Bucharest Old Town Sunny Summer Day - Romania

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Romania’s capital sometimes gets a bad rap, but in fact it's dynamic, energetic and lots of fun. Many travellers give the city just a night or two before heading off to Transylvania, but that’s not enough time. Allow at least a few days to take in the very good museums, stroll the parks and hang out at trendy cafes and drinking gardens. While much of the centre is modern and the buildings are in various stages of disrepair, you'll find splendid 17th- and 18th-century Orthodox churches and graceful belle époque villas tucked away in quiet corners. Communism changed the face of the city forever, and nowhere is this more evident than at the gargantuan Palace of Parliament, the grandest (and arguably crassest) tribute to dictatorial megalomania you’ll ever see.

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Must-see attractions for your itinerary.

Palace of Parliament

Palace of Parliament

The Palace of Parliament is the world’s second-largest administrative building (after the Pentagon) and former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu’s most infamous…

Romanian Athenaeum

Romanian Athenaeum

The exquisite Athenaeum is the majestic heart of Romania’s classical-music tradition. Scenes from Romanian history are featured on the interior fresco…

Former Ceauşescu Residence

Former Ceauşescu Residence

This restored villa is the former main residence of Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu, who lived here for around two decades up until the end in 1989…

Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum

Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum

One of the few attractions in Bucharest aimed squarely at kids, this natural-history museum, showing off Romania's plant and animal life, has been…

Colorful Garden

Cişmigiu Garden

West of Calea Victoriei is the locally beloved Cişmigiu Garden, with shady walks, a lake, cafes and a ridiculous number of benches on which to sit and…

View of Snagov Monastery near Bucharest, Romania

Snagov Monastery

Tiny Snagov Island, at the northern end of Snagov Lake, is home to Snagov Monastery and Vlad Ţepeş' alleged final resting place. The small stone church…

Museum of the Romanian Peasant

Museum of the Romanian Peasant

The collection of peasant bric-a-brac, costumes, icons and partially restored houses makes this one of the most popular museums in the city. There’s not…

Vacaresti Nature Park in Bucharest, Romania.

Văcărești Nature Park

What was supposed to be a 6km-long dam during the communist era, left abandoned after the 1989 Revolution, turned over 22 years into a vast urban delta…

Latest stories from Bucharest

Romanian Athenaeum beautifully lit up at night during the Spotlight Bucharest International Light Festival © Radu Bercan / Shutterstock

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Sinaia's Peleș Castle was once the residence of the Romanian royal family © Dziewul / Shutterstock

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The sun sets over Bucharest's Old Town, with the iconic Palace of Parliament in the background © Monica Suma / Lonely Planet

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Choral Temple © Monica Suma / Lonely Planet

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Some of Bucharest's architectural highlights are found in the Old Town © Monica Suma / Lonely Planet

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Dinaei 4 © Monica Suma / Lonely Planet

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Steam Coffee Shop © Monica Suma / Lonely Planet

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Romanian Athenaeum © Monica Suma / Lonely Planet

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The former home of the Ceausescus, The Summer Palace is now open to visitors © Kit Gillet / Lonely Planet

Jul 19, 2016 • 5 min read

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Travel Romania

Bucharest Travel Guide: A Comprehensive Overview of Romania’s Capital City

Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, is one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in Eastern Europe. With a rich cultural heritage, a diverse food scene, and a vibrant nightlife, Bucharest is a must-visit destination for any traveler. In this travel guide, we will cover everything you need to know to plan your trip to Bucharest, including the best places to visit, eat, and stay.

bucharest romania 1

Bucharest is a city of contrasts, where old and new, East and West, blend together in a unique way. The city has a rich history that dates back to the 15th century, and it has been influenced by various cultures throughout the years. Bucharest is also known as “The Little Paris of the East” due to its stunning architecture, elegant boulevards, and vibrant cultural scene.

Understanding Bucharest: The Capital of Romania

As the bustling capital of Romania, Bucharest is more than just a travel destination; it’s the political, cultural, and economic heart of the country. If you’re curious about how Bucharest earned its status as the capital and what makes it such a significant city, we have an article that delves into the intricate details. From its historical significance to its role in modern Romania, get a comprehensive understanding of Bucharest as the capital .

When to Visit Bucharest

The best time to visit Bucharest is between May and September, when the weather is warm and sunny, and most of the festivals take place. However, the city is beautiful year-round, and there is always something to see and do. In the winter, the Christmas markets and the snow-covered streets create a magical atmosphere. For more detailed information on the best seasons, weather conditions, and local events, check out our guide on the optimal times for visiting Romania’s capital city .

How to Get to Bucharest

Bucharest has two airports, Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP) and Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (BBU). Most international flights arrive at Henri Coanda International Airport, which is located 18 km north of the city center. There are direct flights to Bucharest from major cities in Europe and North America. For an exhaustive guide on navigating airport transfers, public transport, and other ways to get into the city center, consult our in-depth article here .

Getting Around Bucharest

Bucharest has a solid public transportation system, including buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the metro. The metro is quick and easy for getting around. Taxis are also common but make sure you pick a well-known company (the most popular between Romanians are Yango, Clever or BlackCab) or use a ride-sharing app like Bolt or Uber. Want to know more? Check out our full article on how to get around in Bucharest .

Top Things to Do in Bucharest

1. visit the palace of the parliament.

The Palace of the Parliament is one of the most impressive buildings in Bucharest and the second-largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. The palace was built during the communist era and has more than 1,000 rooms, 4 underground levels, and a height of 84 meters. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and admire the grandiose halls, chandeliers, and artwork. Delve into the stories behind the world’s heaviest building.

2. Explore Old Town (Lipscani)

Old Town, also known as Lipscani, is the historic center of Bucharest, and it’s a maze of narrow streets, colorful buildings, and lively bars and restaurants. This is the perfect place to go for a stroll, people-watch, and soak up the atmosphere. For those interested in diving deeper into the hidden gems and popular spots of this area, check out our detailed list of things to do in Old Town .

3. Admire the Architecture of Bucharest

Bucharest is famous for its unique blend of architectural styles, including Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, and Socialist Realism. Some of the most beautiful buildings in the city are the Romanian Athenaeum, the CEC Palace, and the Stavropoleos Monastery. Explore our detailed list of architectural wonders in Bucharest .

4. Wander Through the Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden is a peaceful oasis in the middle of Bucharest, with over 10,000 species of plants, a lake, and several greenhouses. It’s a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some nature. For more tips and details, check out our complete rundown on the Bucharest Botanical Garden .

5. Discover the Village Museum

The Village Museum, also known as the Dimitrie Gusti Museum, is an open-air museum that showcases traditional Romanian village life. Visitors can walk through the village streets, see authentic houses, and learn about the history and customs of the Romanian people. For those who want to delve deeper into the cultural nuances and historical context of this living museum, don’t miss our specialized guide on the Dimitrie Gusti Museum .

6. Take a Stroll in Herastrau Park

Herastrau Park is the largest park in Bucharest, with over 180 hectares of green space, a lake, and several outdoor activities such as boat rentals, cycling, and picnicking. It’s a perfect place for a relaxing day out in nature.

7. Check Out the National Museum of Art of Romania

The National Museum of Art of Romania is home to one of the most impressive collections of Romanian art, from medieval times to the present day. The museum is housed in the former Royal Palace, which is also worth a visit for its stunning architecture.

8. Visit the Romanian Athenaeum

The Romanian Athenaeum is an iconic building in Bucharest, known for its beautiful concert hall and the impressive dome that dominates the city skyline. The Athenaeum hosts regular classical music concerts and is a must-visit for music lovers.

9. Spend a Day at Therme Bucharest

Therme Bucharest is the largest thermal spa complex in Europe, with indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, and a wide range of wellness treatments. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.

After a full day of sightseeing, Therme Bucharest offers a perfect escape. It’s the largest thermal spa complex in Europe, featuring a myriad of pools, saunas, and wellness treatments. Whether you’re looking to relax or indulge in a spa day, this place has a range of options to suit every mood. For more details on what to expect, read our feature on this top-rated wellness center .

10. Uncover Bucharest’s Thrilling Escape Rooms

If you’re looking for a different kind of adventure in Bucharest, consider diving into the city’s escape room scene. These interactive experiences offer a unique blend of storytelling, puzzle-solving, and teamwork that’s sure to make for a memorable outing. Whether you’re a fan of horror themes, historical settings, or mind-bending mysteries, there’s an escape room in Bucharest to match your interests. For a curated list of the best escape rooms in the city, along with tips and reviews, explore our guide that dives into the thrills of Bucharest’s escape room adventures .

11. Delve into the Mystique of Macca-Vilacrosse Passage

Tucked away in the heart of Bucharest, the Macca-Vilacrosse Passage is a hidden gem that offers a slice of the city’s historical charm. This glass-covered arcade is lined with cozy cafes, unique boutiques, and offers an atmosphere that transports you back in time. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a coffee or you’re interested in capturing some stunning photographs, the passage is well worth a visit. For a detailed exploration of its history and allure, check out our feature on this iconic Bucharest landmark .

12. Experience Open Streets Bucharest

Open Streets Bucharest is an initiative that transforms certain streets into pedestrian-friendly zones, promoting sustainable living and community engagement. The event occurs periodically and offers a range of activities from cycling and walking to art installations and live performances. It’s a unique way to experience the city’s culture and public spaces, as you see Bucharest from a different perspective—literally on the ground. For those interested in urban planning, sustainability, or just having a good time outdoors, this is an event you won’t want to miss. For a complete guide to participating in or experiencing this initiative, check out our comprehensive article on Open Streets Bucharest .

13. Explore the Carturesti Carusel Bookstore

Another must-visit spot in Bucharest is the Carturesti Carusel Bookstore, a six-level architectural gem filled with thousands of books, an art gallery, and a bistro. This bookstore is not just a place to pick up a new read; it’s a cultural experience in itself, capturing the artistic spirit of the city. For a deeper dive into what makes this bookstore a unique destination, explore our detailed guide on the Carturesti Carusel Bookstore .

14. Marvel at Downtown Bucharest Fountains

Bucharest’s downtown area comes alive with stunning fountains, especially in the evening. These aren’t just any fountains; they’re a light and water show that turns the city center into a magical place. It’s a must-see spectacle that adds a special touch to Bucharest’s lively atmosphere.

15. Be Captivated by the Romanian Athenaeum

The Romanian Athenaeum is more than just a beautiful building; it’s a hub for classical music and cultural events. The majestic dome and elegant columns are just the beginning. Step inside to experience a world of artistic excellence that captures the very essence of Bucharest’s love for the arts.

16. Journey Through the National Museum of Art of Romania

This museum is a treasure trove of Romanian and European art. Located in the former Royal Palace, it gives you a peek into the country’s rich artistic heritage. From ancient to modern art, this museum has something for everyone and offers an enriching experience.

17. Step Back in Time at Ceaușescu House

The Ceaușescu House allows you to delve into the life of Romania’s controversial former leader. The well-preserved interiors offer a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle led by Nicolae Ceaușescu. It’s a piece of living history that offers both intrigue and understanding of Romania’s past.

18. Experience the Everyday at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant

Discover the traditions and daily lives of Romanian peasants. This museum offers a down-to-earth look at Romania’s rural culture through exhibits of clothing, tools, and even entire houses. It’s a fascinating journey into the heart of Romania’s roots.

19. Uncover the Past at the National Museum of History of Romania

This museum is your go-to place for everything related to Romania’s history. From ancient artifacts to modern-day memorabilia, it’s a one-stop-shop to understand the shaping of a nation. Don’t miss the replica of Trajan’s Column, which tells a story all on its own.

20. Dive into Science at the Grigore Antipa National Museum

If you’re a fan of natural history, this museum is for you. From dinosaur fossils to exhibits on human evolution, it’s a place where science comes alive. It’s an educational adventure that both kids and adults will love.

21. Discover Bucharest’s Story at the Museum of the Municipality of Bucharest

Learn about Bucharest from its earliest days to the modern era. This city museum offers a chronological look into how Bucharest became the bustling capital it is today, making it essential for anyone interested in the city’s backstory.

22. Laugh at the Romanian Kitsch Museum

This unique museum celebrates the quirky and amusing side of Romanian culture. From Dracula souvenirs to communist-era memorabilia, it’s a light-hearted way to explore the country’s less traditional heritage.

23. Be Mesmerized by iMapp Bucharest

iMapp Bucharest is one of the world’s largest video-mapping events and turns the city into a canvas of light and sound. Usually held in September, it’s a visual feast that shouldn’t be missed by anyone visiting during this time.

24. Immerse in Culture at Asia Fest Bucharest

Love Asian culture? Asia Fest Bucharest is a colorful and vibrant festival that celebrates the food, music, and traditions from the Far East. It’s a unique way to experience a different culture while staying in Bucharest.

25. Enjoy the Outdoors at Parcul Alexandru Ioan Cuza (Titan Park)

Also known as Titan Park, this green space offers locals and tourists a place to relax, jog, or even paddle-boat on the lake. It’s a little piece of nature in the urban jungle, making it a great spot for a leisurely day out.

26. Discover Luxury in Primăverii District

Primăverii is known for its luxury homes and high-end living. Take a stroll through this district to see some of Bucharest’s most beautiful residences and maybe even spot a celebrity or two. It’s a different side of Bucharest that’s worth exploring.

27. Witness the Grandeur of Arcul de Triumf

Inspired by Paris’s Arc de Triomphe, Bucharest’s own Arcul de Triumf is a symbol of Romanian national pride. It’s particularly impressive on December 1st, Romania’s National Day, when it becomes the focal point of military parades.

28. Relax at Cișmigiu Gardens

Cișmigiu Gardens offer a peaceful escape in the heart of the city. With its beautiful landscaping, small lake, and charming footbridges, it’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists looking to unwind.

29. Reflect at Revolution Square

This square is more than just a meeting place; it’s a symbol of Romania’s fight for freedom. With its monuments and buildings that tell a story of revolution, it’s a place of historical significance that invites contemplation.

30. Find Solace in Snagov Monastery

Situated on an island in the northern part of Bucharest, Snagov Monastery is a serene place of worship that’s said to be the final resting place of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula. It’s a quiet escape with a dash of mystery.

31. Explore the Urban Wilderness of Văcărești Nature Park

Dubbed Bucharest’s “Delta,” this nature park is a haven for wildlife and a great spot for birdwatching. It’s a slice of wilderness right in the city, offering a unique natural escape for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle.

32. Savor the Flavors at Food Hood Bucuresti

Food Hood Bucuresti is a food lover’s paradise. It’s a food market where you can try all kinds of delicious treats . Whether you’re craving traditional Romanian dishes or international cuisine, you’ll find it here. It’s the perfect place to eat, socialize, and experience the culinary scene in Bucharest.

33. Uncover History at Sighet Memorial Exhibition

The Sighet Memorial Exhibition is not just a museum; it’s a lesson in Romania’s past. It stands as a haunting reminder of the political prisoners once held here. This place is a must-see for anyone interested in understanding Romania’s history and human rights journey.

34. Explore Piaţa Obor Market

Piata Obor is more than just a market; it’s a vibrant slice of local life. With fresh produce, handmade goods, and tasty street food, it offers a bit of everything. A trip here is a sensory feast and a window into how locals shop and eat.

35. Step Back in Time at Curtea Veche Museum

Curtea Veche Museum is where Bucharest’s history comes alive. It’s a fascinating place that tells the story of the city’s royal past. From ancient artifacts to historical documents, this museum offers a glimpse into the bygone eras of Bucharest.

36. Visit the Peaceful Bellu Cemetery

Bellu Cemetery is an unexpected but serene tourist spot. It’s not just a place of rest; it’s also a gallery of intricate tombstone art and sculptures. The calmness and the artistic atmosphere make it a unique experience.

37. Wander Through Pasajul Englez

Pasajul Englez is a hidden treasure in Bucharest. This quaint passage is filled with art galleries and cozy cafes. It’s a lovely spot to take a break from the city buzz, enjoy a coffee, and maybe find your new favorite painting or sculpture.

38. Catch a Sunset at Pura Vida Hostel

The Pura Vida Hostel offers more than just a place to sleep; its rooftop provides a stunning view of the city, especially at sunset. It’s a wonderful spot to unwind, sip a cocktail, and soak in the beauty of Bucharest as the sun goes down.

39. Experience Targul Vitan Market

Targul Vitan is a bustling flea market where you can find a variety of goods, from antiques to fresh food. It’s a great place to hunt for souvenirs and experience the energetic vibe of a local Romanian market.

40. Discover Memories Bazaar

Memories Bazaar is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience in Bucharest. With its eclectic mix of vintage items, handmade crafts, and unique trinkets, you’re sure to find something special to take home with you.

41. Admire Street Art in Strada Arthur Verona and Chimopar

The streets of Arthur Verona and Chimopar are open-air galleries showcasing Bucharest’s vibrant street art scene. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the murals, graffiti, and installations that add a pop of color and creativity to the city.

42. Take Flight at the Aviation Museum

The Aviation Museum is a haven for aviation enthusiasts. With a collection of aircraft, models, and memorabilia, it offers a comprehensive look at Romania’s aviation history.

43. Explore Royal Elegance at Cotroceni Palace Museum

Cotroceni Palace Museum is the epitome of royal grandeur. With its beautifully decorated rooms and historical exhibits, it provides a glimpse into the lives of Romania’s past rulers.

44. Learn at the Firefighters Museum

The Firefighters Museum is an enlightening experience for all ages. It offers an in-depth look at the history of firefighting in Romania, complete with antique equipment and educational exhibits.

45. Visit the Historic Curtea Veche Church

Curtea Veche Church is a place of peace and spirituality. This historic church is one of Bucharest’s oldest and offers a quiet sanctuary amid the hustle and bustle of the city.

46. Marvel at the Patriarchal Cathedral

The Patriarchal Cathedral is not just a place of worship; it’s a symbol of Romanian Orthodoxy. Its majestic architecture and spiritual ambiance make it a must-visit spot for both pilgrims and tourists alike.

47. Discover Bucharest After Dark

If you’re interested in experiencing Bucharest in a different light, don’t miss our detailed the best things to do in Bucharest at night . This isn’t your typical nightlife rundown; it’s a comprehensive look at unique activities, cultural landmarks, and serene spots you can enjoy after the sun sets. From haunted city exploration games to mesmerizing fountain shows, this guide offers a diverse range of nighttime activities that go beyond bars and clubs.

Where to Eat in Bucharest

Bucharest has a thriving food scene, with a mix of traditional Romanian cuisine and international options. Here are some of the best places to eat in the city:

1. Caru’ cu Bere

Type: Traditional Romanian Highlight: Historic setting with live music

Type: International Highlight: Fresh, seasonal ingredients

3. Energiea

Type: Bar and Small Plates Highlight: Lively atmosphere with a mix of cuisines

For a more detailed guide to the best dining spots, including our reviews and insider tips, check out our comprehensive list of top picks to eat in Bucharest .

Where to Stay in Bucharest

Bucharest has a wide range of accommodations, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Here are some of the best places to stay in the city:

1. Grand Hotel Continental

The Grand Hotel Continental is a luxurious 5-star hotel located in the heart of Bucharest. The hotel features beautifully decorated rooms and suites, a spa, a fitness center, and several restaurants.

2. Mercure Bucharest City Center

The Mercure Bucharest City Center is a modern hotel located in the city center, just a few steps away from the Old Town. The hotel features comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a fitness center.

3. Hotel Christina

Hotel Christina is a stylish boutique hotel located in a quiet area of the city, just a short walk from the city center. The hotel features spacious and modern rooms, a rooftop terrace, and a restaurant.

What Are Some Must-See Attractions in Bucharest?

When visiting the capital city of romania , Bucharest, be sure to explore its must-see attractions. Take a stroll in Herastrau Park, visit the grand Palace of the Parliament, admire the beautiful architecture of the Romanian Athenaeum, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Old Town. Experience the rich history and charm of this captivating city.

Experience the Vibrancy of Bucharest’s Nightlife

Bucharest comes alive after dark, offering a nightlife experience that’s as diverse as it is vibrant. From swanky rooftop bars with panoramic city views to underground clubs pulsating with electronic beats, the Romanian capital promises an unforgettable night out. Local haunts serve up traditional drinks and live music, while international venues offer a taste of global party culture. Whether you’re looking to dance until dawn or enjoy a laid-back evening, Bucharest has something for every nocturnal adventurer. For an insider’s look into the city’s after-hours scene, explore our guide packed with local secrets on how to make the most of Bucharest’s nightlife .

Bucharest is a city with a rich history and culture, and there are many things to see and do. From exploring the historic Old Town to visiting the Palace of the Parliament, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. Whether you’re interested in art, architecture, or food, Bucharest has it all. Interestingly, the city is also becoming a hotspot for digital nomads , who find its mix of history, modern amenities, and connectivity appealing. So why not book your trip today and discover this fascinating city for yourself?

Practical Travel Tips for Bucharest

Navigating safety concerns in bucharest.

Bucharest is generally considered a safe destination for tourists, but like any major city, it has its own set of safety concerns to be aware of. From petty theft to local customs, it’s essential to be informed and prepared. For a deep dive into what to watch out for, along with the latest travel advisories, check out our in-depth guide on staying safe while exploring Romania’s capital city .

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you visit bucharest in romania.

Definitely! Bucharest, often dubbed the “Paris of the East,” is a must-see city. With its rich past, tasty food, and amazing buildings, you won’t be bored.

How Long Should Your Bucharest Trip Be?

You should plan for at least 3 to 4 days to see the main spots in Bucharest. This gives you time for must-see places like the gigantic Parliament Palace and the peaceful Herastrau Park. If you want to really soak in the local culture, you might want to stay even longer.

Is Bucharest a Safe Place to Go Right Now?

Generally, Bucharest is safe for tourists. But it’s a good idea to keep an eye on travel alerts, especially because of things like health concerns worldwide. For the latest safety tips, check our in-depth guide on how to be safe while enjoying your trip in Bucharest .

How Much Cash Do You Need for a 3-Day Bucharest Visit?

For a comfortable 3-day trip, aim to have around €150-€200. This includes a place to stay, meals, and some sightseeing. Your costs could be different depending on what you like to do.

Is Bucharest Wallet-Friendly or Costly?

Compared to other big European cities, Bucharest is easier on the wallet. You get more bang for your buck, making it a great choice if you don’t want to spend a lot.

What Should You Steer Clear of in Bucharest?

It’s best to watch out for pickpocketing in crowded spots and on public transit. Always use trusted taxis (Yango, Clever or BlackCab) or ride-sharing apps to make sure you’re not overcharged.

Is Bucharest’s Tap Water Okay to Drink?

Yes, you can drink the tap water in Bucharest. But if you have a sensitive stomach, it might be better to stick with bottled water.

Can You Flush Toilet Paper in Bucharest?

Yes, you can flush toilet paper in Bucharest. The city’s plumbing can handle it.

Is Using Uber in Bucharest Safe?

Uber is a safe and convenient way to get around Bucharest. It’s easy because you pay through the app and you know who your driver is ahead of time.

Can You Get Around Bucharest on Foot?

Yes, Bucharest is good for walking, especially in areas like the Old Town. But for longer distances, the city’s public transport is also a good option.

Which Bucharest Area is the Safest?

Safer, fancier areas in Bucharest include Dorobanti, Primaverii, and Herastrau. These neighborhoods are generally secure and well-guarded.

Is Nighttime Walking Safe in Bucharest?

Generally, it’s safe to walk around at night in well-lit, busy parts of Bucharest. But, like in any city, always stay alert.

Is Bucharest Safe for Women Tourists?

Bucharest is generally safe for women traveling alone. Just use common sense like you would in any other city.

Are There Poor Areas in Bucharest?

While Bucharest has areas that are less well-off, these are usually not places tourists go.

Why Do People Call Bucharest ‘Little Paris’?

The nickname “Little Paris” comes from a time when Bucharest was heavily influenced by French culture and architecture. It’s a nod to the city’s elegant style.

Does Bucharest Have a ‘Red Light District’?

Unlike some European cities, Bucharest doesn’t have a specific “Red Light District.” But, adult clubs and bars are found around the city.

Where Do Wealthy People Live in Bucharest?

Well-off folks often live in Dorobanti, Primaverii, and Herastrau. These areas have nice homes and fancy amenities.

Is Bucharest More Affluent Than Budapest?

Budapest generally has a higher income per person. But Bucharest is catching up, thanks to its growing economy.

Do You Need Cash in Bucharest?

While many places in Bucharest accept credit or debit cards, it’s a good idea to have some local currency, known as Romanian Lei, for smaller shops or tipping. ATMs are easily found if you need to withdraw cash.

How Much Does a Meal Cost in Bucharest?

The price for a meal in Bucharest can vary. A budget-friendly meal at a casual place might cost around €5-€10 per person. If you’re going to a nicer restaurant, expect to pay around €20-€30 per person, not including drinks.

Which Is Cheaper, Prague or Bucharest?

Generally, Bucharest is more budget-friendly than Prague. From meals to accommodations, you’ll often find lower prices in Bucharest.

Is Uber Affordable in Bucharest?

Yes, Uber is usually a cheaper option compared to traditional taxis. It’s a cost-effective and convenient way to get around the city.

Is Bolt Available in Bucharest?

Yes, Bolt is another ride-sharing app you can use in Bucharest. It’s also considered a safe and affordable way to travel around the city.

Is the Euro Accepted in Bucharest?

The official currency in Bucharest is the Romanian Lei, not the Euro. While some tourist-focused businesses might accept Euros, it’s best to use Lei to avoid poor exchange rates.

Do Taxis Accept Credit Cards in Bucharest?

Some taxis in Bucharest do accept credit cards, but many prefer cash. It’s a good idea to ask the driver before you start your trip. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Bolt allow for cashless payments.

The World Was Here First

The Perfect 1, 2 or 3 Days in Bucharest Itinerary

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trip to bucharest romania

Nicknamed by many as ‘the Paris of the East,’ the Romanian capital of Bucharest is easily one of Eastern Europe’s most unique, beguiling cities to visit. If you’re currently going through the process of designing your own Bucharest itinerary, then you’re probably figuring out whether you want to spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Bucharest. 

Boasting lovely weather for much of the year, fascinating architecture, delicious food and drink, and exceptionally low prices (compared to most of Europe, anyway) Bucharest is a very underrated destination that seems almost guaranteed to pick up more traction as a European city break spot as time goes by.

But, with that being said, how long should you aim for your trip there to be? And, which sites and landmarks should you make sure to check out during your holiday? 

This article covers all of these questions and more in plenty of detail. So, if you want to ensure that your trip to Bucharest is the best it can be, then you’ll want to make sure to read on! 

Table of Contents

How Many Days in Bucharest?

If you’re reading this article, it’s fairly likely that you’re wondering how many days to spend in Bucharest. The historic Romanian capital has plenty to check out, after all, but it’s not exactly massive. And, you’ll likely want to visit other destinations on your trip, too. So, what’s the best way to make it all work?

With 1 day in Bucharest, you’ll be able to check out some of the city’s most significant, popular landmarks and tourist sites. However, you’ll struggle to cover some of the lesser-known destinations and won’t have much of a chance to really get a feel for the place, especially outside of what might be considered tourist traps to some. 

If you choose to spend 2 days in Bucharest or a weekend in Bucharest instead, then you’ll have plenty of time to see the city’s highlights, as well as explore some of its lesser-known areas and really sink your teeth into the local cuisine.

With that being said, 3 days in Bucharest is preferable if you’re keen on exploring the local area surrounding the city, too; having an additional day opens you up to the opportunity of, say, taking a day trip to another city or historical site nearby. 

So, while it’s entirely possible to spend a single day in Bucharest and have a fantastic time doing so, we recommend that you aim for a slightly longer visit, with three days being ideal, if at all possible. 

The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest

Getting To & Around Bucharest 

Bucharest and its surrounding area are served by Henri Coanda International Airport – bus links between the airport and the city centre can take you into downtown Bucharest from the airport in as little as half an hour. You can also organise an airport transfer.

As far as travel within Bucharest itself goes, the local public transport and metro system is comprehensive, reasonably reliable, and quick. It’s also considerably more affordable than what you’d pay in the majority of Europe’s major cities, making it, on the whole, a fantastic way to get around. 

Downtown Bucharest is also reasonably walkable, so you’ll be able to get your bearings in the city without too much difficulty.

With that being said, many of the major landmarks and tourist sites are something of a trek from one another. So, unless you really enjoy exploring new places on foot, expect to need to work some other form of transport into however you plan on navigating the Romanian capital. 

If you’d prefer a little more flexibility in how and when you travel between sites on your Bucharest itinerary, then you might like to use taxis or rideshare apps like Uber or Bolt to get around.

Services like these are significantly cheaper than what you can expect to pay across most of Europe; however, it’s worth keeping the environmental impact of travelling by car versus, say, public transport in mind. 

Overland transit between Bucharest and Romania’s other major cities offers travellers an alternative to flying from place to place; it’s also possible to travel from Bucharest to a number of larger European cities by train.

Direct rail services exist, for instance, between Budapest and Bucharest; keep in mind, though, that you can expect a journey of around 16 hours, so it’s unlikely to be your best option if time is truly of the essence. 

Romanian Athenaeum

1, 2, or 3 Days in Bucharest Itinerary 

The following itinerary offers suggestions for ways that you might want to spend each day of a three-day itinerary for Bucharest. Of course, you’re free to change or amend the itinerary as you see fit – the most important thing is that you enjoy your holiday! 

If you want to explore with a guide, consider taking this walking tour or going on this bike tour. There are also specialised tours such as this communism tour , this food tour and this alternative tour.

Day 1 – Bucharest’s Iconic Landmarks

The first day of your Bucharest itinerary will see you checking out the city’s best-known landmarks, sites, and cultural icons. If you only end up having 1 day in Bucharest, then you won’t want to miss any of the stops on this list! 

Palace of Parliament 

The Romanian parliament is, rather uniquely, held in its very own palace. The Palace of Parliament is said to be the most expensive administrative building in the world (as well as the second heaviest).

It took 700 architects 13 years to finish the palace and it now stands as a massive monument to the Romanian political establishment; it also costs the government millions of Euros each year in electricity bills alone. 

You can simply admire the exterior of the palace if you so choose, but visitors do also have the option of touring its interior, which is well worth doing if you have an interest in politics or history in particular. You can book tickets here or organise a guided tour.

Whether you choose to go in or not, there’s no denying that visiting this iconic building is one of the best things to do in Bucharest.

Cismigiu Gardens

Cismigiu Gardens make up one of Bucharest’s most famous and historically significant parks, and you’ll definitely want to pay a visit if you ever end up visiting the Romanian capital.

Containing a number of eye-catching landmarks, including the Romanian Round and monuments to war heroes from different countries, Cismigiu Gardens is a lovely place for a relaxed stroll. 

Cismigiu Gardens

The Romanian Athenaeum 

Romania has a great tradition of classical music, and the Romanian Athenaeum, located in central Bucharest, is perhaps one of Eastern Europe’s most impressive concert halls.

It’s absolutely gorgeous, too; grand without being ostentatious, the Athenaeum boasts an iconic dome and has frescoes depicting various scenes from Romanian history. The venue generally only officially opens for concerts, but it’s often possible to take a look inside at other times. 

Not far from here located on Calea Victoriei is the National Museum of Art, which is another great place to visit. Located in the former royal palace, this art museum is great for fine arts lovers.

The Triumphal Arch 

Dating back to the early 1920s (though it’s since been renovated on multiple occasions), the Triumphal Arch of Bucharest stands as a testimony to Romania’s successes throughout the First World War.

In addition to its impressive size, the arch features some truly beautiful inscriptions and carvings, so, if you’re able, it’s definitely worth trying to get a closer view of the structure. 

The Triumphal Arch

King Mihai I Park 

Bucharest is known for its parks, and King Mihai I Park is perhaps its most famous. It’s absolutely enormous, encompassing a whopping 187 hectares inside the city, and is home to various gardens, fountains, sculptures, and green spaces. This is also a fantastic place to go for a picnic in the warmer weather. 

National Village Museum 

The open-air National Village Museum, located in King Mihai I Park, aims to showcase traditional Romanian rural living by reconstructing various village environments there.

Originally conceptualised by the sociologist Dimitrie Gusti, the museum is a fascinating experience for history and culture enthusiasts. 

Day 2 – Old Town of Bucharest

Got 2 days in Bucharest to spend? The second day of this itinerary will take you to more of Bucharest’s most beloved landmarks, as well as the city’s quaint Old Town district. 

Macca-Villacrosse Passage 

This grand old arcade is an ideal spot for grabbing lunch or a coffee while ensuring that it’s as memorable as possible. Just don’t forget to look up – this building’s incredible ceiling is a huge part of its appeal! 

If you’re a book lover and want to experience another gorgeous building, the Carturesti Carusel bookstore is only a five-minute walk away and it is absolutely stunning.

Macca-Villacrosse Passage

National Museum of Romanian History 

If you’re a fan of history, then Romania’s national history museum, located in Bucharest’s Old Town district, is pretty much guaranteed to impress. Its collection covers the history of the country from all the way back in the prehistoric period to modern times, and it includes priceless Gothic artefacts and the Romanian Crown Jewels. 

The museum also happens to be located in the former headquarters of the Romanian Postal Services, which is honestly one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire city. It’s pretty much worth visiting for the architecture alone. 

Wander the Old Town 

Bucharest’s bustling Old Town is full of character and a great place to spend an afternoon wandering around and getting lost. With unique shops and boutiques, restaurants, clubs, medieval ruins, and Romania’s National History Museum, the Old Town has something to offer just about everyone. 

Stavropoleos Monastery in Bucharest Old Town

Alexandru Ioan Cusa Park 

Given how many incredible parks Bucharest features, it’s fair to say that Alexandru Ioan Cusa Park has some stiff competition to contend with. But we think it more than lives up to the job; this lush, expansive green space is absolutely tranquil throughout the year, providing a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life to anybody who chooses to visit. 

Day 3 – Bran Castle or Danube Delta Day Trip

Got 3 days in Bucharest? In that case, we recommend that you head out for a day trip on your third and final day in the city; there’s an incredible amount to do and see in the surrounding countryside and smaller towns within reach of the capital. 

Bran Castle (‘Dracula’s Castle’)

If you’re a fan of horror movies, appreciate the history of film more generally, or just enjoy visiting cool castles, then you’ll almost definitely want to look into making a day trip to Bran Castle from Bucharest.

Bran Castle is located just a couple of hours’ drive from Bucharest outside the town of Brasov , and it is regarded by many as having been the home of Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. 

Whether or not Stoker was aware of the existence of Bran Castle or intended for it to be Dracula’s home remains to be seen, but regardless, it’s an incredibly impressive and historic structure that is well worth visiting in its own right. 

Found nestled away in Transylvania, Bran Castle has existed in some shape or form since the 1200s. It now operates as a museum, displaying the collection of Queen Marie, who was the wife of King Ferdinand I. And, at this stage, there isn’t any evidence that Bram Stoker meant for Bran Castle to be Dracula’s home. 

Regardless, it would fit the role perfectly. Bran Castle happens to be quite spooky, as well as fairly isolated. It also features a number of secret passageways, which further add to the intrigue and mystery surrounding the place. 

Many organised day trips to the castle such as this full-day tour will provide a guide, which is a fantastic option for learning as much of the history of Bran Castle as possible.

Even if you’re not a massive history fan, we would still recommend visiting Bran for its gorgeous views and architecture, as well as the curious atmosphere that permeates the place. Some day trips from Bucharest also include a stop at Castle Peles, which is equally interesting and certainly worth a visit, too.

Bran Castle

Danube Delta 

Romania actually happens to be a real haven for biodiversity and ecology, and the Danube Delta, which can be found not far away from Bucharest, is one of the best-preserved river deltas in the whole of Europe.

As such, it makes for a fantastic day trip from the Romanian capital; it’s also possible to take river cruises along the Danube, which are excellent for really immersing yourself in the incredible wildlife that the area has to offer. 

Though this is located about four hours away from Bucharest, it can be worth taking the time to make your way out to this beautiful natural area.

A number of providers operate day trips such as this full-day tour to the Danube Delta from Bucharest that include cruise tickets and transport to and from the city, which can be a very convenient way to experience one of Romania’s most impressive and significant nature areas. There are also two-day tour options if you have more time.

Danube Delta

Where to Stay in Bucharest

Euro Hotel Grivita – Mid-range visitors to Bucharest will love this cool hotel in the city centre. They have a number of nice rooms to choose from along with an excellent location for exploring the highlights of the city. Click here to check availability

The Mansion Boutique Hotel – Those looking for a luxury option while in Bucharest will love this opulent hotel in the centre of the city. They boast a range of plush rooms to choose from along with an unbeatable location for exploring the Romanian capital. Click here to check availability

Bucharest Old Town Apartments – If you’re after your own apartment when you visit Bucharest, then these flats are an excellent option. There are a number of full-furnished flats to choose from that come equipped with all you need during your stay. Click here to check availability

T5 Social – Those visiting Bucharest on a tight budget or solo will love this cool hostel. Located within easy reach of all the Romanian capital’s to attractions, they have both dorms and private rooms to choose from along with common areas. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bucharest hotels!

Bucharest is perhaps one of the most historic and unique cities in Eastern Europe, making it a true joy to visit for those who decide to do so. We hope that this article helps you plan the perfect getaway to Romania’s charming capital city!

Are you planning to visit Bucharest? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

trip to bucharest romania

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Emily Marty

About Emily Marty

Emily is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, she is currently based in the UK. She enjoys exploring Northern & Western Europe and Southeast Asia and has a bit of a thing for islands in particular.

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trip to bucharest romania

2024 FULL Bucharest Travel Guide: what to do, places to visit, day trips, going out & more!

Why visit Bucharest? Because Romania’s capital will surprise you with its rich history and multiple personalities: a Balkan vibe with Oriental influences, French-inspired beautiful buildings, megalomanic communist architecture, huge green spaces and now a thriving Western-inspired city with Latin blood in its people.

Bucharest is an eclectic city - and that's the top reason why you should visit in 2024!

This made by locals guide updated in December 2023 will help you find out what to do in Bucharest, which places to visit, top tourist attractions, day trip ideas, where to go out and practical info about public transport.

You'll find 50+ ideas for the very best things to do in Bucharest and unique tours and day trips we created so you have a great time on your holiday - so get ready!

Table of contents

Intro: Bucharest at a glance

  • 1. Bucharest tourist landmarks & places to see

Bucharest Old Town: what to visit

2. what to visit in bucharest: tourist attractions, museums and more.

  • 3. Things to do in Bucharest: sightseeing, history, culture & local life
  • 4. Day trips & tours from Bucharest

5. Where to go out in Bucharest: restaurants, coffee shops and bars

6. bucharest nightlife the best in europe.

  • 7. Budget, transport & safety in Bucharest

8. Where to stay in Bucharest

trip to bucharest romania

Before we start, I want to be honest with you: Bucharest doesn't have a good reputation as a tourist destination, and here's why:

  • like all of Romania, there's no official tourist identity or strategy so tourists don't have a good reason why they should visit in the first place!
  • local authorities don't support, invest or promote local tourism, so it's up to locals with limited resources and fragmented impact to do this
  • most tourists rely on foreign travel bloggers, guides and the typical TripAdvisor "best places to visit" when planning their visit, so they don't really discover the beautiful side of Bucharest
  • before 2015 there were some reports about foreign tourists getting scammed by Bucharest taxis and at the airport (no longer an issue) which created a bad reputation for the city; check our guide on Bucharest airport for more info on airport shuttle, taxis and private transfers

And that's why some people avoid visiting Bucharest all together, or plan to spend one day at most before heading to Brasov and other parts of the country.

Which is a shame...

Though it may seem rough around the edges, the capital city of Romania has something to offer to all types of travellers, especially those looking for an off-the-beaten path non-touristy experience.

So besides the typical tourist attractions and places to visit such as the Palace of Parliament and Old Town area, in this guide we'll tell you about many lesser-known things to do in Bucharest and how to have a great time visiting Romania's capital.

Because Bucharest is full of glaring, sometimes absurd contrasts and not your typical Western capital where everything is neat and clean, by the book. I've seen something similar in Palermo (Sicily, Italy), Marrakech, Cairo, Beirut, Moscow and in Asia.

Some people don't enjoy these urban jungles. Others - like me - do! But you the saying beauty is in the eyes of the beholder :)

  • Local tip: Bucharest is not flooded with tourist hoards like other capitals in Eastern Europe. Prices are not too high either and there are no 'big bus' style tours (except for Dracula Castle day trips - the only thing heavily touristified in our country). So you can have an amazing holiday with great value for money!

The Romanian capital has A LOT of cool places to go out with many hipster cafes, trendy bars, chic restaurants and fine-dining places (for very good prices!), urban gardens and skybars.

And - most importantly - Romanian people are welcoming and eager to show you a good time! If this is your first time, check our guide on how to visit Romania with more practical info.

So we'll tell you the best way to experience Bucharest and the very best places for that. We'll also suggest thematic walking tours in the city and day trips so you have a good time on your holiday!

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1. Bucharest tourist landmarks & places to see

Just like any other capital, Bucharest has a list of top places to visit and famous landmarks:

  • Palace of Parliament
  • Romanian Athenaeum
  • Calea Victoriei (Victory Boulevard)
  • Revolution Square
  • Old Town Lipscani area
  • Unirii Square and fountains & Unirii Boulevard
  • National History Museum
  • National Art Museum (former Royal Palace)
  • Cișmigiu Gardens or
  • Stavropoleos Monastery
  • University Square
  • Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum
  • Primaverii Palace (dictator Ceausescu's home)
  • Arch of Triumph
  • Vacaresti Delta

Thanks to its long and wide boulevards the best way to see Bucharest is to go on a long walk from the Northern Piata Victoriei (Victory Square) to the Southern Piata Unirii (Union Square) or Piata Parlamentului (Parliament Square) - or viceversa.

Calea Victoriei (Victory Boulevard) is the main pedestrian artery that connects the two poles. Most Bucharest landmarks and tourist attractions are here - so you don't have to check Google Maps every 10 min :) With lots of photo stops, this will be a 2-3h walk.

  • Local tip: during weekends Calea Victoriei is closed for cars and it turns a huge pedestrian area. During Summer months locals love going on walks, stopping for icecream, coffee or a drink. Lots of street events take place here too, so watch out!
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  • Explore Bucharest on bike

Because of the wide boulevards and long distances in Romania's largest city, renting a bike is the second best way to explore Bucharest. Calea Victoriei has a dedicated bike lane so traveling by bike makes everything easier and you get to see much more especially in the beautiful Northern part of the city (Kisselef and Aviatorilor Boulevard, Herestrau Park, Arch of Triumph).

You can rent a bike on your own from a public docking station (check here ). Or go on a guided tour by bike with one of our guides who will take care of everything so you can focus on enjoying the experience AND learn about Bucharest.

Bike tour in Bucharest

Panoramic Bike Tour of Bucharest

Start from: Bucharest - Hard Rock Cafe

trip to bucharest romania

Romanian Athenaeum: more than a concert hall, a landmark of historical significance Back to your walking tour on Victory Boulevard, one of the oldest, most charming and posh streets in Bucharest, you'll see the city's most famous landmarks and impressive Romanian buildings . The best way is to start from the North or Piata Victoriei, easily accessible by metro.

  • the George Enescu Museum our country's most famous classical composer (check his folk-inspired composition ); every 2 years the George Enescu International Music Festival takes places in his honour with concerts from orchestras from all over the world
  • ...in the Romanian Athenaeum which is Bucharest's most emblematic cultural landmark and concert hall; the building has a lot of significance for Romanian history and is spectacular on the inside, which is why you should visit
  • just across you'll see the former Royal Palace, which now hosts the National Museum of Art of Romania; besides the museum of art collections, the museum of the palace is worth visiting too
  • opposite it you'll notice the statue of King Carol I the first in the Romanian royal and a significant figure in our history
  • behind it the Central University Library

By now you probably noticed the weird looking statue that looks like an impaled potato as locals call it. That's the Rebirth Memorial in Revolution Square where the 1989 anti-communist revolution took place.

trip to bucharest romania

Revolution Square known as Palace Square before the 1989 Romanian revolution The massive building behind it was the the Romanian Communist Party headquarters. From its balcony dictator Nicolae Ceausescu made his last speech on 21 December when people started booing him - to his incredible disbelief captured on video. This is where the violent 1989 Romanian revolution started in Bucharest (it first started on 16 Dec in Timisioara). Continuing down South on Calea Victoriei:

  • you will see Odeon Theater on the left, a cosy contemporary art deco building fit for the modern, avant-garde plays it hosts
  • then Casa Capsa (Hotel Capsa) one of the oldest historic buildings and most famous hotels in Bucharest said to have the best pastry shop
  • pass the Cercul Militar (National Military Circle) imposing building
  • almost miss the Maca Villacrosse Passage into Old Town, but then shortly arrive at Lipscani Street the main street in the Old Town area
  • until you arrive at the elegant CEC Palace (like a national savings bank)
  • and the impressive National Museum of Romanian History one of the best places to learn about our ancestors, the Dacians, who settled these lands before they were conquered by the Romans; you'll also see here 2,000 year old gold bracelets made by them

Calea Victoriei ends in Piata Natiunilor Unite Square from where you can go East along Dambovita River towards Unirii Square, or West along the river towards the Palace of Parliament. Or return to the Old Town area to find a coffee shops or a nice place to eat!

Bucharest Old Town is a pedestrian area in the city center between Piata Universitatii, Piata Unirii and Calea Victoriei. It's filled with old buildings (obviously!) some restored others not so much.

  • Pro tip: contrary to what most foreign travel bloggers and guides will tell you, this is not a great place to see the Little Paris side of Bucharest; keep reading to find out where to see that!

Over 120 bars, coffee shops and restaurants are here so this central location is known as the hotspot for Bucharest nightlife. It's a touristy place and locals don't really like it - but the variety and sense of aliveness is really nice and unlike anything else you'll see in Europe.

This is not a place for shopping and because of the constant noise, agitation and old buildings it's not a great place to stay here either - except in the few hotels in the area (which are obviously very expensive) such as Hilton Garden Inn or Europa Royale.

trip to bucharest romania

Stavropoleus Church, the oldest church in the Old Town A quick list of the best places to visit in Bucharest Old Town include:

  • Curtea Veche or the Old princely court ruins dating back to the 15th century; this was the seat of power for the ruling princes of Wallachia, including Vlad the Impaler who built it and whose statue you'll find nearby
  • the nearby Hanul lui Manuc (Manuc's Inn) one of the oldest historic buildings in the city with its impressive courtyard and very good traditional Romanian restaurant
  • Stavropoleos Church built in the unique Romanian architectural style known as Brancovenesc or Wallachian reinassance
  • the National Bank of Romania building with its imposing Reinassance architecture
  • Lipscani street not an attraction per se, just the most popular street in the Old Town because this is where merchants would have their shops (no longer the case)
  • Carturesti Carusel library on the same street, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the country and possibly in Europe
  • Caru cu Bere restaurant, one of the oldest and most authentic in the country

We'll come back to the Old Town area in our Bucharest nightlife section below.

trip to bucharest romania

  • Palace of the Parliament: Bucharest’s top tourist attraction

When thinking about Bucharest, the massive Palace of the Parliament (with its many aliases: Ceausescu Palace, House of People, House of Parliament, Parliament Palace) probably comes to mind.

It’s the heaviest building in the world and second largest building after the Pentagon in the US with a surface of 365.000 square meters! And probably the most famous landmark in Bucharest.

Why tour the Palace of Parliament building? Because you’ll get to see what communist megalomania and opulence can do - and the price people paid to satisfy a dictator’s whims at a time of food and basic supply shortages. A painful reminder for most Romanians...

The massive exterior may look uninspiring but the interior was lavishly decorated with premium materials of 100% Romanian origin: 1 million square meters of marble, a 3t carpet or a 5t crystal chandelier among others.

As one of the top things to visit in Bucharest but also an administrative building - a parliamentary palace! - it’s important to plan your visit in advance.

  • Local tip: visits in the Palace are led by an official tour guide who talks about the building without saying anything about Romania's communist past, Nicolae Ceausescu or the 1989 Romanian revolution; so if you're interested in learning more about that you'll need to go on a private, communist-themed tour with a specialist local guide

house of people

Complete Bucharest Communism Tour: Palace of Parliament & Ceausescu's Home

Start from: Bucharest

The same is true for Ceausescu's Villa (where he lived) which you can also visit. This is one of the best places to see the huge discrepancy between the dictator's luxurious lifestyle while the Romanian people were queuing for basic foods and necessities in the '80s...

  • Bucharest museums: the classics & cool

As the capital of Romania, Bucharest has the standard collection of national museums - and they’re actually very good and a nice thing to do if you have a particular interest in their subject or the weather is not great for an outdoor walking tour.

Museum classics include:

  • National Museum of Art of Romania
  • National Museum of Contemporary Art
  • National Museum of Romanian History
  • Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum has reconstructed dinosaurs models that children will love, so that's a fun thing for families to do.
  • The Museum of Art Collections also on Calea Victoriei just before the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall is among the best places for art connoisseurs to visit.

My favorite place to visit is the Bucharest Village Museum because of it’s unique character: an open-air museum where you can find over 60 real-size replicas of traditional Romanian village houses from 36 regions and parts of the country.

The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum regularly hosts exhibitions and events to promote Romanian rural culture. I always discover something new when I go there! It will give you a taste of what the famous Romanian countryside looks like especially if you're not spending a long time in our country on this occasion :)

  • Pro tip: the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) is located on the left wing, top floor of the Parliament building. Even if you’re not an artsy person, the museum has an outdoor terrace which is a great place to savour a glass of wine with a stunning view of the capital city of Romania - also a local' favorite thing to do in Bucharest!

Bucharest also has some very interesting museums which makes it a great choice for a holiday with the kids in Romania

  • Museum of Senses - a quirky and very cool experience with optical illusions
  • Museum of Records - world-record collections of peculiar items
  • Museum or Romanian kitsch - a seriously funny experience currently closed but hopefully reopening soon
  • Astronomic Observatory Vasile Urseanu which will thrill kids and passionate astronomers
  • the Little Paris Museum which will help you understand why Bucharest was once called Little Paris, and get a glimpse of life in the capital in the 1920s
  • the Romanian Science Experiment Museum - a wonderful destination for kids - and adults - where you need to press buttons, pull levers and make things work
  • a communist apartment from the 1970s turned time-capsule museum; a typical Romanian worker family lived here and is preserved in its original state with objects, decorations and food from past times; this is probably the best place to understand what life was like during the Romanian communist regime

Bucharest communism museum

Museum of Communism: A Time-Capsule of Ordinary Lives

trip to bucharest romania

3. Things to do in Bucharest: sightseeing, history, culture & local life

We're done with classical tourist sightseeing - so let's see some of the lesser known, thematic things to do in Bucharest so you have a good time.

  • Romanian history and Bucharest landmarks

The three historical provinces that make up Romania (Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania) each had their own capital (Bucharest, Iasi and Transylvania), political life, culture and powerful families. But the Romanian dream was always to unite in one state.

This happened in 1859 when the first two united and in 1918 Transylvania joined. But not all Romanians are happy about Bucharest being their capital or see it as representative for Romanian national identity and culture.

That's why knowing a bit of Romanian history will give you more context about the tourist landmarks and historic buildings in Bucharest.

trip to bucharest romania

Essential Walking Tour of Bucharest: Old Town & Revolution Square

trip to bucharest romania

  • Bucharest Little Paris and Belle Époque architecture

In the early 1900s Bucharest earned its nickname of Little Paris thanks to French-inspired Belle Époque beautiful buildings, monuments and architecture.

The Romanian Athenaeum and Arch of Triumph (Arcul de Triumf), a WW I memorial monument, though smaller than the French version, is proof of this cultural affinity. Another French-inspired construction is Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse connecting Calea Victoriei to the Old Town, which is now filled with cosy sisha bars.

That's because most of Romanian aristocracy, rich businessmen and major cultural figures from the 18th-20th centuries were educated in France and inspired by culture and life there.

This made Bucharest unique in Eastern Europe unlike other European capitals in the region such as Sofia, Budapest or Belgrade. The rich history of Bucharest and its architecture Belle Epoque architercture was significantly influenced by this.

So if you think Bucharest doesn't have nice places to visit you couldn't be more wrong! There are entire neighborhoods and streets where you'll find a unique blend of architectural styles made even more charming with the passage of time.

trip to bucharest romania

The "Little Paris" Bucharest: Architecture, Old Houses & Bourgeois Stories

Start from: University Square

Bucharest is actually very popular for its rich blend of historical (neo-classical), interbellum (Bauhaus and art deco), communist and modern architecture mix. Many of the city's best hotels, companies or best restaurants occupy some incredible buildings - monuments of architecture.

trip to bucharest romania

Cotroceni neighbourhood, one of the most beautiful in Bucharest Just go for a walking tour aka get lost in the area between Soseaua Kisselef, Aviatorilor Boulevard and Calea Dorobanti. Also around Gradina Icoanei Park. Unfortunately these are not tourist attractions per se so without a local tour guide to take you deep in the neighbourhoods and show you around, it will be hard for you to find these spots on your own.

Or get lost in Cotroceni neighbourhood known for its superb eclectic architecture, botanical gardens and beautiful buildings.

trip to bucharest romania

Visit a typical communist apartment in Bucharest turned time-capsule museum

  • Communist Bucharest: forced transformation

Bucharest bourgeois identity was literally demolished and transformed during the Romanian communist regime which ruled from 1944-1989 (Romania was not part of the USSR!).

But besides the ideological agenda, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu who came to power in 1965 and ruled for 25 years (making him one of the most famous Romanians ) had bigger ambitions...

Driven by megalomanic dreams, a personality cult and absurd realities, Ceausescu brutally changed Romanian society and turned Bucharest into an experiment for his idealistic communist vision. So:

  • an entire neighbourhood was demolished to make way for the Palace of Parliament
  • wide boulevards such as Unirii, Magheru, Aviatorilor were built (and there's a specific reason for that!)
  • churches were literally moved or 'hidden' by apartment buildings
  • entire worker neighbourhoods were built from scratch to house factory workers relocated here from the rest of the country

And much more. Bucharest was painfully transformed with significant consequences not just for its architecture, but also for its culture and local life.

trip to bucharest romania

Untold Stories of Bucharest: Prostitution, Holocaust and Communist Terror

Start from: Piata Romana (Romana Square)

All over the city there are signs of this transformation. One of our specialist communist tour guides will show them to you on a walking tour, including pictures from old times, and tell you more about life back then.

In front of the Palace of Parliament, Ceausescu's masterpiece

Communist Walking Tour: History, Megalomania & Hidden Sights

Start from: Revolution Square next to the Rebirth Memorial (The patatoe)

  • Bucharest street art, gentrification and local culture

After the Little Paris years, the communist transformation and the Western re-vitalisation - many parts of Bucharest started showing glaring contrasts. A vibrant and exotic street art showed up to cover the uglier parts of the city, especially in the local neighbourhoods where foreign tourists don't venture and locals rarely go.

Street Art and Architecture Tour of Bucharest

Bucharest Street Art & Architecture Tour

Which is the reason why one of the best things to do in Bucharest is to go off-the-beaten path and explore local life beyond the top attractions and tourist hotspots.

the famous Bucharest 3D iMapp competition There are also lots of events going on - check online or ask a local when you're here. Various exhibitions, sports competitions, street foor od art fairs happen throughout the year, usually in front of the Romanian Athenaeum, in Piata Universitatii or on Calea Victoriei.

  • Relax in Bucharest’s many green spaces

If you’re getting tired of so much urban exploring there are many parks in Bucharest that will help you disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city. From huge parks such as Herestrau Park to delightful green spaces that are like miniature botanical gardens, you'll have plenty of choices!

The most beautiful one in the city center is Cismigiu Park on Regina Elisabeta Boulevard. It's sometimes called Cismigiu Gardens because it has many areas with different interests, sights and cultural significance - so this is a perfect place to take a break from your walking tour of the city!

Izvor Park is another great place to relax and admire the massive Parliament Building), Carol Park has another WW I memorial on a hill with great views. King Michael I park (formerly Herăstrău Park), the largest park in the city, and Tineretului Park both have pretty big lakes perfect places for a jog, bike ride or renting a boat.

trip to bucharest romania

The newest addition to this the list of green spaces in Romania's capital is Delta Vacaresti. In the South Eastern part of the city a large area was cleared by the communist regime for a major project - later abandoned!

Over time, Mother Nature reclaimed this area and turned it into a wonderful natural biosphere: a huge park more like a wetland where many species of plants, birds and small animals now live!

In 2016 Vacaresti Natural Park was granted protected status by law. this is a unique open-air museum of natural diversity in the heart of a European capital and a great place to visit (best time is from April - October) if you want to combine urban sightseeing with nature.

Vacaresti Natural Park (photo credit Helmut Ignat)

Vacaresti Natural Park: the Newest Urban Delta

  • Experience Bucharest nightlife - among the best in Europe

The nightlife in Bucharest is nothing short of incredible - it can even be classed as one of the best things to do in Bucharest! As someone who has travelled extensively and visited many European capitals, Bucharest easily ranks among the best.

When Romanians go out, they go out in style! You won’t be seeing people drinking (or passing out) in the street, cheap beer or lousy outdated music.

Bucharest Pub Crawls

Pub Crawling & Bar Hopping in Bucharest Old Town

Start from: Lipscani street

  • Pro tip: most young people speak good English, are friendly and helpful, especially in the city hotspots, so you don't have to worry about getting lost in translation

trip to bucharest romania

4. Day trips & tours from Bucharest

Bucharest is a great place to tick off some of the best things to do in Romania . With our network of specialist tour guides we can organise any kind of trip for you - so contact us we're happy to help!

But contrary to what most people think - going on a day trip to visit Peles Castle, Brasov and Bran Castle (the most popular day trip in Bucharest) does NOT mean you visited Transylvania. The region is huge with a history and culture that can't be experienced in one day. Read our blog on how to visit Transylvania for more.

That's why we created a unique 3-day best of Transylvania tour that will give you an authentic experience of this popular tourist region of Romania. The famous Transfagarasan Highway can also be seen from Bucharest and the best time for that is July - October when the road is open for driving.

Visit Transfagarasan Highway

Road trip to Poenari Castle & Transfagarasan Highway

Another popular day trip is to the Romanian Black Sea and the city of Constanta

Casino Palace Constanta

The Black Sea Calling: Day Trip to Constanta & Mamaia Beach

If you want to visit the UNESCO Danube Delta reserve, you need to get to Tulcea (4h away, possibly only by car). From there you'll enter the Delta through boat rides, so you need a minimum of 2-3 days to see its beauty, birds and fauna.


2-Day Danube Delta & Birdwatching Tour from Bucharest

You can also go hiking in the Romanian Mountains known for their wilderness and impressive heights of over 2,500m altitude. Bucegi Mountains are one of the most popular national parks in Romania . The Romanian Sphinx and Babele are major natural attractions tourists want to see when in Bucharest.

Hiking tour Bucegi

1 or 2 Day Hiking Trip in Bucegi Mountains: Sphinx, Babele, Omu Peak

Start from: Bucharest OR Brasov

But there are a lot more options for hiking day trips from Bucharest - check our guide on the best hikes in Romania . Finally, just 1,5h away in the Dealu Mare region are some of the country's best wineries. Other than in wine bars, this is one of the best places to discover the long history and high quality of Romanian wines (#7th producer in the world!) with superb views too!

Wine tasting tour in Romania

The Wine Tradition of Romania: Premium Wine Tasting in Dealu Mare

Check our full list of unique tours and hand-picked day trips in Bucharest so you have the best time in our country:

Tours & Day Trips in Bucharest

Tours & Day Trips in Bucharest

trip to bucharest romania

After all these Bucharest attractions and tourist places you’ve visited, you’re probably hungry, looking for the best restaurants in Bucharest, a good coffee shop or a nice place to go out in the evening.

Best places to eat in Bucharest

Romania’s capital is a great - and affordable - place for a food-tasting getaway: lots of variety and international-inspired cuisine, cool places to eat with an inspiring design and fancy menus with a modern twist, fresh locally-sourced ingredients and great customer service. And there are lots of choices for all budget types.

It's hard for me to describe in words just how much Romanian people love to go out (part of our Latin blood!) and why Bucharest has a very diverse and high-quality offering. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Romanian traditional food: Zexe, Jaristea, La Mahala, Becca’s Kitchen, Maize (Romanian up-scale), La Copac, Lacrimi si Sfinti, City Grill, Vatra Neamului, Hanu’ lui Manuc, Caru cu Bere (traditional)
  • Italian (the nation’s favorite): Trattoria Don Vito, Grano, Quattro Stagioni, Il Peccato, Trattoria Fresca, Gustosi Momenti, SARA Restaurant
  • British & Irish pub: The Harp, Trafalgar
  • Lebanese (as there’s a minority living here): Piccolo Mondo, Zaitoone, Four Seasons, Al Mandaloun
  • burger places (always cool): Burger van Bistro, Za Lokal, Switch.eat, Vivo fusion bar
  • steak houses: Osho, Prime Steaks & Seafood, VacaMuuu
  • cool & urban places to eat (modern European): Energiea, Biutiful, Uanderful, Simbio, Lente, Alt Shift
  • international fine dining: Joseph, Casa Doina, Stejarii Pool Club, Casa di David, Le Bistrot Francais, L’Atelier
  • street food (shaorma - a must!): Calif, Divan, Dristor

If you're interested in traditional Romanian food and want a true cultural shock, head over to Obor farmer's market the largest and oldest in Romania where small farmers and everyone else sell their stuff. Or go on our tour with a local guide who will show you the best way to experience this:

Bucharest street food tour

Bucharest Street Food Tour: Farmers' Markets & Hidden Streets

  • Local tip: vegetarians or vegans should not despair – there are plenty of delicious dishes thanks to Orthodox lent (fasting) periods; read our article on traditional Romanian food to find out more

trip to bucharest romania

  • Romanian beers and wine in Bucharest

First, you should know that Romanians enjoy drinking - a lot! In Southern Romania most people prefer drinking beer (unlike in Transylvania). Local brands you should try Silva, Ciuc or Ursus.

Craft beers have been on the rise recently with young looking for new tastes: Nenea Iancu, Zaganu, Hophead, Ground Zero or Gambrinus. So beer bars have popped up and quickly became favorite best places to go out for locals:

Bucharest nightlife tour

Bucharest Nightlife Tour: Craft Beer & Hip Bars

As for having a surprisingly good glass of Romanian wine in a nice setting - it’s one of the best things you can do in Bucharest! Try Corcova Rose at Entourage, Liliac White Young Fresh at Energiea or Lacerta Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz at Corks Cozy Bar to get a sense of Romanian wines being damn fine! Domeniul Coroanei Segarcea or Prince Stirbey are also very good choices if you see them in the menu.

Do not skip dessert and coffee shops in Bucharest

Since 2010 the specialty coffee culture BOOM-ed in Bucharest. So now you have lots of hispter, cosy or inspiring coffee shops serving single or blended origin, on-the-spot roasted DELICIOUS coffee!

The most popular, old and famous coffee shop is Origo, but you should also try Coftale, Beans&Dots, Steam, Orygyns, Two Minutes, Garage Cafe, T-Zero, On-Off or The Coffee Factory. What’s a cortado or V60? Go and find out - and be sure to check our list with the best coffee shops in Bucharest to find out more. Finally, fans of sweets and desserts should definitely consider papanasi (a traditional dish) at Stadio, éclairs at French Revolution or profiteroles at Chocolat Boutique Ateneu – all of them local businesses. Or just stop at any street pastry shop and ask for an apple pie (placinta cu mar) or cheese pie (placinta cu branza) for less than 1€!

There are several reasons why the Bucharest nightlife is so good and famous - our article will tell you more and also the best bars and places to go out. Or maybe there's a Romanian music festival happening when you're visiting?

Suffice to say that you should prepare for a long night out and dress well (shirts & skirts) if you want to blend in with the locals. Put on your friendly and relaxed face – don’t give yourself away after the long day you’ve visiting Bucharest!

Sip on a few cocktails

Go for an Aperol Spritz on the rooftop at Deschis Gastrobar or any cocktail you can literally think of at Newton Cocktail Bar or Fix Me a drink. For a warm summer evening I recommend a cider in the garden at Control – a hip cool place to be or a beer at Eden Garden – a let’s-chill-in-the-forest, unpretentious yet vibrant place.

But the trending place right now among Bucharest locals is Expirat, with beautiful green spaces and terraces, cool music and that great & young Bucharest vibe I was talking about – that’s my last insight for you!

The Old Town is a must-experience part of Bucharest nightlife

Some colorful shots at Shoteria are highly recommended before starting the mandatory restaurant - pub – terrace – club crawling in Lipscani Old City Center (Lipscani Centrul Vechi) – a historical area which hosts a great variety of bars, pubs and clubs that you will certainly be in a rush to try and unsure of which ones to choose! I should tell you that in recent years Bucharest’s Old Town has become quite touristy, with too many places, people and tourists in a frenzy looking for alcohol-induced fun.

While I don’t personally like it and some locals avoid it, it’s a must see part of the vibrant Bucharest nightlife and you won't find anything similar in other European capitals.

Looking for a fancy night out in Bucharest?

If you want an even more fancy night out, girls should consider wearing high heels and guys should go for a dress shirt at minimum. The places to go out in Bucharest for proper, high-end clubbing are located in the northern part of the city, in Floreasca or Herestrau area, and are a great choice for a night out warm nights. Consider Biutiful, Fratelli or Funky Lounge (last two located in Herestrau Park). Nuba, Tuya, Kayo and Hiro are fine-dining restaurants turning into clubs as the night starts.

trip to bucharest romania

7. Budget, transport & safety in Bucharest

Check our article on Bucharest public transport with all the info you need about Bucharest Otopeni Airport, public transport in the city, taxis and official tourism infrastructure.

We also prepared a guide on what you need to know about safety in Bucharest because there are a lot of misconceptions about the city. But with a little information and awareness, you'll have a great time here.

You don’t need to spend much to have a good time in Bucharest

Coming from London, Paris, Milano or Munich, you’ll be shocked to see how affordable your Bucharest travel budget needs to be! Imagine paying between 6-15 EUR for a main course, appetizer/dessert and a drink, 2-3 EUR for a coffee or 4-5 EUR for a fantastic cocktail or a glass of wine in most places. A reasonable budget per day for visiting the city should start at 30 Euro.

Take the metro or a taxi, buses are unreliable

Attraction tickets to museums and other places to visit in Bucharest are usually between 3-5 Euro. The most efficient public transport is the subway which is quite affordable and convenient: 1 Euro for 2 rides, 4,5 Euro for 10. Taxis are also inexpensive with around 2,5 Lei/km (0,5 Euro) but ridesharing apps such as Uber and Bolt are the most popular choice for getting around in our capital. I don’t recommend using buses or trains in Bucharest: besides them being unfriendly for a foreigner, their irregular schedule combined with hectic traffic make them unreliable even for locals!

You've got lots of options on airbnb or booking.com - check to see what fits your preferences and budget.

The general rule of where to stay in Bucharest is close to a metro station because it's the best, quickest and easiest way to navigate Bucharest.

For hotels, there will be plenty around Union Square, Cismigiu Gardens, Piata Romana, Piata Victoriei and Revolution Square. But even if you stay further away you can navigate the city using taxi and metro.

You'll find all the main international hotel chains (Mariott, Ramada, Hilton etc), including a selection of boutique, charming hotels in beautiful buildings from the Little Paris era.

As I said before, staying in Bucharest Old Town is NOT a great idea because of the noise, agitation, few choices (Hilton Garden Inn is the only one I would recommend) and high prices.

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Bucharest Travel Guide

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For many people, initial impressions of Bucharest (Bucureşti), a sprawling, dusty city of some two million people, are less than favourable. It’s Romania’s centre of government and commerce, and site of its main airport, so most visitors to the country will find themselves passing through the city at some point, but its chaotic jumble of traffic-choked streets, ugly concrete apartment blocks and monumental but mostly unfinished communist developments is often enough to send most travellers scurrying off to the more obvious attractions further north. Yet it’s a city that rewards patience, with a raft of terrific museums, first-rate restaurants and bars, and, behind the congested main arteries, some superb architecture and abundant greenery.

Bucharest’s festival calendar

Bucharest’s markets, calea victoriei, the centru civic, drinking and nightlife, entertainment, mogoşoaia palace, the northern suburbs, the old town, piaţa revoluţiei and piaţa enescu, piaţa universităţii, piaţa victoriei, systematization, the fall of the ceauşescus, west of piaţa universităţii.

The architecture of the old city, with its cosmopolitan air, was notoriously scarred by Ceauşescu’s redevelopment project in the 1980s, which demolished an immense swathe of the historic centre – including many religious buildings and thousands of homes – and replaced it with a concrete jungle, the compellingly monstrous Centru Civic . The centrepiece of this development was an enormous new palace for the communist leader, now known as the Palace of Parliament , which is Bucharest’s premier tourist attraction.

The heart of the city is the Piaţa Revoluţiei , the scene of Ceauşescu’s downfall and site of the old Royal Palace – now home to the superb National Art Museum , housing a fine collection of Romanian medieval art. It lies halfway along Bucharest’s historic north–south axis, the Calea Victoriei , which is still the main artery of city life; the city’s main junction, however, is the Piaţa Universităţii , scene of major events immediately after the 1989 revolution. To the south of here lies the scruffy but atmospheric historic centre , which these days owes its popularity to the welter of bars and restaurants crammed into its agreeably tatty streets.

North from Piaţa Victoriei, along the broad sweep of Şoseaua Kiseleff, lie Bucharest’s two best museums – the Museum of the Romanian Peasant , with its marvellous exhibits on peasant life and superbly reconstructed buildings, and the Village Museum , an assemblage of vernacular buildings garnered from Romania’s multifarious regions. There’s plenty of greenery to explore, too – most obviously the tranquil Cişmigiu Gardens in the heart of the city, and the more expansive Herăstrău Park , on the shores of the lake of the same name.

From Bucharest, there are excellent rail and road connections to the rest of the country, but local bus and train services to the towns and villages in the immediate vicinity are often limited or tortuous. There are, however, some enjoyable visits to be had just outside the capital, most notably the lake and monastery at Snagov , the palace at Mogoşoaia and the village of Clejani , known for its outstanding Gypsy music.

Tailor-made travel itineraries for Romania, created by local experts

Relaxing beach fun - the Black Sea Coast in Bulgaria and Romania

7 days  / from 1962 USD

Relaxing beach fun - the Black Sea Coast in Bulgaria and Romania

The perfect trip for those that are looking for sun, sea and sand while also getting to know the culture and history of both Bulgaria and Romania. Start and end in Bucharest and discover Constanta, Sunny Beach, Nessebar, Burgas and Madara Rider.

The legend of Dracula

8 days  / from 1962 USD

The legend of Dracula

Transylvania is known to be the land of Dracula. Are you curious to visit the places mentioned in the book and the castles that hosted the major life events of Vlad the Impaler, the cruel ruler known as Dracula? Explore mysterious places and breathtaking landscapes all over Romania.

Luxurious Highlights of Romania: From Bucharest to Transylvania

12 days  / from 3935 USD

Luxurious Highlights of Romania: From Bucharest to Transylvania

Romania offers plenty for the discerning traveller, including beautiful Boutique properties. On this trip, discover Bucharest, the Danube Delta, Bucovina and Transylvania with Dracula's castle. A private guide will accompany you throughout the trip, well-equipped with Romanian knowledge and facts.

World Heritage in Romania and Bulgaria

15 days  / from 3924 USD

World Heritage in Romania and Bulgaria

Discover the most important UNESCO heritage sites in Romania and Bulgaria as well as some lesser-known attractions. From the capital Sofia to Plovdiv and Nessebar, as well as Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria to Romania's capital Bucharest to Sibiu, Cluj and Dracula's castle in Brasov.

Delicacies in Romania: food & wine

5 days  / from 1826 USD

Delicacies in Romania: food & wine

Perfect for foodies with little time - spend 5 days in Romania between Bucharest and Brasov, home to the famous Dracula castle. On the way, you will pass by vineyards and wineries, with tasting arrangements available for you. A private guide will be with you all throughout the trip.

Grand Eastern-European Tour

15 days  / from 4905 USD

Grand Eastern-European Tour

The gems of Central and Eastern Europe within 14 days: visit the capital cities Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, and Sarajevo as well as famous Mostar in Herzegovina and Dracula's castle in Romania.

Bucharest’s festival scene has been slow to gather pace but there now exists a handful of excellent events. The undoubted highlight of the city’s cultural offerings is the biennial (odd numbered years) George Enescu Festival in September, which features three weeks of classical concerts by some of the world’s finest musicians, including the likes of the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra. The event features a full programme of concerts at the Atheneum and Sala Palatalui venues, as well as recitals, movie screenings, events on Piaţa Revoluţiei and exhibitions on Enescu. Taking place in the second week of May, Europafest is the year’s most eclectic event, a gathering of Europe-wide artists performing pop, jazz, blues and classical music concerts, plus workshops, competitions and jam sessions at venues around the city. The big screen is represented courtesy of the April Bucharest International Film Festival (BIFF), which features an impressive roster of both new domestic and foreign (mainly European) movies, with screenings at Cinema Studio on B-dul Magheru and Elvira Popescu inside the French Institute. In November, the UrbanEye Film Festival presents an intriguing selection of films centred on urban themes, with a strong architectural bent to many of the works.

Bucharest hosts some terrific – if occasionally chaotic – markets. The daddy of them all is the recently modernized Piaţa Obor (Metro Obor), which offers all sorts, from fresh produce and clothing to communist-era memorabilia; you can grab some superb mittitei here too. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, there’s a terrific farmer’s market (Targul Ţaranului) at the intersection of B-dul Unirii and Str. Nerva Traian (tram #32 from Piaţa Unirii), where you can pick up all manner of fresh foodstuffs. Otherwise, the best of the daily food markets are Piaţa Amzei, near Piaţa Romană, and Piaţa Matache, near the Gara de Nord, the latter useful for stocking up for before a long journey. The vast Sunday-morning flea market (Târgul Vitan) on Şos. Vitan-Bârzeşti, fifteen minutes’ walk south of the Dristor I metro station (or bus #123 from Piaţa Unirii), alongside the Dâmboviţa embankment, is something to behold. Beware of pickpockets here.

Originally laid out in the late seventeenth century as a wood-paved avenue named Podul Mogoşoaiei, Calea Victoriei (Avenue of Victory) has been Bucharest’s most fashionable street since wealthy boyars first built their residences along it. The arrival of the boyars encouraged Bucharest’s most prestigious shops to open along the avenue and, after it was repaved and took its present name in 1918, strolling along the avenue became de rigueur , causing the writer Hector Bolitho to remark that “to drive down the Calea Victoriei between twelve and one o’clock will prove you a provincial or a stranger”. Along the street were “huddles of low, open-fronted shops where Lyons silk and Shiraz carpets were piled in the half-darkness beside Siberian furs, English guns and Meissen porcelain”, while lurking in the side streets were starving groups of unemployed, lupus-disfigured beggars and dispossessed peasants seeking justice in the capital’s courts. An avenue of marked contrasts, the quieter northern end still seems verdant and sleepy with touches of Old-World elegance, while to the south it becomes an eclectic jumble of old apartment buildings, upmarket hotels, shops and banks. A more recent addition is an excellent cycle lane (a rarity in Bucharest), which, encouragingly, the locals seem to have taken to with relish.

In 1971, Ceauşescu visited North Korea and returned full of admiration for the grandiose avenues of Kim II Sung’s capital, Pyongyang. Thirteen years later, inspired by what he had seen, Ceauşescu set out to remodel Bucharest as “the first socialist capital for the new socialist man”, and to create a new administrative centre which was to be “a symbolic representation of the two decades of enlightenment we have just lived through”. In truth, of course, this Centru Civic was meant to embody the state’s authority and that of Ceauşescu himself. Implementing this megalomaniac vision entailed the demolition of a quarter of Bucharest’s historic centre (about five square kilometres), said to be slums damaged by the 1977 earthquake, but in fact containing nine thousand largely untouched nineteenth-century houses, whose forty thousand inhabitants were relocated in new developments on the outskirts of the city. There was worldwide condemnation of this vandalism, particularly since many old churches were to be swept away. Though some of the churches were in the end reprieved, they are now surrounded by huge modern apartment blocks and are separated from the urban context that gave them meaning. The core of the complex was largely completed by 1989, just in time for the dictator’s overthrow.

Uniting the two halves of the Centru Civic is Bulevardul Unirii which, at 4km long and 120m wide, is slightly larger – intentionally so – than the Champs-Élysées, after which it was modelled. Midway along is Piaţa Unirii (Square of Union), an oversized expanse of concrete dominated by traffic, and notable only as a key metro interchange, as the site of the city’s main department store – the slicked-up Unirea – and as the best place to view the extraordinary Palace of Parliament.

Palatul Parlamentului

Dominating the entire project from the western end of Bulevardul Unirii is the colossal Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of Parliament), claimed to be the second-largest administrative building in the world – after the Pentagon – measuring 270m by 240m, and 86m high. It epitomizes the megalomania that overtook Ceauşescu in the 1980s; here he intended to house ministries, Communist Party offices and the apartments of high functionaries. Built on the site of the former Spirei Hill, which was razed for this project, the sheer size of the building can only be grasped by comparison with the toy-like cars scuttling past below. It has twelve storeys, four underground levels (including a nuclear bunker), a 100m-long lobby and 1100 rooms, around half of which are used as offices while the remainder are redundant. The interiors are lavishly decorated with marble and gold leaf, and there are 4500 chandeliers (11,000 were planned), the largest of which weighs 1.5 tonnes, but the decoration was never finished due to the Ceauşescus’ ever-changing whims. They were demanding patrons, allowing little more than a technical role to the architects, of which there were around seven hundred – one staircase was rebuilt three times before they were satisfied.

This huge white elephant was officially known as the Casa Republicii, then as the Casa Poporului, but more popularly as the Casa Nebunului (Madman’s House), before taking on its present name. The new government spent a long time agonizing about an acceptable use for it, and in 1994 it was finally decided to house the Senate and Parliament here; it is now also used for international conferences.

There are several different tours available. The standard one is a 45-minute trek through ten of the most dazzling, most representative or simply the largest of the halls, such as the extraordinary, glass-ceilinged Sala Unirii (Unification Hall), where legendary Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci was married in 1996. One of the last chambers you’re led to is the Alexandru Ioan Cuza room, whose balcony offers defining views of the city. Other tours take in the basement, terrace or both. The palace is so popular (particularly with tour groups) that you’d do well to time your visit for the start or the end of the day.

Muzeul Naţional de Artă Contemporană

Located in the building’s west wing (to the rear of the palace) is the Muzeul Naţional de Artă Contemporană (National Museum of Contemporary Art). Accessed via a specially constructed glass annexe and external elevators (which, as they take you up, give you some idea of the breathtaking scale of this building), it’s a superbly designed space covering four floors. All the works on display are temporary (typically two- or three-month rotating programmes), featuring both Romanian and international artists, and mostly take the form of multimedia installations (including large-screen projections), sculptures, collages, montages and photographic displays.

Some 40km southwest of Bucharest is the small village of CLEJANI , renowned throughout the region as a centre for Gypsy music , spawning members of the world-famous bands Taraf de Haidouks and Mahala Rai Banda, as well as a number of other wonderfully talented musicians. If you’re a fan of such music, or if you’re just interested in experiencing Gypsy culture close up, then take half a day to visit the village – if you’re lucky, you may get to hear some of the spellbinding music first-hand.

Bucharest does not immediately strike visitors as a place bursting with nightlife, but this is partly because, like the best of the city’s restaurants, many places are discreetly tucked away or concentrated in unlikely areas of the city. That said, the Old Town quarter has undergone a remarkable resurgence, and on any given night you’ll find the tightly packed ranks of cafés and bars full to the gills. It’s here, too, that you’ll find a growing number of wine bars , something that it was hitherto impossible to find in Bucharest. The city’s club scene is among the best in the Balkans, and there are now some choice venues scattered around town, increasingly catering to a more discerning range of musical tastes. Bucharestians, however, have long been starved of decent live music , a situation reflected in the dearth of quality venues.

Between the World Wars, Bucharest was famed for its bacchanals, gourmet cuisine and Gypsy music – but all this ended with the puritanical postwar regime of communism. The immediate post-communist era was little better – a veritable culinary wasteland – but in recent years the restaurant scene has improved beyond all recognition. There’s been a welcome diversification in both the range of cuisines available and the types of establishments entering the fray, such as The Artist , currently performing gastronomic wonders, and Beca’s Kitchen , where fresh, inventive cooking is the order of the day. Moreover, eating out, even at the more upmarket places, remains remarkably affordable.

Bucharest’s cultural forte is undoubtedly classical music , thanks largely to the work of the internationally renowned George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. Opera , ballet and theatre performances, too, are invariably excellent, with ostentatious sets and huge casts. Prices for performances are incredibly cheap, typically costing between €2 and €15. It’s still the case that few genuinely major rock or pop stars play Bucharest, and – with a few exceptions – those that do tend to be past their sell-by date. Note that most theatres and concert halls close during the summer.

The lovely palace at MOGOŞOAIA , 10km northwest of Bucharest along the DN1, is perhaps Wallachia’s most important non-religious monument. Designed by Constantin Brâncoveanu between 1698 and 1702 as a summer residence for his family, it’s a two-storey building of red brick with a fine Venetian-style loggia overlooking a lake. After Brâncoveanu’s execution, the palace became an inn then, after a fire destroyed the interior, a warehouse. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the palace was passed to the Bibescu family (descendants of Brâncoveanu), before finally being handed over to the state in 1956, following the arrest of Martha Bibescu (1886–1973); one of Romania’s great literary heroines, Bibescu spent the remainder of her life in Paris.

The Şoseaua Kiseleff , a long, elegant avenue lined with lime trees, extends north from Piaţa Victoriei towards the Herăstrău Park and the Village Museum , one of Romania’s best open-air museums, before heading out towards the airports and the main road to Transylvania. Modelled on the Parisian chaussées (typically, long straight avenues made from gravel or crushed stone), though named after a Russian general, Şoseaua Kiseleff is a product of the Francophilia that swept Romania’s educated classes during the nineteenth century; it even has its own version of the Arc de Triomphe.

Muzeul Satului

Bucharest’s most outstanding sight is the Muzeul Satului (Village Museum) on the shores of Lake Herăstrău – the entrance is on Şoseaua Kiseleff, just up from the Arc de Triumf. Established in 1936, this wonderful ensemble of over three hundred dwellings, workshops, churches, windmills, presses and other structures from every region in the country illustrates the extreme diversity of Romania’s folk architecture.

Most interesting are the oak houses from Maramureş with their rope-motif carvings and shingled roofing, and beamed gateways carved with animals and hunting scenes, Adam and Eve and the Tree of Life, and suns and moons. Other highlights are the heavily thatched dwellings from Sălciua de Jos in Alba county; dug-out homes, or “pit” houses (with vegetables growing on the roof) from Drăghiceni and Castranova in Oltenia; colourfully furnished homesteads from Moldavia; and windmills from Tulcea county in the Delta. Keep an eye out, too, for the beautiful wooden church from the village of Dragomireşti in Maramureş. Mud-brick dwellings from the fertile plains ironically appear poorer than the homes of peasants in the less fertile highlands where timber and stone abound, while the importance of livestock to the Székely people of Harghita county can be seen by their barns, which are taller than their houses. The terrific souvenir shop here is the best place in the city to buy folk art objects, including textiles and costumes, ceramics and woodenware.

Parcul Herăstrău

Laid out in 1936, Parcul Herăstrău provides welcome respite from the city’s sweltering heat. Beyond the entrance, paths run past formal flowerbeds to the shore of Lake Herăstrău , one of the largest of a dozen lakes strung along the River Colentina. Created by Carol II to drain the unhealthy marshes that surrounded Bucharest, these lakes form a continuous line across the northern suburbs. Arched bridges lead to the small and fragrant Island of Roses , where the alleyways are lined with the busts of Romanian and foreign luminaries – Brâncuşi, Eminescu, Shakespeare and the like (some are more convincing than others). Beyond here, paths wend their way round to numerous lakeside snack bars and restaurants, as well as a landing stage from where you can rent rowing boats or take a thirty-minute lake cruise. Located near the park’s other entrance, which is at the northern end of Şoseaua Kiseleff, near Piaţa Presei Libere, is the Expo – an enormous pavilion now hosting what must surely be one of the biggest beer halls anywhere in Europe.

The residential area east of the park is one of Bucharest’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. It is where the communist elite once lived, cordoned off from the masses they governed; the Ceauşescus lived at the east end of Bulevardul Primăverii, in the Vila Primavera, which is set to be opened to tourists. The area is still inhabited by technocrats, artists and members of the elite.

The Skopţi coachmen

The Skopţi coachmen , who worked along the Şoseaua Kiseleff until the 1940s, made up one of the curiosities of Bucharest. Members of a dissident religious sect founded in Russia during the seventeenth century – and related to the Lipovani of the Danube Delta – the Skopţi ritually castrated themselves in the belief that the “generative organs are the seat of all iniquities”, interpreting literally Christ’s words on eunuchs in the Gospel of St Matthew. This was done after two years of normal married life – a period necessary to ensure the conception of future Skopţi. Driving droshkys pulled by black Orloff horses, the coachmen wore caftans sprouting two cords, which passengers tugged to indicate that the driver should turn left or right.

Bound by Piaţa Unirii to the south, Calea Victoriei to the west and Bulevardul I.C. Brătianu to the east, the Old Town – an area more commonly known as Lipscani – was mercifully spared Ceauşescu’s bulldozers, and it now offers a welcome respite from the concrete monotony of the Centru Civic. The main thoroughfare is Strada Lipscani itself, a lively street named after the merchants from Leipzig who traded here in the eighteenth century. An otherwise picturesque and agreeably ramshackle maze of streets and decrepit houses, Bucharest’s oldest neighbourhood has been undergoing painfully slow regeneration for years, and while many parts of it remain desperately run-down, the sheer volume of restaurants, cafés and bars in the area makes it the place to party in town.

Piaţa Revoluţiei (Square of Revolution), a large, irregularly shaped square sliced down the middle by Calea Victoriei, was created in the 1930s to ensure a protective field of fire around the Royal Palace in the event of revolution. While Romania’s monarchy was overthrown by other means, the square fulfilled its destiny in 1989, when the Ceauşescus were forced to flee by crowds besieging Communist Party headquarters; two days of fighting left the buildings around the square burnt out or pockmarked with bullet holes – with the conspicuous exception of the Central Committee building, which was at the centre of the storm.

Across the road from the Royal Palace, you can’t fail to notice the 13m-high statue of King Carol I on horseback, erected as recently as 2010, though not without controversy. The original statue, by renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan MeŠtrovíc, was melted down by the communists in 1948 following the abolition of the monarchy (conveniently, the bronze was reused to make a statue of Lenin), though this current edition is widely regarded as far inferior to MeŠtrovíc’s, in part because the authorities failed to reach agreement with the MeŠtrovíc family over the use of the sculptor’s original sketches. Behind the statue is the University Library , totally gutted in December 1989 – with the loss of some half a million books – but now rebuilt and housing offices. Piaţa Enescu sits just to the north of Piaţa Revoluţiei, and is notable for a couple of historically and culturally important buildings.

Ateneul Român

Laying fair claim to being Bucharest’s finest building, the Ateneul Român (Romanian Atheneum) is a magnificent Neoclassical structure built in 1888 by French architect Albert Galleron. It’s fronted by six elegant columns, behind which, in the peristyle, are five circular mosaics, each one depicting a Romanian ruler, including King Carol I. Funded almost entirely by Bucharest’s citizens, after the original patrons ran out of money, this is one of the few remaining circular auditoriums in Europe, the magnificent interior featuring a rampantly fin-de-siècle dome decorated with lyres. If at all possible, you should try and catch a concert by the resident George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, named after Romania’s beloved national composer. Piaţa Enescu, the tidy little park in front, features a statue of Enescu, who first performed at the Atheneum in 1898.

Palatul Regal and Muzeul Naţional de Artă

The most imposing of the buildings surrounding the Piaţa Revoluţiei is the former Palatul Regal (Royal Palace), which occupies most of the western side of the square. When the original single-storey dwelling burnt down in 1927, the king, Carol II, decided to replace it with something far more impressive. The surrounding dwellings were razed in order to build a new palace, with discreet side entrances to facilitate visits by Carol’s mistress, Magda Lupescu, and the shady financiers who formed the couple’s clique. However, the resultant sprawling brownstone edifice has no real claim to elegance and the palace was spurned as a residence by Romania’s postwar rulers, Ceauşescu preferring a villa in the northern suburbs pending the completion of his own palace in the Centru Civic.

Since 1950, the palace has housed the Muzeul Naţional de Artă (National Art Museum) in the Kretzulescu (south) wing. During the fighting in December 1989, this building was among the most seriously damaged of the city’s cultural institutions, and over a thousand pieces of work were destroyed or damaged by gunfire and vandals. After a massive reconstruction project, during which time many of the items were repaired, the museum reopened and now holds a marvellous collection of European and Romanian art. Before entering, take a look at the photographs hung along the rails, which graphically illustrate the damage sustained by the palace during both the 1927 fire and the revolution.

Gallery of Romanian Medieval Art

Comprising works from every region of the country, the museum’s exhaustive Gallery of Romanian Medieval Art is quite spectacular, and the one section to see if pushed for time. Highlights of the first few halls include a fresco of The Last Supper – a mid fourteenth-century composition retrieved from St Nicholas’s Church in Curtea de Argeş – and a carved oak door from 1453 with shallow figurative reliefs from the chapel of Snagov monastery (which no longer exists). The Monastery Church in Curtea de Argeş is represented by some remarkably well-preserved icons and fresco fragments, while there are also some quite beautiful Epitaphios, liturgical veils embroidered on silk or velvet which were usually used for religious processions. Among the most memorable pieces is a sumptuous gilded Kivotos (a vessel used for holding gifts) in the shape of an Orthodox church, which was presented to Horezu monastery by Constantin Brâncoveanu, and some exquisite miniature wood-carved processional crosses from Moldavia, chiefly remarkable for the astonishing detail contained within – typically, scenes from the life of Christ. The standout items from the latter halls are the church door and iconostasis retrieved from Cotroceni Palace, fresco fragments from Enei Church, and a wood-carved iconostasis by Brâncoveanu from Arnota monastery. Trumping both of these, however, is a 6m-high, nineteenth-century carved walnut iconostasis taken from the Prince Şerban Church in Bucharest, albeit without the icons. The workmanship is extraordinary, featuring, in the finest detail, angels and cherubs, double-headed eagles and warriors on horseback.

Gallery of Romanian Modern Art

Up on the second floor, the Gallery of Romanian Modern Art features the best of the country’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century painters, not least Romania’s greatest artist, Nicolae Grigorescu. Look out for his brilliant character paintings, The Turk, Jew with a Goose, Gypsy Girl from Ghergani and the dramatic The Spy . There are no less sizeable contributions from Aman and Andreescu, both of whom were heavily influenced by the Barbizon School. Pallady, meanwhile, is represented by a clutch of typically suggestive nudes.

There’s a terrific assemblage of sculpture, too, by the likes of Storck ( Mystery ) and Paciurea, whose grisly God of War is just one of several Chimeras. Most visitors, though, come to see the work of Constantin Brâncuşi, Romania’s one truly world-renowned artist. Using various media, Brâncuşi displayed his versatility in a sublime body of work, including the beautiful white marble head of a sleeping woman ( Sleep ), a bronze, weeping nude ( The Prayer ) and the limestone-carved Wisdom of the Earth .

European Art Gallery

Though not nearly as exciting as the Romanian galleries, the European Art Gallery (entrance A1) nevertheless contains an impressive array of work spanning the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries. Divided by schools, it has particularly fine paintings from Italian and Spanish artists, including Tintoretto’s The Annunciation and Cano’s beautifully mournful Christ at the Column . Among the line-up of predominantly lesser-known artists is a sprinkling of superstar names, including El Greco (three paintings, the pick of which is a colourful Adoration of the Shepherds ), Rubens ( Portrait of a Lady ), Monet ( Camille and Boats at Honfleur ) and a painting apiece by Renoir ( Landscape with House ) and Sisley ( The Church at Moret in Winter ). Look out, too, for Pieter Bruegel’s spectacularly detailed and gruesome Massacre of the Innocents . The most prominent piece of sculpture is MeŠtrovíc’s superb bronze bust of King Carol I. No less impressive is the decorative art section, which contains one of the museum’s oldest items, the Reichsadlerhumpen Goblet from Bavaria, dating from 1596.

Piaţa Universităţii is the focus of city life and traffic, and was one of the key sites of the 1989 revolution, as evinced by the numerous memorials (note the ten stone crosses in the road island) to those killed at Christmas 1989 and in June 1990. The latter marks the date on which miners, under Iliescu’s orders, drove out students who had been on hunger strike since April 30, causing the square to be nicknamed Piaţa Tiananmen. The most poignant of the memorials is the black cross and wall plaque at B-dul Bălcescu 18, some 200m north of the InterContinental hotel – this marks the spot where the first victim, Mihai Gătlan, aged 19, fell at 5.30pm on December 21.

The northern end of Calea Victoriei culminates in Piaţa Victoriei , a vast circular space around which drivers maniacally jockey for position. The buildings surrounding the square are your archetypal Socialist monstrosities, not least the main government building, the hulking Palaţul Victoria , completed in 1944 but even then already showing a chilly Stalinist influence in its design. The main reason you’re likely to wind up here is for the clutch of fine museums nearby.

Muzeul Ţăranului Romăn

Housed in an imposing, neo-Brâncovenesc redbrick building, the Muzeul Ţăranului Romăn (Museum of the Romanian Peasant) ranks a very close second to the Village Museum as the top museum in the city. On show is a wonderful display of traditional peasant artefacts from all regions of Romania, including colourfully woven linen and textiles, carvings, ceramics and a fabulous hoard of icons painted on wood and glass. Nothing, though, beats the exquisite collection of two thousand miniature clay toys , many shaped into zoomorphic forms, such as cuckoos, horses and lions, as well as bird- and dog-shaped pipes. Of the several impressively reconstructed buildings dotted around the museum, the most eye-catching is an eighteenth-century windmill from Haţeg county, an enormous contraption that took three years to piece back together. Similarly, a thick-set peasant dwelling from Gorj county, comprising three rooms, a loft for storage and a superb porch/balcony, took around a year to reconstruct. There is also an incomplete timber church from Hunedoara, around which lie some of its furnishings – altar doors, a holy table, church bells and so on. A wooden church, typical of those found in Maramureş, stands on a neat patch of grass at the rear of the museum. One of the best places in the city for souvenirs, the museum shop sells a beautiful assortment of rugs, costumes and other folksy objects, while, to the rear, there’s a pleasant café. Look out, too, for the monthly craft fairs held in the courtyard.

The entire premises were actually occupied by the Museum of Communist Party History until 1990, and there are still remnants from this time in the small basement , which contains a curious collection of paintings and busts of former communist leaders. Notably, there’s nothing pertaining to Ceauşescu – most images of the dictator were destroyed following his execution.

SNAGOV , a sprawling village 40km north of Bucharest, is the most popular weekend destination for Bucharestians. Its beautiful 19km-long lake has watersports facilities and a reserve for water plants, such as Indian waterlily, arrowhead and oriental beech. In the centre of the lake is an island occupied by a monastery built in 1519. King Mihai and later Ceauşescu and other high functionaries had their weekend villas around the shore, and the lake was also the scene of the summit which saw Yugoslavia’s expulsion from the Warsaw Pact in 1948. Bălcescu and other revolutionaries of 1848 were held in the monastery’s prison, as was the Hungarian leader Imre Nagy following the Soviet invasion of 1956.

Systematization was Ceauşescu’s policy to do away with up to half of the country’s villages and move the rural population into larger centres. The concept was first developed by Nikita Khrushchev in the Soviet Union in 1951, to combat the movement of younger people to the towns by amalgamating villages to raise the standard of rural life. In 1967 Ceauşescu reorganized Romania’s local government system and announced a scheme to get rid of up to 6300 villages and replace them with 120 new towns and 558 agro-industrial centres.

Ceauşescu thought that by herding people together into apartment buildings so that “the community fully dominates and controls the individual”, systematization would produce Romania’s “new socialist man”. However, the project was forgotten while Ceauşescu was preoccupied by other projects such as the Danube–Black Sea Canal and Bucharest’s Centru Civic, but he relaunched it in March 1988, when he was becoming obsessed with increasing exports and paying off the national debt.

The model development was to be the Ilfov Agricultural Sector , immediately north of Bucharest, where the first evictions and demolitions took place in August 1988. Only two or three days’ notice was given before shops were closed down and bus services stopped, forcing the people into the designated villages. En route to Snagov, you’ll pass through the area most notoriously affected by the systematization programme. Baloteşti , just north of Henri Coandă airport, consists of stark modern apartment buildings, housing people displaced from villages such as Dimieni, which lay just east of the airport. Vlădiceasca and Cioflinceni, just off the DN1 on the road to Snagov, were bulldozed and the inhabitants resettled in Ghermăneşti, on the western outskirts of Snagov. In other villages across the nation, ugly concrete Civic Centre buildings began to appear in the centres of the planned New Towns.

There was widespread condemnation of this scheme that was set to uproot half of the rural populace; in August 1988, the Cluj academic Doina Cornea , one of the country’s few open dissidents, wrote an open letter (published in the West) in protest, pointing out that the villages, with their unbroken folk culture, are the spiritual centre of Romanian life, and that to demolish them would be to “strike at the very soul of the people”. She was soon placed under house arrest, but the campaign abroad gathered pace. Approximately eighteen villages had suffered major demolitions by the end of 1989, when the scheme was at once cancelled by the FSN, the new ruling party following the revolution.

Romania’s revolution was the most dramatic of the popular revolts that convulsed Eastern Europe in 1989. On the morning of December 21, 1989, a staged demonstration – organized to show support for the Ceauşescu regime following days of rioting against it in Timişoara – backfired spectacularly. Eight minutes into Ceauşescu’s speech from the balcony of the Central Committee building, part of the eighty-thousand-strong crowd began chanting “Ti-mi-şoa-ra”; the leader’s shock and fear were televised across Romania before transmissions ceased. From that moment, it was clear that the end of the Ceauşescu regime was inevitable. Though the square was cleared by nightfall, larger crowds poured back the next day, emboldened by news that the army was siding with the people in Timişoara and Bucharest. Strangely, the Ceauşescus remained inside the Central Committee building until noon, when they scrambled aboard a helicopter on the roof, beginning a flight that would end with their execution in a barracks in Târgovişte, on Christmas Day.

The revolution was tainted by the suspicion of having been stage-managed by the National Salvation Front (FSN) that took power in the name of the people. The FSN consisted of veteran communists, one of whom later let slip to a journalist that plans to oust the Ceauşescus had been laid months before. Among the oddities of the “official” version of events were Iliescu’s speech on the Piaţa Revoluţiei at a time when “terrorist” snipers were causing mayhem in the square, and the battle for the Interior Ministry, during which both sides supposedly ceased firing after a mysterious phone call. Given the hundreds of genuine “martyrs of the revolution”, the idea that it had been simply a ploy by Party bureaucrats to oust the Ceauşescus was shocking and potentially damaging to the new regime – so the secret police were ordered to mount an investigation, which duly concluded that while manipulation had occurred, the Russians, Americans and Hungarians were to blame.

Generally speaking, Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta – Bucharest’s main east–west axis heading west from Piaţa Universităţii – merits little attention, but there are a handful of sights worth exploring the further along you go, not least the tranquil Cişmigiu Gardens and, beyond here, the stately Cotroceni Palace .

Gradina Cişmigiu

Midway along Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta, the lovely Gradina Cişmigiu (Cişmigiu Gardens) were laid out as a park on land bequeathed to the city in 1845. Originally belonging to a Turkish water inspector, the gardens now fittingly contain a serpentine lake upon which small rowing boats and pedalos glide, rented by couples seeking solitude among the swans and weeping willows. Otherwise, the gardens simply provide a tranquil space, with workers snoozing beneath the trees at lunch times and pensioners meeting for games of chess. At the park’s northern end, a Roman garden contains busts of some of Romania’s literary greats while, for kids, there’s an attractive little playground next to the lake.

Palatul Cotroceni

The Palatul Cotroceni (Cotroceni Palace) was built as a monastery by Şerban Cantacuzino between 1679 and 1682 and served as a base for the Austrian army in 1737, the Russian army in 1806 and Tudor Vladimirescu’s rebels in 1821. Damaged by numerous fires and earthquakes over the course of its history, the original building was demolished in 1863 and the palace rebuilt from 1893 to 1895 to provide a home for the newly wed Prince Ferdinand and Princess Marie – it remained a residence for the royal family until 1939. Under communism, it served as the Palace of the Pioneers – the “Pioneers” being the Soviet-bloc equivalent of the Boy Scouts. A new south wing was added during restoration following the 1977 earthquake and this is now used for presidential functions. In 1984, Ceauşescu had the church demolished, apparently because it spoilt the view; this has since been replaced by a replica, completed in 2009. The church’s original bell tower, from 1679, still stands.

Tours pass first through the remains of the monastery, where the Cantacuzino family gravestones are kept, then through the new rooms from the 1893–95 rebuild, decorated throughout by French architect, Paul Gottereau. The style is eclectic, to say the least, taking in a variety of Western styles, though there’s a notably strong German influence, inevitable given Ferdinand’s stock. The most eye-catching rooms are the Flowers Room, a beautifully light and airy space with richly stuccoed walls and ceilings, and Ferdinand’s small, French-style library furnished in maple and sycamore wood.

Top image: Bucharest © Shutterstock

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Itineraries , Romania

Ultimate weekend in bucharest itinerary for first-timers (+ tips).

Bucharest is one of the most underrated cities in Eastern Europe.

This is a guide to how to spend a weekend in Bucharest – including the ultimate 2 days in Bucharest itinerary for first-timers!

If youʻre booking your trip to Bucharest  last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

Top Experiences and Tours in Bucharest:

  • Bucharest: 3-Hour Walking Tour (best day tour option!)
  • Peles Castle, Dracula Castle, and Brasov Full Day Tour (Popular tour!)
  • From Bucharest: Full-Day Trip to Bulgaria
  • Bucharest: Pub Crawl in the Old Town
  • Parliament Palace Skip-the-line Ticket

Top Hotels in Bucharest:

  • The Marmorosch Bucharest (Lux)
  • Residence DP Pipera  (Mid)
  • Hello Hotels Gara de Nord (Budget)

This itinerary for Bucharest includes things to do, travel tips, what to eat, and more! Let us know what we missed in the comments (and please leave a travel tip for Romania’s capital city if you have one)! Thanks!

How to spend a weekend in Bucharest, Romania

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Should You Spend a Weekend in Bucharest?

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If you are looking for a laid-back city break, a place where you can skip the crowds, or even if you are on the hunt for authentic delicious food, Bucharest is the place for you!

Bucharest is also a fantastic mix of nightlife, culture, and history and there is truly something for everyone!

Factor in the city’s tumultuous history and many years of dictatorship and you will learn a lot about the perseverance of the city when there. 

Romanian Atheneum

If this is your first time traveling to Romania , here is some useful information that might come in handy. 

The local currency is the Romanian Leu, or the RON. You can exchange money at the local banks or at exchange offices, but you can also withdraw cash from any ATM around town. 

Most restaurants and terraces do accept credit cards, but you will find it harder to pay in small, local shops with an American Express.

Keep in mind that you will need to carry around some cash for tips, but also for paying for public transportation or other smaller expenses.

Bucharest Old Town

Tipping is customary in Romanian restaurants, and the expected amount is around 10% of the bill. It is almost impossible to pay the tip by card, so make sure to always carry some cash for that!

Public safety is among the highest in Europe, but you should keep an eye on your belongings, especially when traveling by public transportation.  

Getting from the Airport to the City Center

Upon landing at Otopeni Airport, the first thing you must do is get from the Bucharest Airport to the city center! Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do so.

Taxi: There is a line of taxis outside the main arrivals gate and you can take the first in line. 

Public transportation: There is a bus that links the city center to the airport and it leaves from the ground floor at the arrivals gate. You can buy a ticket from the bus stop. 

Train: There is a new train line linking the airport to the central train station. You must exit the airport and the train stop can be easily reached by foot. 

Getting around Bucharest

Getting around town is cheap and easy by public transportation, Uber, or taking a local taxi. 

Bucharest Metro

Most of the attractions on this Bucharest itinerary are located close to each other, thus it will be easy to get around on foot, by metro, or by bus. 

The best place to stay in Bucharest is close to the city center or in the northern part of the Romanian capital city.

By choosing one of these two locations, you will be close to most of the attractions in Bucharest, have access to the most top-rated hotels, and all the comforts (and good restaurants!) are easily accessible.

Go for the popular and internationally well-known brands such as Sheraton , Marriott , or Athenee Palace Hilton .

Or go local and choose a luxury boutique hotel with a unique vibe such as the Suter Palace Heritage Boutique Hotel or Epoque Hotel – Relais & Chateaux . 

Hotel Cismigiu is a place packed with history that has been refurbished in recent years. It sets you right next to one of the most beautiful parks in Bucharest and within walking distance from the Old Town and city center. 

Another great option is the Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest set in the heart of the Old Town. 

When looking for budget accommodation, you cannot go wrong if you choose to stay in an apartment or a hostel. Piata Unirii Cozy Inn is centrally located, close to the main pubs area, but also public transportation. 

Weekend in Bucharest itinerary-4

Romania has four seasons, with a very hot summer and cold winter, thus the best time to visit would be during spring and autumn.

That’s when the city transforms, and also when the temperatures will be best for walking around.  

If you prefer visiting during summer, I strongly suggest exploring other parts of Romania, such as Transylvania, the Danube Delta , or the Carpathian mountains. It is the perfect opportunity for a Romania road trip !

Wake up early and start your day with a guided tour of the People’s House (Casa Poporului) , housing today’s Romania’s Parliament, and also some other important museums.

The National Museum of Contemporary Art , and the Museum of the Palace are both worth a visit. 

One of the largest buildings in the world, and one of the most famous buildings in Romania, this huge structure has been an obsession for the notorious former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. 

Casa Poporului

Many people died constructing the mammoth of a building and it has a dark history, but it is an essential place to visit on a trip to Bucharest and it is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.

Once the tour is over, make your way to the old town and visit the Stavropoleos Monastery .

With authentic Brancovenesc style architecture, this monastery is tucked away in between newer buildings housing pubs, clubs, and restaurants. 

Throughout the years, the establishment has undergone various changes, and has transformed from a nunnery to a normal Orthodox church. Even if you are not a believer, stepping inside the quiet interior garden of this church will be a memorable experience.

Only steps away, Hanul lui Manuc (Manuc’s Inn) is the oldest operating hotel building in today’s Romania.

Today, the building is the location of a popular restaurant that has preserved authentic Bucharest architecture with beautiful arches and corridors. 

Hanul lui Manuc - douglasmack - Shutterstock.com

For lunch, choose one of the traditional restaurants located in close vicinity. Some fantastic options are La Mama, City Grill, and Paine si Vin. All serve traditional Romanian fare and are very tasty!

After lunch, stop by and visit the National History Museum , where you will see Romanian artifacts and the national treasury. 

Walk down Calea Victoriei and admire the old architecture while making your way towards the National Museum of Art hosted in the Royal Palace of Bucharest .

Across the street, you will see the Romanian Athenaeum , and right behind it, you can stroll through Cismigiu Park and end your day with a dinner at Cismigiu Bistro .

The bistro is located inside the Cismigiu Hotel, dating from 1912, and is beautifully built on the corner of the main street. 

Cismigiu Bistro

You shouldn’t end your day without making a stop for a drink in the Old Town – the main party area in Bucharest.

Once a run-down part of the city with abandoned properties and houses, the center of the city has become a party hotspot in recent years and has made Bucharest a sought-after party destination in Europe!

On your second day in Bucharest, you will be spending your time exploring one of the most beautiful areas in town: Primaverii and Dorobanti.  

Start your day off with a tour at the House of Ceausescu , but make sure to book in advance. The museum offers exclusively guided tours which are starting at certain times throughout the day.

Ceausescu Palace - Kevin Tietz - Shutterstock.com

See the extravagant living conditions of Romania’s dictator, in a time and age when the majority of the population was struggling to live from one day to the other. 

Once the tour is over, have a coffee and brunch at Frudisiac , one of the best coffee places in town with Scandinavia architecture and a small outside garden.

You simply cannot go wrong with any choice from their menu, but you will have to be lucky to find a free table!


Get lost on the neighboring streets, walk to the Arch of Triumph , step inside Herastrau Park and visit the National Village Museum .

You’ll find an area with many different traditional homes with different architectural styles from all over Romania, including churches and traditional installations used throughout the years in the countryside. 

The museum also organizes various cultural events and hosts some temporary exhibitions that will take you back in time and show you how locals were leaving in this part of the world.

The National Village Museum is a fantastic way to learn more about Romania as a country while not leaving Bucharest!

You can finish off the day with a dinner at one of the restaurants set on the lakefront in the northern area of town: Casa di David, Biutiful By The Lake, or Isoletta Restaurant. 

Arch of Triumph

If you like meat and Eastern Europe cuisine, you will be satisfied in Bucharest! Most Romanian cuisine has strong influences from Greece, Turkey, and even Hungary. 

Some of the dishes worth trying during your weekend in Bucharest should are as follows:

  • sarmale (minced meat in pickled cabbage leaves)
  • mici (something you might have tried as cevap or cevapi in other Eastern European countries) that is served with bread or fries and mustard
  • eggplant salad
  • zacusca (a vegetable salad prepared during autumn)
  • papanasi (the most delicious dessert you will ever try!)


If you love coffee, there are a few amazing coffee shops in town that you shouldn’t miss! Here are some of our top picks!

  • Orygyns Specialty Coffee

Flat white at Origo Coffee

Many of the coffee shops are located in a central part of the city so you should definitely add them to your Bucharest itinerary!

Aside from seeing the city on your own, you can always opt for a guided tour to learn more about Bucharest’s history and cultural background. Here are some of the top-rated Bucharest tours:

  • Communist Tour including Ceausescu Residence  
  • Bucharest 2.5 hours private walking tour with a local (likely to sell out)
  • Alternative tour of Bucharest (street art + social expression)

Weekend in Bucharest itinerary-2

Carturesti Carusel is said to be one of the most beautiful book shops in Europe and is definitely worth a stop even if you’re not into books.

The white columns and spiral stairs make it one of the most Instagrammable places in town, but this is where you will find also a café tucked away on the last floor, and many souvenirs to bring back home. 

Arthur Verona Street is the go-to place for mural lovers and for photography passionate people alike.

Located close to Piata Romana , one of the main hubs in town, this is where you can participate in the “Femei pe Matasari” (women on Matasari street) festival every summer.

Pasajul Victoria (Victoria Crossing) is also known for its colorful umbrellas and the Pizza Colosseum . 

Weekend in Bucharest itinerary-6

If you have more time in Bucharest, I suggest going on a day trip and getting to see the real Romania, outside of its capital city. 

Take the bus or taxi and head to Mogosoaia for a breath of fresh air, a stroll through its beautiful rose garden, some delicious Romanian dessert, and of course, the Mogosoaia Palace .

Dating back to the 1700s, built by Constantin Brancoveanu itself on the banks of Snagov Lake, the location is packed with history and is one of the most photogenic destinations only 10 kilometers outside of Bucharest. 

Mogosoaia Palace

The Carpathian Mountains are roughly 2 hours outside of town, and the train will take you to Sinaia in no time.

Visit Peles Castle , one of Romania’s 2 famous castles along with Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle), take the cable car or hike all the way 2000 meters high, and enjoy the savory, local food. 

We hope that you have found the perfect way to spend your weekend in Bucharest (and even extend beyond 2 days in Bucharest to see even more)!

Did we miss anything on this Bucharest itinerary? Let us know your travel tips in the comments! Thanks!

Ingrid is a travel blogger and book lover on the constant search of places and experiences that bring joy to life.

She is originally from Romania, currently living the expat life in Seoul, South Korea, after spending 2 years in Hong Kong. You can follow her stories on IngridZenMoments , Instagram , or Pinterest . 

Looking to travel to Romania and spend a weekend in Bucharest? This 2 days in Bucharest itinerary tells you things to do, where to stay, and much more! | Itinerary for Bucharest | Two days in Bucharest | Bucharest 2 days itinerary | Bucharest for a weekend | Romania weekend trip | Bucharest stag do | Bucharest hen do | Things to do in Bucharest | Bucharest sightseeing | Bucharest things to do

Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.

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  • Travel Tips

Top Things You Must Know Before Traveling To Bucharest, Romania

Published: July 16, 2020

Modified: December 27, 2023

by David Jefferson

  • Plan Your Trip
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Famous building of Parliament house in Bucharest, the bigest landmark of Romania near the new fountains of Bucharest capital.

Nicknamed ‘The Little Paris,’ Bucharest is home to some of the world’s heaviest buildings, stunning contemporary art, astonishing castles, and plenty of historical sites. This gem of a city in Eastern Europe has a lot to offer travelers who are hungry for a taste of cultural diversity and ready for an eye-opening adventure. While there is always good and not so appealing side of a city, here are some of the things you should be aware of.

The Official Currency is The Romanian Lei

Different banknotes and coins of Romania money

©Photo by Adobe Stock

Despite being part of the European Nation, Bucharest does not use Euros as their currency. Instead, you need to exchange your money for some Romanian Lei (RON). These bills come in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, and 500 notes, which are plastic and not paper. 

Take note, though, that most prices in Romania are calculated and displayed in Euros, but you can only pay in RON. Confusing? You’ll get the hang of it! Some shops also offer an in-house exchange rate, but you should double-check the current exchange rates before doing so.

For your convenience, you can always pay using your credit card almost anywhere in Romania’s big cities. Save your cash for the remote areas, just in case they don’t have a credit card option. Try wearing a money belt to make paying and storing money safe and hassle-free. 

Traveling to Bucharest is Affordable

The intricate facade of Grand Hotel Continental in Bucharest, Romania

Photo by Ștefan Jurcă from Flickr

Most budget travelers tend to cross out European countries on their travel list due to budget constraints. But little do you know that traveling to Bucharest is surprisingly affordable. As compared to many other countries in Europe, the living expenses here are less worrisome. In fact, a week’s travel budget in Bucharest is well comparable to more or less a week of your travel budget to some of the most upscale ASEAN cities like Tokyo or Singapore. 

Food and drinks are affordable, which will let you make the most out of your budget. Regular meals are only about $6, while meals for two in a mid-range restaurant are about $30. When it comes to accommodations, the prices for a night stay in a hostel or Airbnb is as low $25 and can go as high as $250 depending on your preference. Even the attractions and entertainment in Bucharest are much more affordable than its neighboring country! Most of the attractions in Bucharest cost around at most $10 for a single entry ticket. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy further discounts and score some good deals for most bookings you do online.

Bucharest is Actually One of The Safest City to Travel

Gorgeous sunset in the old town of Bucharest, Romania

Photo by Giuseppe Milo from Flickr

In general, Bucharest is a safe place to visit, even for solo and female travelers. Compared to other major cities in Europe, the crime rate is lower in Bucharest. Travelers who’ve been to Romania agree that the locals are friendly, hospitable, and very accommodating too. Even though English may not be their first language, most of the locals willing to make an effort to help you get adjusted in their city comfortably.

As safe as the country would be, we suggest travelers stay within the city center at night. Most of the areas in this city is well-guarded and the local police do patrol the alleyways to give you peace of mind. Though this city is safe, it’s still smart to keep an eye on your valuables.

Transportation is also safe in Bucharest, though there are some complaints about harassment or theft when riding trains or taxis. Even payment transactions are very much reliable on this side of Eastern Europe. You don’t have to worry so much about fraud or vendors tricking you.

Make Uber Your Best Friend

Taxis and cars line outside the Tehnoimport Building in Bucharest, Romania

Photo by Francisco Anzola from Flickr

While it’s generally safe to ride taxis, buses, and trams around Bucharest, Uber is the better option. This is especially helpful for first-time visitors in the city. Booking Uber will make going around cheap, efficient, and convenient. Just like in other major cities in Europe, taxi drivers in Bucharest tend to overcharge. 

Aside from that, most Uber drivers can be your go-to source for any information you need in the city. It is said that Uber service in Bucharest is excellent, which is very helpful to tourists. With many things to do in Bucharest , efficient transportation will allow you to make the most of the experience. 

The Romanian Food is Mainly Meat-Based

Sarmale, Romania's national dish, is ground meat wrapped in cabbage

Photo by Nicubunu from Wikimedia Commons

Coming to Bucharest is definitely a must for food lovers. The richness of traditional cuisine in this city is worth exploring and coming back for!

Romanian cuisine may not be fancy, but the mix of flavors and spices is enough to make them interesting. What makes their food delectable is how it’s a mix of dishes from neighboring countries such as Hungary, Germany, and Turkish. These dishes are then given a Bucharest twist with the added local herbs and spices. Bucharest servings are also big. Even starters are served in large portions, so choose your order wisely when you’re dining alone.

Food in Bucharest is also mainly meat. This means most of the dishes here can be a little heavy. Famous Bucharest dishes mostly include grilled mixed meat, stews, and goulash. However, there are also wide choices of delicious soups and salads. For vegetarian dishes, head to Satya, Rwdia, Super Falafel, Antropotea, or RawCoco. These are some of the best spots to get your salad, soup, and juice smoothie fix.

If you want to try the most popular, get you a hot plate of Sarmale, Romania’s national dish. Sarmale is ground meat wrapped in cabbage. You can find the best Sarmale in Bucharest at Casa Doina , Lacrimi și Sfinți , Hanu lui Manuc , Zexe Zahanaua Gastronomică Restaurant , or Caru’ cu Bere .

Mamaliga is another staple dish in Bucharest. This traditional Romanian porridge goes with almost everything and can be found in pretty much every restaurant.

Some Of The Best Restaurants In Bucharest

Mahala : Labeled as one of Bucharest’s best restaurants, Mahala is worth stopping by for a meal. Aside from delicious meals, the interior is traditionally Romanian, but with a modern twist. 

Lente & Cafea : In addition to a very welcoming atmosphere, Lente & Cafea offers a fantastic fusion of chicken and fish. At night, the cafe hosts jazz gigs and events for your pleasure.

Caru’ cu Bere : This restaurant is among the classics. It is also one of the most photographed spots in town, thanks to its stunning interior — a combination of wood, gilt elements, and vaulted ceilings. The menu here offers an array of beer selection and traditional Romanian dishes.  

Vacamuuu : This restaurant has got to be the ultimate place for meat lovers. Vacamuuu is the most famous steakhouse in Bucharest because it offers a wide variety of mouth-watering steaks. Aside from that, this restaurant also has a marketplace where you can buy fresh produce and meats. 

It’s Home to Fairy Tale Castles

Bran Castle in Transylvania, popularly known as “Dracula's Castle"

Photo by rafaelutza from Pixabay

Behind the mountains of Romania hides some of the most stunning castles in Europe . These impressive buildings reflect the myth, legend, history, and culture in Romania. Aside from that, castles are among the prominent national monuments in Bucharest. With more than 250 castles around the country, you don’t have to go far to see one. 

Interestingly enough, Bucharest is also home to many fortified churches. These structures are so gorgeous that they look more like castles than churches. 

Among the most impressive castles in Bucharest include Bran Castle, more popularly known as Dracula’s Castle. There’s also Peles Castle with its beautiful neo-Renaissance features. Nestled in the city outskirts is another beautiful castle, Cantacuzino Castle. Meanwhile, for some medieval beauty, Neamt Citadel is a fortress with stunning views. Don’t forget to bring your selfie stick to help you take the best-enchanted photos! 

It Offers Lush Spaces, Parks, And Gardens

Bucharest Sunset, Unirii Square

Photo by Adobe Stock

After all the walking and exploring, it’s nice to relax in a place where there’s fresh air. Luckily, Bucharest is home to many beautiful parks. This is also a welcome contrast to the heavy traffic that the city usually experiences. Whether you want to take a stroll or enjoy a picnic, Bucharest offers plenty of lush spaces. 

Make sure to visit Gradina Cişmigiu. It is the oldest garden in the city, and it is also one of the most romantic spots. Other notable gardens are Bucharest Botanical Garden, Grădina Eden, Parcul Circului, and Parcul Herăstrău. These green spaces are excellent additions to your itinerary while in Bucharest.

It’s Best to Stay in The Old Town

Bucharest Old Town during a sunny day

Most of the frequent visitors to Bucharest highly recommend staying in the Old Town. This area is perfect for those who want to truly appreciate the Bucharest life. It is very quiet, relaxing, and free from the stress of city life. Aside from that, Old Town Bucharest is also packed with many interesting things to do and see. With old streets littered with bars, restaurants, affordable hotels, old churches, and impressive museums, Old Town makes for a perfect tourist destination. 

Aside from that, Old Town is also close to the major attractions in Bucharest. Staying in this part of the city will surely make going to tourist sites a lot easier.

Learn A Little About Bucharest History 

The Palace of the Parliament in Romania, the world's largest civilian building and most expensive administrative building

Photo by Dennis Jarvis from Flickr

Visiting a foreign city allows you to learn more about its culture. Relating to a country’s history is definitely easier if you do a little research. Romania was once a communist country until it freed itself in 1989. This part of their history is a big influence on the city and its people. 

Before setting foot in Bucharest, spend some time researching Bucharest history to relate more to the city’s main attractions. A little packed knowledge will also help you better understand the historical and cultural sites in Bucharest.

You Need A Pair Good Walking Shoes

Tourists flocking a street in Bucharest, Romania

Photo by Mario Sánchez Prada from Flickr

It’s a given that you need walking shoes when visiting a new country or city. However, exploring Bucharest requires comfortable shoes designed for walking because most of its streets are cobbled and rough. Some of the roads also have uneven holes. Walking in Bucharest without the proper footwear will hurt your feet quicker than when you’re walking in other European countries. Make sure to bring the best walking shoes to explore the impressive buildings and architecture in Bucharest fully.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Bucharest? 

If you like it cold, January is the coldest month in Bucharest. On average, the temperature during this month is at -2°C. It’s not the friendliest month for visiting. Winter months are from December to February, and it sometimes extends up to March. Wintertime isn’t always predictable, though. Sometimes you will experience mild winters with not a lot of snow. Other times, however, winter in Bucharest can be very cruel.

The hottest months in Bucharest are July and August . This may not be a pleasant time to visit as well, because even the nights are hot during these months. Take note that Bucharest experiences some of the hottest temperatures in Romania. The average warm temperature ranges from 30 °C to 35 °C or more. 

Meanwhile, April, May, and June are the best months to visit Bucharest. The temperature during these months is ideal for a stroll around the historic city.

What Are The Best Places To See In Bucharest?

Palace of the Parliament , which is the world’s heaviest and its second-largest administrative building, after the Pentagon

Stavropoleos Monastery , which is a Christian Orthodox nunnery famed for its choir

Museum of Collections , which showcases some of the finest art and decorative objects collections of Romania

Village Museum , which boasts a large collection of houses, windmills, and churches from all over the country 

Revolution Square , which is a must-visit spot to learn about Bucharest history 

Romanian Atheneum , which a famous concert hall and one of the major landmarks of Bucharest

Where to Stay in Bucharest?

the exterior facade of Concorde Old Bucharest Hotel lit up at night

©Photo from official Concorde Old Bucharest Hotel website

Many accommodations cater to tourists in various districts of Bucharest. We recommend staying in the following hotels in their respective areas:

In Old Town 

Concorde Old Bucharest Hotel , a neoclassical-inspired hotel with river or city views

The Mansion Boutique Hotel , a stylish accommodation located in a renovated historic building

Mil Pasos Penthouse Hostel , a hostel with clean facilities, good location, and excellent service

In Primaverii Neighborhood

Pensiunea Helvetia , a great place with comfortable and clean rooms in a good location 

In Tineretului Area

Casa Fiori , a hotel that features a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, and a shared lounge

Arbans Elegant Apartment, a spotlessly clean apartment with modern amenities

Other Interesting Things To Learn Before Visiting Bucharest

Romanians love to dress up: If you enjoy dressing up, then you’ve chosen the perfect destination! Romanians are well dressed. They enjoy decking themselves out in fine clothes and accessories. Pack a nice outfit when visiting Bucharest so you can blend in. If you’re planning to go to the theater or the opera, wear a suit or a dress. Dress up for dinners as well. 

Tipping is a norm: While it’s not obligatory, tipping in Bucharest is expected. Servers in Romania take their jobs seriously, and they know that tips are part of their income. A standard tip in Bucharest restaurants is 5-10% for table service. 

Don’t drink tap water: In other countries or cities, it is completely safe to drink straight from the tap. However, this isn’t the case in Bucharest or other parts of Romania. While it won’t kill you, and some still do drink from the tap, foreigners are recommended to buy bottled water. The main reason is that most of the old buildings and apartments have rusty and old water pipes which may contaminate drinking water. 

It has fast internet. Romania is one of the countries with the fastest and cheapest internet connection in the world. Wi-Fi is also available in most public spots, and cellular connectivity is very good all over the city. 

It is home to some of the most beautiful bookstores. Cărturești Carusel is perhaps the most beautiful and famous among the many in Bucharest. Boasting six levels, Cărturești Carusel has a bistro on the top floor, while the basement houses a multimedia space. Other must-visit bookstores include Humanitas Cișmigiu, Seneca AntiCafe, Kyralina, and Antic ExLibris.

Bucharest has a large transit network. In fact, it has the fourth-largest transit network in Europe! 

Time To Take A Trip To The Little Paris Of The East!

Mostly known for its elegant architecture, Bucharest, Romania has a lot more to offer. With its cuisine, churches, castles, and parks, a day may not be enough to enjoy Bucharest. Hopefully, this list will help you get to know this Romanian city more. These tips and recommendations should also help you prepare and plan well for your trip. While there’s so much more to know about Bucharest, some are best to be discovered once you get finally there. 


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  • Travel tips

Best Things to Do in Bucharest Alone: 1, 2 and 3-day Bucharest itinerary

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If you are wondering what to do in Bucharest Romania and if it is a safe city for solo travellers, then you have come to the right place. The capital city of Romania is the cultural, financial and industrial centre of the country. The city has a mix of culture and architectural style that earned its nickname, “Paris of the East.”

Initially, I wasn’t sure if Bucharest was a good destination for solo travellers. But after spending a few weeks in the capital city, I highly recommend this eclectic city to any independent travellers looking for something off the beaten path in Europe.

In this post, I will show you exactly all the best things to do in Bucharest with my detailed itineraries. Whether you are spending one, two or three days in Bucharest, you can follow each of my Bucharest itinerary and see all the most unique things in and around the capital city of Romania.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this website. For more information, please read the disclosure for more info.

Solo trip to Bucharest: what you need to know

Before you start your Bucharest itinerary, take a look at some of these travel tips that you may find useful:

  • Romanian leu  (plural: lei) is the currency of Romania.  RON  is the three-letter code for the Romanian currency. 
  • Bucharest is safe for solo female travellers . I walked around both day and night and didn’t feel unsafe. Romanians are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
  • Many locals speak and understand English . Even the menus have English translations and photographs.
  • The International Wine Festival of Romania (various times) – celebrates premium Romanian wine.
  • Bucharest International Light Festival (various times) – lights and video projections on landmarks around Calea Victoriei between 7 and 11 pm.
  • The Bucharest Christmas Market (December 1-30) – lots of shows, Santa’s Cottage, and traditional food.

How to travel to Bucharest Romania

Travellers will arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP) , 19km from Bucharest Old Town.

There are several ways to travel from the airport to the city centre. Take express bus 783 to Piata Unirii in Old Town (runs every 40 minutes and costs 3 lei) or take the Henri Coanda Express train (6.8 lei) to Bucharest North Railway Station.

Bucharest North Railway Station is the main train station in the city. It connects Bucharest to many other cities in Romania, like Brasov , Sighisoara , Sibiu , Constanta and more.

Also, there is an underground metro station at the railway station. It might be the best option for travelling to the city centre or wherever your accommodation is.

How to get around Bucharest on your own

Walking is the best way to see Bucharest as the city is very pedestrian-friendly. I planned the entire 1-day Bucharest itinerary around attractions you can comfortably walk to.

Public Transportation

Societatea de Transport București is the public transportation system in Bucharest. It includes the subway, trams, and buses.

For day 2 of the Bucharest itinerary , I suggest getting a 24-hour pass to visit all the Bucharest attractions. It costs 8 lei for all surface transport (i.e. buses and trams). Purchase a ticket from the STB kiosks next to a major bus or tram stop. Make sure to validate your ticket when you board the bus or tram.

You might also need to hop on a subway to Bucharest North Railway Station to catch a train to other destinations around Romania. A subway ticket costs 3 lei and is valid for 90 minutes . Purchase a ticket from a machine or the customer service desk.

How many days in Bucharest as a first time traveller

If you are wondering how many days you should spend in Bucharest, then you’ll have to see my summary below. You can technically see all the best highlights in one day, but I suggest staying an extra day or two to see more of Bucharest and the surrounding area.

If you are only in Bucharest for one day, follow the 1 Day in Bucharest itinerary.

And if you are in the capital city for two days, follow the itinerary for the first two days.

And finally, if you spend three days in Bucharest, follow all three itineraries.

Here is a quick summary:

1 Day in Bucharest

  • Visit the Palace of the Parliament
  • Join a Bucharest free walking tour
  • Wander and lunch in Bucharest Old Town
  • Walk along Calea Victoriei and around Piata Romana
  • Try traditional Romanian cuisine at Caru’cu Bere
  • Watch a synchronized water show at Bucharest Fountain
  • Enjoy Bucharest night life

2 Days in Bucharest

  • Visit a Flea Market: Bazarul cu Amintiri – Targul Valea Cascadelor or Vitan Flea Market
  • Try mici and gogosi at Obor Market
  • Roam around Parcul Herăstrău aka King Mihai I Park
  • Visit one or more museums in Bucharest
  • Have a Romanian feast at Hanu’ lui Manuc Restaurant

3 Days in Bucharest

Day trip to transylvania: peles castle, bran castle and brasov, top things to do in bucharest by yourself: 1, 2 and 3-day bucharest itinerary.

There are many interesting things to do in Bucharest Romania, but they are spread throughout different parts of the city.

Below are the three Bucharest itineraries for one, two and three days in the capital city.

One Day in Bucharest: what to see in Bucharest

If you only have one day in Bucharest, follow the itinerary for 1 Day in Bucharest to see all the best places to visit in the capital city.

1. Visit Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of the Parliament)

Anyone who goes to Bucharest will want to see Palatul Parlamentului (Palace of the Parliament) because the physical characteristics of the building are quite impressive.

Ordered the Nicolae Ceausescu, the late dictator during the communist era, the Parliament building was built between 1984 to 1997 in a mix of Socialist realism, modernism and Neoclassical style .

The building is over 365,000 sqm and has a volume of 2,550,000 cubic meters. Moreover, it is the heaviest building in the world! It weighs about 4,098,500 kilograms. After all, it is the second largest administrative building in the world (after the US Pentagon).

As for the interior, there are several chambers for the Parliament of Romania, three museums and a conference centre. But about 70% of the building is actually empty.

It might be neat to see the inside of this huge building. And you can tour inside the Parliament building if you are interested. But the only available time is at 3 pm.

So maybe take a few photographs in front of the Parliament building. Also, you can check out the manicured lawns and fountains on Bulevardul Unirii directly in front of the Parliament building.

Palace of the Parliament

Address : Strada Izvor 2-4, București

2. Join a Bucharest free walking tour

If this is your first time visiting Bucharest, I highly recommend joining a free walking tour around the Old Town . This is an excellent introduction to the city where an experienced local guide can show you around. And he also has a ton of interesting stories.

There are free walking tours every day at 10:30 am . It takes about 2.5 hours to visit these attractions in Bucharest’s Old Town:

  • Palatul Voievodal Curtea Veche (Curtea Veche Palace) – Vlad III Dracula’s palace, but only ruins are left.
  • Mănăstirea Stavropoleos (Stavropoleos Church) – an Eastern Orthodox church in Brancovenesc style from the early 18th century.
  • Calea Victoriei (Victoria Street) – major avenue in Bucharest.
  • Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse (Macca-Vilacrosse Passage) – a passage covered with yellow glass with a Paris vibe.
  • Strada Lipscani (Lipscani Street) – a street in Old Town Bucharest.
  • Biserica Sfântul Nicolae fostă Rusă (St. Nicholas Church) – Russian Orthodox church with seven ornate onion domes.
  • Hanul lui Manuc (Manuc’s Inn) – oldest functioning hotel in Bucharest.

Book a free walking tour a day (or a few days) before to ensure a spot on the informative tour.

Even though the tour is free, tips are very much appreciated so the tour company can continue running these free tours for tourists.

Bucharest free walking tour

3. Wander and lunch in Bucharest Old Town

Bucharest Old Town is one of the best areas to wander around. The cobbled stone streets are full of cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, churches, Neoclassical buildings, and so much more.

Besides all the places you already visited during the free walking tour, don’t miss these attractions:

  • Cărturești Carusel – the flagship bookstore in a 19th-century building and has a super Instagrammable interior
  • Pasajul Victoriei (Victoria Passage) – the umbrella street in Old Town.
  • Strada Hanul cu Tei – interesting alley with art studios and boutique shops.
  • Muzeul Micul Paris (Little Paris Museum) – go back in time and see Bucharest’s golden age.

And it might be a good time and spot for a quick lunch. Here are some suggestions for places to eat in Old Town Bucharest:

  • Taverna Covaci – traditional Romanian restaurant in the middle of Old Town.
  • Bodega La Mahala  – a quaint restaurant at the end of the narrow alley.
  • Lacrimi și Sfinți  – cute restaurant with funny names for each dish.
  • Scovergaria Micai  – try savoury or sweet scovergă and crepes in this local cafe.

Macca-Vilacrosse Passage

4. Walk along Calea Victoriei and around Piata Romana

Next, walk up Calea Victoriei , a major avenue in Bucharest. The long road has a few attractions and will lead you to Piata Romana , a pedestrian-friendly area with a great vibe.

Here are some things to look for:

Calea Victoriei

  • Ateneul Român (Romanian Athenaeum) – Neoclassical concert hall hosting the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Piața Revoluției – Monument of Rebirth and the monument of Iuliu Maniu .
  • Kretzulescu Church – Eastern Orthodox Church.
  • Romanian National Museum of Art – across from the Equestrian Statue of Carol I .
  • Cafes and bars on Calea Victoriei between Strada George Enescu and Strada Biserica Amzei .

Piața Română

  • Cărturești Verona – electric bookstore (same chain as Cărturești Carusel).
  • Graffiti Urban – many street murals on Strada Pictor Arthur Verona between Strada Pitar Mos and Strada Dionisie Lupu .
  • Cafes and restaurants on Strada Piata Amzei and Strada Nicolae Golescu .

Kretzulescu Church

5. Try traditional Romanian cuisine at Caru’cu Bere

For your first day in Bucharest, you must have traditional Romanian food at Bucharest’s oldest brewery, Caru’cu Bere .

Set in a Neo-Gothic building, the famous restaurant has been around for over 130 years and is the symbol of the Old Town.

Sit outside in the alfresco dining area, where you people-watch. Or sit inside and maybe even catch a performance. It would be especially nice if you could get a table on the second-floor balcony overlooking the entire restaurant.

I enjoyed the Moldavian stew , but there is plenty of traditional Romanian food on the menu. But definitely order their draught beer (the restaurant means “beer cart”).

Caru' cu bere

Address : Strada Stavropoleos 5, București |  Hours : 9:00 am to 12:00 am

6. Watch a synchronized water show at Bucharest Fountain

If you are in Bucharest between June and October, you might want to catch a water show on the weekend at the Fontänen von Bukarest (Bucharest Fountain) .

The large fountains at Parcul Unirii have 44 independent fountains spanning over 1.4km , which made the Guinness world record for the longest choreographed fountain system in the world . And it is the first smart fountain in Europe.

During the 45-minute performance , the multimedia fountain show with synchronized water jets, lights, and music will wow all your senses. Plus, it has 3D projects on the water as well.

This is the perfect place to wrap up day 1 in Bucharest. I’m bummed that I missed a spectacular show. But seeing the fountain during the day ain’t bad either.

Bucharest Fountain

Address : Piața Unirii, București |  Hours : Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9:30 pm in June & July; 9:00 pm in August; 8:00 pm in September to the beginning of October

7. Enjoy Bucharest night life

If you think Bucharest Old Town is awesome during the day, you’ll have to go back at night and see how the small cobblestone streets come alive.

Many people visit the city just to indulge in a bit of partying because Bucharest nightlife scene is some of the best in Europe. Many bars and clubs open late and some even stays open until the sun comes up.

As a solo traveller, I’m not a big fan for staying out late. But I enjoyed walking around Bucharest Old Town at night even just to soak up a bit of excitement. It is safe to walk around even on your own.

Bucharest Old Town at night

2 Days in Bucharest: other unique things to see in Bucharest

If you are spending two days in Bucharest, follow the itinerary for the 1 day in Bucharest.

Then on the second day, see other unique things to do in Bucharest as outlined below. I highly recommend getting a 24-hour pass (8 lei) for all the surface transportation during your second day in Bucharest .

1. Visit a Flea Market: Bazarul cu Amintiri – Targul Valea Cascadelor or Vitan Flea Market

For day two in Bucharest, start bright and early and visit one of the two flea markets in Bucharest. You can only visit one of them as they are located at opposite ends of the city.

Bazarul cu Amintiri – Târgul Valea Cascadelor

Bazarul cu Amintiri – Targul Valea Cascadelor is a big flea market on the west end of Bucharest. The outdoor market has over 5,000 sqm and over 500 sellers selling all kinds of stuff.

Many vendors sell vintage items like furniture and home decor . There are also secondhand clothing, jewellery and other fun retro trinkets .

Another part of the market has many old electronics and all kinds of stuff you can find in a hardware store . I even saw people rolling around a few car tires.

A handful of stalls sell food and drinks if shopping and bargaining for a good price make you hungry.

Târgul Vitan-Barzesti (Vitan Flea Market)

At the southeast corner of the city, you will find Bucharest’s largest market, called Târgul Vitan-Barzesti (Vitan Flea Market) .

Over 5,000 sellers set up their stations every Sunday and sell stuff like vintage objects, antiques, Romanian souvenirs , and more. Plus, I’m pretty sure there are some genuine objects from the socialist era that you can find here.

Vintage and retro home decor

Bazarul cu Amintiri – Targul Valea Cascadelor Address : Bd. Timișoara 111, București |  Hours : 5:30 am to 1:30 pm Thursday; 6:00 am to 2:00 pm Saturday and Sunday | Admission: 3 lei

Vitan Flea Market Address : Splaiul Unirii 450, București |  Hours : 8:30 am to 6:00 pm Sunday | Admission: 3.5 lei

2. Try mici and gogosi at Piata Obor (Obor Market)

Next, visit Piata Obor (Obor Market) . The market has been around for more than 300 years, making it the oldest (and biggest) market in Bucharest! Locals come here frequently to shop because of the food’s freshness and the excellent prices.

The market consists of a three-storey indoor and outdoor area with many vendors under tents or around the major corridors.

The indoor market has vendors selling fresh produce on the ground floor, meat and other produce on the second and homeware on the third. And the outdoor area has vendors selling houseware and even cooked food.

Speaking of cooked food, you have to try gogosi (fried sweet pastry) at one of the food stalls. There are plain ones or ones stuffed with chocolate or cheese.

Moreover, you have to try the famous mici (Romanian grilled sausages) at Teresa Obor . The queue can be long, but it is totally worth the wait. Order as many mici as you like, along with bread and ask for lots of mustard.

Gogosi at Obor Market

Address : Strada Ziduri Moși 4, București |  Hours : 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday; 7:00 am to 6:00 pm Saturday; 7:00 am to 4:00 pm Sunday

3. Roam around Parcul Herăstrău aka King Mihai I Park

Located at the north end of the city, Parcul Herăstrău or also known as King Mihai I Park is the largest and most popular park in Bucharest. There are over 187 hectares of green space around Lake Herastrau where you can find dozens of walking and cycling paths and many activities.

You can easily spend a whole day in Herastrau Park but since you are on a tight 2-day Bucharest itinerary, check out some of these highlights in the park:

  • Arcul de Triumf (Arch of Triumph) – the 27m tall monument commemorating Romania’s participation in WWI. It was remodelled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
  • Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum or Muzeul Satului (Village Museum) – a cultural museum with over 360 monuments and objects that depict the traditional life of the citizens of Romania.
  • The Japanese Garden – see cherry blossoms in full bloom during springtime
  • Have lunch at one of the restaurants around Herastrau Lake, like Taverna Racilor Herăstrău , an excellent seafood restaurant or have a picnic on Insula Trandafirilor

Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum

Address : Şoseaua Pavel D. Kiseleff 32, București  |  Hours : 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

4. Visit one or more museums in Bucharest

Even if you spend all 3 days in Bucharest, you still wouldn’t be able to see all the museums in the city. There are over 60 museums in Bucharest! It’s so crazy!

This means you will have to pick and choose the ones you want to see. I’m only listing the unique and interesting museums you can’t find anywhere else. So depending on your timing, you may be able to see one or two of these:

  • Primaverii Palace (House of Ceauşescu) – see the inside of the 80-room private residence of the late dictator during the communist era, Nicolae Ceausescu.
  • Muzeul de Artă Recentă (MARe) – a private art museum displaying the most representative Romanian artworks from the 1960s to the present.
  • Muzeul Național de Artă (Romanian National Museum of Art) – besides European and Oriental art, the museum also has a large collection of Romanian medieval and modern art.
  • Muzeul National de Istorie a României ( National Museum of Romanian History) – over 60 exhibition rooms displaying items such as Romanian historical artifacts.

House of Ceauşescu

5. Have a Romanian feast at Hanu’ lui Manuc Restaurant

Hanul lui Manuc (Manuc’s Inn) is the oldest operating hotel in Bucharest. It was built in 1808 as a caravanserai (an inn with a courtyard for merchants to exchange goods and for travellers to interact).

Throughout the years, the inn went through many restorations, but the basic structure of the inn remains relatively the same.

Today, the three-storey inn has several stores, a coffee house, several bars and an excellent restaurant serving the best Romanian food in Bucharest .

So to finish your second day in Bucharest, enjoy a delicious dinner at Hanu’lui Manuc Restaurant . Try the Romanian platter if you are super hungry or the sarmale (cabbage roll).

And depending on the timing, you might even catch the live music and do a bit of dancing.

Restaurant Hanu' lui Manuc

Address : Str. Franceză 62-64, București |  Hours : 10:00 am to 12:00 am

3 Days in Bucharest: what to see outside of Bucharest

If you spend 3 days in Bucharest, follow the itineraries for the first two days.

Then on the third day, take a day trip to see Transylvania. On the day tour, you’ll see Peles Castle, Bran Castle and Brasov .

There is a perfectly organized day trip for solo travellers to tour around Transylvania , see Peles Castle and Bran Castle, and get a glimpse of Brasov. During the tour, you can see the following:

  • Peles Castle – stop in a small town called Sinaia first, then visit the Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains.
  • Bran Castle – see the famous Dracula’s Castle in Bran and learn more about the story of Vlad the Impaler, which inspired Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula.
  • Brasov – roam around the Old Town in the medieval town with a guided tour.

The organized tour includes transportation from Bucharest and a tour guide but doesn’t include any castle admissions. But the cost and organization of the transport are worth spending.

It is possible to do a day trip independently, but you’ll have to sort out all the transportation details. Even though I enjoy independent day trips, I highly recommend this tour if you want to take a day trip to Transylvania .

Brasov Romania

Where to stay in Bucharest Romania as a solo traveller

If you are in Bucharest for only a few days, you’ll want to stay somewhere central so you can walk everywhere. Stay either in the Old Town, along Calea Victoriei or Piata Romana (just north of Old Town).

Here are some of my favourite places to stay in Bucharest:

  • Check prices & reviews: Airbnb
  • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

Apartment on Calea Victoriei

Staying longer? Here are some more Bucharest tours and experiences:

Bucharest itinerary: which one are you going to follow.

Before my trip to Romania, I didn’t know much about Bucharest and wasn’t sure if it was a good destination for solo travel. But after spending a few weeks in Bucharest, I really enjoyed many parts of Bucharest and found the city safe for solo travellers.

So I hope you will take a solo journey to Bucharest too. The city has so much to offer, and the food is exceptional. You can also venture out and explore other cities like Brasov , Sighisoara and Sibiu (some of my favourite small towns in Transylvania).

And if you have any other questions, leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading my Bucharest itinerary

You might also like these other posts:

Romania travel posts:

  • Romania 10-day itinerary for first-time travellers
  • 25 Best Bucharest food: What and where to eat in Bucharest
  • Best things to do in Brasov in one day
  • Things to do in Sighisoara Romania: 1-day itinerary
  • One day in Sibiu: top things to do
  • How to spend one day in Constanta Romania

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trip to bucharest romania

queenie mak

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

Further Reading...

The Black Church from The Council Square

Romania Itinerary: 10 Days Visiting Romania for the First Time

Things to do in Sighisoara Romania: The Clock Tower in Sighişoara

10 Things to Do in Sighisoara Romania and 1-Day Itinerary

Things to do in Brasov Romania: White Tower

Best Things to Do in Brasov Romania Alone: One Day in Brasov

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Hi, great article!

In what season did you visit Romania? I’m thinking of going in July – is this a good time to go?

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Hi Phil, Thanks so much! I was in Romania in July and August and it was super hot! At least that was the weather last year so be prepared for sweltering heat. But summer is the best time to visit especially when the Black Sea Coast is thriving. Enjoy your time in Romania!

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Lise Hartwick

Just finishing up 4 days in Bucharest, and your blog was very helpful. Thank you!!

Hi Lise, thanks so much for your feedback – it is always nice to know. Hope you had a great time in Bucharest – must be nice this time of the year (I went when it was very hot during the summer). Happy travels!

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Budapest Food Guide: Where and What to Eat in Budapest Hungary

Noosa day trip from brisbane: how to find fairy pools in noosa national park, ms travel solo.

trip to bucharest romania

Travels with Erica

A Solo Traveller's Guide to the World

Is Bucharest Worth Visiting Alone? (An Honest Opinion)

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on my affiliate link and purchase something (at no additional cost to you!), I may earn a small commission that helps me keep the blog running. Thank you so much for your support!

Romania is quickly becoming a more popular tourist destination, but Bucharest is rarely on any list of must-visit cities in Romania. That might lead you to wonder is Bucharest worth visiting?

And is Bucharest worth visiting alone?

I’ve visited Bucharest alone, and I’m going to share my first-hand thoughts on whether Bucharest is worth visiting.

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is more difficult and nuanced than it normally is. We’ll compare the pros and cons of visiting Bucharest, so you’ll be able to decide if Bucharest is the right destination for you.

Is Bucharest safe for solo female travellers?

Table of Contents

Reasons Visiting Bucharest Alone is Worth it

There are a few things that make Bucharest stand out from the rest of Romania. I spent three weeks travelling around Romania, and Bucharest felt different than every other city I visited.

Of course, I didn’t visit every city in Romania, but I got a good sense of what the country was like and what is typical of a Romanian city outside the capital.

But is Bucharest worth visiting just because it has some unique aspects? Let’s find out.

It’s the Government Headquarters

It shouldn’t be surprising that the government operates out of Bucharest. This means there are tons of government buildings all around the main part of the city.

While that alone isn’t that interesting, there are a few things you can only do in Bucharest, and they relate to the government headquarters.

The first is the Palace of Parliament.

It’s the most famous building in Bucharest and maybe the entirety of Romania. You truly have to see it to believe it.

The Palace of Parliament is probably the biggest tourist attraction in Bucharest and is the main draw for tourists.

That and the National History Museum of Romanian History. Although after visiting that museum, I don’t think it is worth going to Bucharest just to see. But if you do visit Bucharest alone, you should definitely check it out.

Bucharest, Romania

You Want a Big City Vibe

Bucharest is the biggest city in Romania by a long shot. One of the reasons the answer to the question is Bucharest worth visiting might by yes is if you’re looking for the big city experience in Romania.

You’re not really going to find it anywhere else in the country.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t bigger cities in Romania, but none really have a big city feel to them. They’re very walkable, and you don’t really need to rely on public transportation or have big buildings like in Bucharest.

So, if you want to experience big city life in Romania, Bucharest may be the perfect city for you.

The Food is Incredbile.

I’ll admit this point isn’t exclusive to Bucharest, but I had to throw it in here.

The food in Romania is outstanding .

Romanian isn’t the typical cuisine you think of when you think of delicious European cuisines, but it should be. I was blown away by everything I ate in Romania.

Do what you will with that information but do know you’ll be having a lot of good meals while in Romania. And for a really fair price.

Tips for eating alone

You’re Planning a Bigger Trip Through Romania

If you’re planning to spend a decent amount of time in Romania, then I definitely think the answer to the question is Bucharest worth visiting alone is yes.

No trip across the country is complete without a stop in the capital city.

It also has the largest airport, which makes it the most convenient way to enter the country if you’re not taking the bus or train from a nearby country.

It’s convenience is one of the main reasons a lot of people visit Bucharest.

Bucharest is a great jumping off point where you can easily arrive in the country without a bunch of layovers, and you can easily get to other cities in Romania from Bucharest.

There are other airports in Romania, of course, but getting to them will likely require a layover in Bucharest.

So you may as well check out the city if you have the time.

Reasons Visiting Bucharest Alone Isn’t Worth it

Now it’s time to get into why the answer to the question is Bucharest worth visiting alone may by no.

It all comes down to personal preference, what you want to see, and how long you have in Romania.

Bucharest Lacks Personality

If you visit Romania, you’ll quickly find out that it has a lot of personality. Most major tourist cities are small but have quirk and charm.

That’s not the case for Bucharest.

It is basically a big, Soviet-style city that doesn’t have much, if any, charm or personality.

That doesn’t mean Bucharest isn’t worth visiting, but it is worth noting. You won’t leave Bucharest thinking it is a beautiful city or rave to your friends about what a good vibe it has.

It’s a big capital city, and it doesn’t really have much to make it stand out outside the main two or three tourist attractions.

Bucharest, Romania

There Isn’t a Ton to Do

Speaking of tourist attractions, there isn’t that much to do in Bucharest.

It’s main draws are the Palace of Parliament, the National Museum of Romanian History, and the Old Town.

There are also some cute, up and coming neighbourhoods that are developing that are giving the city more personality. They aren’t really much of a tourist draw at this point.

In my opinion, you can see the highlights of Bucharest in two days and then move on to another Romanian city.

Nature is Lacking

It isn’t surprising that there isn’t a lot of nature in Bucharest outside a few parks. It is a major city, and most major cities don’t have tons and tons of green space.

However, Romania is partially known for it’s incredible scenery and nature, and it is a shame you don’t get a taste of that in Bucharest.

Bucharest, Romania

So, is Bucharest Worth Visiting Alone?

Okay. We’ve covered why you may or may not want to visiting Bucharest alone. Now I’m going to give you my honest opinion as someone who travelled a lot of Romania alone.

If you’re only planning to visit one or two cities in Romania, I don’t think Bucharest should be at the top of your list.

There are countless other cities that I think are vastly superior to Bucharest I think are more worth your time.

My personal favourite is Timișoara. I adore that city. Brașov is another city you should definitely visit.

If you’re spending a few weeks in Romania and visiting four or five cities, I definitely think Bucharest is worth visiting.

It has enough interesting things to do that I think you should spend a day or two in the city.

Plus it has the best airport, so that alone could be enough motivation to spend one day in Bucharest at the start of your trip and one day at the end of your trip.

Whether or not Bucharest is worth visiting really comes down to you and what you want to see.

I don’t think there is enough in Bucharest to make me suggest to you that you should just plan a trip to Bucharest and nowhere else in Romania. I think most other people who have been to Romania would agree.

To summarize:

Bucharest is a nice city to visit if you’re planning a larger trip to Romania but don’t plan a trip to Romania just to visit Bucharest.

PS- Don’t forget to download an esim on your phone, so you can access the internet everywhere in Bucharest with zero hassle!

Activities You May Want to Check Out in Bucharest

Craft Beer Tour (Meal Included!)

Communism and History Tour

Parliament Palace Skip-the-Line Tickets

Day Trip to Transylvania

Learn About Bucharest’s Dark History

Is Bucharest Worth Visiting Alone? (An Honest Opinion)

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10 Awesome Places to Visit on Day Trips from Bucharest

Romania is one of the most underrated countries in Europe that is literally packed with attractions. Beautiful towns and cities, breathtaking mountains, stunning castles, and palaces, or relaxing seaside – you will find it all there. The good thing is, you can visit some of the best places in Romania as day trips from Bucharest, the capital.

day trips from Bucharest

Most likely during your trip to Romania, you will visit Bucharest first as that’s the easiest way to get into the country. And even if you are thinking of visiting the capital only, be sure to set aside a few days in your Romania itinerary for Bucharest day trips. This way you will get to see more of what the country has to offer and learn about Romanian history and culture.

Or you can even hop quickly across the border and visit Bulgaria . There are so many options for day trips from Bucharest to choose from that everyone should find something for his or her taste.

Bucharest essentials

  • Airport transfer: Pre-book the airport transfer from Bucharest airport to your accommodation in Bucharest here .
  • Where to stay in Bucharest: Vilacrosse Boutique Inn (9.4/10) / Bucur Accommodation (9.0/10)
  • Best Bucharest tour: City Highlights Guided Walking Tour
  • Best day trip from Bucharest: Dracula Castle, Peles & Brasov Full-Day Trip
  • Get insured for your trip to Romania with SafetyWing

day trips from Bucharest

Together with fellow travel bloggers, we put together a list of the best Bucharest day trips for you to choose from, which you will find below.

Table of Contents

How to see places on day trips from Bucharest

Unfortunately, the public transport in Romania is a bit of a challenge (and you need to plan in advance for a smooth trip) plus some of these places are a bit remote so your best option for getting around to these places is either renting a car ( you can find the best deals here ) or go for a tour. Below the description of each place, you will find info on the best way to get there and recommended tours.

day trips from Bucharest

Best Bucharest day trips

And now, without any further ado, here are the best places you can visit on day trips from Bucharest. Below you will find the map with all of them, to give you a better overview of the region.

Brasov is, hands-down, one of the must-visit places in Romania. Even if it’s one of the largest cities in the country, its historical old town, dating back to the 12th century, is charming and still has the feel of the old times. In the Middle Ages Brasov was one of the main trade, religious and cultural centers in the region and still today you can admire the walled city and numerous attractions from that time.

The heart of Brasov Old Town is Council Square, surrounded by beautiful townhouses and with the impressive building of the former Council House right in the middle. From here it’s only a few steps away to the main attraction of Brasov and the symbol of the city – the Black Church, a real masterpiece of medieval engineering and architecture.

For the best view of Brasov Old Town head to Black or White Towers or take the cable car up to Tampa mountain. But the best thing to do in Brasov is simply wandering around the walled old town and beyond and fall for the vibrant atmosphere of the place.

Distance from Bucharest : 180km How to get there: train or tour. You can read more about getting from Bucharest to Brasov in my article here . Recommended tours from Bucharest:

  • From Bucharest: Dracula Castle, Peles & Brasov Full-Day Trip
  • Dracula Castle, Peles Castle and Brasov Small Group Tour from Bucharest
  • From Bucharest: Peles, Bran Castle & Old Town Brasov Tour

Read more about Brasov: 15 Best Things to Do in Brasov, Romania

day trips from bucharest

Located only a bit over an hour by train from the capital, Sinaia is yet another top attraction in Romania, well worth a day trip from Bucharest.

The main reason to visit Sinaia is to see the stunning Peles Castle that looks like a fairy tale (you might actually recognize it from numerous movies that were filmed here). The castle dates back to the end of the 19th century and is a peculiar mix of different architectural styles that somehow works perfectly fine together.

While the castle is impressive from the outside, its interior is simply mind-blowing. Each room you can visit is even more sumptuous than the previous ones and you will most likely walk around with your jaw dropped, taking in the whole splendor around you.

Near Peles Castle, you will find another castle that is open to visitors – Pelisor as well as a few other buildings that were designed in a peculiar yet beautiful style. On the way from the train station to Peles Castle be sure to stop in the city park and see the casino building as well as the 17th-century Sinaia Monastery.

Distance from Bucharest: 140km How to get there: train or tour Recommended tours from Bucharest: see in the section about Brasov

Read more about Sinaia: Visit Sinaia, Romania – home to the amazing Peles Castle

day trips from bucharest

Bran Castle

Contributed by Katerina from It’s All Trip To Me

Castles in Transylvania are among the main reasons to visit Romania. Bran Castle is one of the country’s most popular attractions and it can be easily done as a day trip from Bucharest. Although many people believe that Bran Castle is Dracula’s Castle, the truth is that the real Dracula never lived there. Bram Stoker was inspired by Bran Castle to write his classic novel Dracula and the rest was a result of people’s imagination.

Bran Castle was built in the 14th century to protect the region from the Ottomans. It is now a museum and one of Romania’s most-visited sites. It’s worth visiting Bran Castle to see its fairytale-like inner courtyard and step inside Queen Marie’s bedroom, as the castle was her favorite residence.

Bran Castle is less than three hours by car from Bucharest. However, for a more hassle-free and comfortable experience, the best way to visit Bran Castle is to join a guided tour from Bucharest.

Distance from Bucharest: 190km How to get there: tour Recommended tours from Bucharest: see the section about Brasov

day trips from bucharest

Contributed by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

Nestled in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, Rasnov is a small town with just over 15,000 inhabitants. The surrounding mountains offer such a tranquil and serene atmosphere, making it one of the best places to visit in Romania .

Its most famous attraction is the Rasnov Fortress, which stands 650 meters above the town. With a history dating back to 1225, it was originally built by Teutonic Knights as a refuge for Transylvanian villagers. The fortress is currently closed for reconstruction but visitors are allowed to walk around the grounds and admire its impressive architecture from the outside.

Meanwhile, the Old Saxon houses offer a sneak peek into ancient medieval life, with most of the buildings being 100 to 200 years old. It’s fascinating to delve into the history, but the views themselves are also enchanting.

The fastest way to get to Rasnov from Bucharest is to drive, which should take around 2.5 hours. A train might be cheaper and more convenient for some, although the trip would take longer at 3h 45m.

Distance from Bucharest: 175km How to get there: tour Recommended tour from Bucharest: Bran & Peles Castle with Rasnov Citadel Day Trip

day trips from bucharest

Seven Ladders Canyon

Contributed by Natali – from She’s abroad again

If you are looking for the best nature escapes from Bucharest, Seven Ladders Canyon is a spectacular hike in Piatra Mare massif, close to Brasov. Hiking up the canyon following the waterfalls on seven sets of metal ladders makes this hike unique in Romania.

It is an adventure day trip, so if you are scared of heights, you might feel uncomfortable on the ladders. But it is worth it! When you climb the last ladders, don’t return immediately, but continue the hike to the top of the mountain. Once you’re out of the woods, the view is incredible.

You can reach the Canyon by public transport, taking a train to Brasov and then a bus. However, the best way to visit for a day trip is by car. Simply put Canionul Șapte Scări in Google maps and drive there!

The hiking site is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. The hike is very popular with locals and tends to get busy on the weekends. You will pay a small entrance fee to access the trek, 10 lei for adults or 5 lei for children and students. Remember to bring cash since they don’t take cards!

Distance from Bucharest: 175km How to get there: car

day trips from bucharest

Poiana Brasov

Contributed by Rich from RJOnTour

Poiana Brasov is a fantastic place to visit for a day trip from Bucharest. The town is primarily a winter sports resort, however, it is also fantastic for hiking too. During the winter, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or the simple pleasure of playing with a sled. Other activities you could enjoy include quad bikes or using the shooting range.

One of the best things to do in Poiana Brasov is to ascend to the peak of Postavarul and see the views. You can take the quick route up on one of the cable cars from the town or enjoy a walk on one of the stunning mountain trails. There are many pleasant bars and restaurants in Poiana Brasov, including the delightful Yager Chalet near the top of the mountain.

You can get a train to Brasov from Bucharest and then hop onto the regular bus to the ski resorts. The journey takes just over 2.5 hours each way. Overall, the scenery and activity options in Poiana Brasov make it a fantastic option for a day trip.

Distance from Bucharest: 190km How to get there: bus or car

day trips from bucharest

Slanic Prahova Salt Mine

Another interesting Bucharest day trip option is the Slanic Prahova Salt Mine, located a bit over 100 km away from the capital. This is the largest salt mine in Europe, opened in 1686 and currently serving only tourism purposes.

There are 14 chambers inside the mine in a trapezoidal shape, with some halls being around 70 meters tall. Inside the Salt Mine, among other things, you will find a small history museum, a soccer field, and a children’s playground. The underground also serves as a spa thanks to its healing purposes.

Distance from Bucharest: 120km How to get there: tour Recommended tour from Bucharest: Bucharest: Salt Mine Day Trip

day trips from bucharest

Cantacuzino Castle

Contributed by Anda Bartos from Travel for a while

A visit to the Cantacuzino Castle in Busteni is an ideal day trip from Bucharest. It’s easier to reach than Bran Castle and less crowded than Peles Castle in Sinaia. However, if you’re driving or joining a tour, you can combine these castles in one day.

Cantacuzino Castle was built at the beginning of the 20th century for the wealthy Cantacuzino family. The castle stands in a park overlooking the majestic Bucegi Mountains. One of the main attractions of the castle is the view and the terrace where you can have a coffee and admire the mountains.

Inside, you can admire the original decorations and the wood-carved ceilings, but most of the furniture is missing.

Walk through the park around the castle and discover the chapel and the little surprises these gardens have to offer.

You can reach Cantacuzino Castle on a train from Bucharest to Busteni. From the station, it’s a 15 minutes walk uphill to the castle. Alternatively, if you’re driving, there is paid parking on the castle’s grounds.

Distance from Bucharest: 145km How to get there: train or tour Recommended tour from Bucharest: Wednesday The Adams Family tour Visit the places where was filmed

day trips from bucharest

Contributed by Jade from Traveling Transylvania

If you’re looking for a seaside escape during your trip to Romania, a day trip from Bucharest to Constanta is the perfect option. Taking approximately 2.5 hours by car, Constanta is easily doable as a day trip (or longer if you wish to explore some of Romania’s other seaside towns!).

Many people travel to Constanta to visit the stunning Constanta casino. Visiting this iconic site is among the top things to do in Romania . It’s a popular favorite among locals and tourists of all ilks, from professional photographers to history buffs, or people simply looking for a beautiful backdrop for an afternoon.

While in Constanta, don’t miss the Tomis Turistic Port, the tower at the Grand Mosque of Constanta, Ovidiu Square, and Plaja Mamaia.

The streets of Old Town Constanta are paved in gorgeous cobblestones, winding and weaving their way through the town’s antiquated buildings. There are a number of boutique shops and delicious eateries to enjoy. Given its prime location on the Black Sea coast, there is an abundance of fresh seafood to feast on.

Distance from Bucharest: 230km How to get there: train or tour Recommended tour from Bucharest: Constanta and Mamaia Day Trip

day trips from bucharest

When planning day trips from Bucharest you don’t need to limit yourself to destinations in Romania only. 75 km away from Bucharest, across the Danube river, you can visit Ruse in Bulgaria.

Even if the history of the place dates back to ancient times, the city is known especially for its architecture from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries (usually Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo) and is often called “the Little Vienna “. You will find many impressive buildings in the center and wandering around this part of the city is a real pleasure.

Fans of brutalist architecture will surely appreciate the building of the Municipality Hall – one of the greatest examples of brutalism in Bulgaria.

When visiting Ruse, you can also stop at the Orlova Chuka cave – the second-longest cave in Bulgaria.

Distance from Bucharest: 75km How to get there: tour Recommended tour from Bucharest: From Bucharest: Day-Trip to Ruse, Bulgaria

day trips from bucharest

Map of the best day trips from Bucharest

To give you a better overview of the best day trips from Bucharest, here is the map with all the places mentioned above.

Travel Resources

You can find the best accommodation options at Booking . They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Bucharest

Never travel without travel insurance , you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Romania here.

I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here .

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Home > 10 Unforgettable Day Trips From Bucharest, Romania

10 Unforgettable Day Trips From Bucharest, Romania

Post author Anca-Gabi Cucos

Written by our local expert Anca-Gabi Cucos

Romanian local, Anca-Gabi is a freelance writer who loves to travel and share her stories about Romania with the world.

Here are 11 of the best day trips from Bucharest. We have ideas from epic road trips to ancient sites, and spots for nature lovers.

Romania Travel Blog_Best Day Trips From Bucharest

Being Romania’s capital and main entrance gate to the country, Bucharest is often the main place visitors reach when visiting Romania . The city, which offers many exciting places to visit and things to do, is also a great place to stay when exploring nearby areas.

Of course, the best way to do so is by embarking on one of the many day trips from Bucharest available. Whether joining an organized tour or planning the trip yourself, these are some of the most exciting day trips from Bucharest that you can enjoy in Romania.

Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!

Getting Around In Romania

Balkan Flags_Romania 1

Public transport is a cheap and efficient way to discover the areas not too far from Bucharest . The bus can be a good and reasonably inexpensive way to move around the country and take short journeys from and to Bucharest . An alternative to buses are maxi taxis (or minibusses) which are comfortable and convenient but often have reduced space for luggage .

Train travel is an excellent alternative to buses. Train fares are very affordable and can be a great way to move around for budget travelers. Although the national railway service is not among the most reliable in Europe, some scenic train routes are worth the experience, for instance, in Transylvania .

Cost of public transport: Generally, prices in Romania are pretty on the lower side when it comes to public transportation.

If traveling in a large group, it is always wise to compare costs. Sometimes renting a car can be more convenient than paying for tickets for the whole family. On the other hand, a car will offer the opportunity to plan flexible itineraries with more independence, allowing you to handle your schedule as you, please.

Renting a car: The best fares for car rental are often found online; however, if you rent a car once in Bucharest, prices start from 30-40 euro per day. Depending on the size and model of the vehicle.

Remember that the longer the rental period is, the lower the fee will result. Main roads are in reasonably good condition, while secondary roads conditions can vary, be careful and avoid driving at night in unfamiliar areas.

Booking a tour: Those who are not interested in driving and do not want to use public transport can also join an organized tour to enjoy some of these trips. They offer great value for money, sometimes even combining more destinations in just one day trip from Bucharest.

They can often be booked online, and some even offer to pick up and drop off, so you won’t need to deal with the hassle of moving around. Booking a tour online enhances your chances of finding better fees and spots in the most popular excursions.

Let’s take a look at the best day trips from Bucharest.

1. Day Trip To The Danube Delta From Bucharest

Things To Do In Tulcea - Mila 23 village Danube Delta Romania aerial view

Although not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Romania , the Danube is also part of the Romanian landscape, the country home to the river’s impressive delta and wetland habitat.

One of the most popular ways to see the best of the delta area is to see it on a boat. The trip is perfect for those who love to explore natural landscapes, admire the flora and fauna of the region, and learn about wildlife diversity. A UNESCO World Heritage Site , this place finds refuge in endless varieties of birds and deer, wild horses, foxes, turtles, and wolves, among others.

The Danube Delta is located in Tulcea, about 4 hours from Bucharest. You can quickly get there with an organized tour from Bucharest that includes a boat ride in the Natural Reserve.

2. Day Trip To Sibiu

Best Hotels In , Sibiu, Romania - Roman Catholic Church and old town in Sibiu

Considered one of the most charming cities in Romania , Sibiu is a former European Cultural Capital and one of those places you cannot skip during your Romanian adventure. Although a trip to Sibiu can be long and tiring, and maybe for many, not close enough to be a contender for their Bucharest day trips , if you can deal with the travel time, the experience is worth the long travel hours.

This important city is located in Transylvania and offers enchanting places to visit , especially in the old town where it is possible to discover ancient Saxon palaces, impressive staircases, and the magnificent Bridge of Lies. One thing not to miss in Sibiu is the unique Lutheran Cathedral with its high tower, from where you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the town.

More things to do include a visit to the protected village of Sibiel and its museum of glass icons. Since a trip to Sibiu can take almost a whole day, bus travel is not recommended; we suggest you drive or — even better — book a private tour like this one that provides access to different buildings and experiences, including the ones in Sibiel.

Find Sibiu tour options here.

Brands we use and trust, 3. day trip to bran castle.

Bran Castle_Romania_Transylvania

It is impossible to visit Romania and not visit the best-known attraction in the country, Bran Castle . Since this castle resembles the castle described by Bram Stoker in his masterpiece, the castle is known everywhere as Dracula’s Castle.

This is why Bran Castle is one of the most popular day tours from Bucharest and among the most visited places in the country.

And even if you have a hard time believing that this was where Vlad the Impaler once dwelled, the castle is so beautiful and imposing that a visit should be included in your Romanian itinerary.

A trip from Bucharest to Bran Castle can last from 4 to a bit under 5 hours if you use public transport; therefore, we recommend driving or, again, choosing one of the several tours available; this way, you will also be able to discover other nearby attractions which you would otherwise miss if traveling on your own. You can read more by checking the official Bran Castle site here .

For instance, this tour includes stops in Peleș Castle , Brasov, and a skip-the-line entrance ticket. You can save a few euros and book this regular tour which visits the same places but has no skip-the-line alternative, but you will be picked up from your hotel.

Find Bran Castle tour options here.

4. day trip to brasov.

How to get from Brasov to Bucharest - Brasov, Romania with an old Christmas tree

Although this is a great day trip to combine with a tour to Bran Castle, visiting Brasov alone is one of the best day trips from Bucharest that you can imagine.

Brasov is one of the most interesting cities in Transylvania , featuring an eclectic urban landscape made of baroque buildings, medieval walls, and the imposing Gothic Black Church. This Brasov landmark is a 500-year-old church and the largest Gothic church in Transylvania, which took about a hundred years to be built, from 1380 to 1477.

Brasov is located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, and this is one of those trips we recommend taking the train. The ride is about 3 hours and transports you on a magical journey through the stunning landscape of Transylvania.

Find Brasov day trips here.

5. bucharest to rasnov citadel.

Castles in Romania - Romanian Castles - Rasnov Citadel, Located in Brasov County, Romania

Still did not have enough of Transylvania? Then check out this fantastic day trip that takes you from Bucharest to Rasnov. Once the modern city of Rasnov is left below, visitors are greeted by the imposing citadel of Rasnov, located on top of the hill and proudly dominating the landscape.

If you’ve already seen some of the most famous castles in Romania , this citadel will undoubtedly surprise you… and the first word that can come to your mind to describe it will probably be “different.”

Surrounded by fortified walls, you will find a picturesque small city that seems miles away from the surrounding landscape, both in style and atmosphere. The fortress was built in the so-called Fliehburg style and was part of a defensive system made of those Transylvanian villages that used to undergo foreign invasions.

A trip from Bucharest to Rasnov from Bucharest can take up to 5 hours if using public transport (either bus or train, the travel times are more or less the same). Check out a guided tour with other stops in the area like this one , including Bran Castle and even Brasov, which can be a better alternative.

6. Day Trip To Constanta

Day Trips From Bucharest - The abandoned casino in Constanta, Romania

If castles, gothic sites, and medieval citadels are not your thing, then choose a completely different getaway from the capital. A day trip to the coast of the Black Sea can be the right alternative for you.

Constanta is the oldest town attested on the Romanian territory. During a visit to this coastal town , there are a few sites that you should check out to understand the different aspects of the local idiosyncrasy.

Start by heading to the History and Archaeology Museum to glimpse the Greek and Roman past of the area; here, it is also possible to check out the complex of Roman mosaics. In the Old Town, you can see the important Orthodox Cathedral and the Great Mosque of Constanta (also known as Carol I Mosque).

For a more modern site, approach the waterfront of Constanta and discover the once glamorous city Casino, a perfect example of Art Nouveau that remains old and abandoned but nothing short of impressive and mysterious.

The best way to reach Constanta is either by train (about 2 hours) or bus (a bit more than 3 hours). If you prefer the comfort of a hotel pick up and drop off, as well as professional explanations by a licensed tour guide, check out this conveniently organized visit from Bucharest.

7. Bucharest To Piatra Craiului National Park

If you are more into nature than monuments, old towns, and sculptures, don’t miss a visit to Piatra Craiului National Park to look at the fantastic nature of Romania .

The perfect destination to go hiking, this is a great outdoor alternative to understand how diverse and unique the Romanian geography is, featuring woods, high mountains, deep gorges, and crystal clear glacial lakes.

If visiting with the family, there are hiking alternatives for children, including horse riding. For adrenaline junkies instead, rock climbing is also a possibility (only recommended in summertime).

The park is located around 4 hours from Bucharest , about 170 kilometers from the capital. The most comfortable way to visit is by car (or taxi), although there are also very convenient multi-day trip tours like this one . They are organized and allow you to see other areas as well.

8. Day Trip To Slanic Prahova Salt Mines

Day Trips From Bucharest - Slanic Prahova Salt Mines

How would you fancy traveling 208 meters underground to explore these unique salt mines surrounded by a healing atmosphere of pure air? I bet you’d love this day trip from Bucharest experience!

In the area, it is possible to check out the Salt Museum and this all-season spa resort known for its curative mineral waters and its spectacular Salt Mine, one of the biggest in Europe.

The breathtaking salt mine hall stands 70 meters high. An imposing circuit runs around the pillar that supports the mine. Inside the mine, you can discover a history museum, a soccer field, and a playground for kids. A guided tour like this one is ideal for checking the entire area.

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9. Bucharest To Transfagarasan Highway

Driving through the Balkans - Your Guide to Driving In The Balkans - Transfagarasan Pass

We have already discussed this popular Romanian attraction; however, it remains one of the most fascinating day trips from Bucharest that you can imagine. Only completely open to the public during summer, this fantastic engineering work is a unique scenic drive that goes through and over the Fagaras Mountains.

The most beautiful portion of the road starts near Lake Balea, where the road takes a serpentine shape down the valley. This trip is a joy for those who love to drive unique roads worldwide; the journey is about 3 hours or a bit more if you frequently stop for photography, which — trust us — you will! However, it is also possible to be driven along this highway.

10. Day Trip From Bucharest To Bulgaria

Best Castles In Bulgaria - Bulgaria Travel Blog - Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo

Wouldn’t it be great if you could visit two countries for the price of one? Well, on this day trip from Bucharest, you actually can; Bulgaria is not that far from Bucharest; therefore, you can take advantage of the many organized tours that take you across the border to discover the wonders of the neighboring country; these are a few of our favorite ones:

From Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo: This day trip lets you check one of the most picturesque Bulgarian towns, once the country’s medieval capital, and other nearby towns.

From Bucharest to Medieval Bulgaria, including the UNESCO Ivanovo Rock Churches: Another incredible private day trip to Bulgaria is this one ; it takes you to see the best of Bulgaria in one day. Tour the UNESCO Ivanovo Rock Churches , the twelfth-century Tsarevets Fortress, and the village of Arbanassi.

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Home » Travel Guides » Romania » 15 Best Day Trips from Bucharest

15 Best Day Trips from Bucharest

Romania’s capital and largest city is a lively and entertaining place to visit, with a vibrant culture that’s been on the rise ever since the country’s communist dictatorship fell from power.

There’s much to do and much to see in Bucharest, but once you have explored the streets and museums and hung out in the great cafes and restaurants, you may want to head further afield, and the city is perfectly situated to act as the gateway to the rest of Romania.

From Bucharest, you can easily head out into the countryside, escape the city in the beautiful Piatra Craiului Mountains which are home to some of Europe’s last surviving brown bears, while exploring the history of Transylvania, where legends of Dracula were born in the medieval era.

The warm climes of the Black Sea are never far away, while northern Bulgaria is just waiting to be explored.

Here are the best day trips from Bucharest.

1. Bran Castle

Bran Castle, Romania

Bran Castle is a spectacular, gothic masterpiece that rises from the hills in the heartland of Transylvania.

This is the stuff of legends, so much so that over the years its unique design and architecture have become undeniably associated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the towering turrets and haunting atmosphere have been said by many to be the inspiration for Dracula’s castle in the novel.

This is nothing but a legend, as there is no evidence for this, but it hasn’t stopped the locals from embellishing the idea to draw in more tourists.

Regardless of the truth, though, Bran Castle makes for a great day trip from Bucharest, as it’s surrounded by rolling green hills and is found in a dramatic location.

Take a tour of the castle to find out more about the myths and legends, and perhaps to uncover a semblance of truth amongst the mystery too.

Recommended tour : Dracula’s Castle Full-Day Tour from Bucharest

Brasov, Romania

Found close to Bran Castle, and around a two-hour drive from Bucharest, the city of Brasov is Transylvania at its finest.

It’s in a glorious setting, with the towering Carpathian Mountains surrounding the city, and spectacular countryside to be found everywhere.

Its location at the crossroads of European and Eastern trade routes has given the city its distinctive character over the centuries, and you can see influences here from as far afield as Germany and Turkey, and much further beyond too.

Explore the historic streets, churches and old fortifications, before taking a hike to the top of the nearby Tampa Mountain for an all-encompassing view of Brasov.

Available tour : Bucharest: 12-Hour Tour of Brasov and Dracula’s Castle

3. Piatra Craiului Mountains

Piatra Craiului Mountains

The beautiful Piatra Craiului Mountains form part of the larger Southern Carpathian Range and make for an excellent outdoor adventure from Bucharest.

The area is protected as a national park, and there are many wonderful walking trails of varying difficulties that meander through the foothills and along the ridges.

The area is home to some of Europe’s rare brown bears, and in the town of Zarnesti, you can even visit the Liberty Bear Sanctuary, an establishment that for two decades has been working tirelessly to help protect the bears and to rehabilitate those that are found injured.

You can visit the sanctuary to learn more about the bears and the work being done to save them.

4. Peles Castle

Peles Castle, Romania

Found to the north of Bucharest, Peles Castle is located in the beautiful surrounds of the Carpathians, and its slender and elegant renaissance style architecture is a treat for the eyes.

The castle dates back to the mid 19th century when Romanian Royalty decided that this spectacular, mountainous area was perfect for an estate and hunting lodge, where they could spend the summer in the countryside away from the city.

It’s more of a grand mansion than a castle as such, but that just makes it all the more graceful.

Recommended combo tour : Peles & Bran Small Group: 2 Transylvanian Castles in 1 Day

5. Rasnov Citadel

Rasnov Citadel

Rasnov Citadel is found close to Brasov and was constructed as the first line of protection for Transylvanians.

It occupies an incredibly dramatic location, overseeing a pass from its high position on a clifftop.

The citadel dates back to medieval times and has seen its share of warfare and invasions over the centuries.

Things are much more peaceful now of course, and it makes for an excellent day trip, if only for its photogenic qualities.

6. Slanic Salt Mine

Slanic Salt Mine

The Slanic Salt Mine makes for an unusual, underground excursion from Bucharest.

Found in the town of Slanic an hour north of the capital, the cavernous chambers below ground that have been hollowed out by workers over the decades form a surreal network of almost art-like chambers that tower high above you.

The regulated air below the surface is said by locals to be good for your health, and many therapeutic sessions are bizarrely held underground here.

It’s a strange place to explore, but an infinitely interesting day trip.

Suggested tour : Slanic Salt Mines and Wine Tasting Tour

7. Prahova Valley

Prahova Valley

The Prahova Valley is the location of the town of Slanic, and it’s one of the most scenic regions within an easy drive of Bucharest.

The spectacular Prahova River makes its way through the Carpathian Mountains, creating a wide valley that is becoming somewhat of a tourist sensation.

It’s the perfect location for outdoor activities, and there are some really stunning hiking trails through the valley and into the surrounding mountains.

Snagov Monastery, Romania

A visit to the small village of Snagov makes for an easy day trip from Bucharest, as it’s just 20 miles away from the city centre, and there is much here to keep you occupied for hours.

The community is found on the banks of the rippling and serene Lake Snagov, a peaceful place encircled by green scenery.

On the lake itself can be found the enchanting Snagov Monastery, floating on a verdant island.

Locals claim that the monastery is, in fact, the final resting place of the legendary historical character and bloodthirsty conqueror, Vlad the Impaler, the real-life ruler who inspired the fictional Dracula.

This legend, however, may just be that, a legend, but it’s still an incredible place to explore.

Suggested tour : Full-Day Private Tour w/ Mogosoaia & Snagov

9. Mogosoaia Palace

Mogosoaia Palace, Romania

Visiting the Mogosoaia Palace is an equally easy and relaxed day trip, as this 17th-century mansion is found just a short journey outside of Bucharest.

The palace has variously served as an inn, a royal home and now a museum, as its previous owners all seem to have befallen various unwelcome fates.

The grounds around the Mogosoaia Palace are stunning, tranquil and a very welcome escape from the streets of nearby Bucharest.

10. Poenari Castle

Poenari Castle, Romania

The Poenari Castle dates back to the 13th century when it was constructed to solidify local rule in the Carpathians.

By the 15th century, however, this castle was already being abandoned, before the infamous Vlad the Impaler came along and decided to rebuild the crumbling fortifications to defend his lands.

Locals will say that it is this castle, in fact, that should be known as Dracula’s Castle, because Vlad, the character’s inspiration, has more connection to Poenari Castle than to Bran Castle.

Poenari Castle was ruined in a landslide in the 19th century, and once again fell into abandonment.

Here you will find none of the glorious architecture of Romania’s many better-known castles, but you will find dramatic ruins that can only be reached after climbing up over a thousand steps from the road below.

11. Craiova

City Hall, Craiova, Romania

Craiova makes for a long day trip from Bucharest, but a visit to this city to the west of the capital is very much worth it, to enjoy the quiet streets of this low-key Romanian city.

There is a fine selection of museums and galleries, reflecting Craiova’s long position as a university city.

There are some beautiful parks and green spaces, and it’s a wonderful place to simply stroll and wind down, as compared to Bucharest, not a lot happens in laid-back Craiova.

12. Constanta

Constanta, Romania

Constanta is Bucharest’s getaway on the Black Sea.

Found overlooking beaches and with its fair share of resorts, restaurants and bars, this is one of the most popular destinations to visit in the country during the summer.

Any time of year though, the city too is a great place to explore, with a beautiful promenade, some interesting museums and an often overlooked history that makes this one of the oldest cities in Romania.

Ensure you visit the old casino, a magnificent piece of architecture that overlooks the waterfront and that has become something of a photographic sensation in recent years.

13. Mangalia

Mangalia, Romania

Mangalia is Romania’s other popular Black Sea city, found along the coast to the south of Constanta.

Mangalia is a very popular place in summer, as the area has a huge range of resorts overlooking the beaches, and there is a vibrant nightlife to be found across the waterfront.

14. Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo is found across the border in the beautifully scenic and culturally rich region of northern Bulgaria.

This is one of the historic capitals of former Bulgarian kingdoms, and the rambling streets are awash with history.

The surrounding hills and scenery are equally as spectacular as the medieval city, and it’s well worth a cross-border excursion from Bucharest to experience.

Varna, Bulgaria

Visiting the Bulgarian coastal city of Varna makes for another excellent cross-border excursion too.

As well as being a great location to experience the Black Sea, Varna is home to a wide range of archaeological museums and exhibits, dating back as far as the Roman times, and is always an interesting city to delve into.

15 Best Day Trips from Bucharest:

  • Bran Castle
  • Piatra Craiului Mountains
  • Peles Castle
  • Rasnov Citadel
  • Slanic Salt Mine
  • Prahova Valley
  • Mogosoaia Palace
  • Poenari Castle
  • Veliko Tarnovo

IMF delegation to arrive in Bucharest for routine visit

trip to bucharest romania

Radu Dumitrescu

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A mission of the International Monetary Fund, led by Jan Kees Martijn, will arrive in Bucharest on January 29 in a routine visit. The IMF team will analyze recent economic and financial developments and review macroeconomic forecasts, according to an announcement by the institution.

The last visit to Bucharest by the IMF team led by Jan Kees Martijn, the mission chief for Romania, took place from September 25 to October 4, 2023, and was conducted for the annual analysis of the economy under Article IV, according to Agerpres .

The International Monetary Fund estimates a 2.3% economic growth for Romania this year and a budget deficit of 6% of GDP. It recommends additional reforms by the authorities in Bucharest amounting to 2% of GDP.

In a press conference held at the end of the consultations, Kees Martijn noted that the fiscal package adopted last autumn by the government is a step in the right direction, but stressed the need for further reforms to increase revenues and efficiency. The IMF experts pointed out at the time that the main measures that should be considered are eliminating remaining exemptions, privileges, and loopholes, further streamlining VAT, implementing a reformed property tax, and using fiscal policy to promote efficient energy use and, more broadly, encouraging the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. 

The Romanian government expects the deficit to drop to 5% of GDP in 2024, but the European Commission guidelines require 3% or lower. 

IMF experts mentioned, in this context, that the new fiscal package broadens the tax base and improves revenues by eliminating exemptions for employees in agriculture, construction, food processing, and IT, as well as limiting the number of goods that benefit from a reduced VAT rate. Additionally, they believe that increasing the tax on micro-enterprises will lead to higher tax revenues, but consider that the threshold for registering as a micro-enterprise should be further reduced. 

On the other hand, the IMF argues that the turnover tax imposed on banks and large companies places an undue burden on companies with low margins and could reduce financial intermediation.

In the medium term, the Romanian economy is expected to reach its growth potential of 3 - 3.25%, as consumption and investments supported by funds from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) remain strong. The inflation rate will decrease from 7% to 4% by the end of 2024, but will remain above the target of the National Bank of Romania, the representatives of the international financial institution further emphasized.

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(Photo source: Deanpictures | Dreamstime.com )

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    the Little Paris Museum which will help you understand why Bucharest was once called Little Paris, and get a glimpse of life in the capital in the 1920s. the Romanian Science Experiment Museum - a wonderful destination for kids - and adults - where you need to press buttons, pull levers and make things work.

  7. Bucharest Travel Guide

    Luxurious Highlights of Romania: From Bucharest to Transylvania. Romania offers plenty for the discerning traveller, including beautiful Boutique properties. On this trip, discover Bucharest, the Danube Delta, Bucovina and Transylvania with Dracula's castle.

  8. The 25 Things You Must Do In Bucharest, Romania

    Your trip to Bucharest isn't complete without grabbing nuggets of wisdom about Romania's history, and the perfect place to do so is at the National Museum of Romanian History. Previously known as the Postal Services Palace, this museum shelters a menagerie of valuable displays such as the Pietroasele Treasure and the Romanian Treasury ...

  9. Read This Before Visiting Bucharest: 11 Essential Travel Tips

    Read This Before Visiting Bucharest: 11 Essential Travel Tips | The Common Wanderer 11 essential things you need to know before visiting Romania, Europe's new capital of cool. Includes travel tips, costs, transport guide and more.

  10. Ultimate Weekend in Bucharest Itinerary for First-Timers (+ Tips)

    Top Experiences and Tours in Bucharest: Bucharest: 3-Hour Walking Tour (best day tour option!) Peles Castle, Dracula Castle, and Brasov Full Day Tour (Popular tour!) From Bucharest: Full-Day Trip to Bulgaria. Bucharest: Pub Crawl in the Old Town. Parliament Palace Skip-the-line Ticket.

  11. Top Things You Must Know Before Traveling To Bucharest, Romania

    1+ Photo by Adobe Stock Nicknamed 'The Little Paris,' Bucharest is home to some of the world's heaviest buildings, stunning contemporary art, astonishing castles, and plenty of historical sites. This gem of a city in Eastern Europe has a lot to offer travelers who are hungry for a taste of cultural diversity and ready for an eye-opening adventure.

  12. 21 Awesome things to do in Bucharest, Romania

    Herastrau park The Village Museum Take a day trip Where to stay in Bucharest

  13. 10 Day Romania Itinerary: Your Perfect Route for 2024

    A Suggested 10 Day Romania Itinerary. Romania Itinerary: Bucharest. This 10 day Romania itinerary starts in Bucharest and finishes in Cluj. It is also possible to do the trip in reverse. Many international budget airlines run to both Avram Iancu Airport (Cluj) and Henri Coandă International (Bucharest).

  14. 23 Great Things to Do in Bucharest, Romania

    (Last Updated On: 04/01/2024) Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is often considered a boring city, good only for parties, but that's actually so far from the truth. This is one of the best places to visit in Romania and one of the most underrated destinations in Europe.

  15. Things to Do in Bucharest Alone: 1, 2 & 3-Day Itinerary

    How to travel to Bucharest Romania Air. Travellers will arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP), 19km from Bucharest Old Town.. There are several ways to travel from the airport to the city centre. Take express bus 783 to Piata Unirii in Old Town (runs every 40 minutes and costs 3 lei) or take the Henri Coanda Express train (6.8 lei) to Bucharest North Railway Station.

  16. The Ultimate 6 Day Bucharest and Brasov Itinerary

    Day 6 - Take A Day Trip To Dracula's Castle. When people hear about Transylvania, many automatically think of Dracula. The Bran Fortress, also known as Dracula's castle, is a medieval fortress in Transylvania and the perfect way to end your Bucharest and Brasov Itinerary.. The Bran Castle is commonly associated with Dracula because of its hauntingly beautiful aesthetic and rumored ...

  17. THE 10 BEST Bucharest Tours & Excursions

    Reserve. 3. Dracula's Castle, Peles Castle and Brasov - Private Day Trip from Bucharest. 62. Historical Tours. 12-13 hours. This is a private tour from Bucharest to Transylvania on a very picturesque route through the Carpathian Mountains allowing…. Free cancellation. Recommended by 100% of travelers.

  18. Is Bucharest Worth Visiting Alone? (An Honest Opinion)

    Bucharest is the biggest city in Romania by a long shot. One of the reasons the answer to the question is Bucharest worth visiting might by yes is if you're looking for the big city experience in Romania. You're not really going to find it anywhere else in the country. That doesn't mean there aren't bigger cities in Romania, but none ...

  19. 10 Awesome Places to Visit on Day Trips from Bucharest

    Recommended tours from Bucharest: From Bucharest: Dracula Castle, Peles & Brasov Full-Day Trip. Dracula Castle, Peles Castle and Brasov Small Group Tour from Bucharest. From Bucharest: Peles, Bran Castle & Old Town Brasov Tour. Read more about Brasov: 15 Best Things to Do in Brasov, Romania.

  20. 10 Unforgettable Day Trips From Bucharest, Romania

    1. Day Trip To The Danube Delta From Bucharest 2. Day Trip To Sibiu 3. Day Trip To Bran Castle 4. Day Trip To Brasov 5. Bucharest To Rasnov Citadel 6. Day Trip To Constanta 7. Bucharest To Piatra Craiului National Park 8. Day Trip To Slanic Prahova Salt Mines 9. Bucharest To Transfagarasan Highway 10. Day Trip From Bucharest To Bulgaria

  21. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Bucharest

    Top Things to Do in Bucharest, Romania - Bucharest Attractions Things to Do in Bucharest Explore popular experiences See what other travellers like to do, based on ratings and number of bookings. Walking Tours (260) Cultural Tours (368) Speciality Museums (30) Bus Tours (637) Day Trips (325) Architectural Buildings (33) Mountain Bike Tours (13)

  22. 15 Best Day Trips from Bucharest

    From Bucharest, you can easily head out into the countryside, escape the city in the beautiful Piatra Craiului Mountains which are home to some of Europe's last surviving brown bears, while exploring the history of Transylvania, where legends of Dracula were born in the medieval era.

  23. THE 10 BEST Day Trips from Bucharest (UPDATED 2024)

    Book the best day trips from Bucharest, Romania directly on Tripadvisor and take the stress out of planning. Read 300,522 traveler reviews and view photos of different trips from Bucharest to various destinations. Find day trips to take today or this coming weekend. Book with confidence with our Low Price Guarantee.

  24. IMF delegation to arrive in Bucharest for routine visit

    22 January 2024. Radu Dumitrescu. A mission of the International Monetary Fund, led by Jan Kees Martijn, will arrive in Bucharest on January 29 in a routine visit. The IMF team will analyze recent ...

  25. Romania Offers Dollar Bonds, Following Eastern EU Debt Sales

    January 23, 2024 at 7:38 AM PST. Listen. 1:24. Romania is selling $4 billion in its first international debt sale this year, after becoming the latest emerging-market issuer to see strong demand ...