Bucharest is is a flourishing capital city with exquisite French architecture, Berlinesque nightlife and really good food. There are so many things to do in Bucharest, you'll never be short of interesting things to experience or must-see attractions. Known as "Little Paris", Bucharest is a beautiful city with a historic old town, modern new malls, independent boutiques and vast parks. I was born in Bucharest and grew up in this capital city. Bucharest is beautiful chaos, quickly emerging as a beautiful phoenix from its dark, communist ashes. Let me help you discover all its secret gems in Bucharest with my comprehensive list of the top attractions.
You will find the best places to visit and learn where to explore and what to see during your next trip to Bucharest. Also, I will give you epic recommendations for where to eat and where to stay.
Bucharest is a complex city full of lovely and welcoming people. You're going to love your visit, so without further ado, here are all the best things to do in Bucharest.
Table of ContentsOpen
Known as Centrul Vechi (Old Town) this is the most sought after area in the city. And for good reason, because the old town is one of the city's earliest settlements with incredible structures dating back to the 15th century.
Nowadays, many of these buildings are being renovated and transformed into hotels, restaurants and shops which means you can stay in a historic place right in the heart of the city.
The Old Town is one of the liveliest districts too, with myriad coffee places and bars where locals continue to visit every evening. While it may feel touristic at first, know that locals prefer this area for entertainment too, so you are guaranteed to mingle with locals and other tourists alike.
Popular things to do here include walking around and admiring the gorgeous architecture around the Old Town. Visit Curtea Veche, a museum which tells you everything about the foundation of Bucharest and its relation with Vlad the Impaler. Eat at a restaurant called Caru’cu Bere and enjoy evening drinks in one of the many bars in Old Town.
Tip: Bucharest is full of options and if you want to first explore with a local, I recommend booking this popular pub crawl in the Old Town.
This is one of the top things to see in Bucharest because Casa Poporului (People's Palace) is the second-largest administrative building in the world. The building has eight underground levels, the last one being an atomic bunker, linked to the main institutions by 20 km catacombs. The bunker room has a 1.5m thick concrete wall that cannot be penetrated by radiation.
During his travels to other communist countries, Nicolae Ceausescu got inspired and wished to create an impressive palace, as an intended replica of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The ambitious project began the construction of the palace in 1984. The building was erected on the site of various monasteries which were moved to different locations. Over 40,000 residents were relocated from the area. The works were carried out with forced labour of soldiers to minimise the costs. Thousands of people died during the construction stages, some estimated around 3000.
The project was meant to be finished in only 2 years. The site is still not finished today and only 400 rooms are finished and in use out of 1100.
Address: Strada Izvor 2-4, București, Romania
Tip: Make sure to get tickets online to visit Casa Poporului in advance. Bring your passport or ID card as you won't be able to enter the building otherwise.
One of the most unexpected attractions in Bucharest is the Stavropoleos Monastery. Stavropoleos Monastery is a beautiful little Eastern Orthodox monastery for nuns right in the centre of the vibrant city.
It is built in the Brancovenesc style and dates back to 1724. The Brancovenesc style also known as the Romanian Renaissance is an artistic style that evolved during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
The Stavropoleos Monastery is a true secret gem and a must-visit during your trip to Bucharest. Add it to your itinerary as a wonderful place to seek some quiet, away from the busy streets. The courtyard is filled with flowers and plaques and it features many wooden doors. It's perfect for unique holiday pictures.
Tip: Visit on your own and head over to this address to see the Stavropoleos Monastery: Strada Stavropoleos 4, București 030167, Romania. Alternatively, hire a private tour guide to show you around Bucharest and teach you some of the histories of these epic attractions as well.
If you love the outdoors, you must visit The Cismigiu Gardens or the Cismigiu Park which is the oldest and the largest park in the central area of Bucharest. The park was built in 1847, around an artificial lake. It is popular in Romanian literature fiction, referred to in several literary works.
No matter what the season, Cismigiu Park is a fantastic place for a laid-back afternoon. It is especially busy during the weekend when old residents come to enjoy a stroll. I used to visit Cismigiu as a young child when mum and I had many walks around the paths. I especially remember the playground where there was a mini roller coaster for kids, with carts in the shape of ladybugs. It used to be my favourite thing to do in Cismigiu.
As I grew older, my friends and I had a particular interest in one side of the park which houses an old ruin. Teens usually meet there, tell tales and play the guitars for an atmospheric evening.
Tip: Hire one of the rowing boats and enjoy a fairytale-like experience on the lake. It's a popular activity amongst locals who go on dates on the lake. It's peaceful and romantic.
Address: Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta, București 030167, Romania
Calea Victoriei or the Victory Way is one of the classiest boulevards in Romania. It is a major avenue in central Bucharest, lined with gorgeous baroque houses, expensive shops and 5* hotels.
You must take a stroll on this avenue because this is where the elite used to live, walk and shop. You can find many buildings and monuments on this street including The Cantacuzino Palace, one of the most loved buildings in Bucharest.
Because of the numerous palaces located on Calea Victoriei, Bucharest acquired its nickname “Little Paris” as it looks as sophisticated as the French capital itself. Head to Calea Victoriei for some retail therapy as you'll discover many well-known brands as well as independent boutiques. Visit the many museums like the Museum of Art Collections, Stirbei Palace, the Romanian Athenaeum and more.
Tip: For a luxury trip to Bucharest, stay in one of the hotels here on Calea Victoriei. I recommend Hilton Garden Inn, Grand Hotel Continental or Hotel Cismigiu. Prices for these luxury hotels start from just £67 per night.
The Cantacuzino Palace
If you love art and architecture you must visit the Cantacuzino Palace. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest and locals love it.
You can photograph its exterior or enter it to visit the museum indoors. The exterior and most of the rooms are Beaux-Arts, the rest being Rococo Revival. Many balls and important meetings were held in this palace.
If you decide to visit its interior, you have access to five rooms which represent the museum in honour of George Enescu, considered the most important Romanian musician. He was a composer, a violinist, a teacher, a pianist and a conductor, a complex and brilliant artistic personality. However, please note that the museum is currently closed for renovation. It's meant to reopen to the public in 2023.
Address: Cantacuzino Palace, Calea Victoriei 141, București 010071, Romania
The Romanian Athenaeum
The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall in the centre of Bucharest that opened in 1888. It is the most prestigious concert hall in Bucharest and home to the "George Enescu" Philharmonic and of the George Enescu Festival. It is still seen today as a symbol of culture and love for music that Romanians have.
The overall style of the Athenaeum is neoclassical but you will discover some romantic elements as well. In front of the building, there is a small park and a statue of Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu. Grab a cup of coffee and relax for a little while. It's a great green space right in the heart of the capital.
In the auditorium, there are 600 seats in the stalls and another 52 in loge seating. The concert hall is decorated with a beautiful fresco by Costin Petrescu. The piece depicts the most important moments of Romanian history, starting with the conquest of Dacia by Roman emperor Trajan and ending with the realization of Greater Romania in 1918.
As of 2007, the Romanian Athenaeum is on the list of the Label of European Heritage sites.
Tip: Book a ticket to one of the concerts and see the interior of the Athenaeum. Here is the Romanian Athenaeum official site.
Address: Strada Benjamin Franklin 1-3, București 030167, Romania
The Revolution Square
A must-see while in Bucharest is the quirky and interesting Revolution Square which has so much history attached to it. It was in this very square where Ceausescu addressed the Romanian people for the last time. Initially known as the Palace Square and later renamed Revolution Square, this is where the anti-communist revolution of 1989 started.
You can now see a monument dedicated to the Revolution Heroes which locals candidly refer to as the “potato on a stick”. If you go close, you will notice a red splatter on the monument. This was not part of the design, but later, a street art rebel threw a balloon full of red paint onto the monument. It now looks as if the souls of the heroes trying to get to the top are bleeding. The splatter was never removed and it is now considered to “add” significance to the monument.
Tip: To learn more about the history we recommend booking a local guide to tell you all about it. The tour is around 2.5 hours and you will get insider knowledge about many interesting spots in the city.
For sweet and foodie lovers, add Casa Capsa to your list. You'll get incredible service and some of the best cakes you could possibly imagine. Casa Capsa is seen as an institution by all locals first established in 1852. It's so loved that even to this day many go there to enjoy a special cake and coffee.
Casa Capsa used to be a welcoming place for many Romanian intellectuals who met there to talk and associate. Casa Capșa invented the all-chocolate Joffre cake in honour of a visit to Romania by Joseph Joffre. Furthermore, Casa Capsa was also the first to introduce ice cream to the country.
I most certainly recommend having coffee and cake at Casa Capsa. It is more expensive than other dessert houses around the capital, but the opulent interior and the impeccable service is worth every single penny.
Address: Calea Victoriei 36, București 030167, Romania
For a true hidden gem, head over to the Macca-Vilacrosse passage also known as the Valley of the Kings. The Macca-Vilacrosse passage is a covered arcade street right in the centre of Bucharest. Look up and admire the glass roof which allows natural light to penetrate the gorgeous street. Between 1950 and 1990 the passage was called Pasajul Bijuteria ("Jewelry Store Passage"), but the initial name was restored afterwards.
Going to Macca-Vilacrosse is an experience on its own, as most locals will come here to enjoy one of the Egyptian-themed bars and restaurants that sell shisha. During the evening is a very atmospheric place filled with aromatic smoke from the pipes.
Address: Pasajul Macca, București 030167, Romania
One of the most interesting hidden gems in Bucharest is Pasajul Englez or the English Passage. It's just off Calea Victoriei so very centrally located, the English Passage was once a hotel then turned luxurious brothel.
The glass windows on the balconies were used to showcase the women available for night clientele. The passage still has some red walls making it look very interesting and unique. The atmosphere of the place served as an inspiration to one of the well-celebrated Romanian novelists Mateiu Caragiale.
The brothel became permanently closed in 1947 when the communist authorities forbade prostitution. Nowadays, the building is used as a residential block. the passage kept some of its eerie atmospheres and you will still see some of its original charms.
Address: Calea Victoriei nr. 52
You've probably seen it on Instagram as Pasajul Victoria is now one of the most photographed places in Bucharest. You would have seen its colourful umbrellas and joyful tourists enjoying their time in Bucharest.
Pasajul Victoria is now just a photo spot, it's also a great place for lunch or for sitting down with a cup of coffee. This passage was built in 1855 so it comes with a long history like much of Bucharest's central attraction.
Visit it during the day to snap one of the fun pictures with the colourful umbrellas.
Tip: To learn more about Bucharest and its secret passages we recommend booking a walking tour with a local. These tours cost very little per person, they last just 2.5 hours and you'll have the chance to learn so much more about this gorgeous city.
Address: 48-50 Calea Victoriei, Pasajul Victoria, București 030167, Romania
Piata Unirii or Union Square is the meeting place for most locals. I can’t even remember the countless times I arranged a meeting with someone “in front of the metro station, at the McDonalds at the Union Square”. The Union Square features a big shopping centre which is ever-changing.
In front of the shopping mall, there is Union Park, a green space that features wooden benches for people to relax. At Union Square, there are also “the fountains”. The fountains are located on the Union Embankment Boulevard and each fountain represents a county of Romania. In front of the fountains is the huge People’s House, a communist building erected during Ceausescu’s regime, which now houses the Romanian parliament.
Tip: To learn more about its communist history, book a 3-hour walking tour that focuses on relics of communism. Learn how Communism shaped Romanian society and visit some of the most striking architectural examples of "Socialist realism".
Piata Universitatii or the University Square is another important meeting point for locals. Apart from the main University building, here you will also find the National Theatre, the Coltea Hospital, a very old church called Three Hierarchs. The roundabout is accessible by car only and pedestrians must use the underground passageway which is lined with an old bookstore, several shops and pastry shops. Sometimes, there are art displays located in the centre of the passageway.
University Square was the site of the 1990s Golaniad, a peaceful student protest against the ex-communists in the Romanian government. The demonstrations ended violently when the miners came to Bucharest as will be explained further down the article.
In front of the National Theatre, you will find a plaque which shows Km 0. This is not the original Km 0 in Bucharest, but a symbolic monument that acts as a reminder that Romania has started on a new journey, post-89’. You will notice the Romanian flag painted on the monument, with a black circle in the middle. The black circle represents the burnt coat of arms which was a symbol of communism in Romania. The official Km 0 in Bucharest (for topographic reasons) is located in Saint Gheorghe Square.
The Astronomical Observatory
The Romanian Observatory was built between 1908 and 1910, for Admiral Vasile Urseanu. The telescope was the third-largest in Romania at the time. However, much has changed since the Observatory was renovated and reopened to the public in 2016, with interactive games and the possibility to see the sun through a special telescope.
You can learn so much about the stars and our solar system by just heading over to their official website.
Tip: There is currently no English translation in the museum but you can organise a tour in advance, and ask for an English speaker to take you around. A ticket costs just £2 per person and you will need to add another £1 per person for the guide. Please note you cannot photograph the interior of the museum but you can take amazing photos from the terrace upstairs.
Address: Bulevardul Lascăr Catargiu 21, București, Romania
The Victory Square
Victory Square is where you can find various business centres and shops. The Victory Palace is located in Victory Square and serves as the headquarters of the Prime Minister.
In Victory Square, you can find the Antipa Museum, which is the National Museum of Natural History. It has been renovated and reopened recently and has plenty of great exhibitions and English translations. I used to visit Antipa as a child with my mum, hence it was great to go back, see it all transformed and relive some happy memories.
One of the best things to do in Bucharest is to go visit the Antipa Museum. It really is very interesting and with a price of just £4 per person is really worth it. You will get access to the permanent exhibition which takes a couple of hours to enjoy thoroughly. There are also temporary exhibitions for as little as £3 per person.
Tip: Purchase your tickets online from the museum's official website. You can also just purchase your tickets on the spot, so no worries if you forget to prebook.
The museum is open Tuesday - Friday 10:00 - 18:00; Saturday - Sunday 10:00 - 19:00.
Calling all walking enthusiasts, I've got the best place to visit in Bucharest: Kiseleff Avenue. Kiseleff Avenue is one of the most beautiful long boulevards in Bucharest, dotted with impressive buildings with gorgeous architecture. You will see here most of the embassies and ministerial houses as well.
Come here first thing in the morning to enjoy a relaxing stroll when the boulevards are still quiet. Alternatively, walk here at twilight, a romantic walk which every local loves. At the end of the avenue, the Romanian Arch de Triumph raises tall.
Located on Kiseleff Avenue, the Kiseleff Park is a true natural beauty year-round. Right next to the park, you will find the National Museum of Geology, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the History Institut Nicolae Iorga.
Romanian Arch de Triomphe
You cannot miss the gorgeous Arch de Triumph in Bucharest. You'll see it on your way from the airport and very likely as you explore the city itself.
The Romanian Arc de Triomphe was initially built out of wood in 1878. The current arch you can see today was only inaugurated in 1936.
Tip: The arch is not usually open to the public except during the Museum's White Night Festival. This night usually takes place in June when most museums and art galleries in Bucharest offer free entry for the night. you don't need to reserve tickets, you just need to show up and enter the arch. The views from the top are outstanding.
Every year on December the 1st there is a military parade which is held beneath the arch.
Address: Piața Arcul de Triumf, București, Romania
Herastrau park now renamed Parcul Regele Mihai I is the largest and most beautiful public green space in Bucharest. If you love the outdoors you are going to love a walk around this park. It features many gardens and palaces, as well as museums and lawns.
The area of the park has been inhabited since the Paleolithic with traces of settlements found here. Even more interesting, during the quaternary glaciation, the area was inhabited by large mammals such as the woolly rhinoceros and the mammoth.
The park features a large lake where you can rent a small boat and enjoy a romantic row. At the entrance to the park, there are plenty of restaurants and stalls selling Romanian street food.
I especially recommend a walk to the Japanese garden as well as the Charles de Gaulle entrance with the white statues and rose gardens.
The Village Museum
The Village Museum is an open-air ethnographic museum located in Herastrau Park. This is a great museum that showcases traditional Romanian rural life.
It's a great place to visit during your trip to Bucharest to learn more about the cultural aspect of farm life in Romania. Agriculture played and continues to play an important role in traditional Romanian life. The museum showcases some of the uniqueness in the rural and spiritual life of Romania. You'll learn about traditions, clothes and arts which Romanians continues to preserve after centuries.
The entry fee is just 15 lei (£3) per person.
Address: nr. 28-30, cod poştal 011347, Șoseaua Pavel Dimitrievici Kiseleff, București, Romania
Take a day trip
Bucharest is amazing and it has so many awesome things to do and see. But there are so many places to see in Romania. It's a beautiful country with medieval cities, incredible seaside destinations and epic skiing resorts like Poiana Brasov.
We absolutely recommend that you take a day to explore a unique point of interest outside of the capital as well. You can book a day tour from Bucharest to Romanian castles such as Bran Castle and Peles Castle.
Tip: The most popular day trip from Bucharest is to Bran Castle, also known as the official residence of Count Dracula. We recommend booking a day trip to Bran Castle to experience some of the wonderful rural and cultural life of Romania outside of Bucharest.
Where to stay in Bucharest
The best place to stay in Bucharest is around the centre, near Calea Victoriei. As previously mentioned I used to live in Bucharest so I know the areas really well. Here are the hotels I recommend for you which are really close to all the main attractions and the best things to do in the city.
Hotel Cismigiu - The architecture of Hotel Cismigiu mixes Art Nouveau with a contemporary style. Set in a historical building built in 1912, Hotel Cismigiu is situated next to the Cismigiu Park, 750 yards from the old city centre of Bucharest. A great 4-star hotel with prices starting from £56 per night. Book Hotel Cismigiu here.
The Mansion Boutique Hotel - Right in the heart of the Old Town, in the middle of a pedestrian street bustling with life, The Mansion Boutique Hotel boasts an artful blend of individually decorated rooms. This stylish accommodation is located in a renovated historical building. A 4-star hotel with rooms starting from £55 per night. Book The Mansion Boutique Hotel here.
Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest - Situated in the Old Town of Bucharest, Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest is 450 yards from Bucharest National Theater. Cismigiu Gardens is an 11-minute walk from the accommodation, while Romanian Athenaeum is 1,000 yards away. The property is also a 10-minute walk away from the National Museum of Art. Rooms at this 4-star hotel start from just £46 per night. Book Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest here.
Grand Hotel Continental - Centrally located on Victoriei Street in the heart of Bucharest, Grand Hotel Continental is steps away from the National Art Museum and close to the Athenaeum, Universitate Metro Station, and business district. Rooms at this 5-star hotel start from just £78 per night. Book Grand Hotel Continental here.
How to get to Bucharest from the airport
Bucharest is such a fantastic destination for a city break and the airport is located just a few km outside of the city centre. There are always affordable flights with low-cost airlines flying directly into the main capital airport.
The best and easiest way to get into Bucharest centre from the airport is by pre-booking a private airport transfer. It's the easiest and most cost-effective way. It will also save you time because locals know the best and quickest routes to your accommodation. the cost is just £23 for 2 people.
Alternatively, you can take bus 783 from the airport into Bucharest city centre. 783 has 18 stops and the total trip duration for this route is approximately 37 minutes. 783 bus is available 24/7 and it costs around £1 per person.
Tip: We recommend that you use public transport throughout your stay. Bucharest has excellent subway links to all the attractions you have on your list. It is also a walkable city.
Now you are ready to start enjoying all those amazing things in Bucharest. Packed with so much to do and see you can see why Bucharest is attracting more and more tourists from all around the world. It's a wonderful place full of welcoming people and lots of attractions. Besides, you'll have so much good food, being the ideal destination for foodies as well.
Love Bucharest? Then join the conversation and tell us all about your trip to Bucharest in the comments section below.