Things to do in Bucharest
You know that feeling when you visit a new city and want to discover it all, street by street?
The only problem is that time is limited, and you can’t afford to waste it on visiting places that are less than extraordinary. Bucharest is a city full of various attractions that can charm any traveler, regardless of his or her preferences. An energetic nightlife, huge shopping areas, rich history, impressive landmarks, and more.
But because time isn’t on our side, we’re only going to cover what we believe are the best things to do in Bucharest.
Whether you want to visit the city’s museums or just relax in a cafe, you’ll find some worthy suggestions below. And we’re not going to include the Palace of the Parliament on our list because that is something that everyone should visit if they’re in Bucharest.
1. Relax in one of Bucharest’s Parks
If you’re looking for an evening of relaxation, Bucharest has some great parks that are perfect just for that.
The Cișmigiu Park (also known as The Cișmigiu Gardens) is situated near Bucharest’s center, and it is an important monument for Bucharest. It is the largest park in the city’s central area, and it spans around an artificial lake on which you can take a boat ride and see the dozens of ducks and swans swimming in the lake.
Another beautiful park is Herestrău, the largest park in Bucharest. The Herestrau Park is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, and it is home to several outdoor events and activities, such as jazz concerts and movie nights. Herestrău Park has a lake just like the Cișmigiu Gardens, on which you can take a boat ride, or you can choose a small sail, a hydro-bike, a canoe, or even try some water sports.
Other parks in Bucharest include the Carol Park, the Youth Park (Parcul Tineretului), and King Michael I Park.
Whether you choose Herestrău Park, Cișmigiu Park, or something else, Bucharest provides several opportunities for relaxation, away from the loud noise of the city.
Pro tip: During the winter, the lake is turned into a huge skating rink.
2. Enjoy a drink in Bucharest Old Town
If all you want to do is sit in a café and watch the people of Bucharest as they go about their business, the city’s Old Town is the place to go.
A large boulevard filled with cafés, restaurants and bars, the architecture of the buildings mixes historical and modern elements and turns the whole area into a perfect place to soak the atmosphere of the city. This is also the perfect place to try some Romanian food and discover the local cuisine.
One of the most popular restaurants in the area is Caru’ cu Bere (The Beer Cart), and it also happens to be one of the city’s landmarks. This 19th century charing in features a beautiful architecture and an interesting history. Its name comes from the fact that in the past, the beer was brought to the inn from a nearby brewery in large wooden barrels loaded in carts.
Today, the beer is produced using a secret recipe in the Tuborg Breweries, which is closed for one day each month just to produce this beer.
Bucharest’s Old Town is also the perfect place for a sightseeing tour.
It is home to many historic buildings, and you can even catch a glimpse of the communist Bucharest and of Romania’s street art.
Nonetheless, there is nothing better than enjoying a cold beer on a hot summer day or seeking refuge in a cafe during a cold winter night.
Pro tip: When the night begins this part of the city becomes pretty crowded and terraces are brimming, so make sure to make a reservation.
3. Visit The Village Museum, an homage to the Romanian life in the countryside
Although approximately 45% of the Romanian population lives in rural areas, life in the countryside isn’t what it used to be.
Sure, there are still some villages with wooden houses and full of craftsmen, but most of them are slowly advancing towards the modern era. The Village Museum, known in Romanian as Muzeul Satului, is the perfect spot to take a look at the past and get a glimpse of the authentic Romanian countryside.
If you want to discover even more of the traditional Romanian life, you can take a trip at the Romanian Peasant Museum, which is one of the leading museums of popular arts and traditions in Europe. It includes a collection of over 100,000 objects, such as traditional costumes, icons, ceramics, as well as other artifacts of the Romanian peasant life.
Pro tip: Throughout the year, the Village Museum organizes all kinds of events such as exhibitions, book launches, creativity workshops, craftsmen fairs or artistic performances.
4. Take a photo at the Arch of Triumph
You probably didn’t know this, but the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris has a smaller sibling, right here, in Bucharest.
It was initially built in 1878 after Romania gained its independence, but it was replaced after World War I. It’s one of the many landmarks of Bucharest and it is one of the reasons why Bucharest is called “Little Paris”.
5. Visit the Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History
This is a perfect place for those who are looking for an unusual experience.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some truly remarkable things. The museum houses an impressive collection of expositions, including live butterflies, spiders, scorpions and even human bodies.
Did you know that in the past there were seals in the Black Sea?
6. Take a horseback riding tour at Mogoșoaia
The Mogoșoaia Palace is only 10 kilometers away from Bucharest, and it is a beautiful location where you will find a small forest, a lake, and a stunning monastery. The Mogoșoaia Palace and Monastery were built between 1698 and 1702 by Constantin Brâncoveanu, a prince of Wallachia.
Besides visiting the beautiful location, you can also visit the equitation club nearby. There, you can take riding lessons, take a horseback tour of the area, or enjoy a romantic carriage ride, but we personally recommend the horseback riding tours.
These activities are a completely unconventional way to discover the location, and they are way more fun and relaxing that they sound. Of all the things to do in Bucharest, this is the one you should not miss.
7. Walk through the Macca Villacrosse Passage (Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse)
If you love taking photos, you should try “getting lost” in this place to capture its uniqueness. This passage looks similar to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It still retains the flavor of the interwar period, being one of the most beautiful gateways to the city’s history.
Tip: Currently, the passage hosts several restaurants including an Egyptian-themed one, tailoring workshops, a wine bar, stores and much more.
8. Visit the Carturesti Carousel
If you’re looking for a souvenir from your trip to Bucharest, the Carturesti Carousel is the place to go. Carturesti Carousel is a library built within a historical building, and you can purchase various items, from books and photo albums to jars of homemade jam or bottles of wine.
But these are just a couple of the things that you can do in Romania’s capital city. If you want to see more, head over to our section about Bucharest. If you feel like your visit to Bucharest lacks some historical value, you can check out our communist tour, which will take you back in time to the Ceausescu’s rule over Romania.
9. Test your problem-solving skills at an escape room
Escape rooms are a great alternative to a fun afternoon together with your friends.
The concept of escape rooms is relatively new in the world, but the popularity of these puzzle games exploded overnight. Everything takes place in one or more rooms from which you have to escape, based on clues and riddles.
The players must work together and try to solve the game within 60 minutes. Everything is pretty intense: the pressure of the limited time, trying to solve the clues as fast as possible, putting all the pieces together and listening to each other. It’s a great activity and a nice way of bonding with your friends.
10. Visit The National Museum of Art of Romania
Located inside the Royal Palace in the Revolution Square, the museum features a diverse art collection of medieval and modern Romanian items, as well as international collections gathered by the Royal Family.
The total size of the collection surpasses 70,000 items, and it features the arts of Old Masters such as Domenico Veneziano, El Greco, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens. The collection also includes the works of Romanian artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Theodor Aman, Nicolae Grigorescu, or Theodor Pallady.
Tip: Bucharest is also home to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which is located in a new glass wing of the Parliament Palace.
11. Stavropoleos Monastery
One of the hidden gems of Bucharest is the Stavropoleos Church. This is one of the many historic churches in Bucharest, and it was built in 1724 by an archimandrite using only the income from his inn.
At the end of the 19th century, the annexes of both the inn and the monastery were destroyed, and an earthquake demolished the dome of the church. Its paintings were restored in the early 20th century, and today all that remains is the church and its amazing library with a collection of more than 8,000 books of theology, Byzantine music, arts, and history.