Bucharest
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Things to do in Bucharest

Things to do in  Bucharest

Welcome to Bucharest

Often overlooked in favor of the mist-shrouded mountains and castles of Transylvania, Romania's capital has both culture and history that demand a few days’ worth of discovery. Shrouded in architectural vestiges of Communist history, there are plenty of things to do in Bucharest, ranging from the Brutalist Palace of Parliament and the 17th-century belle epoque churches to bohemian cafés and markets, as well as museums that document folklore and Romanian history. The city is also within driving distance of the Black Sea coast, home to seaside gems such as Constanta and Mamaia.

Top 15 attractions in Bucharest

Palace of Parliament (Palatul Parlamentului)

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If you’re in Bucharest, it’s impossible to miss the massive Palace of Parliament which dominates the city center and contains more than 1,000 rooms. Built under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu, this opulent edifice is now one of Bucharest’s most popular tourist attractions and home to the National Museum of Contemporary Art and more.More

Romanian Athenaeum (Ateneul Roman)

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Built between 1886 and 1888, the Romanian Athenaeum is one of Bucharest’s preeminent cultural venues. Classical concerts are held in its 800-seat auditorium, which is renowned for its excellent acoustics, though the concert hall is as much worth a visit for its elegant architecture and interiors as it is for its musical offerings.More

Arcul de Triumf (Arch of Triumph)

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Like its Parisian namesake, this triumphal arch sits at one of the city’s busiest intersections and is surrounded by a constant whirl of traffic. The 85-foot (27-meter monument, designed by influential Romanian architect Petre Antonescu, was inaugurated in 1936 to celebrate the unification of Romania and victory in World War I.More

National Museum of Art of Romania (Muzeul National de Arta al Romaniei)

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Set within the 19th-century Royal Palace, the National Museum of Art of Romania holds an impressive array of artworks. The collection is divided into two parts: Romanian art, with a particular emphasis on medieval and modern pieces; and European art, which includes works attributed to celebrated artists such as El Greco and Rembrandt.More

Revolution Square (Piata Revolutiei)

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Formally known as Palace Square, Revolution Square (Piața Revoluției earned its current title for its role in the Romanian Revolution of 1989 when then-leader Nicolae Ceaușescu made a final disastrous public appearance here to a booing and jeering crowd. At the center of the square sits a memorial commemorating victims of the revolution.More

Holocaust Memorial

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This memorial serves as a poignant and sobering reminder of the many Romanian Jews and Roma people murdered during World War II. The memorial, which was inaugurated in 2009, was seen as a symbolic step by Romanian leaders, with previous post-war governments having denied the role Romania’s Nazi-allied government played in the genocide.More

Stavropoleos Monastery (Manastirea Stavropoleos)

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Located in central Bucharest, Stavropoleos Church (Biserica Stavropoleos, also known as Stavropoleos Monastery, is one of the oldest churches in the city. Built in the 18th century, this small, ornately-decorated church is considered one of the most beautiful in the city, and offers an oasis of peace in the heart of Old Town Bucharest.More

National Village Museum (Muzeul Satului)

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Step back in time and discover life in rural Romania at the Village Museum (Muzeul Satalui. Located on the shores of Herastrau Lake, this fascinating open-air museum features a large collection of reconstructed buildings gathered from different parts of the country, as well as exhibits and demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts.More

Victoriei Street (Calea Victoriei)

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Extending from Piaţa Victoriei in the north of Bucharest down to the Dâmbovița River, the 1.8-mile (3-kilometer long Victoriei Street (Calea Victoriei is the city’s main artery. The wide road is lined with landmarks, from communist-era blocks to museums and historic houses, churches, and monuments.More

Bucharest University Palace

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Founded in 1864 by Prince Alexander John Cuza, who ruled over the Romanian United Principalities of Walachia and Moldova, the University of Bucharest is located on Piata Universitatii, a buzzing square snarled with traffic and popular with Bucharest locals as a meeting place. The Bucharest University Palace’s imposing Neo-classical façade stands on the northwestern corner of the square; it was designed by architect Alexandru Orascu and completed in 1859.Today the university has five faculties and is one of the biggest and most prestigious in Romania. Past alumni include playwright Eugène Ionesco, biologist George E Palade and philosopher Emil Cioran.Outside the University Palace stand four monumental statues of pivotal figures in Romanian history as well as numerous stalls selling secondhand books. Piata Universitatii itself is surrounded by a jumble of architecturally diverse buildings, including the National Theater of Bucharest, the School of Architecture, the modernist Hotel InterContinental and the ornate Neo-classical beauty of the Coltea Hospital, the oldest in the city. A memorial of ten stone crosses stands in the middle of the square in tribute to the rebels who died in the 1989 revolution, which saw the downfall of the despotic President Ceaușescu and brought about the end of Soviet domination in Romania.More

CEC Palace (Palatul CEC)

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Built in the late 1890s and opened at the turn of the 20th century on one of Bucharest’s main boulevards, the CEC Palace (Palatul CEC) was designed by French architect Paul Gottereau and the construction of this fine Beaux Arts masterpiece was overseen by Romanian architect Ion Socolescu. Designated to be the HQ of Romania’s oldest savings bank, Casa de Economii și Consemnațiuni (CEC) and located opposite the National History Museum of Romania, it is a monumental mansion topped with five cupolas; the central one stands over the grandiose, colonnaded entrance and is made of glass and steel. The palace is slated for transformation into an art museum and was sold to the city council for more than €17.75 million in 2006; while plans are drawn up the CEC Bank rents it back from the council but its sumptuous, marble-clad interior – much of which was covered over in Ceaușescu’s time – is no longer open to the public.More

Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse (Macca-Villacrosse Passage)

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The Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse (Macca-Villacrosse Passage) is a fork-shaped arcaded street in central Bucharest. Covered with yellow glass to allow natural light to shine through, the passage was built at the end of the 19th century to connect the Calea Victoriei and the National Bank. Today, the Macca side of the passage opens on to Calea Victoriei, one of Bucharest’s main avenues, while the Villacrosse side opens to the National Bank and Strada Eugeniu Carada. The passage has a French look to it and is similar to other covered passages built in Milan and Paris during the same period. During Communist times, it was known as the Jewelry Passage due to the presence of the city’s largest jewelry shops, but the original name was restored in 1990.Today, the passage is still home to a few jewelry shops, but also features several restaurants, cafes, boutiques and hookah bars.More

Patriarchal Cathedral (Metropolitan Church)

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Bucharest’s main Orthodox place of worship is dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helen and sits atop Mitropoliei, one of the few hills in the city center. It was designed by an unknown architect as a copy of the Curtea de Arges monastery in the university city of Pitesti and consecrated in 1658; it has three dumpy spires, a bulbous apse and Byzantine-style gilded paintings of the saints adorning its exterior. Although the cathedral was largely restored to its original form in the early 1960s, four major upgrades have been made over the centuries, particularly to its gold-encrusted interior, where frescoes have been added as recently as 1935. The first Romanian-language bible was printed here in 1688 and the cathedral holds the most valuable collection of icons in Romania.Next to the cathedral is a squat bell tower built in 1698 and opposite is the Patriarchal Palace, which has been the official residence of the head of the Romanian Orthodox church since 1708; it is closed to the public but enjoyed a moment in the spotlight when it became the temporary seat of Parliament following the revolution in 1989. Close by is the Neo-classical Palace of the Chamber of Deputies, built in 1907.More

Lipscani

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One of the few parts of the city to have escaped both WWII bomb damage and the drastic redesigns of the communist era, Lipscani is Bucharest’s historic hub. By day, its pedestrianized streets are ideal for strolling, antique shopping, and caféhopping, while at night, its many restaurants, bars, and clubs fill with fun-seeking revelers.More

George Enescu National Museum (Cantacuzino Palace)

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The George Enescu National Museum in Bucharest is a memorial to Romania’s most important musician. Enescu was a composer, violinist, pianist and conductor who passed away in 1955. After his death, the museum was established in the Cantacuzino Palace, widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest. Designed in a French academic style with art nouveau elements, the palace features a remarkable glass awning above the entrance and an interior adorned with murals and sculptures.The permanent collection of the museum includes three rooms of the palace and is devoted to the life of Enescu, as well as the history of Romanian music. Displays include photographs, manuscripts, medals, drawings, musical instruments, furniture and personal items, as well as a casting of Enescu’s hands and his mortuary mask. The museum also has two other branches: the George Enescu Memorial House in Sinaia and the Dumitru and Alice Rosetti-Tescanu George Enescu section in Bacau.More

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Bucharest information

Number of Attractions

24

Number of Tours

1,101

Number of Reviews

9,866

Currency

USD
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