Bucharest might not be your first choice for a city trip in Europe, but if you’ve already been to many cities (like me) and you’re up for something new Bucharest is definitely worth paying a visit. The city was more pretty than I thought with many beautiful buildings and a wonderful ‘old town’ district. On this page I’ll tell you what to do, where to shop and what to see in Bucharest.
Wondering where to eat? Check this page.
The nicest part of Bucharest is Old Town, officially called Centru Vechi. With cobblestoned streets, majestic buildings and many restaurants, this is a great starting point for exploring Bucharest.
There are many beautiful churches in Bucharest and pretty much all of them can be found in Old Town.
Two streets that are worth a visit are Victoria Passage with colored umbrellas on the ceiling and Macca-Vilacrosse pasajul (passage) which has a glass ceiling (pictured above).
Palace of Parliament
The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest is the largest governmental building in the world besides the Pentagon. Although it might look old, it’s probably build more recent than you’d think. They started building in 1984 and finished in 1997. It’s an impressive building but I had a hard time deciding whether I thought it was beautiful or ugly. So I’ll let you be the judge.
Probably the prettiest bookshop I’ve ever seen is Carturesti Carusel in Bucharest. The name translates to Carousel of Light and I can understand why. The monumental building is totally painted white and the 6 floors stacked with books on both sides make room for rays of light through the ceiling. Good news for book-lovers; this bookshop in the center of Old Town is open till late!
Another really nice experience is visiting the flea market inside a church. It’s called Bazar and is housed in the church on the crossroad of Strada Doamnei, Strada Smardan and Stradia lon Ghica (opposite the Hilton Garden Inn in the Old Town area of Bucharest. You might not really find genuinely antique objects, but as it’s housed in a church it’s a nice experience anyway.
Quite the opposite but great for fashionista’s and families is AFI Cotroceni, a huge mall in the west of Bucharest. They claim to be Romania’s biggest mall. It houses an indoor ice skating rink, an IMAX cinema and even a rollercoaster. It also has many shops including all the big brands.
Museum of Senses
The Museum of Senses is housed in the AFI Cotroceni mall, you can find it on the 2nd floor next to the rollercoaster entrance. It’s a small museum and it won’t take you more than 20-30 minutes to see it all, but it’s quite fun for both kids as adults. You can pretend you’re hanging from the ceiling in an ‘upside-down room’ or let your friend stand on your hand in an optical illusion room.
Where to sleep?
I recommend you to get a hotel in Old Town as is this is the prettiest and most central part of the city. We stayed in Concorde Old Bucharest Hotel where we got a very spacious room for a decent price. The hotel is perfectly located on the oldest street in Bucharest with Old Town to the North and the Palace of Parliament to the South.