays, the museum holds historic artifacts aging back to the 13th century as well as fragments from the time Vlad III ruled the country. Either way, visitors can enjoy a Bucharest walking tour through the oldest medieval building in town and learn more about the local history. Unfortunately, at the moment the museum appears to be temporarily shut down for restoration works. 

If you would like to visit the true Dracula residence in Romania, take a tour to Bran castle which is located in Brasov, Transylvania. A Dracula castle tour will tell you more about that period of time in the country as well as the infamous ruler. 

Curtea Veche – Archeological Museum in Bucharest


Bucharest Village Museum

Created by folklorist Dimitrie Gusti, the Village Museum is an island of rural and authentic Romanian life in the heart of Bucharest. Among truly unique things to do in Bucharest, it is not a traditional museum space but rather an open-air exhibition that includes small village houses, windmills, as well as 15th-century utensils, dishes, gardening tools, rugs, beds and other interior and exterior elements. Even though this rare installation fell into disarray during long and difficult WWII times and Ceaușescu reign, the current government invested plenty of resources into reviving the museum. You will be surprised to find out about unique traditions that take place in Bucharest so don’t miss the chance to learn about the country’s past. 

Village Museum in Bucharest

Tickets: $3.3  for adults, $1.75 for pensioners and $0.9 for students.
Working hours: Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.


Romanian Peasant Museum

Another repository of traditional artifacts and cultural memorabilia from the past, the Peasant Museum is part of the European family of Museums of Popular Art and Traditions. Here, you will see a large collection of textiles, icons, ceramics and other items that represent the peasant lifestyle. More than 100 thousand artifacts found their home in this museum and help locals and tourists understand the peasant world. 

Romanian Peasant Museum in Bucharest

Tickets: $2.6  for adults, $1.3 for pensioners and $0.6 for students.
Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.


National Museum of Art of Romania

Much like every European capital, Bucharest has its own collection of medieval, Renaissance and modern art. Right in the center of the city, you will find a majestic Royal Palace full of paintings by Cezanne, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens and many others. The collection also includes artworks made by local artists such as Theodor Aman and Nicolae Grigorescu. 

National Museum of Art of Romania in Bucharest

Tickets: $5.25  for adults, $2.6 for pensioners and $1.3 for students.
Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.


Visit the Cārturești Carousel Bookstore

Right in the heart of the Old Town, visitors can enjoy their time at one of the prettiest bookstores in Europe called Cārturești Carousel. Erected in the 19th century, the building is a must-do in Bucharest: it has a lovely European-style charm and astonishes tourists with a wide range of books, magazines, DVDs and other materials spread across six floors. Stop by this beautiful establishment to browse through thousands of reading materials and grab a quick coffee at the bistro. 

Cārturești Carousel Bookstore in Bucharest

Bucharest Parks

During your Bucharest city tours, don’t forget to take a calm day and enjoy the tranquil greenery of the town. The city is overwhelmingly green and offers a few parks which allow locals and visitors to take long strolls and appreciate the beauty of nature. Let’s talk about the most popular parks in the capital city area. 


Cișmigiu Park

The center of Bucharest offers more than historical museums and bookstores: here, you can take a secluded walk across 14.6 hectares of the largest public park in the area. The gardens were designed and planted in the 1860s by German architect Carl Meyer and include more than 30,000 trees and plants sourced from across the country. Some of the exotic plants were brought from botanical gardens in Vienna, Austria. The park also commemorates a plethora of local writers with stone busts as well as French and American soldiers who lost their lives in Romania during the First and Second World Wars respectively. 

Cișmigiu Park in Bucharest

Herastrau Park

If you get fatigued from the busy Old Town and crave a peaceful afternoon surrounded by nature, Herastrau Park is one of the best Bucharest sights to see. Located in the city north across nearly 200 hectares, the park makes a perfect day trip from Bucharest by offering bike and boat rides, an authentic Japanese garden, multiple cafes and even an aquarium. In fact, the park is so huge that you can find a quiet cozy place for yourself to enjoy a day in nature, even on a traditionally busy weekend. 

Herastrau Park in Bucharest

Izvor Park

A smaller park right outside of the Old Town area, Parcul Izvor is often referred to as the most pet-friendly park as it’s a common area to walk your dog. This park is a perfect spot for tourists who want to escape the city center for a while but do not want to travel all the way to the Herastrau destination. Here, you can take a short walk, have lunch on a bench and enjoy gorgeous views of trees, plants and grass fields.

Alt: Izvor Park in Bucharest

Tineretului Park

If you are traveling with children, Tineretului park is one of the best fun places in Bucharest for you! Located in the city's south, the park contains one of the best children’s playgrounds in the entire capital. Here your kids can jump on trampolines, hop on a rollercoaster, ride a dodgem and so much more. The park has even designated spots for barbecuing so families can bring sausages and steaks to grill and spend the whole day outside. Another part of the park will surprise you with a funfair that offers rides, Ferris Wheel and even horror rooms for children and adults. This place is truly magical for both kids and adults and makes an ideal day tour activity in Bucharest. 

Tineretului Park in Bucharest

The Churches of Bucharest

Romania is an overwhelmingly Christian country and tries to preserve its churches despite the rocky communist past. You can also learn more about this part of the local history by joining a Bucharest communist tour. In this section, we will explore some of the most prominent monasteries and churches that are worth your time. 


Stavropoleos Church

One of the most beautiful and unique churches in Bucharest, Stavrolopeos is situated in the Old Town. The architecture of the construction encompasses Italian and Byzantine styles which create a one-of-a-kind local style called Brancovenesc. The interior holds the remains of old demolished churches as well as gravestones. 

Stavropoleos Church in Bucharest

Coltea Church

This church is a must-see for art enthusiasts as it contains well-preserved murals by Parvu Mutu, a 17th-century Romanian muralist as well as Renaissance artworks done by Gheorghe Tattarescu, another prominent local painter. The building exemplifies the same architectural style as the Stavropoleos church, Brancovenesc, and was initially built as a fortified monastery. 

Coltea Church in Bucharest

Schitu Darvari

This small church is somewhat hidden from the tourist's eye as it’s located on a quieter street, removed from the noisy city center. Built in 1834 by the Darvari family and meant as a family chapel, the church is a true historical landmark. Enjoy a brief tour of the church and a peaceful garden away from the crowded streets of the Old Town. 

Schitu Darvari Church in Bucharest

Radu Voda Church

Among other interesting places in Bucharest is Radu Voda, one of the oldest structures in the entire city. It was built to replace another monastery that was destroyed by the hands of the Ottoman army at the beginning of the 17th century. The only artifact from that time is the bell tower that is being carefully preserved by the workers. Local worshipers hold this church sacred and believe in the healing powers of saint remains. 

Radu Voda Church in Bucharest

What to Eat in Bucharest

You cannot visit Bucharest without tasting the local dishes. Although Romanian cuisine is not as widespread as Italian or Greek, you will not be disappointed at the local delicacy selection. Sarmale, cabbage rolls with pork, is a traditional meal that you can taste at local restaurants. Meat-eaters will enjoy mici, grilled meat with spices served by street vendors and usually comes with mustard. If you are visiting in winter, try ciorba, a soup made with beef, vegetables, vinegar and garlic paste. Romanian food also offers vegetarian options such as Salata de vinete, an eggplant salad served with onions, garlic, mayonnaise and bread. If you crave a dessert, look for papanasi, fried doughnuts with cottage cheese and sweet filling, covered with jam. 

Sarmale in Bucharest

Not sure where to start your food tour? Stop by at Caru’ cu bere or Taverna Covaci to try traditional Romanian cuisine in Old Town. La Mama is another place that offers local dishes at a reasonable price. La Copac is a casual cafe with a cute outside sitting area that you can enjoy in the summer. Outside of the immediate city center you can visit Nicoreşti Restaurant and indulge in the local delicacies at below-average prices. 

Papanasi in Bucharest

Bucharest Public Transport

Bucharest public transportation system is on par with European standards and comprises subway, buses, trams and taxis. The subway has four lines and covers the entire city which makes it a convenient means of transportation for locals and tourists. A two-way ticket costs $1.1 but you can also purchase a daily ticket for $1.75 and a weekly one for $5.5 per person. The trains operate daily from 5 am to 11 pm. 

Subway in Bucharest

Buses and trams are also quite affordable and run throughout the entire city. However, it is said that they are brimming with pickpocketers so keep close attention to your belongings. At night, you have an option for night buses that run once an hour starting from Piata Unirii station. Alternatively, services like Uber and Taxify fully operate in the city and you can use them at any time. 

Buses in Bucharest

Is Bucharest Worth It?

Bucharest is a beautiful city full of culturally and historically significant buildings, museums and churches. Local food will satisfy the appetite of any gourmet while Romanian people will astonish you with their hospitality and friendliness. The city of Bucharest is fairly affordable and allows tourists to explore sights at a reasonable price. When in Romania, don't forget to hop on a Transylvania tour to see the natural beauty of the country and learn about the infamous Romanian Voivode. If you are contemplating going on holiday to this incredible country, don’t think twice, the city will not leave you disappointed. 
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