3 days in Bucharest
It was a tough task, but I've just about managed to pack the best and most important sights, activities, attractions, and venues in the Romanian capital into a three-day itinerary. From travelers interested in the country's troubled recent history to hedonists looking for sensational nightlife, everyone will find something in Bucharest. Enjoy!
Bucharest's Palatul Poporului is one of the largest buildings in the world. While the commentary on the obligatory guided tour can be a little stilted, the building itself is amazing — a real monument to megalomania. Bring your passport or ID card; you will not be admitted without it.
Offering classy walks along tree-lined paths, flower gardens and a boating lake, Bucharest's most central park is an elegant place to mix with locals and a see a little of the real city.
The terrace here overlooks historic Piata Universitatii — a scene of much fighting during the 1989 revolution — and is perhaps the best place in town to simply watch the world go by.
On Sundays from 12pm to 4pm, this place does the best brunch in town. We bring our kids here all the time.
In the heart of the Old Town, MOJO doubles as Bucharest's best live music venue and the city's liveliest karaoke bar. A guaranteed good night out, Mojo offers well-priced drinks and stays open very late. Every other week there is a quiz night (in English), and live stand-up comedy once a month.
A Bucharest essential, this superb outdoor museum set around Herastrau Lake offers a look at the life, traditions, architecture, and food of the Romanian countryside. Plan on spending a whole morning here.
There is a restaurant in the museum, but finding a table can be tough: make a reservation if you want to eat lunch here.
Bucharest's green lung, the city's biggest park offers boat trips on the central lake, playgrounds, a fun fair, and statues of every great Romanian writer who ever lived. There are also superb dining options on the northern side, which in summer attract the wealthiest diners in the city. You can hire bikes at the southern entrance (by Aviatorilor metro station). Hire is free but you need a passport or ID or you can rent a cheap car from Swiso in order to visit Bucharest.
One of Europe's biggest Hard Rock Cafes, the Bucharest incarnation is on the edge of Herastrau Park. Expect the usual excellent Hard Rock food and drinks, and by night, great local bands.
- This is one of few places in Bucharest with a genuine non-smoking section.
- You often need to reserve in advance if a particularly well-known band is playing.
The best of the many upmarket restaurants which line Herastrau Lake, Casa Di David offers outstanding Italian dishes and a huge range of fresh fish and seafood. There's also a fantastic terrace which attracts the city's highest rollers in summer.
You will need to reserve in advance if you want a table outside.
Just to be sure you don't miss a thing, why not see almost every important Bucharest sight from the top of an open-top, double-decker bus? Though obviously a huge tourist magnet, it's also great value: Tickets are valid all day, and you can jump on and off as many times as you like. Buses run from around 10am to 9pm.
Romania's finest museum, this is a fascinating, moving look at the ingenuity of the Romanian peasant. The museum's shop also stocks high-quality traditional Romanian gifts and souvenirs.
Craft fairs and peasant markets are held in the courtyard most weekends during the summer.
Slow food at its very best. This tiny place, just off central Piata Romana, has a daily-changing menu, and there's always something tasty and well-priced to choose from. The perfect Bucharest lunch venue! Closes early (around 8pm).
Best known these days as Bucharest's liveliest nightlife district, the Old Town is worth exploring by day, too. Eclectic architecture, Byzantine churches, and hundreds of cafes await.
Look out for the Old Court Church and Museum on Strada Franceza — all that remains of the 15th century palace which formed the basis of the original Bucharest.