Bucharest travel guide

Bucharest Tourism | Bucharest Guide

You're Going to Love Bucharest

Romania's capital is full of surprises. Parts of the city feel like they could have been lifted from 19th-century Paris (as you'd expect in the "Paris of the Balkans"), others remain rooted in the Communist era, while most of this pulsating city is focused squarely on the here and now.

Bucharest offers a rare collision of a fascinating past and an optimistic future. You can tour the picturesque churches of Lipscani, catch a cut-price feast of high culture at the Bucharest National Opera and wonder at the megalomania that went into the enormous Palace of the Parliament - but that's not the whole story.

Fun, relaxation, and sheer hedonism await as well. Few destinations in Eastern Europe have the verve and energy of Bucharest. From the wave of gourmet food sweeping the city to the underground energy of the city's nightclubs, Bucharest is full of life and that's why so many people fall in love with this inviting city.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Bucharest

1. Historic Attractions, from the Sublime to the Grotesque

Bucharest has seen a lot of history. In the 19th century, it was a cultural hotspot, and the wealth of the era was channeled into the gorgeous Lipscani neighborhood. Then came war and Communism. Architectural highlights of the Ceausescu era are few, but the massive People's House (now the parliament) is an unmissable monument to the ambitions of dictatorship.

2. It's a Thriving Cultural Center

Recent years have seen Bucharest reclaiming its position as the Balkans' cultural hub. The National Opera House continues to lay on a superb schedule of ballet and operas, the National Theater has had a successful makeover, and lesser known venues like Green Hours 22 showcase the city's burgeoning jazz scene.

3. Superb Nightlife, Every Day of the Week

Bucharest has transitioned from Communism to hedonism. These days, you'll find DJs pumping out everything from avant garde electronica to raucous turbo-folk (not for the fainthearted) at favorite spots like Control Club and Club A, whatever night of the week you venture out.

4. A Collection of Wonderful Museums

Bucharest has one of the best collections of museums in Eastern Europe. Find out about the holocaust and Romania's past at the Jewish History Museum, head to the cavernous National Museum of Romanian History, see works by European masters at the National Museum of Art, and tour the President's residence at the stately Cotroceni Palace.

5. A Thriving Gourmet Food and Drink Scene

Bucharest's energy and youthful vibe extends well and truly into its gastronomy. The best thing is that traditional restaurants like Zahana Zexe and tiny bistros like Beca's Kitchen offer world-class food at criminally low prices. And, even better, there's a vibrant craft beer community too, with breweries like Ground Zero Beer and Csiki Sor leading the way.

1. Historic Attractions, from the Sublime to the Grotesque

Bucharest has seen a lot of history. In the 19th century, it was a cultural hotspot, and the wealth of the era was channeled into the gorgeous Lipscani neighborhood. Then came war and Communism. Architectural highlights of the Ceausescu era are few, but the massive People's House (now the parliament) is an unmissable monument to the ambitions of dictatorship.

2. It's a Thriving Cultural Center

Recent years have seen Bucharest reclaiming its position as the Balkans' cultural hub. The National Opera House continues to lay on a superb schedule of ballet and operas, the National Theater has had a successful makeover, and lesser known venues like Green Hours 22 showcase the city's burgeoning jazz scene.

3. Superb Nightlife, Every Day of the Week

Bucharest has transitioned from Communism to hedonism. These days, you'll find DJs pumping out everything from avant garde electronica to raucous turbo-folk (not for the fainthearted) at favorite spots like Control Club and Club A, whatever night of the week you venture out.

4. A Collection of Wonderful Museums

Bucharest has one of the best collections of museums in Eastern Europe. Find out about the holocaust and Romania's past at the Jewish History Museum, head to the cavernous National Museum of Romanian History, see works by European masters at the National Museum of Art, and tour the President's residence at the stately Cotroceni Palace.

5. A Thriving Gourmet Food and Drink Scene

Bucharest's energy and youthful vibe extends well and truly into its gastronomy. The best thing is that traditional restaurants like Zahana Zexe and tiny bistros like Beca's Kitchen offer world-class food at criminally low prices. And, even better, there's a vibrant craft beer community too, with breweries like Ground Zero Beer and Csiki Sor leading the way.

What to do in Bucharest

1. Palace of the Parliament: The People's House

Bucharest's Palatul Parlamentului, or Palace of the Parliament, is truly one of the most stunning buildings in the world. It boasts a number of superlatives, including being both the second largest administrative building on the planet (behind the Pentagon) and the heaviest building of any kind. Construction began in 1984 under the Ceausescu regime but it is still not entirely finished today. Since the revolution in 1989 it has become widely known as the People's House, or Casa Poporului, and houses the Romanian parliament, three museums and an international conference center. There are frequent public tours of the building.

2. Biserica Stavropoleos: A Musical History

The Biserica Stavropoleos is a monastery and church in central Bucharest built in 1724 in the Brâncovenesc style. In addition to its impressive architecture, it is known for the Byzantine music played by its choir. It also has a fine library which holds more than 8,000 books including the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania. It also has an impressive collection of religious artifacts. Although it has suffered through the years from extensive earthquake damage, it has been sensitively restored and the chandeliers and paintings of the church's dome are particularly beautiful.

3. Ateneul Român: Enjoy a Concert

The Ateneul Român (Romanian Athenaeum) is the major concert hall in Bucharest and home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. It was built in 1888 by the French architect Albert Galleron. The circular and domed building houses an ornate conference hall on the ground floor, with the equally sized auditorium upstairs. There you can see an impressive fresco by Costin Petrescu, which circles the entire auditorium. It depicts key moments from Romanian history from ancient Roman times until the creation of Greater Romania in 1918. The Athenaeum has become a symbol or Romanian culture and is a fabulous venue in which to enjoy a concert.

4. Curtea Veche: Ancient Architecture and History

The Curtea Veche, or in English the Old Princely Court, was built in 1459 by Vlad III Dracula (the infamous Vlad the Impaler!) as his palace. It is a highlight of the historic center of Bucharest and includes the Annunciation Church of Saint Anthony. Dating from 1559, it is the oldest religious building in the city. Today the palace is occupied by the Muzeul Municipiului Bucuresti, a museum with some fascinating exhibits on Romanian history. It's a great place to gain a better understanding of the country and to enjoy some of its most ancient architecture.

5. Piata Revolutiei: A Place of History and Education

The Piata Revolutiei (Revolution Square) is a must-see site for any visit to Bucharest. Known until the 1989 revolution as Piata Palatului (Palace Square), it is home to the National Museum of Art (the former Royal Palace) the Athenaeum, The University of Bucharest Library and the elegant Athenee Palace Hotel. The Square has witnessed much of Romania's turbulent history, including a famous speech by Nicolae Ceausescu at the height of his popularity in 1968, and the beginning of the revolution in 1989. Today it is an altogether more peaceful place and a wonderful place to stroll and visit some of the most important sites in the city.

1. Palace of the Parliament: The People's House

Bucharest's Palatul Parlamentului, or Palace of the Parliament, is truly one of the most stunning buildings in the world. It boasts a number of superlatives, including being both the second largest administrative building on the planet (behind the Pentagon) and the heaviest building of any kind. Construction began in 1984 under the Ceausescu regime but it is still not entirely finished today. Since the revolution in 1989 it has become widely known as the People's House, or Casa Poporului, and houses the Romanian parliament, three museums and an international conference center. There are frequent public tours of the building.

2. Biserica Stavropoleos: A Musical History

The Biserica Stavropoleos is a monastery and church in central Bucharest built in 1724 in the Brâncovenesc style. In addition to its impressive architecture, it is known for the Byzantine music played by its choir. It also has a fine library which holds more than 8,000 books including the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania. It also has an impressive collection of religious artifacts. Although it has suffered through the years from extensive earthquake damage, it has been sensitively restored and the chandeliers and paintings of the church's dome are particularly beautiful.

3. Ateneul Român: Enjoy a Concert

The Ateneul Român (Romanian Athenaeum) is the major concert hall in Bucharest and home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. It was built in 1888 by the French architect Albert Galleron. The circular and domed building houses an ornate conference hall on the ground floor, with the equally sized auditorium upstairs. There you can see an impressive fresco by Costin Petrescu, which circles the entire auditorium. It depicts key moments from Romanian history from ancient Roman times until the creation of Greater Romania in 1918. The Athenaeum has become a symbol or Romanian culture and is a fabulous venue in which to enjoy a concert.

4. Curtea Veche: Ancient Architecture and History

The Curtea Veche, or in English the Old Princely Court, was built in 1459 by Vlad III Dracula (the infamous Vlad the Impaler!) as his palace. It is a highlight of the historic center of Bucharest and includes the Annunciation Church of Saint Anthony. Dating from 1559, it is the oldest religious building in the city. Today the palace is occupied by the Muzeul Municipiului Bucuresti, a museum with some fascinating exhibits on Romanian history. It's a great place to gain a better understanding of the country and to enjoy some of its most ancient architecture.

5. Piata Revolutiei: A Place of History and Education

The Piata Revolutiei (Revolution Square) is a must-see site for any visit to Bucharest. Known until the 1989 revolution as Piata Palatului (Palace Square), it is home to the National Museum of Art (the former Royal Palace) the Athenaeum, The University of Bucharest Library and the elegant Athenee Palace Hotel. The Square has witnessed much of Romania's turbulent history, including a famous speech by Nicolae Ceausescu at the height of his popularity in 1968, and the beginning of the revolution in 1989. Today it is an altogether more peaceful place and a wonderful place to stroll and visit some of the most important sites in the city.

1. Palace of the Parliament: The People's House

Bucharest's Palatul Parlamentului, or Palace of the Parliament, is truly one of the most stunning buildings in the world. It boasts a number of superlatives, including being both the second largest administrative building on the planet (behind the Pentagon) and the heaviest building of any kind. Construction began in 1984 under the Ceausescu regime but it is still not entirely finished today. Since the revolution in 1989 it has become widely known as the People's House, or Casa Poporului, and houses the Romanian parliament, three museums and an international conference center. There are frequent public tours of the building.

2. Biserica Stavropoleos: A Musical History

The Biserica Stavropoleos is a monastery and church in central Bucharest built in 1724 in the Brâncovenesc style. In addition to its impressive architecture, it is known for the Byzantine music played by its choir. It also has a fine library which holds more than 8,000 books including the largest collection of Byzantine music books in Romania. It also has an impressive collection of religious artifacts. Although it has suffered through the years from extensive earthquake damage, it has been sensitively restored and the chandeliers and paintings of the church's dome are particularly beautiful.

3. Ateneul Român: Enjoy a Concert

The Ateneul Român (Romanian Athenaeum) is the major concert hall in Bucharest and home to the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. It was built in 1888 by the French architect Albert Galleron. The circular and domed building houses an ornate conference hall on the ground floor, with the equally sized auditorium upstairs. There you can see an impressive fresco by Costin Petrescu, which circles the entire auditorium. It depicts key moments from Romanian history from ancient Roman times until the creation of Greater Romania in 1918. The Athenaeum has become a symbol or Romanian culture and is a fabulous venue in which to enjoy a concert.

4. Curtea Veche: Ancient Architecture and History

The Curtea Veche, or in English the Old Princely Court, was built in 1459 by Vlad III Dracula (the infamous Vlad the Impaler!) as his palace. It is a highlight of the historic center of Bucharest and includes the Annunciation Church of Saint Anthony. Dating from 1559, it is the oldest religious building in the city. Today the palace is occupied by the Muzeul Municipiului Bucuresti, a museum with some fascinating exhibits on Romanian history. It's a great place to gain a better understanding of the country and to enjoy some of its most ancient architecture.

5. Piata Revolutiei: A Place of History and Education

The Piata Revolutiei (Revolution Square) is a must-see site for any visit to Bucharest. Known until the 1989 revolution as Piata Palatului (Palace Square), it is home to the National Museum of Art (the former Royal Palace) the Athenaeum, The University of Bucharest Library and the elegant Athenee Palace Hotel. The Square has witnessed much of Romania's turbulent history, including a famous speech by Nicolae Ceausescu at the height of his popularity in 1968, and the beginning of the revolution in 1989. Today it is an altogether more peaceful place and a wonderful place to stroll and visit some of the most important sites in the city.

Where to Eat in Bucharest

Food is on the up in Bucharest, with a generation of talented chefs staffing a glittering array of bistros and gastro-bars. Some of the best of them specialize in authentic Romanian dishes, including Caru cu Bere (who brew their own beer) and Lente & Cafea. Others, like Energiea, place the emphasis on healthy ingredients, while some, like Vacamuuu, are a carnivore's delight. Prices are almost always very reasonable, even for gourmet food, at around RON40 for a meal.

When to visit Bucharest

Bucharest in August
Estimated hotel price
C$ 97
1 night at 3-star hotel
Bucharest in August
Estimated hotel price
C$ 97
1 night at 3-star hotel

Bucharest has a mild climate for most of the year, but bitterly cold winters. Temperatures start to rise rapidly from April, and late spring is the ideal time to go, with smaller crowds and plenty to see. September and October are also fine, but beware of encountering a few showers in October, as the seasons start to shift.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Bucharest

Plane

Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP) can be found around 12 miles north of Bucharest's center, and has excellent links to the downtown area. Bus number 783 runs every 20 minutes from the arrivals terminal and costs just RON7, and the Henri Coandă Express Train offers a slightly faster rail connection for RON8.1. Expect taxis to cost around RON30.

Train

Bucharest has rail connections to the whole of Eastern and Western Europe, including cities like Belgrade, Berlin, and Vienna. All international trains arrive at the Gara de Nord, just northwest of the city center. The station is on the Bucharest subway system, and there are buses and trams to the major tourist areas as well.

Car

If you are driving from the airport to downtown Bucharest, simply hook up with Highway 1, and follow it southbound towards the city center. If you are coming from Timisoara, take the A1, then change to the E81 just after Sibiu, and continue directly to Bucharest. The E81 also runs from the Black Sea port of Constanta to Bucharest.

Bus

If you are traveling within Romania, intercity buses are comfortable and cheap. Local buses within Romania tend to be operated by Atlassib, while Eurolines is the major international bus operator into Bucharest. Most international services stop at Rahova, on the southwestern outskirts. Take the light rail from Depoul Alexandria, which runs straight into the center.

Plane

Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP) can be found around 12 miles north of Bucharest's center, and has excellent links to the downtown area. Bus number 783 runs every 20 minutes from the arrivals terminal and costs just RON7, and the Henri Coandă Express Train offers a slightly faster rail connection for RON8.1. Expect taxis to cost around RON30.

Train

Bucharest has rail connections to the whole of Eastern and Western Europe, including cities like Belgrade, Berlin, and Vienna. All international trains arrive at the Gara de Nord, just northwest of the city center. The station is on the Bucharest subway system, and there are buses and trams to the major tourist areas as well.

Car

If you are driving from the airport to downtown Bucharest, simply hook up with Highway 1, and follow it southbound towards the city center. If you are coming from Timisoara, take the A1, then change to the E81 just after Sibiu, and continue directly to Bucharest. The E81 also runs from the Black Sea port of Constanta to Bucharest.

Bus

If you are traveling within Romania, intercity buses are comfortable and cheap. Local buses within Romania tend to be operated by Atlassib, while Eurolines is the major international bus operator into Bucharest. Most international services stop at Rahova, on the southwestern outskirts. Take the light rail from Depoul Alexandria, which runs straight into the center.

Airports near Bucharest

Airlines serving Bucharest

Lufthansa
Good (4,694 reviews)
KLM
Good (848 reviews)
SWISS
Good (945 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,558 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,611 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (2,296 reviews)
Air France
Good (981 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (487 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,952 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,122 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,454 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (5,897 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (924 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (1,180 reviews)
LOT
Good (685 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (820 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (832 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (406 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (721 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,603 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Bucharest

Lipscani - Bucharest's old town, Lipscani, was mainly built in the city's heyday in the late 19th century, and it's a beautiful place to explore. Attractions include the elegant National Opera and the Museum of Romanian History, as well as innumerable wine bars, pubs, and nightclubs.

Popular Neighborhoods in Bucharest

Cismigiu - built around the sublime Cismigiu Gardens, this area is one of the most pleasant places to stay in Bucharest. Conveniently located and stuffed with charming hotels, Cismigiu is where locals go to chat, relax, play sport, and date. It's simply a lovely place to be.

Floreasca - prosperous, business-like, and classy, Floreasca has Bucharest's highest concentration of gourmet restaurants and is also home to the Promenada Mall - the city's shopping hotspot.

Cismigiu - built around the sublime Cismigiu Gardens, this area is one of the most pleasant places to stay in Bucharest. Conveniently located and stuffed with charming hotels, Cismigiu is where locals go to chat, relax, play sport, and date. It's simply a lovely place to be.
Floreasca - prosperous, business-like, and classy, Floreasca has Bucharest's highest concentration of gourmet restaurants and is also home to the Promenada Mall - the city's shopping hotspot.
Most popular hotel in Bucharest by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Bucharest

Most booked hotels in Bucharest

Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest
5 stars
Excellent (9.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 246+
Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest Old Town
4 stars
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
C$ 165+
Vienna House Easy Airport Bucharest
4 stars
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
C$ 109+
Novotel Bucharest City Centre
4 stars
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 161+
Europa Royale Bucharest
4 stars
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
C$ 112+
Rin Airport
4 stars
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
C$ 88+

How to Get Around Bucharest

Public Transportation

Bucharest's four subway (metro) lines represent the easiest way to get around town (and offer some of the best coverage in the whole of Europe). Single fares cost RON5 and you can buy 10 journeys for just RON10, so it's also great value. There are also plenty of buses, trolleys, and trams. However, to ride them you'll need to get hold of a rechargeable Activ card, which can be purchased from RATB kiosks near major stations and bus stops.

Taxi

Taxi fares in Bucharest vary, but reputable companies should never charge more than RON2.50 per mile. It's also advisable to book cabs with your concierge, as the quality of service varies depending on which company you choose.

Car

Car rental is an excellent option in Bucharest, and there are city center branches of Sixt, Europcar, Budget, and Avis. With your own vehicle, you can get out to day-trip destinations like Targoviste or Snagov with ease, and rates should be low: expect to pay around RON50 per day with most companies.

Public Transportation

Bucharest's four subway (metro) lines represent the easiest way to get around town (and offer some of the best coverage in the whole of Europe). Single fares cost RON5 and you can buy 10 journeys for just RON10, so it's also great value. There are also plenty of buses, trolleys, and trams. However, to ride them you'll need to get hold of a rechargeable Activ card, which can be purchased from RATB kiosks near major stations and bus stops.

Taxi

Taxi fares in Bucharest vary, but reputable companies should never charge more than RON2.50 per mile. It's also advisable to book cabs with your concierge, as the quality of service varies depending on which company you choose.

Car

Car rental is an excellent option in Bucharest, and there are city center branches of Sixt, Europcar, Budget, and Avis. With your own vehicle, you can get out to day-trip destinations like Targoviste or Snagov with ease, and rates should be low: expect to pay around RON50 per day with most companies.

The Cost of Living in Bucharest

Shopping Streets

Bucharest is an affordable city for luxury, second-hand, and everyday shopping, with no end of places to explore. The Promenada Mall in Floreasca is the place to head for designer chains (and has a fantastical postmodern design to complement its shopping options). Calea Victoriei in Lipscani is also a wonderful place to shop, lined with beautiful architecture, museums, boutiques, and prestigious restaurants.

Groceries and Other

If you need to stock up on basic groceries during a stay in Bucharest, the best places to go are supermarkets like Kaufland, Carrefour, and Profi. Expect prices to be low, at around RON15 for a gallon of milk and RON20 for a good bottle of wine.

Cheap meal
C$ 8.00
A pair of jeans
C$ 88.33
Single public transport ticket
C$ 0.48
Cappuccino
C$ 2.51