City breaks are great but what happens when you’ve seen most of the cities like Paris, London, Madrid and so on? The answer is simple, go for the less obvious ones and you are not going to be disappointed.
Bucharest is one of those such cities. Its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings and a reputation as the ‘Little Paris’ of Eastern Europe, Bucharest is Romania’s largest city and capital. The bustling metropolis has around 1.921 million inhabitants, with beautiful places worth visiting.
If you decide to go to Bucharest for a city break, then make sure you add these to your list:
Visit the old historical Centre of Bucharest also known as Lipscani District, a once-glamorous residential area, the old city centre is now slowly being refashioned into an upscale neighbourhood. The area is home to many art galleries, antique shops and coffeehouses. It is definitely worth seeing!
The Old Princely Court & Church is just in the middle of the historical centre of Bucharest. The Old Princely Court (Curtea Veche), built in the 15th century by Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula, is represented today by a few walls, arches, tombstones and a Corinthian column.
Next to the palace stands the Old Court Church (Biserica Curtea Veche), dating from 1559 and considered the oldest in Bucharest. For two centuries, the church served as coronation ground for Romanian princes. Some of the original 16th century frescoes have been preserved.
Because you’ll be in the area also have a look at Manuc’s Inn. Built between 1804 and 1808 by the wealthy Armenian trader Emanuel Marzaian (called by the Turks, Manuc Bey), The Inn has preserved to this day its old style and flavour. It now serves as a hotel with a restaurant, a wine cellar and a pastry shop. If you do not want to stay at the hotel, then it is worth having dinner at the restaurant. It will be a great experience.
Not too far away from it, you can find the Beer Cart Restaurant, opened in 1879, this famous restaurant and beer house soon became one of the most popular meeting places for Bucharest’s literati. It bursts with history and it has amazing food as well. Don’t miss the famous ‘papanasi’ desert if you go there.
If you want to have a stroll in the streets of Bucharest go to Victory Avenue. Calea Victoriei is Bucharest’s oldest and arguably, most charming street. Built in 1692 to link the Old Princely Court to Mogosoaia Palace, it has later become Calea Victoriei after the Romanian War of Independence victory. Stroll along this street from Piata Victoriei to Piata Natiunilor Unite to discover some of the most stunning buildings in the city, including the Cantacuzino Palace, the historical Revolution Square, the Military Club, the CEC Headquarters and the National History Museum.
And because there is no Paris without the Arch of Triumph, Bucharest also has its own. Initially built of wood in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in World War I, Bucharest’s very own Arc de Triomphe was finished in Deva granite in 1936. The Arc stands 85 feet high and an interior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city.
The Romanian Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. With a stunning interior, the Athenaeum is renowned worldwide for its outstanding acoustics. It is Bucharest’s most prestigious concert hall and home of the Romanian George Enescu Philharmonic.
Next to the Arch is the beautiful Herastau Park. Spread over some 400 acres, from the Arch of Triumph to the Baneasa Bridge, the park is home to numerous attractions, including a boat rental complex, tennis courts, and a rather old-fashioned fairground. In the summertime, many terraces open up on the shores of the lake.
The Museum of the Romanian Peasant, can be found at one of the Herastau Park entrances. Opened in 1906, the museum features the richest folk art collection in Romania, with over 90,000 artifacts that trace the colorful and diverse cultural life of the Romanian people. The displays dip into all aspects of life in the Romanian countryside. Exhibits of agricultural tools, carpets, icons, furniture, photographs and films build up a complete picture of Romanian folk culture. Visitors can buy regional handcrafts and textiles in the museum’s extensive gift shop.
Also, you can’t miss the Parliament Palace. Built by Communist Party leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the colossal Parliament Palace (formerly known as the People’s Palace) is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. It took 20,000 workers and 700 architects to build. The palace boasts 12 stories, 1,100 rooms, a 328-ft-long lobby and four underground levels, including an enormous nuclear bunker.
If you are planning to visit the Parliament you will need: Valid passport or national ID is required to gain access to the Palace. Reservations are strongly recommended for large groups. More information can be found at www.CameraDeputatilor.ro
There are so many more other things you can do in Bucharest, you would probably need about two weeks to be able to visit everything. It’s a beautiful place where I guarantee, you cannot get bored. So, next time you plan a city break take into consideration Romania’s capital, Bucharest.