I have recently read an article about how you can actually skip Bucharest when you visit Romania and go straight to Brașov (a city 3 hours-worth of driving from Bucharest, Romania’s capital, at the base of the Carpathians, with beautiful views and medieval houses). The conclusion of the article was that except for restaurants and friendly people there is not much to love about Bucharest.
When reading it, I felt a bit angry because at the end of the day, Bucharest is my hometown. I was born here and have lived here for my entire life. But then again, after reflecting for a couple of minutes I realized that I do not have any reasons to be angry or upset. Because I am not a great fan of Bucharest, either. But I have to admit that I sometimes enjoy living here, but definitely not all the times. So, I decided to dedicate an entire day to some pretty places in Bucharest.
Armed with my camera, I wanted to see if taking a walk in Bucharest can actually be pleasant. And if at the end of the day I can say that Bucharest is a pretty town worth visiting. So here is my day trying to discover a pretty Bucharest!
A day in Bucharest
The National Village Museum
I think this is my favorite museum in Bucharest. I have already told you how I love the rural life and anything related to villages. Well, I guess this is why I love this museum! You get to walk through traditional Romanian houses and enjoy their gardens.
If you want to take a sneak peek at traditional Romanian life, this is the place to be. It is located in the Northern area of Bucharest and it is actually pretty big – 100,000 sqm. And it contains 40 houses from all over Romania together with churches and other structures. Some of the houses are also opened for tourists to get a chance to take a look inside. Therefore, besides the variety of houses, stables, sheds, churches, windmills, you can even see what a traditional room looks like in the villages.
Given that I chose a very hot day to experience the pretty side of Bucharest, after a couple of hours at The Village Museum I felt the need for some refreshments. So I headed straight to Acuarela Bistro, a very colorful place downtown. If you want to get some great lemonades and pamper yourself with delicious quiches, this is the right place. It has a very nice vibe and the décor is absolutely charming. Quite the scene for Bucharest’s hipster population, also!
Close to Acuarela Bistro you can find Dacia Boulevard. There is traffic almost every day there, but if you manage to reach it during weekends, you can enjoy some impressive houses. The Boulevard is filled with houses presenting a charming architecture. I guess that when people used to say about Bucharest that it was “little Paris”, they had this kind of houses in their mind. Just take a walk and enjoy them, there’s nothing much you can do besides this.
Victory Avenue (Calea Victoriei)
Victory Avenue is one of tourists’ favorite boulevards in Bucharest. This is because there are a lot of people strolling and it is full of impressive buildings, as well as bistros and cafes. Therefore, I went straight to the most popular place on Victory Avenue – The Revolution Square. It is well-known because the Romanian Atheneum proudly stands there together with the National Museum of Art. I just took a walk, just enjoyed the buildings and watched the buzzing of the city. There is another famous building there – the headquarters of the Union of Romanian Architects, famous for its strange structure – the bottom having an old architecture and the upper part looking like a skyscraper.
This is the only street in Romania who has never seen a car. That is because it is a street made of stairs – 70 stairs to be more accurate. And the stairs are usually painted so that they present various landscapes, even of buildings. It is nice to check it out, also because it is located in a very peaceful area of the city, close to Carol Park. Thus, you can actually get to enjoy some silence. When I visited it there was a waterfall painted on the stairs.
The Castle of Vlad the Impaler
This one can easily be missed if you do not know where to look. It is hidden behind Carol Park (close to Xenfon Street) and you are not allowed to visit it as a tourist. It was built in 1906 as a replica of the Poenari Fortress in Argeș County as a water reservoir. Today the building is the headquarters of the National Office for Heroes Memory. It is nice to see, but only if you find yourself in the area.
If you enjoyed the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, you will probably like this one as well. In Bucharest, people know this cemetery because it is here that the most famous Romanian writers, artists and scientists are buried. Besides these important interments, it also holds some amazing sculptures that are worth admiring. I only took pictures of the sculptures because I didn’t feel ok taking pictures of the graves. Because it is full of trees, it is actually a pleasant walk on a sunny hot day. Take a walk and lose yourself between the many sculptures and their legends – that is if you feel comfortable enough walking among tombs.
This one is the largest park in Bucharest and the most famous one. I chose it as my last stop because I needed some coolness and I love watching sunsets there. If you want to enjoy a park, Herăstrău should be on your list while in Bucharest. It is usually very crowded, but because of its size, you can easily find a spot just for yourself. To enjoy the greenery and the views over the lake, to take a bike ride, to jog or anything you prefer.
So is Bucharest pretty?
After my day walking through Bucharest I can actually say that some places in Bucharest can be pretty and worth visiting – but only if you happen to stumble upon Bucharest. There are still the majority of buildings which remind us all of Communism. And there are simply not that many places to attract tourists, to make them want to buy the first ticket to Bucharest. Yes, the people are friendly and yes, there are great places to go out! But in my opinion, a city should be more than just that.
Do I love Bucharest? No.
Would I leave Bucharest? If I could get to live in Sibiu, Cluj or Timișoara, I would definitely move there.
Is Bucharest the most beautiful city in Romania? Heck no! As long as the ones mentioned above exist, it cannot possibly be the most beautiful one.
Should you visit Bucharest? I would feel remorse if I told you that you should definitely visit Bucharest. However, if you know where to go and try to tune out the Communist remnants, it can be a pretty city.
This article is solely my humble opinion on Bucharest. It reflects my feelings for this city after living in it my whole life. What about you? What is your opinion on Bucharest? Have you visited it?