February is the month of love, the month when couples want, perhaps more than ever, to mark their love stories with special moments. Romanians celebrate love twice in this period - on February 14 (Valentine's Day) and on February 24 (Dragobete – the Romanian traditional lovers’ day). And Bucharest, which still keeps that “Little Paris” feeling, can be the perfect destination for romantic tourists.
The weekend just started and we are in the Cotroceni neighborhood, one of Bucharest’s most romantic areas, with narrow streets bordered by houses with an eclectic, special architecture. It’s winter, but there’s still no snow in Bucharest and the friendly temperatures convince us to go for a walk. As we arrive on the Cotroceni Road, we decide to visit the Botanical Garden.
Founded 160 years ago, the "Dimitrie Brândză" Botanical Garden covers more than 17 hectares today, giving visitors the chance to admire plants they already know while discovering new, exotic plants. And lovers can use this impressive collection of flowers and ornamental plants as inspiration for a special bouquet of flowers or another kind of gift for their sweethearts.
We enter the Botanical Garden shortly before noon and stop at the ticket office. A group of parents and children have just bought the tickets and are on their way to explore the garden. We do the same. We start on the main alley and immediately notice the Botanical Museum on the left, and a little further a statue of Dimitrie Brândză. We can still hear the cars passing on the nearby boulevard but soon the birds’ songs completely cover any other noise.
We follow the informative signs and reach the lake - the most romantic place in the garden, at least in the winter months when the flowers have not yet revealed their special colors and perfumes. A few ducks quietly float on the water while some visitors feed them with pieces of bread. We decide to cross the small bridge leading to the island and relax a little on the red benches installed on the lakeshore.
We continue our walk on winding alleys, passing under the high tree crowns, reaching many of the garden’s sectors, such as the decorative sector, the one dedicated to the Asian flora or the one where the rare plants are found. A couple leaves the greenhouse, the special place dedicated to exotic plants, and heads towards the exit. A red squirrel cuts our way, but it goes away quickly, hiding in a tree.
Curious couples who want to discover new things together should not miss the museums in Bucharest. The city hosts many such institutions dedicated to a large number of categories - from art or history to geography, natural history or traditions. The Cotroceni National Museum is close to the Botanical Garden, but the list is much longer, including popular locations such as the National Art Museum of Romania, the "Grigore Antipa" National Museum of Natural History or the National Museum of Romanian History.
We choose to visit the “Dimitrie Gusti” National Village Museum this weekend, one of the Capital’s most special places, where visitors have the chance to discover the Romanian village life. We find it easily, on Kiseleff Boulevard, not far from the Arch of Triumph. We stop to buy tickets and then we start our adventure.
The first we come upon is an 18th century household from Suceava county, but the route takes us through many other areas of the country. We discover old households from regions such as Dobrogea, Transylvania, Banat, Muntenia and Oltenia, while passing by windmills and old wooden churches, boat sheds and wayside crosses. We soon start to play a game – we have to guess the origin of the next household before getting close to the information boards. A young couple walks past us, filming and laughing, while other tourists stop on the trail for photos. It takes us more than two hours to discover this open-air museum, which makes us forget that, in fact, we are in an active and noisy city,
We continue our day in the Old Town, where time has left its mark on the buildings and cobbled streets that still keep that old Bucharest feeling. The streets are dotted with bars and restaurants that will surely prepare surprises for the month of love, small art and souvenir shops for special gifts and even small art galleries.
Probably the most romantic place in the Old Town is the Macca-Villacrosse Passage. Time seems to have stopped in this passage with a yellow glass roof and impressive architecture. The two branches of the passage, which start from Calea Victoriei Boulevard and unite before exiting Eugeniu Carada Street, host several cafes today, where tourists and locals stop for a few minutes of relaxation.
A love story often includes a romantic dinner as well, being the perfect way to end a day spent with your partner. The Capital has restaurants for all tastes, including some “high-sky” ones that offer unforgettable views. We also find such a restaurant right in the center of the city, on Lipscani Street.
We take the elevator to the last floor of the building. Once up there, the decorative plants and the mix of natural and artificial light help us relax. The restaurant also has a small outdoor terrace from where the guests can enjoy an impressive panoramic view. The rooftop terrace is also quite impressive, this being the place where seekers of unique experiences can enjoy a tasty dinner inside igloos made of transparent plastic.
The parks also rank high on the list of romantic places in Bucharest, being suitable not only for relaxing walks with your sweetheart but also for activities that can turn into happy memories.
Many say that the Cișmigiu Garden in the center of the city is the most romantic park in Bucharest. We also discover it on a Sunday morning, when the fog makes the park look mysterious. We take one of the main alleys, which was turned into a tunnel by the rich crowns of the trees, and walk to the place called “La Cetate,” passing by people walking their dogs, jogging or relaxing on one of the many benches installed in the park. Somewhere in the center of the park we find some old stone stairs that lead us to a small terrace where two young lovers enjoy the view in silence. In winter, one of the park’s main activities is ice-skating and a few young people are enjoying this activity even now, before noon.
Not far from Cișmigiu Garden we find a cozy, quiet tea shop, where the jazz music and the fruit tea flavors provide us with the energy needed for the rest of the day. We go upstairs, where we enjoy a mango tea and a coffee with rose syrup, sitting on colorful chairs at a low table.
In the immediate vicinity of Carol I Park we find Xenofon Street, Bucharest’s most famous stairway street. We also climb the colorful steps, stopping from time to time to take some pictures. And at the end of the steps we find an impressive building that today houses a hotel – the Suter Palace.
Because the weather is nice today, with the sun warming us discreetly, we decide to also take a stroll through the Carol I Park. This park is named after King Carol I and is one of the most beautiful and interesting parks in Bucharest, home to many tourist attractions. The Mausoleum (Nations’ Heroes Memorial) is the main attraction of the park, but visitors can also see the building of the National Office for the Cult of Heroes, which is better known as the Castle of Vlad Țepeș. This building is a replica of the Poenari Fortress. The park also hosts Arenele Romane, one of Bucharest’s main concert venues.
All the park’s visitors are enjoying this sunny winter day. A young couple heads towards the Mausoleum, while a grandfather carries his grandson’s scooter on a nearby alley. Meanwhile, some children approach the lake while their parents watch over them, and a puppy pulls its owner towards a ball rolling from the children’s playground.
Tineretului Park, one of the largest parks in Bucharest, is located close to Carol I Park. Other large parks in the Capital are King Mihai I (Herăstrău) Park, Alexandru Ioan Cuza Park, Circului Park and Izvor Park.
Events to try in Bucharest in February – recommendations:
A live concert, a movie watched together at the cinema or an exciting ballet show can be just what a romantic holiday needs.
For example, the program of the Bucharest National Opera House includes a large number of shows in February, including Turandot by Giacomo Puccini (February 13, 14 and 16), Le Corsaire ballet show by Adolphe Charles Adam (February 15) and the Romeo and Juliet ballet (February 26).
Of course, the Capital also hosts many live concerts in February and all you have to do is choose your favorite. The agenda includes: the Lara Fabian concert at Sala Palatului (February 3), Disney in Concert - Magical Music From The Movies at the Bucharest Metropolitan Circus (February 7-8), The Mono Jacks concert at Arenele Romane (February 8), the Luka Sulic concert at Sala Palatului (February 8), the Holograf - Classic Rock concert at Sala Palatului (February 19) and the Nikos Vertis concerts, also at Sala Palatului (February 27-28). In addition, Sala Polivalentă will host The Illusionists magic show on February 13-15.
For movie enthusiasts, the cinemas are preparing many premieres in February, including “Little Women,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Richard Jewell,” “Emma” and “The Call of the Wild.”
This material is part of a project under the program of promoting the touristic heritage "Destination: Bucharest", carried out by the Bucharest City Hall through the Public Monuments and Touristic Heritage Administration (AMPT).
(photos by Romania-Insider.com for AMPT)