Before planning their trip to Romania tourists usually wonder “Is Bucharest worth visiting? or should I skip it and spend my time in other cities of Romania?”. In general, tourists land in the capital of Romania and start exploring the country from here, but not many of them know what are the main tourist attractions in Bucharest.
Although they can only look at the city as the starting point of their itinerary in Romania, once they get to know it, many of them are impressed.
The city may not have the best fame, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of a visit. Once you get to know it, you will discover here a mix of new and old, very modern buildings and aristocratic houses with Parisian charm (Bucharest was nicknamed Little Paris). In addition, the bars and restaurants with various specifics will offer you a unique dining experience.
So if you have to make an extended visit to the Romanian capital or just stop here for a few hours, I recommend a guided tour of Bucharest so you can find out its history and interesting stories. If you want to discover it on your own, here are the important landmarks in Bucharest that you can visit:
Why visit Bucharest? Places that will convince you Bucharest is worth visiting:
The Parliament Palace
If the weather is rainy, Bucharest seems sad. On a day like this, Bucharest must be seen from the inside. And a visit to the Parliament Palace (also known as the People’s House) is the first suggestion that comes to mind.
Foreign tourists (and I suspect that those from other areas of Romania, too) do not miss this attraction. However, it is not such a popular place for Bucharest residents. Being there, big, with little chance of disappearing too soon, the Parliament Palace does not arouse their interest. Thus they postpone the visit “at a certain moment” and the days pass by and that moment does not come.
In order to visit the Palace of the Parliament, it is necessary to book a visit in advance and present an identity document at the entrance.
The complete tour of the Parliament Palace includes several rooms inside, the exit on two terraces in summer, the one that leads to Unirii Boulevard, and a few floors above, from where you can see the whole city and a descent to the basement. (Unfortunately, the underground galleries in the urban legends are not included in the tour and nothing is mentioned about them).
The Palace of the Parliament was built by the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu after the great earthquake of 1977 that destroyed part of Bucharest. He wanted a safe building, and the Parliament Palace was part of a larger project to rebuild Bucharest. The foundation stone was laid in 1984 and many important houses, churches and buildings were demolished to make way for it.
The Palace of Parliament is the heaviest building in the world, the second-largest administrative building for civilian use in the world and the most expensive administrative building in the world.
Returning from Paris, Ceausescu also wanted to have his own Champs-Elysee and so the Unirii Boulevard appeared in the project, 2 cm wider than the famous boulevard in the French capital.
Inside you can see the curtains a few meters long and the room with a glass roof in which the dictator wanted to land by helicopter. And such details and stories perfectly capture the grandiosity of the communist leader.
Information about the visiting schedule and the ticket price can be found on the Parliament Palace website.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Bucharest is Primaverii (the Spring in Romanian) Palace, known as the House of Nicolae Ceausescu. Primaverii Palace was the residence of the family of the President of the Socialist Republic of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, until December 1989.
Later it was transformed into a protocol house, and starting with 2016, Ceausescu House was opened to the general public. If you intend to visit it, the first step you have to do is to book a few hours in advance on the site. The probability of finding a seat if you go directly is extremely low.
Inside you can see the luxury in which the couple Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu lived and the various souvenirs they received as gifts from various political leaders of that time.
The Cotroceni ensemble is the most important foundation of the ruler Şerban Cantacuzino from the second half of the century. 17. The name seems to come from an archaic term cotroci which means in Romanian “to hide”, due to the fact that this area was forested offering many places of refuge.
Its inhabitants have had blue blood over time. These were rulers and kings of Romania. The rooms inside the museum are richly decorated and show the old royal lifestyle.
Cotroceni Palace is currently the headquarters of the Presidential Administration, meaning that the President of Romania has his office here. Only the museum (the former royal residence) and the church inside the ensemble can be visited. It is necessary to book in advance to have access and to present an identity document at the entrance.
Read also: 10 best-known palaces in Romania
The most famous street in Bucharest, Calea Victoriei, was called Mogosoaia Bridge in Constantin Brancoveanu’s time because it connected the old centre (with the voivode’s palace) and the Mogosoaia Palace.
After the Romanian army marched victoriously here after the War of Independence (1878), the street became Calea Victoriei.
Along it, on both sides, are the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest, famous museums and luxury shops. You can’t say that you visited Bucharest if you didn’t take a walk on this boulevard that becomes pedestrian from time to time.
The CEC building or the CEC Palace is located on Calea Victoriei, opposite the National Museum of History.
It represents an image of old Bucharest and was built on the site of a church. Currently here is the headquarters of an important bank in Romania, so you can not go inside. But you can stop to see the glass dome up close.
National Military Circle Palace
From the CEC Building, up on Calea Victoriei, you will find another building with architecture reminiscent of ancient times. It is the Palace of the National Military Circle.
It currently hosts various events such as book launches and exhibitions. On weekends it is also used for events, weddings and proms. And if you want to spend an elegant New Year’s Eve in Bucharest, This place is known for its New Year’s Eve themed parties.
Also on Calea Victoriei, another beautiful building will greet you on your walk: the Romanian Athenaeum. Being a concert hall, if you are passionate about classical music you can see its interior during an evening show or you can pay a separate visit during the day.
The Roman Athenaeum is one of the most beautiful places in Bucharest, and the building that looks like a Greek temple has an interesting history.
Cantacuzino Palace – today George Enescu Museum
On the right side of Calea Victoriei, a beautiful palace houses the George Enescu Museum. George Enescu was the most important Romanian musician, having an annual festival dedicated to him in Bucharest: the George Enescu Festival.
He was a composer, violinist, pianist and conductor, and inside the museum, you can see scores, objects and pictures of the composer and even his mortuary mask.
Cantacuzino Palace is related to the life of the famous artist and especially to the tumultuous love story he lived with Princess Maruca.
Museum of Romanian History
Located right on Calea Victorie, opposite the beautiful CEC building, the National Museum of Romanian History hosts both permanent exhibits and temporary collections. The most famous piece on display here is a life-size copy of a part of Trajan’s Column, erected in Rome.
In the basement, there is a royal collection: jewellery and royal crowns worn by the sovereigns of Romania. Inside you can see the Romanian Steel Crown, the crown worn by king Carol I and made of steel pipe of an Ottoman cannon captured during the War of Independence.
Read also: Cities in Transylvania
National Museum of Art in Bucharest
Also on Calea Victoriei, like the other museums mentioned so far, there is a place for art enthusiasts: the Art Museum. Opened in the former royal palace, the Art Museum houses various collections of Romanian and foreign painters.
It is not crowded at all, so if you feel the need for a quiet afternoon, you can choose to spend it here. But even if you are not passionate about art, the building that hosted the royal families of Romania deserves a stop to find out its rich history.
Grigore Antipa Museum
A wonderful museum to visit with children in Bucharest is Grigore Antipa. The National Museum of Natural History took the name of Professor Antipa who organized the museum in this building in Victoriei Square.
Inside you can see current and extinct vertebrates and invertebrates (fossils or pieces of the skeleton). A tour inside helps the little ones to better understand the world in which they live and gives parents the opportunity to explain why nature must be preserved and respected and what are the consequences of violating these principles.
Besides dioramas (realistically represented nature scenes) from around the globe, you can see here an impressive collection of butterflies and even an artificial cave.
The old town of Bucharest
During the daytime, it seems quiet, even deserted on some streets, but at the night it is unleashed. The perimeter between Calea Victorie, Splaiul Independentei, Bulevardul I.C. Bratianu and Doamnei Street, called the “Old town of Bucharest” lives differently than the rest of the city: in the evening it wakes up and goes to bed in the morning.
Explore the old town on this free walking tour in Bucharest
For outings to a juice/coffee/beer etc are the most popular place in Bucharest and one of the best places in Europe for nightlife.
Here there is always a holiday atmosphere due to the terraces everywhere and the anthill of people looking for fun. The risk is that on Friday and Saturday evenings you will not find a place without a reservation, especially if you come in a large group.
But during the day you can discover another face of it, the one full of history. If you take a walk on its narrow streets you will discover the Stavropoleos Church, one of the oldest churches in Bucharest, Manuc’s Inn, the National Bank and Carousel, the most beautiful bookstore in Bucharest. Carusel Bookstore appears in all the charts with instagrammable places in Bucharest.
Arch of Triumph
The smaller copy of his brother from Paris, the Arc de Triomphe, is located at the intersection of Kiseleff Road and Alexandru Averescu Boulevard and appears in any list of tourist attractions in Bucharest.
It also has a museum inside that can be visited on days when it is open to the public (usually in summer, on weekends, and admission is free). And from above you can admire the green part of Bucharest, Herastrau Park is right next to it.
The monument commemorates Romania’s victory in the First World War. Due to the Arc de Triomphe and the interwar bohemian atmosphere, Bucharest was named Little Paris.
Beautiful parks in Bucharest: Cismigiu Garden
Descending from the University Square on Elisabeta Boulevard, you reach Cismigiu. Cismigiu Garden is a rather crowded park most of the year, being in the centre of the city, but the good part is that here you can feel all the seasons leisurely.
In the spring, snowdrop beds appear in the grass. If they appeared in Cismigiu, it is clear that spring has come! In summer you can go boating on the lake and even cool down a bit if you get too close to the fountain in the middle of the lake.
In autumn, all the vegetation is coloured differently, and in winter, besides the houses with mulled wine, there is also the ice rink arranged on the lake.
Carol Park in Bucharest
One of the oldest parks in the capital, Carol Park took the name of the first king of Romania who requested the arrangement of this garden.
Built on terraces, today it is known especially for the mausoleum that houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But the park has other places worth visiting and stories from the past that still left traces on the old alleys.
And from the top next to the Mausoleum you can see the most beautiful view of the Palace of the Parliament.
The largest park in Bucharest today is called King Mihai I Park, but it is still known as Herastrau Park. On weekends it can be quite crowded, but even so, you can find free places to enjoy quiet moments.
Some come here for running on the alley by the lake, others for boating or for the meadows where you can sit at will. Parents bring their children to one of the playgrounds. From the park, you can enter the Japanese Garden in Bucharest (a beautiful place, with cherry blossoms in spring) and the Village Museum.
Read here a list of beautiful parks in Bucharest
Village Museum in Bucharest
Another fairly quiet place in the noisy city is the Village Museum. With entrance from Sos. Kiseleff, the Village Museum is an open-air museum.
You can walk among the old houses in the Village Museum for a whole day, and the best part is that you will not meet many people here. In addition, this is one of the most instagrammable places in Bucharest!
The Botanical Garden is entered from Cotroceni boulevard and in spring you can see it in all its splendor. In addition, it is never crowded, so when you feel like a walk in the park and you are looking for a quiet place, you can come here for a few relaxing hours.
In addition to the variety of outdoor plants, the Botanical Garden in Bucharest also has a very old greenhouse that houses various exotic species, from palm trees to orchids.
If you have only one day in the capital of Romania, we have prepared a guided tour where you can discover the most important tourist attractions in Bucharest. This way you will see by yourself if Bucharest is worth visiting or not. If you have several days, the list above can help you design a Bucharest itinerary that will enjoy.
And once you have discovered Bucharest, you can start exploring the places around it on some day tours.
Do you need extra details about Romania? Please read our Romania Travel blog.