An up and coming European hotspot, Bucharest is the perfect getaway for those with a smaller budget – but who still want a good time.
Romantic sights, countless museums and plenty of foodie spots, there is something for absolutely everyone in the Romanian capital.
Location: Bucharest, Southern Romania
Population of city: 9 Million
Nearest airport: Bucharest Otopeni (also known as Henri Coandă International Airport).
Main train/bus station(s): Bucharest Gara de Nord Station
Best time to visit? All year round, but nicest in Autumn and Spring. Extremes of temperature in Winter/Summer can make it less pleasant.
Budget level? £
Best for: History/museums, Old Town, Nightlife, Romantic Escape, Budget friendly
How long should I go for?
Slower trains in and out of the city mean that it’s well worth allowing 2 nights as a minimum. You can easily explore the old town in a day, but discovering more of the city is well worth it if you have time.
Bucharest has limited rail connections to the rest of Central Europe. Most people arrive on the night train from Budapest or the faster train from Brasov. Heading South, there are regular services to Sofia (via Ruse) and onwards to Thessaloniki and Athens in Greece.
The most famous instillation of Romania’s former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, this is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon and is a sight to behold. Stretching over 330,000 square metres and consisting of over 3000 rooms, this building is still yet to be completed, despite now being in its 4th decade of construction. Entry to the parliament building is only possible if you’ve booked onto a tour and, if that’s something you go for, make sure your tour includes a tour of the basement.
Taking up about half of Herăstrău Park is this incredible, open air museum celebrating traditional architecture from all over Romania. Made up of over 270 buildings, made from stone, wood, clay and straw, Dimitrie Gusti displays traditional building styles from all regions of Romania. In short, it’s like a model village for the whole country, only with life size buildings.
No I’ve not got it mixed up with Paris and butchered the spelling, Bucharest has its own version of Paris’ Arc de Triomhpe. The Bucharest model is 100 years younger than its Parisian counterpart, and its design was inspired by the monument in Paris, making them very similar to look at. Bucharest’s Arcul de Triumf is dedicated to those who fought in Romania’s war of independence, as well as the first world war, and hosts a military parade on December 1st each year.
As well as being a very walkable and bike-friendly city, Bucharest is also well serviced by public transport. There are buses, trams, metro and Uber also operates in the city, so you should have no problem getting about.
The quaint old town is a throwback to what Bucharest would have looked like before the Second World War. The term “old town” is slightly misleading, as much of it was rebuilt in the last century, however, it was one of the few areas that survived the war and that was replicated in its renovation. Cobbled streets are lined with shops, bars and restaurants as well as some stunning buildings.
This huge district located just north from the Old Town is thought to be the wealthiest part of town and where many of Romania’s biggest businesses are set up. Here you’ll find Parcul Cismigiu, the Roman Amphitheatre, Natural History Museum and George Enescu Museum.
Located in the South-East of the city, sector 5 is the main administrative district in Bucharest. Here is where you’ll find the Palace of Parliament and also the Romanian National Museum.
Located to the south of the city centre, sector 4 is a slightly more chilled out area of town. Here is where you’ll fins Radu Voda Monastery, Parcul Tineretului and Vacaresti Natural Park.
The National museum contains a wide variety of exhibits from various periods of Romania’s history. The museum boasts everything from Greek gold to objects from the Chernyakhov culture in the 4th century. Perhaps the most impressive item to feature are the crown jewels, worn by Princess Maria, Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter, and the last Queen of Romania.
The former residence of the Romanian Royal family, Cotroceni palace is one of the most culturally significant buildings in Bucharest. Having been built in the 19th century for Romania’s first Monarch, King Carol, the palace is still the house for Romania’s head of state, although it’s now the democratically elected president. The West wing is currently open to the public and houses the National Cotroceni Museum, an impressive collection of artworks.
Romania’s biggest art gallery and home to exhibitions dating from Medieval times to the modern day. Despite being damaged during the revolution in the late 80s, the art gallery is still a marvel and a must see for any art lovers. Works from artists originating from all over Europe combine to create some incredible representations of Western, Islamic and Asian art.