As I’m sure not many people might know this East European capital, Bucharest is, in fact, the capital of Romania. That fish looking country (as they taught us in school back in the days) neighboring Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Moldavia, close enough to Russia but still very close to the EU. If you are planning to spend one day in Bucharest, keep on reading because here is where I will spill all my valuable tips and tricks.
Like a Pheonix bird, Bucharest has risen from its own ashes, after many years under a totalitarian communist regime, during which the country and capital were close to the outside world, the city has regained its charm and it sure is worth paying it a visit.
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The not so small capital has gained a “hipster-ish” vibe and here is where you will taste one of the best coffees in Europe, the same being valid also for the wine area, as Romania is the sixth largest wine producer in Europe. And believe me, quality is also a feature, not only quantity and you will surely want to fit it all in if you visit Bucharest for only one day.
Starting your day with a delicious brunch.
Is a trend in Bucharest, thus making it difficult to choose between all the great locations that offer all sorts of delicious international dishes. This being said, if I were you, I would be heading for Frudisiac, hoping to find a place in the small minimalist “Breakfast & Brunch Restaurant” (as they call themselves) since they do not take reservations.
If you are in luck, sit down, enjoy the view and make sure to order the incredible pancakes you’ll find here. Even though this would not seem much, I would easily fit it into my top things to do in Bucharest.
If not, take a stroll (or a bus) up to Shift Pub, one of my favorite places in town, sit outside in the small green garden and taste the yummy Primavera Pasta dish.
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Do some sightseeing
Now that you’ve solved the eating part, you are ready and full of energy for doing a little bit of sightseeing.
Unlike many of the European Capitals, Bucharest is not packed with tourists (yet) and you won’t be bothered by tens of people stepping on your feet or getting in front of your camera when trying to take a picture.
Add this to the pro list that will tilt the scale and will make you want to spend one day in Bucharest.
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A few of the places not to miss in one day in Bucharest
The Romanian Village Museum
Located in the biggest park in Bucharest – Herastrau Park – where you will step in an almost real village, hosting houses from different regions of the country, built in different centuries. Apart from this, you will also have the possibility of visiting different heritage collections, from traditional handmade carpets to ceramics, to textiles and traditional costumes.
The Arc de Triumph
Really close to the Village Museum, you will ask yourself if you are still in Bucharest or maybe in Paris. The Arch was raised in 1922 and it is indeed a smaller version of the one you will see (or have already seen) in Paris. You can climb the staircase up to the top and admire the city from above, especially the split between the green wide park and the homes area in the Primaverii neighborhood.
Moving towards the center of the city, you will want to visit the enormous building Ceausescu built during his ruling. While it is hard to miss, as it is the largest administrative building in the world, hosting the Parliament, the building is not a thing Romanian people should be proud of since many have died in the building process.
Stepping inside the building, inspired by another in the North Korean capital, you will get to see and feel Ceausescu’s megalomania and grandeur desire, the heavy marble walls, the thick expensive rugs, the huge chandeliers are only of the few things that will catch your eye in the many rooms.
Even though this is an important attraction of the city and one of the top things to do in Bucharest, I will leave it to you to decide whether you want to fit it into your schedule if you only have one day in Bucharest.
National Museum of Romanian history
If you ask me, this place is better known for the statue in front, than for the actual exhibits. You will notice it for sure, passing by on Calea Victoriei, leaving the CEC building on the right side, you will be welcomed on the left by this statue of a guy holding a…well…dog, many might say. In fact, the statue is supposed to be none other than the Roman Emperor Trajan, holding in its arm the Lupa Capitolina.
The Romanian Atheneum
Maybe one of the most Instagramable buildings in Bucharest, the Romanian Atheneum is that place that you will hear music coming from. This is because the place is a concert hall, impressive both on the inside and on the outside.
Don’t miss the most beautiful book shop in Bucharest
Yes, you read that right. I am sending you to a book shop. But trust me, you won’t regret going here.
Carturesti Carousel is maybe the one more popular attraction in Bucharest, the one you will see in every guide and the one I really love myself so very much. First of all, because is a place filled with books. But also because it is a magical place.
Trust me when I say it, this is maybe the most beautiful book shoop I’ve ever seen!
After all that sightseeing, you must have gotten a bit tired and are in a deep need of caffeine. You are just in luck because only a few steps away from Calea Victoriei, you will find the best coffee place in town, Origo. Here is where you will taste one of the best coffees you’ve ever had, or if you come after 7 PM, a cocktail as you’ve never had elsewhere.
Once you’re ready for dinner, go back to the North part of the city and book a table at Nor Sky Casual Restaurant. I have to admit the best thing about this place is the view, is located on the 36th floor of a round office building, offering a 360 degrees view over the city.
Well, you can’t leave the city without ending your one day in Bucharest with a wild night out in the old town city center. Here is where the magic happens, where people from all over the world come to party since alcohol is not that expensive, the streets are packed with clubs and with joyful people. I promise this place won’t disappoint and you will be partying until 6 in the morning since clubs are open until the last customer.
Where to stay in Bucharest
As someone born and raised in Bucharest, it is true to say I haven’t really frequented the hotels in town. Apart from the conferences I have attended for work, I haven’t stepped into the hotels of Bucharest overnight.
But I have worked with many people visiting Bucharest for work, and I can safely share with you the list of the best hotels in Bucharest (as rated by my colleagues):
- Radisson Blu Hotel – may be one of the most impressive there is, perfectly located on Calea Victoriei just a stone away from the Romanian Atheneum and the Romanian Art Museum. As all Radisson hotels, the one in Bucharest is in the luxury area and will set you off a few hundreds of euros per night. But it is all worth it.
- Marshal Garden – not that conveniently located as Radisson, the Marshal Garden hotel it is way cheaper, just as nice and within walking distance from the city center (mainly Romana Square and all the streets with pretty historic buildings).
- Pura Vida Sky bar and Hostel – yes, it is a hostel. But what hostel! It has the perfect location (in the Olt Town city center), an awesome rooftop bar where the coolest parties in town take place, and an incredible view. All for the price of a hostel.