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Bucharest is in the South of Romania, was once referred to as the Paris of the East because of the art nouveau architecture and elaborate French-style municipal buildings. Some are still there, although the condition had faded over the years.
Bucharest and all of Romania was under communist rule from 1947 to 1989 and the effects of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship can still be felt today. You can educate yourself by taking a tour to see communist-era landmarks with a local guide or reading up on the turbulent history before arriving. Some guides can remember life during the regime and revolution and have many interesting stories to share.
Walking is a great way to take in the sights and you can see urban buildings, communist architecture, old churches and palaces all side by side in a striking contrast highlights the changes the country has gone through.
There is an efficient public transportation system including train, bus and taxi and you can walk around the old town center although the footpaths are rough in areas. The official language is Romanian. Many people can also speak English well.
Your vacation in Bucharest is a chance to see the world’s second-biggest parliamentary building coming in just behind the Pentagon. It is also the fourth largest building in the world. You can take a guided tour to see some of the Palace of Parliament’s historic interiors, which is also known as the Republic’s House.
There are many ancient churches with stunning architecture in the city, including The Old Court Church, Antim Monastery and Patriarchy Cathedral. Some day tours cover all the main ones, including gorgeous examples of 17th- and 18th-century Orthodox churches.
The Romanian Athenaeum is a concert hall with giant pillars and a dome roof. If you think the outside is impressive, wait until you see the lavish interiors that are majestic and regal.
Street art is popular in Bucharest and you will likely see examples of it during your explorations of the city. Or, if you love urban street art, you might want to make a day of it and try to find the most beautiful and interesting murals there are.
The Dimitrie Gusti National Village is an open-air museum displaying traditional Romanian village life. You can imagine what life back then would have been like and learn a lot of history along the way. With so many museums in Bucharest, you are sure to get your fix, but it’s very refreshing to see one set outdoors.
The Cișmigiu Gardens are another outdoor tourist attraction and also a favorite hangout for Bucharest locals. The 17-hectare gardens feature flower gardens, fountains, statues and a beautiful lake. It was created in 1845 by German landscape architect Carl Meyer whose vision included trees from around the country and other places like Vienna. It wasn’t finished until 1860.
For nightlife, you can find restaurants, pubs, discos and clubs in the downtown areas of Lipscani, Smardan and Gabroveni. With no licensing hours, the clubs stay open as long as there are partiers, often until the sun comes up.
You might want to start with sundowners at Linea Closer To The Moon, a funky rooftop bar with epic views of the city.
Cabbage rolls filled with spicy meat, beef salad and cornmeal porridge are just some of the dishes on the menu in Bucharest. Locals love tripe soup and swear it cures a hangover if you are brave enough to try. You will notice many meals are heavy on meat with a lot of soup, rice and potatoes. Perhaps it’s not so well-known that Romanian wine is excellent.
Dining at a traditional Romanian restaurant in Bucharest will be a highlight of your trip. The food is enhanced by the ambiance of the historical buildings and folk dancers that perform as diners enjoy their meals.
From cheap eats to fine dining, you can be sure of quality food and affordable prices. Here are some restaurants to try in a range of budgets.
Kane serves Romanian and European dishes using only local ingredients. Reservations are essential if you want to have a fine dining experience in this historic building with a reputation that shines.
For an affordable yet hearty meal, head to Ciorbarie which specializes in soup, which is very popular in Romanian culture. Fresh, flavorsome creations are whipped up by the kitchen chefs using local produce.
The Artist Restaurant is an exceptional dining experience where the chefs describe their work as emotional, artistic, playful, vibrant, inspired and innovative. When the weather is nice, you can eat outdoors by the herb and flower gardens or inside in the elegant historical villa. The food is wonderful and the presentation is simply artful.
We know you would never leave home without your camera, travel insurance, money and basic medical supplies. As well as those, make sure you pack the following much-have items for your trip to Bucharest.
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Get ready because you are off to Bucharest!