Bucharest – a capital city situated in southern part of Romania, almost in the center of Walachia region. City had a harsh time during the reign of a communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu up until 30 years ago when dictator met his end. We entered Bucharest coming from central part of Romania and we visited north before that, it was so hard to comprehend how lightly this communist dictator just wiped off half of the city’s history if not more. Nowadays it serves as a commercial center of the country.
City is visited by many tourists as it is the capital of Romania. In this article we want to share our guide of where to go and what to do, thus, if you are looking for a great recommendation which locations to choose while in Bucharest, this article is for you.
Even though city is relatively old it has a little of its old town left. Nevertheless, we are sure you will find a place where you can try local cuisine, visit a lively bar or investigate what is left of beautiful architecture and see the biggest administrative building or longest boulevard in whole Europe. We believe that couple days in this city is more than enough to see the most important locations. While on your stay in Bucharest, you should not miss these places mentioned below.
Local cuisine in Bucharest
First, we want to highlight food as it is one of the things people in Bucharest can proud of. As in many larger cities with office buildings around you will find many places where they serve lunch! While we were traveling through Romania, we did not see anything even close to this level!
Lunch, lunch and one more time lunch! You must try different restaurants and different lunch options here in Bucharest. In Old town they serve food not only for workers from offices around but for tourists as well. At first, we thought it was too good to be true as the prices were generous to say at least.
One of them was famous Armenian house Hanul Manuc – a must visit place for its history and for the food!
Second was Taverna Covaci, there we also enjoyed a lunch deal meal which was delicious. Fun fact that even the menu is named special for tourists to try and eat local food!
You get amazing price quality ratio as you can choose even from best restaurants in town who has this opportunity. We tried only couple and we loved it! Afterwards we shared this experience with locals. All of them reassured that the price we found considering where we ate was great!
The Parliament & Boulevard
Paris has its Eiffel Tower, Roma has its Colosseum and as many other capital cities throughout Europe Bucharest has its owns iconic building – Parliament. This building is actually second largest administrative building in the world ranking only after Pentagon which is United States. On top of that or should we say beside it we also have the longest boulevard in whole Europe.
In short after visiting North Korea and other communist countries, former dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu decided that he wants to build the biggest Parliament and longest boulevard in Europe. Under the false pretext of the 77’s earthquake, around 7 km worth of buildings from the Old City Center have been demolished. 44,000 people have been relocated. A series of important buildings have been demolished, without any care of the patrimony or their architectural value and the construction began.
Longest boulevard was built on a river for it not to intervene with the length. For Romanian people this boulevard symbolizes tragic events which happened more than 30 years ago. Once a beautiful Old Town and a heart of the city was destroyed and replaced by massive block buildings. It was a disaster for everyone living in there as their houses were demolished and some of the people were only advised to move a day in advance.
Around 30 years ago in 1989, during revolution in Romania communist dictator was killed. Even after his death Romanian people continued to build the Parliament. Nowadays it is still not finished, however, its most iconic landmark in Bucharest – a massive, communist-era Palace of Parliament – a government building, which has 1,100 rooms. Fun fact is that to some of the room’s carpets were carried with planes through the roof. Unfortunately, even as it is the second largest governmental buildings in the world and largest in Europe, after filling the building with various governmental institutions, European Commission and allowing various events to take place inside they only use up to 30 percent of the building.
Old Town that survived
Even though big part of Old town is now just big soviet style housing buildings in the boulevard, there are places which survived! In order to access them, you just need to go behind old soviet architecture. Bucharest is by far Romania’s most visited city and like any other capital, it has a vibrant and crowded old town or what is left of it with historical attractions, restaurants, small shops and bars.
In order to explore it, we recommend you to just get lost in it! We believe it is the best way! Relatively small and well organized, thus, wandering through its streets will show you most of its beauty. If you feel like you need a guide, we recommend free tours in Bucharest, for us it was a pleasant experience and you get to know some facts about the places as well. Like for example that technique to move whole building was invented in Bucharest by one of the main architects who wanted to save as many historic places as possible during construction of longest boulevard.
Find Paris in Bucharest
In year 1900 Bucharest was called ‘Little Paris’ of the east. Yes, many cities were trying to attach this title to their town increase tourism and they still do! However, the reason behind Bucharest was not only everywhere seen elegant architecture, but rather the fact that locals felt like in Paris. They dressed the latest Paris fashion, greeted each other in French, and even frequently traveled and studied there.
Calea Victoriei is one of the main city’s arteries where you can see traffic going only one direction. Story says that this happened because after Romanian victory in the Independence War of 1877-1878 troops would march on this street back to the city. Nowadays it is filled with many restored architectural masterpieces, museums and memorial houses that recall the avenues of Paris.
On top of that just after World War I they have built themselves a 27 meters tall Triumph Arch all covered in Romanian marble. Would not you agree that nothing evokes Paris better than a replica of its famous “Arc de Triomphe”?
Evening drink in Bucharest
After enjoying Bucharest for a whole day, you will be thirsty! You are lucky as Bucharest’s Old Town was once located on the prosperous commercial route that linked the east and west of the continent! Many merchants wanted to stay in the city during their journeys. Those inns which were centrally located and fortified in the case of a potential attack were the best accommodation option of the time.
One of the inns that survived till today is Manuc where we offered to try lunch. Here you can also enjoy a cold drink at its interior court restaurant!
However, our favorite place to calm down our thirst was no other than Caru’ cu Bere – oldest beer bar in whole Bucharest which has spectacular art nouveau interior decorations, great beer and moving performances.