Best Things to Do in Bucharest for the First Time Visitor

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

If you’d like to take a guided tour of Bucharest, check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

Bucharest is a sure candidate for the slogan ‘visit a destination before the tourists come’. Romania’s vibrant and chaotic capital is a top attraction for visitors looking to experience something different and authentic. In case you’re planning to visit Bucharest for the first time, here’s our hand-picked guide to some of the best things to do in Bucharest.

Visit the Palace of the Parliament

A must of any Bucharest visit, the Palace of the Parliament, also known as the House of the People, is no doubt the most famous landmark of Romania’s communist period. One of the most impressive and controversial constructions in the world is an unforgettable symbol of a regime that irremediably reshaped the country’s history.

Palace of the Parliament

The Palace of the Parliament

The second-largest building on the planet after the Pentagon, the Palace of the Parliament has 370,000 square meters and is 84 meters tall. Part of Ceausescu’s vision of creating his own version of the capital, the construction is truly monumental. More than 1,000 rooms, some with hand-made decorations from the finest and most expensive materials including rare metals and over 700 crystal chandeliers, not to mention the anti-nuclear shelter and the escape tunnels from the underground. Visiting this attraction easily makes it on our list of the best things to do in Bucharest.

For the visiting hours, check http://cic.cdep.ro. Be sure to bring your ID card or passport for the security check.

Take a walk on Victoriei Avenue

Stretching on 2.7 kilometers from the United Nations Square to Victoriei Square, a walk on Victoriei Avenue is not only the best way to see the main historical and cultural attractions of the capital but also an excellent starting point to explore Bucharest off the beaten track as it intersects with smaller streets with their own old houses and monuments.

CEC Palace

CEC Palace

The major attractions of the avenue include the National Museum of History, CEC Palace, the Military Palace, the Revolution Square, the National Museum of Art, the Atheneum, the Museum of Art Collections, and Cantacuzino Palace. Don’t miss a visit to the National Museum of History and the National Museum of Art.

Explore the Old Town

The Old Town will most likely be the first part of your Bucharest visit. Preserving some of the oldest monuments in the capital, but also lively streets packed with many restaurants and bars, this otherwise small part of Bucharest is one of its most vibrant areas.

The main attractions include the 19th-century Manuc Inn, the oldest church in the city, medieval ruins, the 18th-century Stavropoleos Monastery, former bank edifices, and old merchant streets.

Old Town bucharest

Former bank edifice in the Old Town

During summertime, the narrow streets are almost fully occupied by outdoor terraces. If you prefer a less crowded experience, start your tour in the first part of the day, and come back in the evening for a typical Romanian dinner.

Visit the Village Museum

The Village Museum displays a complex collection of over 53,000 traditional objects in the open-air section and its interior spaces. The permanent exhibition features over 300 monuments, including hundreds of years old wooden churches, traditional houses, and installations, all brought to the museum from different corners of the country. Located in Bucharest’s largest park, Herastrau, this is one of the most important cultural attractions of the capital and one of the top open-air museums in Romania.

Village Museum Bucharest

The Village Museum

A tour of the museum is a unique opportunity to get to know a fundamental part of Romania’s cultural heritage without stepping out of Bucharest. Don’t miss it!

For the visiting hours, check http://muzeul-satului.ro

Visit the Bellu Cemetery

This cemetery is truly one of the most authentic attractions in Bucharest, a splendid outdoor gallery of impressive funeral sculptures and tombs created by famous artists of the past centuries, almost 200 of them being listed as historical monuments.

Bellu Cemetery

Bellu Cemetery

Travel tips: You can only take photos with prior written permission from the cemetery administration.

Visit centuries-old churches

Bucharest has many old churches, some of them of major historical importance. Dating from different centuries and built in different architectural styles, these churches have state of the art interior paintings and a rich history to recommend them as key cultural attractions. Don’t miss the churches of Stavropoleos, Coltea, Bucur, Sfantu Gheorghe, Mihai Voda, Antim, and the Patriarchy.

Stavropoleos Monastery

Stavropoleos Church

The churches are open daily, and taking photos is allowed as long as you don’t disturb the religious activities. Sundays are very crowded. If you’re interested in their architecture and interior paintings, it’s better to choose another day for a visit.

Discover the local parks

Bucharest is not the greenest capital in Europe, but its parks are a true oasis in the urban jungle, the central ones having their own share of historical importance. Carol Park was inaugurated in 1906 by King Carol the 1st, Herastrau in the time of King Carol the 2nd while Cismigiu is the oldest park in the capital. You’ll see at least one of them if you explore the central part of Bucharest on foot.

things to do in Bucharest

Cismigiu Park

Located very close to Carol Park, Tineretului is a very popular park for locals. It has cycling trails, sports courts, and many playgrounds for children.

Try the pastry

Locals have a great passion for pastry, and you’ll find a pastry shop on almost every corner. The pretzels, covrigi, are a local favorite. They come in different shapes and flavors, salty and sweet, but all are delicious. Try also the salty Dobrogeana, a traditional Romanian cheese pie, or the apple strudels.

Take a guided tour

If it’s your first time visiting Bucharest and you’d like to have a carefree experience, try a guided tour. We offer complete city tours or more specialized communist, historical, and food tours. Private and shared options available.

Bucharest Guided Tours

If you’d like to take a guided tour of Bucharest, check our tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

We hope you’ll have a great time uncovering the capital, and that you’ll add your own favorites to our list of the best things to do in Bucharest for first time visitor.

Where to stay

Don’t forget to book your accommodation in time to be sure you get the best deals. You can find below a hand-picked selection of our favorite places to stay in Bucharest.

If you prefer the hotel experience right in the heart of historical Bucharest, our recommendations are Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest, Mansion Boutique Hotel, Grand Boutique Hotel, Grand Hotel Continental, Epoque Hotel, Cismigiu Hotel, all splendid buildings from the glory days of Bucharest.

Booking an apartment is also a popular and more budget-friendly option in Bucharest. While there are hundreds of choices, we can help narrow down your list to the best. Our suggestions are Vila Cotroceni Boutique Apartments, University Central by Orchid Garden, Bucharest Residence, Diana’s Flat Bucharest, Cismigiu Orchid Garden, Studio Old Town, Elysium.

If hostels are your thing, try Umbrella Hostel located in a 1920s building, Podstel Bucharest close to the beautiful Carol Park or First Hostel Bucharest.

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