Many of you might not have heard about this Eastern European capital, but Bucharest, Romania’s capital, is surely a place worth visiting. A 2 day stay in the “Little Paris” is enough in my view making it easy for you to try do some sightseeing, try some traditional dishes in some cool places, and feel the local vibe.
Top 10 Things to Do in Bucharest for First Time Visitors
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1) Visit the Old City Centre
Growing up, this area was more or less deserted, with old buildings left by their tenants only for homeless people to move in. I don’t actually remember when things changed and the Old Town transformed itself in the most vibrant area of the city, packed with night clubs, restaurants and terraces. If you are looking for a place to party or just to go out for a glass of wine, Bucharest’s Old Town is the place for you.
Moreover, the old buildings dating from the 1920’s are a lovely sight and will offer you a glimpse into the Golden Era.
TIP: Don’t miss out the most beautiful and most instagrammable book shop in town – Carturesti Carousel.
2) Drink a delicious coffee at one of the hip cafés
The coffee shop market in Bucharest has exploded in the past years and you will be pleasantly surprised to discover a lot of small, yet stylish and minimal coffee places.
People here are very passionate about their coffee (as they are about anything) and they will always explain all you want to know about the various blends.
Below my top 3 cafes you should try:
- Origo – close to the Old city centre, I think Origo was the first one of its kind. The go to place for both delicious coffee but also incredibly good cocktails.
- Orygyns – that blue charming cup, filled with the nectar of Gods will stick with you forever and for always 🙂 Friendly people, small and intimate place.
- M60 – M60 is located in the heart of the city, but still hidden from the hustle and bustle, this place is perfect for an afternoon cup of coffee.
3) Go and see the Palace of Parliament
The largest administrative building in the world, the Palace is not particularly something we are proud of, having been built during Ceausescu’s era and costing the lives of many people, but yet an attraction worth seeing.
What will draw your eye is its luxurious interiors and its colossal structure, having only a small taste of the megalomaniac Ceausescu was. Here is a link to the official website.
4) Have a stroll in Herastrau Park
The largest park in Bucharest, the place is beautiful especially on warm evenings when you can sip a glass of wine at Fratelli by the Lake and chill on some lovely music. If you’re there, try the “mitzu” cake and you’ll thank me later. Also, step outside the park and take a picture with the Triumph Arch, smaller than the one in Paris but still a pretty setting.
TIP: Go during Spring and make sure to visit the Japanese Garden filled with cherry trees in blossom.
5) Have dinner in the clouds
Another thing Romanians like are the sky bars and restaurants and it will be easy for you to choose one of the many great places, offering both delicious food, great atmosphere and views. Check out this post for more places to eat like a local.
6) Learn some history
Dedicate some time to visiting one (or all) of the National Museum of Romanian History (and its famous statue, you’ll know what I’m talking about once you’re there), The National Museum of Art, Romanian Peasant Museum, National Village Museum.
7) Have lunch or dinner at Caru’ cu Bere
Caru’ cu bere is is a total must! It is very touristy but very charming. They serve delicious traditional food here with a taste of local dances, music and spectacles.
Here is where you must try the ciolan cu varza and the mouth-watering papanasi (a traditional desert), the only thing you must have in mind is to come with an empty stomach.
Afterwards, pay a visit to the Stavropoleos Church for some beautiful pictures for Instagram and go even further for a walk on the Unirii Blvd along the fountains.
8) Go for pancakes!
Somehow, in the last few years or so, Romanian people have developed a passion for fluffy pancakes, topped and filled with all sorts of creams and fruit. Thus, it is very easy to stumble upon chic places and fall head over heels for these sweets that would make a great snack, brunch, or even lunch. Dianei 4, Frudisiac, Maison des Crepes are only a few of the places you won’t want to miss.
9) Take a walk on Calea Victoriei
And stop by and take a picture with the Romanian Athenaeum, after which continue your stroll only to stop at the George Enescu Museum, with its incredible architecture.
Read More: Is Romania Safe to Visit?
10) Take a stroll on Kisselef and Primaverii
This is the poshest area of town and where you will see all the embassies and old stylish houses, but where you will be charmed by the beautiful buildings.
Day Trips from Bucharest
If you want to use Bucharest as a base to explore more of Romania, take a look at these great day tours from Bucharest:
- Day Trip to Dracula and Peles Castle
- Transylvania: Cultural Full-Day Trip by Minivan
- Full-Day Transfagarasan Road Tour
Essential visitor information for your first time in Bucharest
How to get around
As far as transportation is concerned, Bucharest is a rather cheap town and even taxis can be really cheap as compared to other European towns. The public transportation is another option, also very cheap (one trip less than 0.5 cents), with good connections.
The underground is the fastest and most efficient way of travelling around town, especially at peak hours when the traffic can get really crazy. Here is a map of the subway.
Another thing worth knowing is that there aren’t night buses or means of transportation apart from taxis.
Here are more tips for traveling in Romania.
- Be careful with taxi drivers, because they will try to rip you off, make sure they have the timer on and ask for what it’s written there.
- The best time of the year to visit Bucharest is during spring and autumn.
- When it rains or snows traffic can get crazy.
Hi, I’m Ingrid, I read, love and travel, come join me in the relentless try of making life better each day and breaking down barriers! On my page, IngridZenMoments, I share with you all my learnings, be it advice on particular destinations, travel planning tips and tricks, “how” on living beautifully through positive thinking and tips on finding the hidden gems in different cities. I am aiming to encourage you to live beautifully by making time to travel, read and relax while inspiring you through incredible places shared with you as I discover them.
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