Columnist Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe writes in her weekly column about life as an expat in Romania. This week she gives you a list of what to show your friends, when they visit Bucharest for the first time.
It is summertime, which also means holiday time, and this makes it the perfect time to invite friends or family to Bucharest. I am sure most of them will say yes to visiting you in Bucharest, but then the planning begins. What to show them? There are many things to see and do here in Bucharest, so I have made my own sightseeing list that I use when I have friends visiting. This list does not of course cover all there is to see, rather they are a few of the things I like to do or show my friends.
1) Take the Bucharest city tour bus
This is a great way to get a view and a quick impression of the town. The bus visits the best known places here in Bucharest, and it’s the perfect way to get a great view of the Casa Poporului (People’s Palace), but remember sun lotion, if siting upstairs, because the sun burns down and there is no shade. The service runs from 10:00 – 22:00 around every 20 minutes and the price is RON 25 lei per adult. Find out more here.
2) Guided walking tour with City Compass.
A great possibility is to go on a guided tour organized by City Compass, there are many trips to choose between, such as “Discover little Paris “ or from “Communism to Democracy”, get a lot more insights than from the average Bucharest guide book, plus great stories from the guide. Read more here.
3) National History Museum of Bucharest
This is my absolute favorite museum in Bucharest, and a must see. Besides the changing exhibitions on the ground floor, there are the very interesting exhibitions “150 years of diplomacy” and an exhibition of historical watches. But my favorite sight is the amazing gold collection downstairs. There is a special peace in this room, and besides the old historical gold collection, you can also see the jewels of the royal family. Walk around and gaze in amazement at some of all the jewels that Romania possesses. Read more here.
4) Lipscani or the Old Town
Lipscani is the perfect place to go for a walk, lunch, dinner or a night out. During the evenings the area is quite crowded, but it has this southern exotic vibe of enjoyment, laughter and a good time with friends. There is a mixture of modern restaurants, cafes, and old beautiful buildings, sadly not all of them in a very good condition, but you can get a real sense of history and experience Little Paris, the effects of communism, and modern life, all in one place. Go and see the amazing Stavropoleos church – Biserica Stavapoleos and try Caru cu Bere for traditional food in a historical setting.
5) Athenaeum or Ateneul Roman
This concert hall, built 120 years ago between 1886 -1888, is not only breathtaking from outside, the inside too is equally, perhaps more, impressive. Definitely go in and see the amazing entrance hall and visit the concert hall which is decorated with frescos, a feast for the eyes when listening to the talented musicians playing. Read more and see the program of concerts here.
6) The National Opera
Give yourself the pleasure seeing an opera at Bucharest’s National Opera concert hall. It is decorated just like a concert hall should be in my opinion – gold covered lodges with red velvet and a beautiful ceiling create just the right atmosphere for an opera evening. My advice is to book the seats in the first row on the first floor in box nr. 21,22 or 23, if you are tall or have long legs, because here you will have space. Read more and see what is on the program here.
7) Village Museum – Muzeul Satului – in picture
This is a very cozy place to visit, it’s an outdoor museum, where visitors walk around in a park like area filled with old houses and churches that have been transported here from different parts of Romania. It is a perfect way to see the different architectural styles found in Romania without leaving Bucharest and a good impression of the countryside from within the city. Read more here. (only in Romanian)
8 ) Palace of Parliament (Casa Poporului or the People’s Palace)
This huge building commissioned by Romania’s communist tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu, is the biggest building in Europe, to my knowledge. Romanians have very different opinions about the building, some want it to be torn down, other want it to stay to remind them of how it was, and how it is not anymore. But it is an impressive building and well worth seeing. Today the Parliament is situated there, but it is still possible to go sightseeing, and after you have been blown away by the sheer scale of the building, the interior will blow you away again. It is not possible to see the whole building, but what the guide will show you is one room after the other, each more exquisite than the last. There are marble staircases, crystal chandeliers and again, the scale of the rooms is breathtaking.
9) Cismigiu and Herastrau parks
Two of the best and most enjoyable parks in Bucharest are Cismigiu and Herestrau. Usually there are plenty of events going on, everything from markets selling traditional handcrafts to live concerts. In Herastrau, don’t forget to go and see the peacocks, maybe you will be lucky enough to see the very rare white peacock spreading its tail, or go and find the hidden corner of the park where the locals play backgammon and other games.
10) The Zoo
This is maybe not the first place you would take friends to visit here in Bucharest, but I just love going to the zoo, and in almost every country I have visited, I’ve gone to the zoo. The zoo here in Bucharest is near Baneasa and it is not in a very good condition, but there are lots of animals to see and don’t forget to go to the little restaurant outside the zoo, this is a perfect place to try Romanian barbequed food and chat a little with the locals. Read more here.
Enjoy the sightseeing !
By Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe, columnist
Eleonore is Danish, she holds a BA in Organization and Management and specializes in Corporate Communication & Strategic Development. She is also a Market Economist and a Multimedia Designer. She is currently working in Bucharest as the Executive Director of UAPR the Romanian Advertising Association. As a Danish Viking in Romania, with a great passion for ’covrigi’, she has a burning desire to find out how Romanian women can balance on really high stilettos on the bumpy streets of Bucharest. Her weekly columns will give you insights into an expats life in Bucharest written with humor and a big Danish smile.
(photo source: Village Museum)