Bucharest is my hometown. I am always happy to talk about it or give any kind of tips you are looking for if you are planning to visit Bucharest. I know there are so many things to take care of when planning a trip. But experience has taught me that asking a local can get you the best piece of advice. (I’m a local!)
The Palace of Parliament (Casa Poporului)
The most famous thing you must have heard about Bucharest is this building, the Palace of Parliament, which is also known as The People’s House and was formerly known as Casa Republicii, in the communist era.
The former communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu, got the idea of building such a structure after visiting North Korea in 1972. He intended to move in all the administrative parts of the state and also as a safe place in case of an earthquake or even a nuclear bomb.
Now the People’s House has become a symbol of democracy, hosting the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, the Legislative Council, the Constitutional Court of Romania.
It is the 2nd biggest administrative building in the world, after the Pentagon and the 4th, regarding its surface (365,000 m2). Definitely the heaviest building in the world, so far.
They claim all the materials used, were made in Romania. Each hall has a theme and a story. There are guided English tours every day, and you have to get through security checkup to get in. Just like at the airport.
It’s well worth a visit, even if you are not into history. The Palace of Parliament is an impressive building and a must-see on any tourist’s list.
The old historical city centre
Lipscani Street and the nearby streets are now what to call the Old City Center.
The streets are stone paved and are only for pedestrians. This is the place which everyone will recommend. Whatever you might be looking for, there are a lot of options: shops, bars, pubs, clubs, terraces, restaurants; it’s all there.
Some attractions I recommend checking out are:
- Manuc’s Inn – the oldest operating hotel building in Bucharest, Romania
- Lipscani street – a street and a district, which from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century was the most important commercial area of the city
- Carturesti Carousel bookshop – (“Carousel of Light”) is a breathtaking bookstore in the heart of Bucharest, located inside a beautifully restored 19th-century building.
- Stavropoleos Church – is an Eastern Orthodox monastery for nuns in central Bucharest, built in Brâncovenesc style
- CEC Palace – built in 1900 and situated on Calea Victoriei opposite the National Museum of Romanian History, is the headquarter of CEC Bank
- Caru’ cu Bere restaurant – a bar and restaurant in the Lipscani district of Bucharest, opened in 1879 and moved to the current location, in 1899. It is noted for its interior decoration, in art nouveau style.
- Curtea Veche (the Old Princely Court) – built as a palace or residence during the rule of Vlad III Dracula in 1459
- National Museum of Romanian History – located on Calea Victoriei in Bucharest, Romania. With a surface of over 8,000 square meters, the museum has approx. 60 valuable exhibition rooms. The permanent displays include a plaster cast of the entirety of Trajan’s Column, the Romanian Crown Jewels, and the Pietroasele treasure.
The Romanian Atheneum
This 120 years old construction is a symbol of the national culture. The Romanian Athenaeum is an important landmark of Romania, considered to be the heart of the Romanian culture.
Over the years many important Romanian people and guests from abroad have walked through its halls. The Romanian Atheneum offers an exceptional acoustic, making it a home for any important international musician or orchestra, qualifying among the best buildings in the world with such exceptional acoustic qualities. It is located in the Revolution Square, the place where the Revolution of ’89 started, where the former communist leader of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, held a speech for the last time before the crowd started to revolt.
The National Theatre of Bucharest was named after the famous playwright, Ion Luca Caragiale. The I.L. Caragiale National Theatre of Bucharest is a cultural institution having a national importance. The theatre aims to promote the cultural and the artistic values, both from Romania and from abroad, with its performances and repertoires.
Having a history of over 160 years (founded 1852), the national theatre is considered a cultural brand and it’s famous beyond Romanian borders.
The building went under reconstruction, aiming to become A new theatre for a new public – a multivalent cultural vocation. The institution is seen as a complex cultural centre, adding new spaces along the halls of repertoire: exhibition spaces, a National Theater of Bucharest Museum, a lecture hall, libraries, cafes.
Arcul de Triumf (Arch of Triumph)
The first version of the monument was wooden and was built after Romania gained its independence in 1878. The victorious troops marched under it. The current structure was built in 1935 and was inaugurated in September 1936, for the Heroes of the War of Independence and World War I.
The arch has a height of 27 metres and its foundation is a 25 x 11.50 metres rectangle. The facades are decorated by famous Romanian sculptors.
The place is the main attraction in Bucharest, on the 1st of December (Romania’s national holiday), when the military parade marched under the arch.
Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History
The national museum of natural history in Bucharest has over 2 million pieces, from various zoological, rocks and minerals collections. In 2011, the museum was reopened to the public, after 3 years of renovations. The displays have been redesigned, while the interactive buttons and touchscreens offer extra details and images.
The museum has 3 areas: Romanian biodiversity, the ecosystems from around the planet and history of the human being, ethnology, mineralogy, entomology and marine biology.
Some displays have audio descriptions, available in Romanian, French and English. The written text is in Romanian and English.
Village Museum (Muzeul Satului)
The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum in Bucharest is an open air museum with a fantastic collection of traditional houses and old type constructions from all over the country. As the name implies, it is a real village, and the households are in natural size and can be visited inside.
The museum is located by the lakeside, in one of the most beautiful parks in the city, Herastrau Park.
The exhibition includes:
- Households and Annexe Buildings
- Religious artifacts
- Wooden objects
Herăstrău Park (Romanian: Parcul Herăstrău) is the largest park in Bucharest, located on the northern side of the city, around Lake Herăstrău. The shore of the lake was the favourite promenade place for the high society of Bucharest since the early 19th century.
The park was opened in 1936 and it’s divided into two zones: a rustic or natural zone (the Village Museum), and a public domain with open areas for recreation activities. Today, Herăstrău Park offers complete leisure opportunities for visitors. Is ideal for practising outdoor sports, or perhaps just for a walk. The lake is used for boat trips or water sport. Scattered across the park are an open-air theatre, a yacht club, a sports club, the Herăstrău Hotel and, adjunct to the park, the Diplomatic Club, featuring a golf course.
The Cișmigiu Park (Romanian: Parcul Cișmigiu) is a public park, which was designed as a garden, near the centre of Bucharest, Romania. The park surrounds an artificial lake, which is explored by rowing boat in summer or skated upon during the winter.
The garden has over 30 thousands plants, brought from all across Romania, while the most exotic plants were brought from the botanical gardens in Vienna.
The park has a couple of cafes, refreshment kiosks and – in summer – terraces, as well as some large children’s playgrounds. It can get very busy in good weather, but it is a lovely place to spend time.
The main entrance is from Regina Elisabeta Boulevard, in front of the City Hall; there is another major entrance at the Știrbei Vodă Street, near the Crețulescu Palace. The southwestern corner of the park is next to the Gheorghe Lazăr High School.
A walk on Victory Avenue
Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue) is a major avenue in central Bucharest. It leads from Splaiul Independenței up to Piața Victoriei, where the government building and the Museum of Natural History stand.
The boulevard was paved in 1825, among the first streets to be paved in Bucharest, and is lined with fine houses, palaces, churches, hotels, upmarket shops and museums. It remains perhaps the most prestigious address in the city.
Major buildings and monuments along Victory Avenue
- The Cantacuzino Palace, hosting The George Enescu Museum
- Museum of Art Collections
- Știrbey Palace Romanian Athenaeum
- National Museum of Art of Romania
- Kretzulescu Church
- Piața Revoluției (Revolution Square)
- Palatul Telefoanelor
- Odeon Theatre
- Casa Capșa
- Cercul Militar Naţional
- Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse
- Bucharest Financial Plaza
- National Museum of History of Romania, with the Statue of Trajan and the She-wolf on its steps
- Casa de Economii și Consemnațiuni (CEC Palace)