A rather off the beaten path tourist destination, Romania’s capital cities is worth discovering for its current modern life as well as for its historic landmarks that tell different stories emerging from the country’s past. Tourist attractions in and near Bucharest include the impressive edifice known among the locals as People’s Palace, beautiful Baroque and French Renaissance structures, green parks, historic palaces, lots of restaurants serving delicious typically Romanian dishes, night clubs where you can dance, drink and have fun till dawn.
At first sight, Bucharest might seem a grey city with little interest for the visitor, but once you start exploring it and once you get to know its best spots, you will understand that Romania’s capital city has a lot to offer in point of tourist attractions, as well as when it comes to places where to have fun.
Probably the city’s best known tourist attraction (and the country’s too if it wasn’t for Dracula) is People’s Palace – the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon and the heaviest still standing structure on Earth. An object of controversy among the locals, People’s Palace is often regarded as a grotesque reminder of the communist period within Romania’s history. However, it does not fail to impress the city’s visitors, irrespective of their political views or architectural background.
An iconic edifice and symbol of the country’s culture, the Romanian Athenaeum stands in the very center of the city, where it was erected over a century ago using funds collecting from the entire nation. Included in UNESCO’s Heritage List in 2004, the building impresses by the abundance of details. The French architect Albert Galleron found inspiration for it in the Greek temples.
The Village Museum
Bucharest’s Village Museum is a way of touring the entire rural Romania in a couple of hours. One of the first open air museums in the world and an important tourist attraction in Bucharest, the Village Museum is located inside Herastrau Park and is home to more than 70 traditional households. This includes, besides the house, agricultural tool and objects reflecting the inhabitants’ customs. Whether permits it, the Village Museum becomes the locals’ destination, especially before a holiday when plenty of activities for kids are organizes here.
Bucharest’s Old Center
Known among the locals as Lipscani, Bucharest’s Old Center is one of the city’s trendiest areas. This is where people go for a beer in the hot summer evenings or for a hot chocolate during winter. This is where many of Bucharest hottest’ entertainment spots are located. This is also the place to go if you want to try to understand what the city looked like during the 19th century. Bucharest’s Old Center has undergone a lot of renovation works during the last years. Its historic landmarks have been restored and you can now enjoy most of its past splendor. One of the best examples is the BNR (National Bank of Romania) building – an impressive sample of French Renaissance architecture.
If you are looking for a nice eatery where you can taste some of the typically Romanian specialties, you should try Caru’ cu Bere – one of the city’s best known restaurants and a true living legend. Opened for the first time in 1879 in a different location, Caru’ cu Bere was one of Bucharest’s first beerhouses. Reopened after 20 years at its current address, in Stavropoleos Street, it is a must-visit restaurant where the party atmosphere prevails at any given moment.
Some of Bucharest’s best attractions are its parks. Whether you choose to walk down the statues adorned alleys of Herastrau Park or in the charming Cismigiu, you cannot help falling in love with the city’s parks. Bucharest’s green lung, Herastrau is located in the North side of the city. Right at its heart, you will find a sizeable lake and on its shore, lots of trendy cafes and restaurants.
Located in the city center, Cismigiu is a symbol that reminds those 19th century days when Bucharest was known as Little Paris. Cismigiu is actually an urban garden dotted with benches and playgrounds, on whose lake you can row a boat or skate, depending on the season.