Romania’s capital Bucharest gets a bit of a bad rap, so I wasn’t sure what to expect during a visit there. Like any other major city, there is poverty and pollution, but like all other European capitals, there is so much amazing culture and architecture crammed into one place. Like many other tourists, we planned only a short stay and had just a day and a half to explore the city, but thoroughly enjoyed it.
One of the first things I noticed about Bucharest is that it has incredible green spaces – huge city parks, rose-filled gardens and gorgeous tree-lined streets. Gardening is taken seriously here and the people spend a lot of time outside. It’s also quite walkable, and if you are staying in downtown, quite a few of the city’s main sights are within walking distance. We stayed at Hotel Trianon which is very conveniently located downtown, just outside of the Cişmigiu Gardens.
Here are some of the best things to see in Bucharest:
Cişmigiu Gardens are vast English-style garden with fountains, monuments and a popular boating lake, originally built in 1847. There is also the landmark Monte Carlo restaurant on the central island. It a peaceful reprieve in the big city. We thoroughly enjoyed wandering in the gardens and exploring the surrounding area.
Palace of the Parliament
Another nearby is one of the top sights in Bucharest – Palace of the Parliament. The palace was built in the 1980s during the communist reign of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. It is the second-largest building in the world (after the pentagon), and the largest civilian administrative building. It is over 365,000 sq meters in area and is absolutely amazing to see. The interior is extravagant, filled with marble staircases, chandeliers, works of art and gilded decor. It has 220,000 square meters of carpet alone! It’s mind-boggling to visit and well worth spending some time exploring.
National Museum of Contemporary Art
On the backside of the Palace of the Parliament is the National Museum of Contemporary Art. This is a fantastic art gallery, which displays temporary, ever-changing exhibitions of eclectic installations and video art. It also has a lovely roof-top cafe to relax and enjoy a view over the city.
Although our visit to Bucharest was short, I rather enjoyed visiting the city and can’t wait to explore more of Romania. Our next destination is Transylvania.