Sightseeing in Bucharest: What should be labelled essential?

Eminescu grave, Bellu Cemetery
Mihai Eminescu's grave at the Bellu Cemetery. Essential?

As part of what will be a fairly serious overhaul and rewrite of the What to See section in Bucharest In Your Pocket, we are currently reconsidering what should be labelled as ‘Essential Bucharest.’

Right now, these are currently our ‘Essential Bucharest‘ picks:

Arc de Triumf
Bellu Cemetery
Casa Poporului
George Enescu Museum
Grigore Antipa Museum of Natural History
National Art Museum
Peasant Museum
Village Museum

The accompanying text reads:

The first port of call for any visitor to Bucharest these days should probably be the Historic Centre, or Old Town.

Once you have ticked off Old Town, you can head for the sights, museums, churches and buildings we list here.

The Peasant and Village Museums should take priority, as well as the Grigore Antipa National History Museum (as and when it reopens).

While still the most famous building in the city and usually top of the agenda for most visitors, Casa Poporului/Palatul Parlamentului tends to be a bit of a let down for most, mainly due to the stilted nature of the compulsory guided tour.

Art lovers – especially fans of religious art – should pencil in at least an afternoon at the National Art Museum.

Last but not least, half a day at the Bellu Cemetery is a wonderful trip through Romanian literary, artistic, political and architectural history.

We think that the Arc de Triumf can probably go: it would warrant a place on the list if it opened to the public more than on two or three days per year, but as such should you really go out of your way to see it (especially as almost every visitor will pass it on their way in to the city from the airport?) We also think that the Village Museum might be a tad overrated, especially as we recently visited Stockholm’s Skansen. It should probably still be considered essential, however.

Anyway, comments and ideas welcome. Most importantly: is there anything which should be part of the Essential list that we currently ignore or list elsewhere?

  • Pingback: air compressor reviews Best()

  • As Romania is becoming a well known touristic destination, so is Bucharest and all it’s attractions. And as some of you have already mentioned, Bucharest’s charm lies not necessarily in it’s sightseeing but in it’s stories and way of living.
    That’s why some of us locals have gathered together to form BUCHAREST GREETERS, which is a volunteering programme offering FREE TOUR GUIDES but most importantly we offer the chance for tourists to hang out with locals and hear their stories. It’s a great way to uncover the city’s uniqueness.

    If you’re looking for a unique experience and want to SEE FOR YOURSELF what Bucharest has in store or if you want to become part of our volunteering team you can get in touch with us at or check out our Facebook page . We’re looking forward to sharing our passion for the city where anything is possible – Bucharest!

    Bucharest Greeters is a proud member of the Global Greeter Network.

  • Essential if here for 1 or 2 days: Stavropoleos church, Patriarchal cathedral, Village Museum, Royal Palace from the outside, the Athenee Palace Hilton, Casa Poporului from the outside, the outside of the Senate from the roof of which Ceausescu escaped, wandering the decrepit streets in the centre. Curtea veche.The Sutu Palce for the house itself not the museum. Mogosoaia Palace. Then there are very many interesting churches if you know where they are. I have never felt any desire to enter the Enescu or Antipa museums.

  • jos_cenzura

    Some of the guys (especially one) commenting here, with a Romanian nickname, give all of us Romanians a bad image; we are not all pseudo-intellectuals who get butthurt when our country (or city) is attacked, and many of us even have a sense of humor, not to mention basic reading and comprehension skills. I love Bucharest but, having visited dozens of countries around the world, honestly I can’t think of many tourist attractions which would appeal to an outsider. In Romania, there are some places worth making the trip for (maybe), but in Bucharest, there’s not so much. And again, it’s one of my favorite cities in the world, but I’m trying to be objective…

    • Roger

      Yes, some fantastic places, buildings, culture, people etc etc in Romania and well worth a visit.

      Bucharest COULD be a really superb tourist attraction but the Government needs the desire and most importantly correct people in place to make it happen.

      • I do hope it never gets tourists.

        • Roger

          From an entirely selfish point of view, me too. It’s a hidden gem is Romania!

          The last thing I’d like to see is an invasion of drunken Brits.

  • Essential Bucharest = walking everywhere and looking at dark haired Romanian women against a backdrop of exceedingly decadent and dilapidated architecture. When you need a break from the buzz, stop at a hipster cafe/bar for a glass (or three) of Romanian red.

  • Dave

    A lot of interesting places if you are in Bucharest for some other reason like business. What ”must see” attraction does Bucharest have that a tourist should transverse the continent or the world for?

    Maybe worth a trip to Otopeni to go north and visit Peles. Plenty of places to pass some time if you happen to be here but nothing really tourism worthy to bring tourists en-masse to Romania. I would either go a Disneyland or do a casino district or promote cheap bed and breakfast style mountain accommodation or accept tourism doesn’t have much of a future here. b.t.w. To answer the question; the casinos. Although I am not much of a gambler, as I write this comment it dawns on me that this is probably the sole tourist attraction of merit in Bucharest….and that’s not a bad thing.

    • Geronimo

      I think there are 5 things that can attract people from a distance:

      1. The delta
      2. Dracula, whatever the hell that means
      3. The monasteries
      4. Medieval country living
      5. Ceausescu – peoples palace etc

      None of them are mass tourism and to promote 3 of them could have a bit of a negative effect on the fragile national psyche. But can’t think of any other draw. The mud geysers of buzau anyone?

      • The vulcanii noroiosi at Buzau are unquestionably the biggest letdown in Romania. And as you can imagine, that’s up against some stiff competition.

        • Mister Rearguard

          Give it 4 weeks and Del will have Rodders back behind the wheel of the Bucharest Ethnic Tours bus!

    • Alex

      You miss the main attraction on this part of Europe – at least half of the fun is the… story. During the communism/ socialism/ whatever is was…, many historical buildings were demolished, the owners were thrown in jail, if they weren’t ready to leave the country on time and a shade of grey started to cover the beauty of “the little Paris” (as it was called Bucharest between WWI and WWII).
      I am a guide and I notice day by day people who “know” Bucharest very well, hear the forgotten stories of these place and finally discover this place. It is all there, all you have to do is raise the curtain, bring back to life the palaces and parks. Just an example: one of the most beautiful museums in Bucharest is the Art Museum Cotroceni, in Cotroceni Palace – once a Royal Residence, today – only one wing of the palace is opened for the visitors. This is the same Palace where the President of Romania works. That is why you need a passport and you are not allowed to take pictures inside. You can not visit if you are not on the “list” (call the museum before and find out when you can go).
      King Ferdinand and Queen Maria – together with their children were the inhabitants of this superb residence.
      If you really want to see Bucharest, do not go alone, find a good guide – Bucharest beauty is hidden, behind the walls.. You will never forget this city, believe me!

  • Mr Rearguard

    The double decker open top city tour buses like the one Del had are back on the road as from yesterday. I counted 6 passing by along that pretty tree lined street at Aviatoriilor (check spelling)

    • Yep, packed with people too. They are popular and rather good.

  • Pingback: Bucharest Life | The Museum of Bucharest / Sutu Palace | Bucharest()

  • Pingback: Bucharest Life | Bucharest Monopoly (2) | Bucharest()

  • Pingback: Bucharest Life | The year in Bucharest Life | Bucharest()

  • Pingback: Bucharest Life | Finally! Bucharest’s Grigore Antipa Museum reopens. It was worth the wait | Bucharest()

  • Pingback: Bucharest Life | Visiting Bucharest’s abandoned forts | Bucharest()

  • Pingback: Bucharest Life | Home in Bucharest (No. 4): Bulevardul Unirii | Bucharest()

  • Fritz

    Davin’s idea – walking the streets: I fully endorse it -there are always surprising things out there.
    To illustrate my point, here’s a short itinerary, posted free of charge 🙂
    Garanteed to be worth a visit, on a quiet afternoon. Many more could be made, in different areas, maybe mapped on a tourist map with coloured footprints 🙂

    From Stefan cel mare Bvd:
    – Walk up Polona Str. Towards Icoanei Park
    – When you get to Dacia Bvd., turn left and walk towards Piata Gemeni (interesting architecture left & right)
    – After as short while, enter Ioanid Park (right turn from Dacia Bvd); visit the little cozy park
    – Exit Ioanid on Ioanid Way (Intrarea Ioanid)
    – Turn left on Aurel Vlaicu Str.
    – Turn right on Dacia Bvd., continue toward Spaniei Sqr.
    – Turn right when you reach Spaniei Sqr., look around, exit it taking another right on Dumbrava Rosie Str., towards Icoanei park; (interesting architecture left & right)
    – Optional: Find the hidden teahouse and have a cup of tea, while watching the cats
    – Reach Icoanei park (in the area, see: Anglican Church; Central Girls’school – romanian architeture by I.Mincu)
    – From the school, continue on Icoanei Str. All the way to Dacia bvd, cross it and then turn left on Eminescu Str. (usually full of local street life)
    – When you get to Tunari Str., turn right
    – Continue until you reach Stefan cel Mare Bvd, (or, better: zig-zag your way back to the starting point)

    • Excellent stuff, thanks.

      • Fritz

        I’ve got another one. Let’s call it ‘Back and forth through time, around the Parliament Palace’ 🙂
        Feel free to include this stuff in the day job if it helps, just credit it to ‘Fritz, a local’ :))

        It’s a long one.
        From Izvor park, with the palace in sight (more precisely, on the corner of Spl. Independentei w. Libertatii Bvd.):

        A. The front side:

        – Cross Libertatii Bvd ;

        – Walk on the sidewalk along the Bvd and look at the late communist era blocs (and their decaying masonry);

        – Find the alley and enter left, through the blocs as trough a castle’s gate: you now see the old quarter hidden there.

        – Walk around Sapientei Str, visit Mihai Voda church – moved a long way from its original place;

        – Walk around Streets Vigilentei and Politiei;

        – Exit from M.I. Brutus Str, between two blocs, and cross the Natiunile Unite Bvd

        – Enter through the corresponding blocs; it’s a good moment to admire the blocs’ rear :); visit the enclosed area at leisure (ruins of industrial age factories, quite destroyed; Sf. Apostoli Str.);

        – Exit from Apolodor Str, between two blocs, and cross Bulevardul Unirii (same routine as before, only now, if you look right while crossing, you stare Parliament Palace in the face );

        – Enter through (…); visit the area (Antim monastery with Sinodal palace; Jusititiei Str, George Georgescu str. etc);

        – Reach. Regina Maria Bvd and go to Regina Maria Sqr.. You can buy water (et al.) from some small supermarkets around here.

        B. The grand tour (recommended during daylight; start from end of A):

        – Continue on George Cosbuc Bvd (technical military academy on the left, on the corner with Viilor) ; OMV gas station can be source of water and has a decent toilet.

        – Turn right on Calea Rahovei; colourful neighbourhood; visit the flower market on the right; industrial age factory on the left also interesting;

        – Turn left, on Uranus Str. and follow it all the way to 13th September Str. Plenty of stray dogs in the area;

        – Turn left on 13th September Str. and reach Mariott Hotel;

        – Turn right on Izvor Str and keep walking (see Defense ministry on the left and ‘Catedrala Neamului’ marker on the right). If you’ve seen pictures of the old neighbourhood, you can compare it with today’s vast emptiness around the palace…

        – Turn left on Gral I. Dragalina Str. and visit it;

        – Exit in B.P Hasdeu Str and cross Izvor park to your starting point.

        Phew… i’m tired.

        You will need water; also, decent clothing if you want to visit churches, and not to stand out too much;

        Optional (I’ve had no problems but who knows): a self defence deterrent against dogs (a positive, friendly yet dominating attitude is the best) or humans (no idea what works with these, probably a friendly yet firm attitude).

  • ioana

    @ Cristian Rusneac
    yes, Craig used the word “angst”. And how many did you use to express the same? “scars, natural disasters, fire, earthquake” – how are all these more appealing and inviting?
    “the little Paris of the east” has now become “the new New York” .. we can use this quote for the next 100 years.

    • Correct! Most frustrating is that he has picked up on one or two phrases and simply hasn’t taken the time to read the whole guide, nor to find out more about me and what I think about Bucharest in general. But then it is always easier to jump to conclusions if you keep yourself ignorant of the facts.

    • Cristian Rusneac

      It is… disappointing (?) to see that 100 comments later you don’t realize that it’s not about “appealing and inviting”. It’s about 1) coming off the high horse of patronizing 2) presenting information without the fuss of a primadonna singer
      As they say, “tonul face muzica” – and the tone is set by those one or two phrases. I have never rejected the guide wholesale, and believe it or not, I have read it.
      The words I used invite you to think and set Bucharest on an equal stage with cities who have gone through similar calamities: Lisbon, London, Dresden, Berlin etc. Grand statements about how Bucharest inspires anxiety, fear and dread are misleading to say the least.

      • Parmalat

        What would this blog be without a pinch of English humor?! You may hear critics from the French, you may hear them from the Americans but nobody does it as the English, it’s simply tasteful.

        So if that’s what you think the problem is, then I say you shouldn’t worry – because the tone of the articles was not meant to sound as patronizing.

        • Geronimo

          Undoubtedly a man of many qualities, I suspect Mr Rusneac has never been known for his sense of humour or relaxed approach to life

          • Parmalat


      • Bucharest does not deserve to be on the same stage as Lisbon, Dresden, London or Berlin. Until you accept that, and accept Bucharest as it is, there will always be a nod in your papura, so to speak.

        • Cristian Rusneac

          Well, you have found a vocation of putting it in its place. At least we now know where we stand. It is unfortunately many of my compatriots who “ți-au dat nas”. Reading you is like a situation where a stranger thinks that he can give any child a spanking because their parents do too. I am not surprised you received equally sensationalist accolades from The Guardian as are your pretentious notions about the place you live in – Bucharest “adventure”. I should not be surprised, after we’ve had a group of teenage girls from the UK with their “teachers of Adventure” who brought them to Bucharest on the equivalent of a field trip in survival skills. :)) You really are a pathetic lot.

      • ioana

        Belgrad had even more tragic faith. Yet it managed to create a reputation of “party-city”.
        is pathetic to keep finding excuses that we had fires and earthquakes. it’s not so much about the buildings that are still standing – but the personality of the city and this is very much created by people.
        Bucuresti is built on a swamp (ok, call it “necklace of lakes”, as in the geography manual) and is populated by people who come here hoping to achieve their ambitions. their greed, the competition, the stress, the rush, fact they lost their humor and manners in the process – this is what creates the feeling of “angst”.
        not the troubled history !!!

        • I actually compared Bucharest to a swamp in my ‘Defence of Bucharest’ in Decat o Revista.

          Belgrade is known as a party city: Bucharest too has its club scene which is increasingly good. I have long campaigned for the city to market itself as a top nightlife destination: casinos, clubs, debauchery etc.

          • ioana

            @ Craig!
            very inspired if you did this! maybe you can give a link to follow; for both me and Cristian to read.
            i wasn’t so smart to “compare” it; i only wanted to say a fact. each time people complain about the mud, i remind them we live on a swamp that we paved a little bit, according to needs. even from prehistoric times, cultures of Dudesti and Crangasi, could happen here (and not in Slobozia, for instance) as people found here a very fertile land + plenty of fish.
            Bucuresti was never planned to be – it just happened and keeps happening.
            who is marketing this city and what is the target?

          • Alex

            1. “Decat o revista” – sorry to say – is doesn’t sound ok in Romanian language.
            In such a sentence, “Decat” must be always used with a negative form of the verb (i.e. “NU e decat o revista” meaning “it is only a magazine”).
            You can say “Doar o revista” or “O revista, pur si simplu ” or even better “O revista” or if you really want to show better its importance “Revista” (“The magazine” – the one !)
            I know Romanian language can be very tricky for someone who is not used with latin languages.
            2. Bucharest does not need “defence”, it is not guilty in any way!
            3. The comparison with a swamp is really strange (Bucharest is located in the middle of a plain) – you can find something better!

            • You will need to take up the Decat o revista issue with the people who actually own the magazine.

              As for defending Bucharest, I think you will find that even the innocent need a good defence.

              And the swamp reference was something of a metaphore. Don’t take everything quite so literally.

            • Giuseppe

              The people at “Decât o revistă” are well aware that their title is grammatically wrong. It was chosen on purpose, probably as a form of irony.

              It’s also kinda late to make a fuss about it. The magazine has been in circulation for over 3 years and has a well established niche.

              • It’s the irony that’s the issue: some people have a problem with it…

          • Roger

            The crime rate and nightlife is pleasant enough as it is …. Wanting Bucharest to be invaded by the sort of tourists your ideas will attract is madness and only good for the unscrupulous …. Do you really want it to become and stag and hen destination like Prague and Sofia, with the crime and drunken problems that come with it? Walking into Lipscani and now a drunken vomit filled war zone? You’re out of touch, but well meaning … but you need to think everything through, tourism is good, but the gambling, debauchery and potential harm to the already calm, fun and SAFE atmosphere you already have.

            The young of Romania and old too …… should be encouraged to enjoy and hopefully in years to come the economy prospers for the normal people and they have disposible income for nightlife etc ………… but remember the young Romanian are not like the drink crazed of your own country, and thank goodness for that too.

        • Cristian Rusneac

          Guess what London is built on… 🙂 There’s a myriad streams and rivulets cursing underground. Your point?
          I was not making any excuses: I said Bucharest was wearing its beauty and scars intertwined like no other place. I’m proud of that.
          You go ahead, get pissed with Craig’s conationals every night. We don’t need to be a supply of meat and cheap alcohol for retards. To a capitalist mindset a few pints of beer later anything will go. Well, drinking buddies and fuck buddies for foreigners doesn’t cut it with any decent person in this city and country.

          • Geronimo

            Brilliant. Do you really run a hostel? How on Earth did that happen? I hope your contempt for your guests shines through brightly.

            • Cristian Rusneac

              The success of an enterprise is to know who you’re catering to. I am making no secret of where we stand on boozing and the “consumerist” type (“if you can’t piss on it, fuck it or drink it, than it’s no good”) avoid us by a mile. Thank goodness!!
              There are plenty of hostels in Bucharest to take care of the needs we are not willing to. So stop making fascist remarks – not the whole world will line up to be used and abused.

              • Geronimo

                I’d like stay, sounds like fun. I was always a big fan of Fatty Owls. Hope you have a good review in In Your Pocket

                • Anon

                  I prefer Flowery Twats myself.

          • ioana

            why are you proud of that? what is your contribution?
            have you created the beauty or the scars?

            • Cristian Rusneac

              This is the country, culture, history and city of my ancestors. A nation should honor and acknowledge both its heroes and villains, they are all children of the nation.

  • Geronimo

    You know, the thing that annoys me about this comment thread? I am pretty sure that virtually every one who comments here has a lot of affection for Bucharest in one strange way or another. Why else bother? It’s very annoying to be lectured about the right and wrong ways of expressing that affection, especially by hysterical, pseudo-intellectual, judgemental fools

    • Parmalat

      Geronimo, I said so many stupid things in 2 years and you were annoyed by none of them (except maybe by 1 of them) and now somebody manages to get you annoyed in one single comments thread.

      He actually manages to annoy the entire comments community and beyond. Quite a negative record for a beginner…

      • Geronimo

        I remember you annoying me once. Perhaps even you thought you went a tad too far? Anyway, it would be poorer experience without you sir.

        • Parmalat

          Yes sir, I was so upset back then that I went too far with my words indeed.

          So I’m gonna use this opportunity to apologize, I’m really sorry I made you upset.

          I am happy to hear that you enjoy this comments section and I have to tell you that your opinions are some which I look forward to reading every day.

          • Cristian Rusneac

            What would we all do without a crisis, eh? :p

  • Crae

    Cristian, you are hysterical and have gone off the rails.

    Bucharest has its special charms, no doubt, but is never going to appeal to a certain kind of traveler. You are screaming “Neener neener! Other cities have problems too!” Well, they happen to have assets Bucharest does not have, and pointing out their discomforts does nothing to help the Romanian capital.

    Bad traffic, intrusive signage and poor city planning add to the city’s unattractiveness to high-end tourists. The sightseeing isn’t great. But for those who seek a certain kind of experience, Bucharest is great. As Davin puts in, a it is a haven from globalisation and mass tourism. What’s the problem with admitting it?

    Craig is blunt but honest. He tolerates the juvenile, provocative Parmalat without a blink. You really need to calm down and get some perspective here.

    • Cristian Rusneac

      Well, I’m actually quite calm, just trying to point out what you expressed so eloquently: “Bucharest is NEVER going to appeal to a certain kind of traveler.” Which in itself is fine. What I am hysterical against is this mindless negative offsetting of Bucharest against other destinations. I still haven’t had any sort of explanation from Craig for his choice of words in the opening statements on both cities, Brasov and Bucharest. Is that sort of liberty taking with words really necessary?! What good is it, since you all seem to deny its harmfulness?

      • Geronimo

        I can’t really imagine anyone wanting to stay in your hostel. Desperate and judgmental is not an appealing combination

        • Cristian Rusneac

          The irony in that is beyond description. :)) Dude, some of you have strange ways of showing affection indeed, but hey, whatever pushes anyone’s buttons: “Baby, (Bucharest) it must be awful being you!”, when you see some other sexy chick. (Brasov)

          • ioana

            do you remember “SAREA IN BUCATE”?
            dear daughters, how do you love me?
            1) my love is like sugar, dear father
            2) my love is like honey, dear father
            3) my love is like salt in the food
            shall i tell it all, or do you understand ?

            anyway, critics are more useful than compliments!
            but nobody is teaching us how to accept critics. should be a new discipline in schools and a manual “how not to blame it on something else”.

          • Cristian Rusneac

            The story obviously could not have foreseen anything along the lines of “like salt in your eyes”. It had not known British humor.

      • We answer to our readers, not to you, so there is no need for explanations. We are well aware of the fact that not everyone agrees with us, but then it would be rather dull if they did. You are not the first to take offence at our ramblings and I doubt you will be the last.

        What we do know is that after 12 years, 72 editions, millions of guides printed, and having recently had The Guardian call us ‘the best city guide website of all time’ we must be doing something right (more by luck than by design, of course, but we’re not complaining).

    • Parmalat

      Oh, you must be a long-time reader of this blog!

      Welcome to the comments section 😀

  • Alan

    I would absolutely endorse Cotroceni district for a taste of Bucharest pre-WW2 architecture. Each street has at least 2-3 architectural gems and its eclectic residents give it a real neighbourhood feel, more so than most of Bucharest.
    I would also put Cismigiu Park on the list

  • ioana

    @ Cristian Rusneac
    can you please give an example of how the first paragraph about Bucuresti should be written? now you made me curious.
    also: can you suggest some other idea for the “essential list”, like other people have tried to do?

    • Cristian Rusneac

      I more than happy to comply. Here goes, par example:
      “Bucharest. Few European cities bear their beauty and scars as intertwined as the Romanian capital city does. In turns, a stage for historic turmoil at the crossing of world powers, for natural disasters through fire and earthquakes, made, broken and remade by its inhabitants, kings, dictators and mayors over and over again, the city is as alive as the living Earth and chockfull of gems in its rough to, from each and every of its ages, for you to discover and explore.”
      I think I have made my case about the importance of Muzeul Satului. In addition to that I would recommend Hanul lui Manuc, a prime example of the little that survives of ottoman architecture in Bucharest.

      • Cristian Rusneac

        Please ignore the “to” after “rough”.

      • ioana

        wow, so prompt, thanks!
        Hanul Manuc is on my list too, right after Stavropoleos.
        Muzeul Satului – i can’t say essential. why?
        imagine you come in Bucuresti for a meeting in the morning and you have to leave the next day very early. so you have a bit less than a day to visit a bit. better try a bit of everything: old, new, borrowed, blue, etc; Muzeul Taranului, Calea Victoriei, Lipscani, Casa Poporului seen from Piata Unirii – might do the job.
        you can’t dedicate all those few hours you have – to peasant life.
        Nobody will exclude Muzeul Satului from the guide – in fact i looked today and there are listed more museums than i knew myself(museum of old books and maps)
        try to imagine you are in Sofia for a day – you’ll organize your time to see some ancient ruins, some bizantine churches, some new stuff, eat, have coffee break, buy souvenirs, write a postcard, etc, a little bit of everything. right?

  • Fritz

    How about a niche site – not essential but still interesting:
    – For aircraft enthusiasts, the Muzeul Aviatiei (on Fabrica De Glucoza Str., close to the intersection with Vacarescu Bvd.)
    Very small, and some aircraft are quite rusty, but it has an interesting selection:
    Early romanian flight pioneers’ aircraft, of the ‘wood-and canvas’ old school.
    A WWII Romanian -made fighter plane (IAR 80/81) should be a treat for propeller-heads.
    Plus some communist bloc jets (soviet, czecho-slovak and romanian)
    And it’s free.

  • ioana

    There is also “Tezaurul de la Pietroasa” – objects which sum up to 20 kilos of gold, found together, in Buzau, but with different origins and execution techniques.
    I’m not sure they are displayed and if they are, must be in the same old boring way.
    So maybe this will have to wait, until they repair the building (in danger to collapse in case of strong earthquake).
    Muzeul de Istorie, Muzeul Satului and Muzeul Bucuresti (Palatul Sutu) will be on the list for sure, as soon as they get a proper refresh, as Antipa did.
    Not just paint the walls, but new concept to display and explain things. And add something extra to the visitor experience.

    When a child, I remember I visited an exhibition, in Muzeul de Istorie, with objects that Ceausescu received as gifts, from other presidents – I was very impressed, they looked so exotic to me that time. I wonder what happened with all these now.

    If I would visit Bucuresti as a turist, I would like to start my trip with the area where it is said the city started. Biserica lui Bucur is quite hidden and forgotten.

    • They sold most of those Ceausescu gifts off in an auction in 1999.

    • Alex

      The Romanian Thesaurus can be visited at the National History Museum of Romania, on Calea Victoriei (i.e. Victoriei Avenue), and I can tell you it is four times bigger as the one from Vienna (at Kunst Historisches Museum) – actually, in Vienna you can admire some superb golden bracelets made in… Dacia (the first name of Romania).

    • Parmalat

      You mean put up a show for the press? But they do it every day!

      That show was fake, even the car was chosen so that it doesn’t affect the city budget too much. At the beginning of 2011 when car taxes exploded, they used to sell those S-Klasses for EUR 2500…

  • pif

    I’m very surprised you left out Calea Victoriei, should be first on the list in my opinion. Plus, with a walk from Piata Victoriei to Splai you get to see most of the architectural + museum essentials and wander around the old city centre without going too much out of the way. Speaking of museums, I think the National Art Museum tops Antipa and The Village & Peasant ones and there’s so much more to it than religious objects.

    Casa Poporului is overrated imho, but still an essential. I’d be curious to see it just for the size of the building.

    To get a feel of the city, head to Universitate. It used to be nice to sit on the steps of the National Theatre enjoying the contrasts around. Plus, there’s that little museum of the city of Bucharest on the corner — everybody keeps ignoring it for some reason; I think it’s an excellent starter’s guide into the history of the city.

    I’m not too much of a fan of the Herastrau area (museums imcluded); as nice as it is, it doesn’t really say Bucharest to me.

    As someone pointed out, Bucharest is not for sightseeing, but for feeling the vibe and the contrasts around every corner.

    However, if I had a few hours to show you the *essentials*, I’d walk on Calea Victoriei (including museums and the old city), then head to Casa Poporului for pictures, go to Unirii and then Universitate. As you mentioned, Arcul de Triumf is perfectly viewable on the ride to the airport.

    • We currently have a three page feature on Calea Victoriei in the print version of the guide. We walked it from top to bottom and suggest those with the time do the same. You are also right about the Sutu Palace/Bucharest History Museum: it is overlooked by almost everybody.

    • Alex

      Again I have to admit that the Palace of Parliament (as we call the HOUSE OF PEOPLE today) it can be overrated if you simply want to… admire the beauty of a hideous construction. It is not beautiful at all!
      What really counts there are all the stories – the secret tunnels, the huge effort made – only the number of architects raised to 700! -, the secret stairs for snipers, the real number of underground levels, the stories about the carpets, the stairs, the air conditioning…
      Not to mention the story behind the scene: how many people were forced to leave their houses and move – over 57,000 families – in order to make place for the Civic Center of Bucharest.
      The wedding of Nadia Comaneci (our famous gymnast), the chandeliers, the marble stairs rebuilt seven times to match the steps of Nicolae Ceausescu, our dictator…
      Eh… what is an empty building, the dream of a megalomaniac without the REAL STORIES and without the real image on what really means everything? Just a huge palace for invisible giants, “the great nothing” killing “Romanian Phantasia”… !
      If you want to have an amazing city tour, I invite you to join me and together we can remake the puzzle of Bucharest in one clear image!

  • ioana

    Muzeul Taranului and then on Calea Victoriei (which is the spine of the city – at least for me): Casa cu lei > Ateneu > Palatul CEC > Biserica Stavropoleos > Hanul Manuc > Curtea Veche > Piata Unirii > Casa Poporului.
    this i consider essential (if you only have 1 day to visit)
    if there is more time:
    Casa Doina (Bufet la Sosea) + Antipa + Palatul Sutu & Coltea Church + Casa Capsa (i wish cake would be really special but it’s not) + Art Museum + watch a sunset, it can be spectacular over Herastrau lake + Piata Amzei (i wish we’d have a proper market) + Palatul Mogosoaia

    • Alex

      There is one special cake, Ioana. A Romanian cake, with a French name! It is a chocolate cake with chocolate cream, created by Grigore Capsa and it has a lot of history inside that little cylinder of chocolate.
      The name is… Well, I let you guess!
      Of course, there are other special cakes, too. For example, TOSCA it is another Romanian cake. Romanian recipe and delightful!
      And we have many other attractions if you like good food. Romania gather all the flavors of Balkans, Turkey, Russian, Hungarian, French cuisine and adds its own special and refined taste.
      There is nothing I can compare with our amazing eggplant salad with fresh tomatoes and cheese. Ahh, I need to visit my fridge now!

  • Also it should be labelled as essential Bucharest the following:
    – cec palace
    – carul cu bere
    – hanul lui manuc
    – national theatre of bucharest (the design will be changen soon to it’s original state!!!)
    – the university building
    – cotroceni and elisabeta palace
    – minovici house (museum of old occidental art)
    – cotroceni, armeneasca and old city as pedestrian areas of interest (visit purpose)
    and mutch, mutch more…


  • Anon

    How about the Botanical Gardens? and that villa/castle/palace just north of Bucharest?

    • ioana

      Palatul Mogosoaia? big YES, if you have a long weekend here.
      Botanical Garden, well… – better a sunset over Herastrau Lake.
      Botanical Garden in Cluj – yes, that is much better.

      • Yes, Mogosoaia only feasible if staying longer than a day or two. Most of our readers only stay for short trips, so a list of things the first time visitor should not miss would probably not include it.

    • Parmalat

      Everyone appears to overlook the Botanical Gardens. Including myself, last time when I visited them I was only 8 y.o.

      But I do remember it was a nice atmosphere out there, sometimes I wonder if those images of the Botanical Gardens that remained in my memory are from Romania or from somewhere else…

  • Cristian Rusneac

    “Casa Poporului/Palatul Parlamentului tends to be a bit of a let down for most, mainly due to the stilted nature of the compulsory guided tour” – come off it, now… Not only is free entrance offered to all students (guide included), but we certainly don’t want you guys spreading the moronic notion of this being Ceausescu’s personal residence. As the name implies, Casa Poporului, “The House of the People”, it is a monument dedicated to the People with a function of state protocol. It is controversial, it was built by dictatorial will (what Hitler never achieved with his Volkshalle, Ceausescu realized). All materials and the craftmanship are Romanian and it remains very much a Romanian achievement. Sorry (:p) if this is a let-down for people seeking out only the bad and the ugly in foreign countries!

    • We have never said that it was a personal residence of Ceausescu. In fact we have often pointed out that it is not. As for the tour, it is stilted: a bored guide offering little except an endless stream of pointless statistics.

      • Cristian Rusneac

        It must have been bad luck, the last time I checked, early August, the guide was anything but.

        • Raluca

          Went on the ‘full’ tour´in English at the end of May (including roof and basement). The basement was a massive letdown, btw – nothing but some pipes and the like.
          I agree with Craig – the guide rattles off statistics (heaviest curtain, biggest chandelier, hand made by blind nuns, etc etc). It goes very little (if at all) into the historical context and borders on praising Ceausescu as some sort of architectural genius.
          Very poor, as was the guide’s English. I felt robbed of my (and my friends’) 50 RON.

          • Cristian Rusneac

            And of course, “God forbid” should Ceausescu be credited with anything good!… 🙂

  • Cristian Rusneac

    For Craig:
    A poem about the Village Museum, by Marin Sorescu


    Din viața acestor oameni
    Lipsesc mai multe secții,
    Iar altele, cum ar fi
    Bunăstarea materială, fericirea și norocul
    În istorie,
    Sunt slab reprezentate.

    Nu întâlnești aici nici o monedă,
    Pentru că, neavând aur și argint,
    Țăranii și-au gravat anual chipul
    Pe boabe de mei, de grâu, de porumb
    Care nu ni s-au păstrat.

    Păsări împăiate
    Ar fi putut ei, ce e drept, aduce destule,
    Dar le-a fost milă să ucidă
    Privighetoarea, ciocârlia, mierla și cucul,
    Care le cântau fără bani toată viața,
    Și toată moartea.

    Era primitivă,
    Antică, medievală
    Apar ca una singură,
    Fiindcă, neștiind carte, țăranii
    N-au băgat de seamă că între aceste epoci
    Există deosebiri

    Aici exponatele cele mai numeroase
    Sunt bordeiele.
    De la munca pământului
    Țăranii intrau direct în pământ,
    Să se odihnească
    Din loc în loc între bordeie

    Sunt intercalate răscoalele:
    A lui Doja, a lui Horia, Cloșca
    și Crișan, a lui Tudor,
    Construite de data asta la suprafață
    Cu un uimitor simț al simetriei

    Nu atingeți sărăcia și tristețea
    Aflate-n muzeu.
    Sunt exponate originate,
    Ieșite din mâna, din sufletul și din rărunchii acestui popor
    Într-o clipă de încordare și spontaneitate
    Care a durat
    2000 de ani.

    Autor: Marin Sorescu
    Poezia MUZEUL SATULUI de Marin Sorescu

    • A wonderful poem from a genuinely terrific writer. Such a shame he went over to the dark side.

  • I’ve made a list of Bucharest key landmarks that a visitor should visit, see or know about:

    The Bellu Cemetery should definitely be in…

    • A good list but maybe too much for somebody spending just a day or two in Bucharest! Glad to see the Sutu Palace on the list: much ignored despite being in the city centre it needs a bit more love from guidebooks.

  • Paco

    Typo alert in Casa Poporului instead of Popoprului 🙂 You can delete my comment after the correction.

  • Alexandru

    I’m surprised the Cismigiu Garden isn’t on the list.
    As well, the Gradina Icoanei-Armeneasca area would be a must see in my view, as it’s really THE place to find pre-WW2 Bucharest still nicely preserved without all the agitation of the Old Town area

    • Cismigiu always leaves me unimpressed. Certainly agree that the Gradina Icoanei area is worth investigating more. Will bear it in mind.

      • Parmalat

        & “La Calderon 80” is worth investigating too… a peaceful place with nice music and good food.

        It’s my usual hangout for late autumn days when I like to take long walks through the city center.

  • Cristian Rusneac

    I think you are missing the point about the Village Museum and comparing it to Skansen is comparing oranges and apples. While more could be done and too much is being relied upon generally clueless tourists’ imagination (sadly, Bucharest is overall for the already knowledgeable), the village museum is intended foremost as a monument and a scientific tool and not for putting up a show of clothes washing or animal feeding (or pig slaughtering for that matter) – it is more about an entire belief system, crafts and creative expression transmitted from generation to generation rather than a safari park. As it is, I find it unfair to be deemed overrated at just 1.5 Euros adult full price. It is rather underrated, in spite of it lacking ethnographers capable of offering in-depth explanations of the displays which have been carefully selected from villages all around Romania and which enshrine a sacred spiritual heritage going back to the deep past. Indeed, tourists should be encouraged to visit the Village Museum as it represents the true (and lost) soul of the Romanian people and tourists who have not seen it will have entirely missed the point of visiting Romania. Rather, the Saxon settlements and cities of Transylvania are the overrated bit, which have little to say about what Romania and Romanians are about, but which are more palatable and easily recognizable to the average Western narcissist. Not only that, but the Village Museum is important even for the Westerner trying to understand their own past (an all too rare breed!), as the Romanian village preserved iron-age traits well into the 19th and 20th century alongside a millennial pastoral way of life which thus offers a rare and not-to-be-missed glimpse into the European past.

    • Geronimo

      What a load of bollocks

      • Cristian Rusneac

        I feel anything deeper than a pint is lost on you, so I’m not going to be bothered. Whatever makes you think you are entitled to an opinion?!

    • Very well pointed out Cristian about the Romanian village museum intended to be a monument of our past, not a theme park…as it is now, it is genuine, it has sobriety and dignity, and reflects the soul of the Romanian peasant. I also liked the observation “the Romanian village preserved iron-age traits well into the 19th and 20th century alongside a millennial pastoral way of life which thus offers a rare and not-to-be-missed glimpse into the European past”…

      • Cristian Rusneac

        În principal, eu am o singură întrebare pentru acești amatori: ei scriu cu intenția ca turiștii să viziteze România sau ca să o ocolească? Sunt absolut uluit de tupeul cu care neica nimeni își dă cu părerea despre lucruri despre care nu are habar. Monsieur, printre altele, ne informează că ar trebui să avem capitala la Brașov… deh, e ca și cum aș spune eu că a lui capitală ar trebui să fie la Edinburgh. Când vor învăța să-și mai ducă și mâna la gură?!

        • Geronimo

          You sensitive soul. I don’t think the intention is to either encourage or discourage tourism. I don’t assume that everyone writing about London is trying to do one or the other. And I really have no problem with them writing anything they please. In fact maybe, just maybe, an outsider achieves insight difficult to reach from the inside?

        • Cristian Rusneac

          @Geronimo: Romanians will be the first to self-loathe and criticize and point out all the shortcomings of their country and fellow countrymen. This gives the mistaken impression to some foreigners that they are in turn entitled to express opinions on everything (!) about this country and people. While freedom of expression is a good thing, it should be used cautiously such as not to look blonde – just a thought! I just find too many of the views expressed here flippant and dumb(ing) and it feels as a self-reinforcing marketing tool. One thing anyone should realize is, that not the whole world is a circus with the sole purpose to entertain the ignorant and not everything that doesn’t conform to preconceived ideas of “pretty” is truly worthless (see Brasov vs Bucharest, Stockholm museum vs Muzeul Satului… and the list goes on). For example, to come to Romania to only praise Brasov and bitch about Bucharest is to totally miss the point.

      • Skansen was created for the same reasons as Muzeul Satului (though decades before): to preserve buildings, traditions and culture rapidly being lost to the industrial revolution. I have long been a fan of the Village Museum – there is evidence of that on these very pages – but it is these days not much more than a lifeless collection of buildings. Muzeul Taranului does a much better job.

        • Cristian Rusneac

          Originally, the Village Museum was lived in by real peasants too, but the project was eventually abandoned – if I can recollect, there was a fire which prompted the abandonment of this concept. Nowadays the major let-down is that most houses are closed (although fully furnished). When my mother took me as a kid to visit the museum (pre-89), there was access to all interiors and there were guides to offer you explanations.
          Regarding live-in conditions, these could be probably recreated in a separate (new) quarter using replicas of the exhibits – as you know, some houses are at least 300 years old and have… well… museum value. For the time being I would be happy to have each house reopen and one or two trained people in folk costume fitting to the ethnographic area of that particular house show visitors around. As it is,for just 1.5 Euros and given the crucial significance for Romanian culture, this should be definitely an essential item on a tourist’s list. Also, due to Lonely Planet and In Your Pocket, tourists tend to avoid Bucharest like the pest and come with all sorts of negative preconceptions about this city, heading straight for Brasov. I know you have a weak spot for it, but in order to understand Romania, Bucharest is a must – please do not be biased in your remarks about these cities. You are doing far more damage to business owners on Lipscani than the current roadworks.

          • It is not up to us to attract visitors to Bucharest. We simply tell them what they can expect when they get here. And we do that objectively, not through rose-tinted-spectacles. We are a city guide, not a tourist brochure.

          • One more thing on the Village Museum which we will probably both agree on: the monstrosity that is the Ministry of Culture building – the ugly rear of which can be unavoidably seen from much of the museum – does it no favours.

            • Cristian Rusneac

              We can agree on many misconceived architectural projects in Bucharest, but you fall far off the mark when it comes to OBJECTIVITY. You are imposing your own perceptions on hundreds of thousands of people, as here: “Bucharest. No city in Europe evokes stronger feelings of angst among anyone who has ever spent time here.” So many people beg to differ on this one. Compare this to the introduction to Brasov: “It must be awful being Bucharest.” This isn’t objectivity. In fact, it is damaging and in the future some of us might be taking legal action against you and win – this is libel.

              • Anon

                HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA internet lawyering it up over a person’s personal opinions. Nice.

                • Parmalat


                  There was an initiative by some MPs a few months ago who wanted to censor the internet so that everyone’s comments could be tracked and every person could be held responsible in front of the law for his opinions.

                  The Romanian internet community threatened the promoters of the law with a cyber-bloodbath and in a few days they dropped it. What remained is an informal “agreement for expressing one’s opinions on the internet without swearing” or something like that :))

                  • Cristian Rusneac

                    You are way off the mark here. This is not about censorship. This is about prejudice. The bashing of Bucharest has become a universal sport, every moron’s obsession. There are people who, if forced by circumstance to sleep the night over in Bucharest, refuse to get out for fear instilled by opinion formers such as these self-proclaimed geniuses who have the audacity to make grand statements as if they were unchallenged “truths”. People buy them unfortunately, and it takes a lot of work to rid tourists of this type of brainwashing. You Craig are ruining Bucharest for everyone (and not only Bucharest, examples abound about a lot of other Eastern European destinations).

                    • Anon

                      Maybe if Bucharest cleaned up it’s act then tourists would have no reason to be put off.
                      Do you deny that Bucharest has
                      -A dangerous number of stray dogs

                      -Begging and hustling on a large scale

                      -Open and in your face prostitution (try walking down calae victoriei late at night on a weekend without being asked if you want a good time)

                      -Old, crumbling buildings littering the city (which is a shame because if a little effort and care was taken, then they could look very attractive. Compare them with the old commie blocks in Prague, which have been made to look quite attractive).

                      -Not much in the way of tourist attractions. Craig is spot on when he lists Brasov as the city to visit in Romania, it has a well maintained city center, plenty of tourist attractions and is generally a more pleasant place to be than Bucharest.

                      Instead of bitching about people’s opinions of Bucharest and internet lawyering it up, sort it out so their opinions are no longer applicable.

                    • Cristian Rusneac

                      Yes, Bucharest has large numbers of stray dogs. Athens has large numbers of stray cats. New York is rat infested. Brasov has its bears. London has its foxes rummaging through garbage. Each city its own “pest”. Stray dogs are only dangerous in packs and these tend to be localized in specific areas – hardly along any well trodden tourist route. Secondly, every time we try to clean up our act with the dogs, all hell breaks loose all over the (international) media. At this point, the only way to get rid of the problem is to put down in the most humane way a large number of the dogs who will not be fortunate to find an adoptive family.
                      – Begging and hustling will be a common site all around Eastern Europe and even the West. Let’s not be hypocritical or think that if we brush it under the carpet it doesn’t exist.
                      – If we chose to put our prostitutes behind shop windows I guess it would be alright then.
                      – Old, crumbling buildings are cool all over Italy. Only in Bucharest they seem to stink. Bias much? A great number are also being restored, but they never make the headlines in guides such as these. Even the new trains and lines to Brasov received the usual belittling remarks.
                      – Not much in the way of tourist attractions? Sorry if Orthodox Christianity doesn’t have giant gothic cathedrals in a central square. Bucharest has a myriad small old churches, as they should be. Of course, you wouldn’t know that our kings did not build them on a grand scale not for lack of money, power or ambition. Bucharest has a far richer history and far more diverse architecture and is far more cosmopolitan than any provincial city. No one denies the appeal of a city like Brasov, but there are other things in this world beside WESTERN culture. Unfortunately you are only interested in yourself and what closer resembles your own culture. You need to be educated in order to appreciate and look for what Bucharest has to offer. At the same time, you have been taught to offer lip service to Sarajevo, a city which is modest by any fair standard in comparison.
                      A lot is being sorted out in Bucharest as we speak, but when you only have a hammer, everything will look like a nail.

                    • Parmalat

                      “New York is rat infested.”

                      I heard that every 1 out of 25 is a millionaire =)) =))))))

              • Cristian Rusneac

                You are dead wrong laughing boy: these are not presented or marketed as personal opinions, but as opinion formers – this is tourist advice. You are free to express any opinions as long as they are not damaging falsehoods. Priming people for feelings of ANGST when they visit Bucharest is LYING and also DAMAGING. I may hold the opinion that McDonalds is better than KFC, but I cannot make a commercial in which I can put KFC in a bad light (read Bucharest) to promote my “baby” – McDonalds. (read Brasov) Capito?

                • I blame Ceausescu.

                  • Julija

                    With such answers you only prove ,once again, how biased you are. People commenting here, were trying to make you understand that you have a very simplistic manner of writing, its usually white / black – communism is bad, capitalism is good,therefore eastern european is by default inferior to anything western. Its also,probaly the reason you consider your opinion is “objective”.
                    You seem not to understand that even the communist era is a part of our history, and just like any other, which put her label on this city like the previous ones. In my opinion, the last 20 years of capitalist histeria, with always moving and going nowhere is much more to blame of Bucharest untidy image than 40 years of communism. Ive lived in many countries (and also noticed how in your pocket tends to express its “objective” opinion on other cities) and well, every place has its issues but if we consider we don’t belong here it will only get tougher, if you don’t try to understand and love a city ,it will never love you back. I really do believe in that saying “When in Rome,do as the Romans do” and since you live in Bucharest, how about cutting off the ironical superior tone and “lower” yourself to mingle among us, those who adore their home? you might be surprised and actually discover even something about yourself.
                    I totally agree with Davin that even a simple street is worth seeing in Bucharest, off the beaten path is usually the only way to get to know a city and not just pass by. So on the essential Bucharest, it should be at least one of the old quarters such as Dorobanti, Cotroceni, Mosilor- Foisorul de Foc with their narrow hidden streets along which are to be found wonderful and unique pieces of architecture (few renovated and many awaiting to regain their previous glory).

                    • Anon

                      Heh I believe Craig intended “I blame Ceausescu” as a jest, as the default position to any problems here tends to be “It was Ceausescu’s fault” (see the stray dogs, broken buildings etc…)

                    • Parmalat

                      I’ve been praising Communism and criticizing Capitalism for 2 years on this blog and Craig didn’t protest 1 word against my comments.

                      I said for so many times that Ceausescu is the Founding Father of modern Romania and Craig simply respects my opinion and continues to do his job in a professional manner.

                      And in 2 years I have found no clue in his posts and comments about his political orientation so I don’t think anyone with a history on can label him as biased or pro-Westerner etc…

                      You should read the blog more thoroughly before jumping to conclusions.

                    • Cristian Rusneac

                      Look, Parmalat, I suppose Craig can say something for himself if he really wants to. I have come up with blatant examples of bias and prejudice and the dissemination of it. Remarks about Bucharest, such as the ones quoted, are the norm, not only with Craig. Now we can dance around it all you want. I for one will save my breath. I speak about very tangible things here, the direct results of this so-called “objective” reporting. “Bucharest is actually really bad, but hey, if you’re feeling adventureous come see it” have direct consequences. There’s nothing in Bucharest to be ashamed of which is not true for the rest of Romania, it’s only in larger amounts proportional to its size. I will push as much as possible and as creatively and actively as possible for this nonsense to stop. I am born and raised in Transylvania for 21 years of my life. I know both the good and the bad. Bucharest, the South and Moldova are no worse or less interesting, they are just different. But instead of helping people enjoy and experience the differences and understand a little of the history behind it all, the one-sided promotion of just one city (the most non-romanian one at that) is doing a major disservice. Enough said for what I cared to say.

                    • Take a day off. Calm down. Read these pages, read Bucharest In Your Pocket. Try and find a sense of humour. Find out a little about me and my life in Bucharest. Then comment.

                • Parmalat

                  Not sure if the comments which appear on this blog are intended to be “marketed” in any other way than personal opinions.

                  You should check the previous posts to see how many things I said about the West myself, but still these people understood that I’m only expressing a personal opinion, more or less supported by facts and / or experience.

                  And the blog posts are as objective as possible, in my 2 years of commenting on the blog I did not spot any tendentious message, only facts and figures.

                  Bucharest Life guide and Bucharest Life blog – both of them represent work done in a professional way.

                  • Cristian Rusneac

                    I am refering to the InYourPocket guide, not the blog. Anyone can knock themselves out on private blogs as much they like, of course.

                  • The guide is Bucharest In Your Pocket, the blog is Life, but cheers for the endorsement!

                • ioana

                  pls allow me to be a bit outside subject.
                  ANGST is my favorite shop to buy meat for BBQ, also very tasty zacusca, fasole batuta, icre, loads of goodies.
                  despite the name, i visit often 🙂 and so do many others.

                • Anon

                  Try taking that into a court room and enjoy being laughed all the way out.

                  • Cristian Rusneac

                    I wouldn’t be as cocksure if I were you. Some things are measurable, and damage by this type of big-mouthed “let’s have a go at Bucharest” is very measurable indeed. Why don’t you all start a new sect “Bucharest-is-bad-mkay?!”-sort of get together.
                    The point is a lot of what is being written in these pop guides is utter crap mouthfed to a lot of ignorant people who read them more religiously than their Bibles. I’ve heard even comments such as: “but this is not LonelyPlanet-like”… Go figure! Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.

                    • anon

                      Well in which case allow me to recommend a lawyer for you

                      Seriously…you’re deluded.

                    • Lonely Planet (in)famously states that the best of Romania does not include Bucharest. Is that incorrect?

                    • anon

                      Sounds about right to me. After seeing the areas surrounding Brasov (Bran, Sinia, etc…) and the beauty of those cities, town and villages, I’m at a loss as to why anyone would want to visit Bucharest while on holiday (other than in the alternative, North Korea, Pripyat style holiday).

                      I also find it to be a bloody shame. Areas like Brasov, and the surrounding towns/villages look absolutely stunning, and they’ve done it will less money on hand than Bucharest. There’s no reason Bucharest couldn’t look like a clean, attractive city. As it stands, there are a couple of nice bits, surrounded by pure crap.

                    • Cristian Rusneac

                      @Anon: Yeah, I can totally see where you’re coming from. Guess where this is? Could be a place in Bucharest, but for the hills in the backdrop.
                      And that little “Bucharest-gets-all-the-money-from-us-hardworking-clean-smart-Transylvanians” dance is utter rubbish. Mate, the point is that you will not present of your country what others have built in it, to the exclusion of everything else. There are a myriad other places to spend your holidays in Romania of which you seem to know nothing.

                    • Cristian Rusneac

                      The point also is that these guides IMPOSE their own views on their readers. Many, many people find the clutter and contrasts of Bucharest enchanting and endearing. However, Bucharest is always presented based on the assumption that people will get out of it as quickly as possible, transiting and in any case no more than 24 hours. Lonely Planet is not entitled to decide what the best of Romania is. And yeah, without Bucharest, Romania makes so much less sense. Why would anyone go to Brasov instead of going for the real deal somewhere in Austria, Switzerland or Germany?

                    • ‘The point also is that these guides IMPOSE their own views on their readers.’

                      What are you on about? Guidebooks publish the opinions of their writers, that’s all. You can either take them or leave them. You make it sound as though if you buy a Lonely Planet you are then obliged by law to do everything it says.

                      As for ‘Lonely Planet is not entitled to decide what the best of Romania is…’ They don’t. They just give their opinions as we all do.

                      Take it or leave it.

                    • Cristian Rusneac

                      I thought this was about objectivity or so you said… or was it objective subjectivity? :)) Craig, people take for granted what they read. I am a hostel owner in Bucharest and I know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve had a guy who, had he not have to spend the night, would have headed straight for Brasov. When asked why, he said he didn’t like communist architecture. Ok, I said, what communist architecture did you see between Gara de Nord and here? – Well, the buildings around it. – Well, guess what, nothing of which you saw on your way was communist architecture – it is mostly 1930s modernist architecture, inspired by the Bauhaus and the Gara de Nord building itself has some fascist influences.
                      The whole assumption based on which you write is wrong: you should presume that the people who read WANT TO visit Bucharest and your job is to help them make the most of it. Instead you instill them with dread.
                      On top of that, my fellow Transylvanians actually actively prevent their tourists from coming to Bucharest. At some point it got so ridiculous, that I began asking where they were getting their advice. Needless to say, I called the hostel responsible for it and demanded an explanation. At least on a surface level, we have started to work together afterwards as opposed to against each other as before… I am one of the people whose livelihood and best efforts are too often thwarted by opinionated travel advice such as offered by Lonely Planet and you.

                    • Parmalat

                      “I’ve had a guy who, had he not have to spend the night, would have headed straight for Brasov. When asked why, he said he didn’t like communist architecture.”

                      You’re right on this one, some people in the West are not used to the process called “thinking”, they just take for granted whatever is fed to them.

                      We’ve had someone on this blog saying that dog bites were actually self-inflicted knife wounds.

                      And then of course there are the pathological cases still saying in 2011 that gypsies are good and they should have the same rights as civilized people.

                      There’s some hardcore brainwashing going on in the West, I wonder how many people actually escaped…

                      But it’s not the case with Craig’s work; not sure about Lonely Planet though, I’m gonna have to take a look on that.

                  • Julija

                    @Craig & Anon, it is really incredible that you refuse to see that there is another side of the story. I’ve been working for years as guide with foreigners visiting Bucharest and both inyourpocket and Lonely Planet are far too radical and biased when presenting Romania. And well, I think not even they realize the major impact that they have, mainly because most of the people visiting Eastern Europe are totally clueless about it and they usually rely 100% on these guides. I know that cheap usually sells best and the mocking ironical tone is quite appealing for most of them ,somehow tickling their feeling of superiority, but it also diminishes the chances for those who really want to understand and give some more time to Bucharest and the not so popular destinations in Romania. Ok, point taken that it is not their job to attract tourist to Bucharest, but since this is the attitude why write about it in the first place? For some people, like me, this is serious, since you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression (and usually that is meet Bucharest through these guides “objective” eyes) ,it takes a lot of time to convince foreigners that the city is safe and that it deserves far more than 1-2 days to visit it. And I’m deeply hurt to notice that this blog and the guides do nothing else than repeating what my inexperienced fellow compatriots who day-dream of moving abroad told them in the train or over a beer. This is not a professional way to present a city, this is not journalism and most of these people actually moved here for the sole reason that they would never get a decent job in their country. If they would be educated and competent, they would never claim that they are objective, as basically any book that approaches writing topics states that objectivity is just an illusion.
                    This has been going on for quite some time actually, it probably started with Rebecca West’s itinerary, but before moving here and starting forming opinions about these places ,they should better read “Another fool in the Balkans” .It is sad to live in a place you don’t appreciate, but its even worse to spread your obsessions and your poor knowledge, causing damage to those who have a beautiful life in this city and want this with others. What can I say…It must be awful being you in Bucharest!

                    • *keels over*

                      Actually… this is my favourite comment so far. Keep them coming.

                    • Parmalat

                      Oh c’mon, nobody’s causing damage to anybody. A person who wants to know more about the city will investigate on his own anyway.

                      And to be frank: what the hell do we need so many tourists for in Bucharest anyway?! It’s already happening that you go out to dinner on Saturday evening and you can’t find a free table at the restaurant.

                      Some places should be tourist-free. If somebody wants to go out and investigate more on his own – very well then. But trying to turn a regular place into a tourist destination against the odds is not a thing to do.

                      From my point of view – let them go to Brasov and let me enjoy my coffee in a half-full cafenea where I can breathe.

                      It’s fine that Bucharest is unfriendly for tourists. It’s fine that Bucharest is everything the guides present it to be and it’s even worse than that. Can’t we enjoy the city for ourselves?!

                      Hello, foreign tourists…? Go to Brasov cause in Bucharest stray dogs are gonna mob you once you step off the airplane.

                    • Anon

                      HAHAHHAHA Jeasus titty fucking Christ you need to get over yourself. My views on Bucharest are my personal opinions after living here for over a year. I’ve also spend time in Prague, Kosice, Bratislava, Kiev, Brasov, etc…and would recommend any one of those Eastern European cities over Bucharest for a holiday.
                      If someone I know wants advice on where to go on holiday I will direct him to where I think he would have the most enjoyable time. Guess what? Bucharest is not it.

                    • Anon

                      “And that little “Bucharest-gets-all-the-money-from-us-hardworking-clean-smart-Transylvanians” dance is utter rubbish.”

                      I never said that or meant to imply it, although given the population of both cities, it makes sense that Bucharest receives more cash than Brasov or a smaller (yet pretty town) such as Sinia simply through tax collection.
                      The fact remains that places such as those have to make do with less money and do a much better job than Bucharest has.
                      Well done at cherry picking a photograph from Brasov though. Care to compare Lipscani with Brasov city center instead?

                      Finding out that you run a hostel reveals your bias though. You set up a tourist business in a city that just isn’t very tourist friendly and are lashing out at Craig for your businesses troubles instead of looking at the bigger picture.

                      Tell me, where is a good tourist information center in Bucharest?
                      Where are there bilingual museums and displays?
                      Where are the city tour guides to show people around?

                      When you wake up and realise that the reason Bucharest isn’t popular with tourists is because it’s not developed to attract tourists, instead of blaming Craig and LP then you can focus your efforts on putting pressure on those in power to address the issues at hand and maybe get something done.
                      The tour buses are a step in the right direction, but there is a metric fuckton of work to be done.
                      I hope in a year or so time that I will be “Dazzled by the shine of the Boulevards” in Bucharest (to quote from the bizarro world blurb on the back of the tour bus”, but as it stands, I’m more repulsed by the filth.

                    • ‘Dazzled by the shine of the boulevards.’

                      Does it really say that?

                    • Anon

                      Yes. I distinctly remember thinking “what fucking planet are they on?” and “are they sure they weren’t thinking of Budapest?”

                    • Cristian Rusneac

                      Bucharest has the equivalent of several city centers like Brasov if you put all areas of interest together. Bucharest has also much finer and more original architecture than Brasov. Bucharest belongs to a different world than Brasov, not readily accessible to anyone with a preconceived idea of what a tourist destination should be like and going around ticking things off their “list”: central plaza – check, gothic cathedral – check etc. Brasov belongs to the former establishment of the Habsburg Empire, the same as Prague and Bratislava and Budapest. If you can’t get enough of baroque, Catholicism, gilded ornaments etc. then knock yourself out in all the towns and cities which bear this mark. Also, contrary to popular wisdom, Prague is hardly East-European. Prague was once an imperial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. As was Kiev a capital in the East. While it is true that Bucharest has many shortcomings in its presentation, I still need to be convinced that you can be fair. It seems there is never a shortage of irony when it comes to this city even when things are being straightened out or something on a grand scale is being built.
                      I’ve had people on free city tours mocking at the Casa Poporului because “this was built yesterday, not 100s of years ago like the Hungarian Parliament…” This is both laughable and sad on so many levels for someone who knows the history of both buildings.
                      Bucharest is a major city, the largest Balkan capital, a highly cosmopolitan city throughout its history with a unique and fascinating blend of Western and Oriental cultures – but for that I would recommend it in spite of its temporary shortcomings!
                      You cannot hold against me my direct interest in an intelligent presentation of the city and opening remarks such as “No city in Europe evokes such feelings of angst” or “It must be awful to be Bucharest” don’t cut it. You cannot hold it against my direct and legitimate interest especially when you spread prejudice and bias gratuitously.
                      As for the freedom of your opinions and the freedom to share them, it’s fine as long as it does not become stupid. If it’s true that it’s not your mission to attract tourists, it is equally true that it should not be your life’s work to manipulate their choices. You can very well give the necessary information in order for them to stay out of harm’s way without letting them have second thoughts. Present things equally and squarely, let them decide. Focus on what each place has. I don’t point out what Brasov or Bran doesn’t have when tourists want to go there, but what they can do with what is there.
                      You should recommend Bucharest for what it has to offer, not to turn people away for what it doesn’t. Bucharest will never have a major river or be surrounded by mountains. It will never look baroque. It will never look gothic. But Bucharest is a unique place worth seeing.
                      It is anyway hopeless to appeal to your common sense and I will stop here. All I can do is do a better job than you of presenting my country.

            • Alex

              Even that building has its story.
              By the way, arhitectural mistakes can be seen worldwide: in London, I saw a really ugly building, a tower located in the center of the city – it looks like a huge bomb. YUK!

              • Alex, #1 on your list should be walking down any street and staring at dark haired Romanian women.

                • Alex

                  I am a dark haired woman, but not gipsy – if this is what you meant, Davin!
                  Romanian ladies are not ugly if this is what you mean… Some are international top models (not me!)
                  If this is your hobby (staring at women) who am I to stop you?
                  I am a guide and I know places, legends, secrets of this city. And I am proud of being Romanian – do you know why?
                  Homo Sapiens entered in Europe from… East going West, following the valleys of the great Danube river.
                  The oldest writing in the world is Romanian (the ceramic plates from Tartaria – older than sanscrite writings). The rest of Europe was made after Homo Sapiens exterminated the Neanderthal people from the Western Europe. The last remains of those (three adults and two kids, if I’m remembering well) were found in Portugal, in a cave facing the Atlantic ocean.
                  Actually, the Romanian story begins long before other European countries’ existence. Isn’t that an amazing story, an interesting & REAL story to tell to our visitors? Please check – all is true!

        • Alex

          The best period to visit the Village Museum is in June, in summer holiday. Romanian kids are invited to several workshops, where they can learn Romanian traditions: egg painting, ceramics, painting icons on glass, they have shows with music and dances, where they are dressed in traditional costumes, some plays traditional instruments. The museum is amazing on those summer days, every morning. And this begins in June and it continues till late August.

    • Parmalat

      Thumbs up for you description of the Village Museum!

      I do believe however that serving such an elevated purpose requires a better organized and a more comprehensive setup than the one available today for the Village Museum.

      As for the West – the cultural and economical and spiritual decline of the territory is obvious by each day passing by. You can’t just mix wine and chicken soup and drink it all up as if it were orange juice.

      Allowing such a terrible mix of populations, cultures and religions to go freely on your territory is like trying to recreate the Babylon Tower: it will surely fail.

      A few weeks ago I watched the spokesman of the London Police commenting something on Amy Winehouse’s death (another icon of the Western culture in 2011). And he was wearing a TURBAN while on duty for the London Police!!!

      How the hell could the spokesman of the London Police be allowed to wear a TURBAN while on duty?!?! It’s the London Police God damn it, it’s not some colonial militia from India where rats emerge from underground and sleep in bed together with people.

      • Mr Rearguard

        I’ve seen that guy too on TV, he’s known as “The Turbanator”.

        • Parmalat


    • Alex

      Cristian, I know what you mean! Because I am Romanian and my soul is deeply touched by every little three-legged chairs and by every little icon on those walls.
      I wonder if the Swedish museum has a MERINDAR? My Romanian soul tells me it has not.
      For those who want to know what is this, the story it has to do with Romanian peasants, warm and generous with foreigners, believing in God, connected to “the other world”, where their ancestors went for eternal rest. Sounds interesting, no? Well, it sure is… If you go to see some old wooden houses, you will miss the whole point!
      My advice – again and again – find a guide, visit the Bucharest, listen to the stories, and then you can comment all day long! Bucharest is not self-explanatory! It is a city with many secrets!

  • How about simply the street? Fitze, cars you’ve never seen anywhere else, beautiful women, amazingly dilapidated villas. . . For me, Bucharest is all about what it is not–a normal European city. It is not about going sightseeing like you would in Paris. Bucharest is a REAL city, vibrant and exotic.

    • Any ‘street’ in particular? We can’t really recommend people head for any street. They might end up in Ferentari.

      • Parmalat

        There’s a Bentley Continental GT parking 2 streets away from where I live. Dilapidated wealth is widespread around Bucharest :)))

      • Cristian Rusneac

        They might end up in Hackney, mate!.. :>

  • Sightseeing in Bucharest: What should be called ‘Essential’?