Attractions you should not miss while visiting Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, has become over the past years an important tourist destination, an alternative for tourists of all types to the large and expensive metropolises from Western Europe.
Being over 555 years old, Bucharest went through a series of continuous changes, representing the central scene of Romania’s political, artistic, university, financial and cultural. Between both worlds wars, due to the elegant architecture and the elite living here, the city was nicknamed “The Little Paris”.
Even if sometimes confusing and exasperating, the city will never be boring and the mixture of cultures is the main reason.
Bucharest is the perfect destination for city break holidays in Eastern Europe. It boasts a wide range of cultural attractions, interesting museums, charming parks, really good hotels and hostels that are cheaper than the ones from the West, great restaurants, beautiful architecture, as well as beautiful people.
If you are planning to travel to Bucharest, even for a short stay, here is what you should include in your program. Below you will find a short list of attractions. We will start with the museums in today’s article and continue in future writings with other suggestions to make the most of your time spent here.
Bucharest is one of Romania’s most important cultural cities. It has a good selection of museums, not very expensive and quite entertaining, museums that are telling the story of the city and the country. Let’s see which are the most popular museums in Bucharest but also some not so popular but very appreciated ones you should consider visiting while in the city:
The Palace of the Parliament
It certainly represents the biggest and most famous construction that you have to see in Bucharest. Its fame is due most of all to the three records mentioned by World Records Academy – the largest, most expensive and heaviest administrative building in the world. It was erected starting with 1984 at the orders of then president of communist Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, who wanted to centre here all the political and administrative power.
The Palace of the Parliament is by far the most controversial building in the country and despite the Romanians’ disdain, it is the reason why most of the tourists are visiting Bucharest.
The palace is open daily for visitors from 10:00 am to 04:00 pm, except some days when different conferences or fairs are taking place. Here, tourists can join groups and visit the palace with the local guides who speak English, Spanish, French and Italian. It is preferable to call with one day in advance and find out the program of the visiting tours. More info can be found on the official website here.
Do not forget to bring with you the passport or ID in original as the access to the palace is based on these documents; otherwise you won’t be allowed to visit inside.
“Dimitrie Gusti” Village Museum
It is here where you will have the chance to step back in an indefinite time when traditions and superstitions used to go hand in hand with religion and local believes. Inaugurated in 1936, the open air museum reunites original houses which belonged to Romanian peasants being brought here from all the corners of the country. Tourists can stroll along the alleys, admire the traditional and simple architecture of the houses, they can learn about the old lifestyle at the countryside and find out funny, interesting things about the families who used to live in those homesteads.
Do not miss the typical blue house from Danube Delta, the traditional 18th century wooden church from Maramures historical region or the intriguing half buried houses from Oltenia.
The Village Museum represents a synthesis of all villages across Romania. The collection is quite impressive gathering more than 300 monuments (houses, annexes, churches, technical installations) and countless interior items (furniture, ceramics, textiles, tools, etc.) considered representative for their places of origin.
The museum is worth being visited no matter the season, as each period gives a special glow and charm to this small “urban village” which always remains unchanged despite the years passing by. But we have to admit that the best time to see it is during weekends starting with 1st of March until winter as then is the time when many traditional fairs are taking place. Then is your chance to get in touch with the local handicrafts and to admire their work. The village really seems to get back to life and the most important thing is the fact that you are part of the picture.
The museum is open daily, roughly from 09:00 am to 06:00 pm, depending on the season. If on Mondays the small houses are closed and you can see them from the outside, during the rest of the week you can have a peek inside them.
Here you can find more info.
The National Museum of the Romanian Peasant
In the Victory Square, there is a beautiful Neo-Renaissance red brick building which houses the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, one of the most honest and authentic museums in Bucharest. If in the Village Museum mentioned above, you get in touch moreover with the material patrimony of Romania, in this museum you can discover the spiritual and millenary legacy of our country. Here, the old superstitions, songs, symbols, clothes, believes are being revealed to tourists in a very warm and unique way. During the visit, do not miss the down floor exhibition which shows how the peasants’ lifestyle was affected by the communist regime or the gentle Romanian blouses exhibition.
Once you are here, after the long visit you can have a rest at the restaurant (called the Peasants’ Club) located in the back of the museum and even better, if it’s weekend, you should definitely have a look to the traditional fair which takes place here: handicrafts from all over Romania are gathering as they used to do many years ago and sell their homemade products starting from clothes and shoes to food and delicious sweets.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 18:00. When you buy the tickets, you recommend to take also an audio guide which will help you understand better everything you will be about to see. All the details about the museum can be found on the official website here.
The National History Museum
This is another place interesting to visit. Conveniently located along the exquisite Victory Avenue, in Bucharest Downtown, the building is housing an impressive collection of arms and a series of unique exhibitions. For example, did you know that in the National History Museum from Bucharest you can see at real scale the Column of Traianus Emperor, a copy obviously? Also, you can admire part of the national treasure dating from the Neolithic and probably the most beautiful collection that will attract your attention for sure consists of the authentic royal jewelries, the royal crowns and different objects which used to belong to the royal family of Romania. You will pass by two boxes exhibited, a simple one made of silver and another one, more sophisticated made of gold and you will be surprised to find out that in those boxes the heart of Queen Marie of Romania used to rest after her death since 1938. Now the heart is at Pelisor Castle, her former summer royal residence.
The museum can be visited from Wednesday to Sunday starting with 09:00 am until 17:00.
The Natural History Museum and the National Art Museums are also very appreciated by visitors from Romania and abroad, as well. In addition, they are quite accessible being located very close to the city center.
Now, the museums mentioned above are among the most popular places in Bucharest that most tourists are reading about on the internet and, by consequence, include them in their travel program while in the city.
Anyway, there are three not too popular museums, but in our opinion that really worth a visit.
The National Military Museum
Located halfway between Bucharest Gara de Nord train station and the city center, this museum is housing an impressive collection (99% of the total objects displayed here are original) starting from authentic uniforms which used to belong to Queens and Kings of Romania to personal gifts that Nicoale Ceausescu, former communist dictator, received from the British Royal family, from the original landing capsules used during space missions to XIXth century cannons, military decorations, citadels models, weapons of all kinds used during the history of our country, models of the first air crafts designed by Romanian aviators who succeeded to fly for the first time in the world and many, many others. A visit here can last between 2 hours and even 5 hours. The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays starting with 09:00 am until 5 pm.
Cotroceni Palace Museum
Most of the foreign tourists that travel to Bucharest do not know that in the city there is a very special and charming palace that really worth a visit. Cotroceni Palace used to be the residence of the second Royal couple of Romania, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie. Actually the whole estate went through many changes over the years but the special touch of Queen Marie and still be felt and seen starting from the architecture to the beautiful Neo-Romanian and Art Nouveaux Styles. We like to say about this palace that it represents the brighter version of Peles castle, the most beautiful castle of Romania and one of the most appreciated ones in the whole world. The palace can be visited with English speaking local guides and an appointment made with one day in advance. Tourists need to carry with them their passports or IDs in original in order to enter the palace, for security reasons as nowadays the new wing of the building is housing the Romanian presidential family. You can visit the museum from Tuesday to Sunday starting from 10:00 until 16:00. More info about the palace and the museum can be found on the official website here.
This is a new museum organized in the former residence of the last communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu. The villa was built in 1965 under the orders of the communist president and it boasts over 80 luxurious rooms, a pool, a spa, hair salon and an underground bunker. During the Revolution from December 1989, Ceausescu’s house was assaulted by a group of revolutionaries. It was the first time when the Romanians were able to see how the presidential couple was living in luxury. Besides the story of the house, visitors can find out many interesting things about Nicolae Ceausescu’s lifestyle and members of the family. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday starting with 10:00 until 18:00. A reservation has to be made with one day in advance.
This is only a short list of the most interesting museums you could visit while in Bucharest. You can see them on your own or you can take a tour with a local guide and have a great insight of the city and the museums you are visiting.