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The Best Places to Visit in Bucharest in 48 hours

.… This is a guest post by Marius Iliescu of Romanian Friend …

Bucharest is a surprising city of contrasts, so if you only have one or two days to spend it’s going to be a challenge to cram so many interesting things you can visit and do. Romania’s capital may not be a popular tourist destination but in recent years more and more tourists have the experienced the multiple-cities-in-one feeling that Bucharest offers

So even if your time is short we prepared a list of the main things to do and places to visit in our capital – just make sure you have enough time for everything! 

Bucharest Architecture (3-4 hours)

Let’s start with some famous landmarks and places where you can admire Bucharest’s architecture. What should you expect? Chic houses and villas of Renaissance and Art Nouveau inspiration against a backdrop of communist landscaping mixed with the hustle and bustle of a capital!

Palace of Parliament

Average visiting time: 1 hour. Location: Arsenalului Hill

The Palace of Parliament is located in the central part of Bucharest and hosts the Romanian Parliament. The communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu initiated the construction of this impressive, massive and costly building back in 1984.

An entire neighborhood was razed to make room for this immense building which required so many resources and effort. The Palace has around 1000 rooms, 30 salons and ballrooms, 4 restaurants, 3 libraries, one concert hall and many other areas.

Inside the Palace of Parliament Bucharest

Although the building is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon, many locals have a love-hate relationship with it due to its history and significance.

All tours in Bucharest should take you to see this massive building from the exterior, but if time allows you should go inside to see opulence and megalomania in action.

Check out these top spots to stay in Bucharest

The Romanian Athenaeum

Average visiting time: 1 hour. Location: Victory Avenue

The Romanian Athenaeum is one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest and is an emblem of our capital’s amazing culture and, of course, music. This edifice was finished in 1888 and is an architectural combination of neoclassic and eclectic elements.

Don’t miss spending some time in Athenaeum’s garden as it is adorned with numerous statues of important cultural and political Romanian personalities. This superb concert hall can only be visited during concerts and events, you can enter the foyer on workdays if you ask the doorman nicely.

Triumph Arc

Average visiting time: 1 hour. Location: Triumph Arc Square.

The Triumph Arc (Arcul de Triumf) is emblematic for Bucharest and was inspired by the original and famous Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris. The one in Bucharest is smaller and it’s one of the reasons why people used to call Bucharest “Little Paris”.

It was built in 1878 to celebrate the year and troops that obtained Romania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. Since then, it has always been used for parades and celebrations, especially on Romania’s National Day on the 1st of December.

Bucharest Museums (6-8 hours)

If you’re a fan of museums or the weather isn’t too good to explore Bucharest on foot, there are some very good options for you to consider.

“Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum

Average visiting time: 2-3 hours. Location: Victory Square

This museum opened its doors in 1936 and has been one of Bucharest’s top attractions ever since.

The open-air village museum features 14 ha of exhibitions that presents Romanian village life through traditional village houses (real-life replicas or authentic) from various regions of Romania.

The Village Museum Bucharest shares traditional Romanian village houses

You can enter most houses and discover traditional – and very old – objects locals used in their everyday life. If you’re travelling with kids they are sure to enjoy this fascinating place, just make sure to get a guide map or a tour so you can answer all their questions.

The National Museum of Art of Romania

Average visiting time: 2 hours. Location: Royal Palace, Victory Avenue.

The National Museum of Art hosts the most precious pieces of medieval and modern art in Romania.

The museum’s building is a tourist attraction itself as it was once the Royal Palace and is unmistakably located in Revolution Square.

The museum features two galleries: the national one, featuring Romanian art only and the European one, featuring art from foreign artists, particularly from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe – so a great opportunity to discover and understand art in the region.

The museum offers guided tours in English, French (which must be booked 10 days in advance) and can be visited from Wednesday to Sunday.

Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History

Average visiting time: 2 hours. Location: Kiseleff Road

The permanent exhibition of this museum is very impressive and occupies most of the museum’s space.

This exhibition was created around a unique idea – to present natural ecosystems, wildlife and plants through dioramas: real-size or small-scale 3D models that are so well-done you’ll think it’s the real deal! Visitors can explore the natural habitats that are specific for Romania’s geography, but also from other habitats.

Temporary exhibitions are usually hosted by international partners to diversify the museum’s offerings: the most recent one featured Chinese Terracotta Soldiers. Reservation is required for guided tours, but the museum also offers audio guides in English and Spanish for a small fee. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Beautiful Bucharest Parks (5-6 hours)

You’ll be surprised to know that Bucharest has quite a number of parks and green areas. Some of them small like a green oasis behind concrete buildings and street pavements, others so big you’ll feel like you’re no longer in the city!

City parks like Cismigiu Garden provide beautiful green places to visit in the heart of Bucharest

Cismigiu Park

Average visiting time: 1-2 hours. Location: Queen Elisabeth Boulevard

Cismigiu Park is the oldest one in Bucharest and centrally located, close to University Square. It’s an elegant park with Viennese architectural details and decorations, a rose garden and three different lakes – one of which is reserved for ducks.

Visitors can rent a boat and practice their rowing skills on the main lake or spend their time exploring the different areas of the park. See if you can find the Poets’ Circle – it’s the favorite hideout for romantics and couples.

King Michael I Park

Average visiting time: 2-3 hours. Location: Kiseleff Avenue

Combine your visit to the “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum with one to the King Michael I Park.

It was formerly known as the Herastrau Park and it is the biggest park in Bucharest – 110 hectares with a huge lake in the middle. Finished in 1939, the park features a rich variety of flora, birds and small animals.

A particular attraction is Rose Island where layers of flowers and, of course, roses, will make your walk even more pleasant. You can rent a bike, a boat or a hydrocycle to make your visit more fun or relax in one of the restaurants or cafes with views of the lake.

Kiseleff Park

Average visiting time: 1 hour. Location: Kiseleff Avenue

After your visit to the “Grigore Antipa” Museum of Natural History cross the street to enter Kiseleff Park. This charming park in Bucharest’s Northern area is worth a short visit, if only to give you some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Kiseleff Park usually hosts various local events especially on weekends, but going through a walk you’ll immediately notice statues and the Romanian Infantry Monument as the park is an open-air WWI memorial

And for those who love the Nightlife

After so many daytime activities, let’s switch to evenings: Bucharest has a solid reputation for bars, clubs and nightlife – and for good reason.

The Old Town area around Lispcani and Smardan streets are the go to places for that: this area is filled with all sorts of bars, pubs and fancy restaurants.

Kick up your heels in Bucharest's old town

A few of the favorites are Grand Café Van Gogh, “Hanul lui Manuc”, The Gin Factory, Interbelic, Club A, Shoteria and many others. Take your time to explore and see where you like it most or choose a pub crawl tour.

Either way, brace yourself as Romanians like to party – and drink – hard!

This has been a guest post by Marius Iliescu, the founder of Romanian Friend – a local initiative promoting handpicked tours with the best local guides so travellers can discover the authentic beauty of Romania while supporting responsible tourism. Plan your trip with help from a Romanian Friend and follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see what you can visit!

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