The capital of Romania has been coined the Paris of the east and it’s easy to see why. With tree lined boulevards, grand architecture, beautiful parks and a vibrant café culture, it would be easy to be mistaken for thinking you were in the French capital.
But it’s more than just a French copycat, far from it. Bucharest is a wonderful melting pot of styles and influences, with large portions of its distinct Romanian heritage and Soviet past on show too.
It’s one of the greenest cities in Europe, with plant life eking out of almost every building and it has vibrant dining and nightlife scene. They don’t do things by halves in Bucharest and there is a number of attractions which register among the biggest in the world in their field.
With cheap prices and a warm welcome, it’s fast becoming a top city break destination.
Join us as we delve into the best things to do in Bucharest….
10 Best Things To Do In Bucharest
#1. Visit the biggest spa in Europe
On the fringes of the city you will find the biggest spa complex in Europe, called Therme Bucuresti. It’s an astonishing development, with market leading spa facilities set among a huge site, with both indoor and outdoor elements.
It has 10 pools, swim up bars, a full range of treatment and massage facilities, restaurants and many other relaxing areas.
It draws in 1.2 million people a year, who come to relax among more than 1,500 palm trees and 800,000 plants on the site. The huge domed structure also has facilities for children in a sectioned off area and it hosts DJ nights in the summer months, attracting ravers to dance in the pools.
It’s an incredible space and has quite rightly won many awards.
Put your feet up and relax.
#2. Hit the city’s parks
Bucharest has a large selection of large parks dotted around the city and it’s an excellent way to escape the busy city centre streets. From north to south and east to west you will find beautiful green spaces, which are lovingly manicured and kitted out with lots of things to do.
Grădina Cișmigiu, in the city centre, is one of the best spots to explore, with many stunning manicured gardens, a boating lake and lots of large old trees.
It can get very hot in Bucharest during the summer months, so having plenty of places to escape and relax under some shade is key and this spot provides bucket loads.
Another of our favourites is in the north of the city, called Herăstrău Park, which is the biggest city park in Romania and one of the biggest city parks in Europe.
It comes complete with a large lake, many beautiful gardens, lots of tasty restaurants and relaxing bars. You can spend a whole day here with many things to do and see, set among a massive site.
#3. Café hopping
Café hopping is one of our favourite things to do during any city break, but Bucharest is a European leader in speciality coffee.
There are many coffee roasteries dotted all around the city and many more excellent third wave coffee spots. They take their coffee very seriously and Bucharest punches well above its weight in the sector.
We highly recommend getting out for an explore and tasting as much of the lovely coffee as you can muster. Some of our favourites include – Sloane Coffee, New Steam, Trofic and Meron.
Many of the beautiful coffee roasteries also do fantastic food, particularly for brunch, so get out there and get tasting.
#4. Spot the living walls in the city
There are few cities in Europe which are quite as green as Bucharest. We’ve already mentioned the vast array of fantastic parks, but the rest of the city also feels alive with plant life too.
There are many stunning tree lined boulevards throughout Bucharest, which makes it a gorgeous place to wander around.
But it doesn’t stop there. Walk around some of the city’s streets and you will be amazed to see the amount of living buildings, with plants and tree life dancing up their side.
It makes city life more bearable when you have nature intertwined with the concrete and bricks.
We think it’s a wonderful aspect of the city and enjoy wandering the tree lined and plant lined streets.
#5. Go see the heaviest building on earth
The Romanian Parliament building, called the People’s House, is the heaviest building on earth. The sprawling site in the city centre is an astonishing size and seen as one of the most ambitious architectural projects of the 20th century.
It was sanctioned to be built during the time of the former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu’s.
The aim was to be as opulent and ostentatious as possible and the building still remains and is used by the Romanian government today, while also housing 3 museums and a conference centre – 70% of it remains empty.
In today’s money it would have cost around $4billion to build and is the heaviest single building to ever be made, weighing 4.10 million tonnes.
It really is a sight to behold.
#6. Pizza & gelato on Calea Victoriei
Calea Victoriei is one of the Bucharest’s coolest streets and a place to see and be seen. Among many fashion boutiques and historic buildings, you will also find a huge array of tasty places to eat, along with many awesome bars and cafes.
One of the big draws is the number of brilliant pizza slice shops and gelato spots.
Although they clearly aren’t Romanian, there is a big Italian influence and pizza and gelato are hugely popular in Bucharest. There are 10s of pizza slice shops in and around this area, along with many other cafes selling beautiful gelato.
Some businesses have queues right out the door and the venues have music pumping out on the streets, with tables set up for people to relax on.
It’s a cracking vibe and a great place to go in the early evening.
#7. Street art & graffiti spotting on the city’s metro and trains
Now we admit this is a weird one to point out, but it really is quite something. One of the city’s old metro lines – M4 – is painted head to toe in colourful artwork, drawing in artists from around the world to paint pieces themselves.
We aren’t just talking about little scrawls here, we are talking about full train pieces and on every single carriage.
You can spot the pieces by going to the city’s Gara de Nord and heading down to the M4 line. But don’t worry if you don’t manage to see those, there are also 100s of pieces regularly found on the city’s trams and commuter trains.
It’s a street art lover’s paradise, although it does cost the authorities quite a lot of money to get it off, which explains why the older metro carriages (which will eventually be replaced) haven’t been cleaned for quite a long time.
#8. Sip beers at an enormous brewery
In Bucharest’s beautiful Herăstrău Park you will find a truly enormous brewery, which is on a scale you don’t see in many places. The enormous warehouse, by the park’s lake, has 1,000s of spaces for drinkers and diners to sit and often has live bands playing.
Beraria H is a monster site and a fantastic place to spend an evening or during the day too on a weekend.
Not only is the beer excellent and the setting bafflingly big, but the food is also very good too and there are regular big events taking place in and around its grounds.
It’s a must visit place in Bucharest.
#9. Take in the Paris of the east’s architecture
Bucharest has a very unusual feel for an Eastern European country. At times you could be mistaken for thinking you’re in France, thanks to its huge tree-lined boulevards and Parisian’esque, ornate buildings.
The city gained the “Paris of the East” title back in the early 1900s and many of its buildings were built in a French style, as a middle finger to the Ottomans.
Many still remain and it has an air of Paris as you walk around, with stunning buildings throughout its streets. They took the French feel so seriously in Bucharest that the city even has its own version of the Arc de Triomphe.
You have to pinch yourself at times to realise you aren’t actually in Paris.
#10. Go to a football match
The Romanians are big football fans and the city’s capital has three large football clubs, which draw many thousands of people to their matches every week. If you visit the city during the football season there is a strong chance you’ll have the opportunity to watch a match.
The rivalry between the three clubs – Steaua, Dinamo and Rapid is fierce – and all the clubs have lively ultras who attend matches.
If you haven’t visited a football match in Eastern Europe we highly recommend it.
It’s a far more enthralling visual occasion than matches in the likes of England or the USA, with colourful displays from the fans and pyrotechnics.
Bucharest might not be on everyone’s radar yet, but it absolutely should be. Not only is it a stunning capital city, with bags of history and an incredibly interesting past.
But it’s also one of the greenest capital cities in Europe, has a laidback vibe and a wonderful food and drink scene. It bosts parks, which would be the envy of any city in Europe, and hearty local cuisine, which will never leave you hungry.
Meanwhile, it has a youthful approach to change, with one of the leading speciality coffee scenes in Europe, a beating creative heart and lively nightlife.
We think it’s one of best up and coming cities in Europe and highly recommend you getting there while its cheap. Not only does it have a lot to offer, but it’s still cheap enough to do on a budget.
So what are you waiting for?