Things to do in Bucharest
Bucharest is certainly the first destination on the list of more than 80% of the tourists that come to visit Romania, either for business or for leisure.
For most, the first phrase they would search for after they book the hotel would be “Things to do in Bucharest”.
When one embarks in a full day tour of Bucharest City, they will certainly discover the reasons why Bucharest had once the nickname of “the Little Paris”, but also the very strong communist influence.
Bucharest’s first days in history are related to the most famous ruler of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) who spend four out of his six year reign in the “citadel of Bucharest” starting with 1459. And this information is real. One can visit the Old Court and Church (located now in the most lively part of Bucharest – the Old Town area) built in the second part of 15th century by Vlad Tepes. The Old Court Church is the oldest in Bucharest, dating to 1545.
Nowadays Bucharest is certainly the most fascinating and vibrant city in Romania, with a growing population over 2 million people. The city has become in the last 15 years a real example of contrasts, combining the very old 17th century old churches, the very well preserved French architecture buildings from the end of 19th century next to the Soviet communist blocks built after the second world war and the very new glass skyscrapers. The interesting part is that one can see all these combined within a very short distance.
Probably the top three Things to do in Bucharest that worth mentioning and to visit are:
- The Parliament Palace or the House of People is certainly one that you can’t miss seeing. It is still the second largest administrative building in the world, a pure example of the former communist dictator’s megalomania. Built in the 1980’s and completed in the early 1990’s, it was estimated to have cost over 3 billion Euro when the country (late 1980’s) needed this spending the least. Now, only the cost of heating and electricity is supposed to exceed 6 million Euro for every year. It now hosts the Parliament of Romania, but also very large conferences, symposiums, fairs and other events, and even so, all these together take only 30% of the building’s space.
- The Village Museum is open air, located nearby Herastrau Park, covering over 100 000 square meters (over 38 acres) being created in 1936. Over 272 authentic traditional houses from all over Romania create this natural micro-universe that simply can take you on a trip covering all Romania. The most interesting part is that you can actually still find all these houses in real villages in Romania nowadays.
- The Revolution Square is the symbol of victory against the communism, a bloody revolution compared to all the ones in the former communist block in the late 1980’s. It is the place where former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu gave his last speech on 21st Dec 1989 from the balcony on first floor of Communist Party headquarters and also from which he flew in his helicopter on 22nd Dec 1989 from the top of the same building.
Next to Revolution Square one can discover another iconic landmark of Bucharest, the Athenaeum, but also the former Royal Palace and the enchanting Victory Avenue which is one of the oldest streets in Bucharest.
If one arrives to Bucharest, one of the Things to do in Bucharest which is must is to experience a full range of traditional food in dozens of restaurants mostly located in the Old Town area. The two most popular foods would be the stuffed cabbage rolls (“Sarmale” in Romanian) served with polenta plus sour cream and the grilled minced meat rolls (“Mititei” or “Mici” in Romanian) served with fries or bread and mustard. Romania has a great variety of local wines and beers which go perfect with the foods.