So you’ve decided to pay a visit to the capital city of Romania and now you’re wondering what some of the best things to do in Bucharest are?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I spent nearly a month living in Bucharest and I was able to cover a lot of ground during my time in this beautiful city.
I decided to make this guide so that tourists, backpackers and expats like myself were able to have a resource detailing everything there is to see and do in the city.
I’ve come up with a list of places, attractions and areas of the city you should check out so that you can make the most of your trip while still having a good time.
If you’re only visiting for a day or two you’ll want to pick a handful of the things that sound the most interesting to you but if you’re spending more than a few days you’ll definitely be able to go through the entire list
What to See in Bucharest
Check Out the Palace of Parliament
If you’ve done any research at all about Bucharest than you probably already know about the Palace of Parliament. It’s the first stop for many tourists and it’s one of the most interesting things to see in the city.
Built during Nicolae Ceaucescu’s brutal reign the Palace of Parliament, then known as the People’s Palace, is the second biggest building in the entire world and inside you’ll find over 1000 rooms and countless kilometers of hallways to explore.
Today it’s the home of the Romanian Parliament but it’s still open for tours.
If you’re not interested in paying the entrance fee head to the small park located just to the right of the building for the best view of the enormous structure.
The Palace is only a short 5-10 minute walk from the Old Town and there is no need to take a taxi or the metro to reach it.
Stroll Through The Old Town and Strada Lipscani
The Old Town is one of the busiest areas of the city and where you’ll find all of the tourists. It’s full of bars, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, tourist shops and business selling mostly clothes and electronics. You’ll definitely want to check it out and explore the area since it’s full of a few gems like:
- The awesome statue of Vlad Tepes (Dracula)
- The imposing National Bank of Romania building
- The National Museum of Romanian History building
- Countless churches and museums
As well as all of the cool buildings and places to check out there are quite a few restaurants and bars if you’re looking for something to eat or you want to spend a night out on the town. No matter what time of the day you go the Old Town is bound to be packed with both tourists and locals looking for a way to occupy their time.
If you’re backpacking or travelling on a budget you’ll want to check out my guide on cheap eats in the city here.
Go On A Free Walking Tour
I love going on walking tours regardless of the city I’m visiting and Bucharest is no exception.
If you don’t know much about the history of the city or you’re only visiting for a day then a free walking tour is one of the most practical things to do in Bucharest.
Not only will you learn about all of the important buildings and areas of historical significance but you’ll be able to get a feel for the city without having to walk around aimlessly using a map.
Free walking tours are the perfect introduction to any city and, while you could go on a paid tour or even a bus tour, there really isn’y any point in spending that much for the same experience.
Here are some of the free walking tours in Bucharest that I suggest you try out:
Walk Along Calea Victorei
At nearly 3km in length Calea Victorei is a famous and culturally important street that stretches from Victory Square all the way to the Dambovita Canal beside the Old Town.
Along the street you’ll find countless palaces, royal homes, historic buildings and hotels, quaint parks, museums and nearly everything else you’ll need to occupy yourself for a few hours.
It’s a long walk but there are plenty of places to stop and grab a bite to eat or sit down somewhere peaceful and relax for a little while.
Some of the important buildings along Calea Victorei include:
- CEC Palace
- National Museum of Romanian History
- Odeon Theatre
- Ministry of Internal Affairs
- Revolution Square
If you’re not up for the long walk back you can either hop on the metro and take it to Victorei Square or walk all the way and take it back.
If you want to walk back I suggest walking along Nicolae Balcescu Boulevard – it’s another street that’s lined with impressive buildings and inspiring examples of the architecture in Bucharest.
Grab an Authentic Bite to Eat
Throughout the city there are a few restaurants that serve up some delicious and authentic Romanian cuisine.
They’re especially good options if you’re traveling on a budget since the menu tends to be more affordable than Western style restaurants and you’re likely to run into some interesting locals during your meal.
The two places I would recommend checking out are Caru Cu Bere and La Mama.
Caru cu Bere has been in operation since 1879 and is one of the best and most famous restaurants in the city.
They serve up a wide array of Romanian cuisine options and, if you’re lucky, you’ll visit on a night when there is a live performance underway.
La Mama is another popular Romanian restaurant but it’s not as fancy or expensive as Caru cu Bere. It’s a lot quieter and it’s more of a cafeteria-style place than a sit-down eatery.
Regardless, they have an epic wine selection and it’s impossible not to have a good time and enjoy your meal when you’re at La Mama.
Look For Some Amazing Street Art
If you like wandering around and looking for graffiti and cool street art then you’re in luck. One of my favorite things to do in Bucharest is to venture a few blocks away from the Old Town and hunt for street art.
I’m not going to give away all the great places, since the more people that visit them the more likely the art is going to be cleaned away, but one of my favorite pieces is the painted stairs near Carol Park.
Only a 15-minute walk away from the Old Town and you’ll find one of the most impressive examples of street art in Bucharest.
Xenofon street, the only street made of stairs in the city in the Cotroceni neighbourhood, has recently been painted over by a local artist.
It’s definitely worth checking out and spending some time in the park across the street.
Explore the Many Passages
In the late 1800s the city decided that they needed to add some passages between the banking district and the Old Town to make getting around a bit easier.
Today the passages are lined with quirky restaurants and still retain some of the charm from the Golden Era the city experienced in the early 1900s.
If there’s anything that will remind you why Bucharest is known as “Little Paris” it’s these passages.
Walking through them I’m instantly sent back to the Latin Quarter in Paris and the small, hidden passages they have there.
Most of the passages are covered and, while directly connected to the Old Town, never seem to be very busy with tourists.
So, grab a coffee and relax for an hour or so in one of the many covered passages. You’ll find the majority of them are connected to Calea Victorei so keep an eye out when you’re walking around.
Take a Break at Herastrau Park
While most of the city is a concrete jungle with tiny green spaces here and there Herastrau Park will shatter any misconception you have about Bucharest being cold, dreary and grey.
It’s the biggest park in the entire city, and that’s an understatement. Herastrau Park is enormous and at the center of it is a lake that you can rent a boat and take a paddle on.
It was originally designed as a place for wealthy Romanian’s to spend their time but today it’s a popular place to people to beat the heat, relax or hang out with their friends and family.
At the park you’ll be able to rent a bike, explore an aquarium, find some privacy from the crowds or just enjoy yourself in a natural area for a few hours.
The park is enormous and if you’re only in the city for a day or two you might want to save it for a later visit.
Hop on the Metro and Explore a Beautiful Neighborhood
One of my favorite things to do in Bucharest is to hop on the metro and get off at a random stop.
Once I get off I love exploring somewhere I’ve never been in the city and looking for all the hidden gems the neighborhood has to offer.
The metro is really affordable, it costs only 20 Lei for 10 trips, so if you make a mistake or the metro isn’t in the most visually appealing area you can get back on and go somewhere else!
The most interesting neighborhoods worth exploring are:
- The Armenian Neighbourhood
And there are plenty more areas of the city to check out as well!
Book One of the Many Day Trips from Bucharest
If you’re going to be in the city for more than a couple days then you’ll probably have done all the touristy things to do in Bucharest.
Consider booking a day trip to a nearby town or popular attraction to make the most of your visit to Romania.
Some of the best day trips from Bucharest include:
- Brasov, Bran Castle and the region of Transylvania
- An incredible ride along the Transfagarasan, the most famous highway in Romania
- A guided tour to the coastal city of Constanta
- A private, guided tour to Bulgaria
There are also quite a few other options when it comes to day trips but these are the most popular and will give you the best look at the important natural, cultural and historical landmarks in Romania.
The prices for any of these day trips will range from 55€ to 125€ depending on the trip you choose and how many people are in your group. You could also opt to spend even more for a completely private tour.
In regards to Brasov, it’s pretty easy to get there on your own and then go on a tour once you reach the city.