Guest post from Seenicwander
When I stepped off the bus in downtown Bucharest, I immediately felt at home. I don’t know exactly what it was about Bucharest that I loved so much. Something about the mismatched architecture, the bold graffiti decorating the skirt of every building, or the general gritty vibe of the city made me feel like I was part of something bigger and cooler than myself.
I could have stayed in Bucharest for weeks. In fact, I even cut my time in the Transylvanian mountains short to sneak back to Bucharest for another weekend. If you’re traveling in Eastern Europe, you need to carve out time to explore the quirky yet welcoming Romanian capital.
Things to do in Bucharest in 48 hours
Take a free walking tour of Bucharest with Walkabout
I’m all about a free walking tour. Kick off your stay in Bucharest with a tour by Walkabout Free Tours. On these tours, you’ll learn what you’re actually looking at while you wander through the city, awestruck and amazed.
Walkabout offers two different tours daily, one that focuses on the history of Bucharest and one about the architecture. I enjoyed the History of Bucharest tour so much I actually did it twice, even though it was snowing and I was wildly under dressed.
If you’re wondering what to visit in Bucharest, this tour will help you get your bearings and decide which places to explore further.
This would be an excellent things to do with kids in Bucharest and free!
Visit the Palace of Parliament
The Palace of the Parliament is one of the largest administrative buildings in the world. Guided tours of this massive building are available if you book in advance.
If you’re in town during the Wine and Street Food Festival, you can attend a wine tasting inside the Palace. It’s the perfect way to see the architecture while enjoying bottomless wine!
Explore the National Museum of Contemporary Art
Art fanatics will love Bucharest. The National Museum of Contemporary Art is four levels of rotating exhibitions with a rooftop cafe and patio. Since it’s located in the back of the Palace of Parliament, this museum is a bit of a hike to get to. But don’t worry, the local and modern art installations are worth the longer walk.
Relax in one of the lush parks of Bucharest
Bucharest is one of the top European cities when it comes to green space. On sunny days, families and friends gather in the park to have picnics, play sports, and enjoy time together outside. Parcul Izvor is one of my favorites and it’s right across from the Palace of Parliament.
Shop for books at the Carturesti book store
Who doesn’t love dramatic bookstores? That’s right, this is the bookstore from all those iconic Instagram book store pictures. Carturesti is one of the most beautiful book stores I’ve been to, and I’m a bit of a nerd so I’ve been to a ton.
I’ve lost hours in these book stores and I regret nothing. There’s one location in Old Town and another a few blocks from University. You could easily lose a day browsing for books or just marveling at the architecture.
Enjoy the live music and nightlife in Bucharest’s old town
Bucharest has, hands down, some of the best nightlife I’ve experienced in my travels. And I always seem to accidentally find myself at a party, so that’s saying something. The streets of old town constantly ring with music. Street musicians set up at every corner and people eating out on the street enjoy being serenaded, day and night.
The nightlife in Bucharest starts late and lasts long into the morning. People sit down to dinner as late as 10:00pm and stay out with friends even longer. In Bucharest, it is totally normal to walk home with friends as the sun is rising. And that works out perfectly since you can grab a snack from the morning bakery on your way home.
Admire nature in Vacaresti Nature Park
Nature fans, get excited! The Vacaresti nature park was a failed engineering project from that 80s that has since been reclaimed by nature. Now, it’s a protected park and one of the largest urban deltas in the world.
To get to Vacaresti Nature Park, take the metro out to Mihai Bravu. From there, you can spend the day walking around the upper edge of this basin-shaped marsh, looking down at the flora and fauna who now call it home.
Spotlight to Budapest’s International Light Festival
If you’re in Bucharest at the end of April, you can’t miss the Spotlight International Light Festival. During this festival, the streets are filled with illuminated sculptures and light-based art installations.
Walking around at night is like walking through a day-glow fairytale. Join in the crowds of friends and families enjoying local artists and celebrating Romanian history.
Best Places to eat in Bucharest
Get dinner and drinks at Dianei 4
Okay, talk about cool factor. This restaurant used to house the foreign intelligence service and it looks the part. With vintage finishings and a cozy ambiance, you’ll happily pass hours talking with friends over cocktails and delicious food.
Thankfully, my hotel in Bucharest was located on the same street as this little gem. After a few days, the staff knew me and my favorite beer by heart.
Try a famous pie inspired by local flavors at La Placinte
Pies, pies, pies for days. Savor traditional Romanian flavors at this family style restaurant chain. I never knew I was a pie person, but then I tried a warm, buttery, cheese filled pie and I became one. They have savory, veggie, meat, and dessert pies, so come hungry.
Grab a beer at Lokal
Lokal is truly a spot for, well, locals. I never would have found Lokal on my own. From the outside, it looks like an old house protected by a heavy metal fence. But thankfully, I was out with some local friends who introduced me to this quirky watering hole. Walking into Lokal feels like walking into someone’s home. It’s the perfect place to gather with friends after a long day exploring the city.
Unleash your inner child at Cereal Crunch Café
This is a whole cafe devoted to cereal! You can order childhood classics or obscure international brands with rainbow milk and endless toppings. I’ll be honest. I was so torn between cinnamon toast crunch and some fancy looking chocolate cereal, I had to come back twice. This is the perfect spot for an afternoon sugar rush.
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Guest post Bio: Nicola Rae is a teacher, house sitter, and travel blogger. She’s known for getting lost in new cities, befriending big lizards, and eating impressive quantities of guacamole. Read more about practical long-term travel on her blog www.seenicwander.com
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There seems something for everyone here. From. History to nature to food. The cereal shop sounds so much fun. I would love to see that for myself. And the palace of parliament.. .. Right up my alley
Bucharest does look like a really fun city to explore with so many cool places to visit.
I cannot believe I haven’t been to Romania yet. The umbrellas make me so happy. and i have heard about the cereal crunch cafe. so cool
Breakfast sounds fun especially in Bucharest
I love Bucharest! The mix of architecture is so interesting. Palace of Parliament was incredible, so beautiful and so much history. I didn’t know they have a light festival, that would be fun so see
I would love to also see the light festival in Bucharest
Haha – a cereal café!?! That’s a great idea. Bucharest looks like a city I could really enjoy – I like a gritty edge, and street art. Enjoying a bottomless glass of wine while touring the Palace sounds like fun too!
I love gritty and street art so Bucharest does sound really cool and fun to explore
I’m with you, I love taking free walking tours in cities.You had me at bottomless wine. Will have to coordinate a visit around the Wine Festival!
Bottomless wine and free walking tours in Bucharest does sound really fun
Interesting mix of things to do in Bucharest. Light festivals are happening events in several cities.
Visited the Sharjah one. It will be great if I can plan and time my visit for this festival.
I do light festivals and this one done in Bucharest does sound fascinating and colorful
I was getting the European capital vibe up until I got the the cereal crunch cafe. What a hoot. I could only image how much joy and western cultural exchange there could be from eating such an authentic American dish. I think that tells you something about the soul and spirit of Bucharest.
Bucharest attractions are fun and youthful which makes this a unique place to visit.
Bucharest has never been on my bucket list but it looks very interesting from this post. Combination of City, Old Town, and nature!
I love combinations of old and new and Bucharest captures all those exciting and fun places to explore
I’ve heard such great things about Bucharest. Walking tours are a great way to get the feel of a city but I wouldmake abee line for the Caruesti book store, it’s absolutely stunning!
I love bookstores and this one is quite spectacular for Bucharest
Bucharest is definitely on the travel wish list! Would love to visit there. A Walkabout tour sounds like a great way to start. Good to know there are good parks to rest after seeing all the sights. Visiting in April to see the International Light Festival sounds like good timing.
There are so many fun things to do in Bucharest and the free walking tours are a fun way to start and explore the city.
OMG I loved that cereal crunch cafe! Bucharest looks like one of those undiscovered places that fly under many people’s radar. Would love to check it out, but keep the nightlife for the youngun’s!
I get close to visiting Bucharest but always run out of time, I definitely need to visit before it gets too touristy
This is a really interesting post as I visited Bucharest only once around 10 years ago and it seemed really interesting but very gritty. Lots of stray dogs and pretty ramshackle but the architecture was beautiful and people very welcoming. I’ve since heard from many writers who have moved to Bucharest and love it so it sounds as though it’s time for me to go back and take another look.
It sounds like a city that is on the fringe, affordable and getting on people’s radar to visit Bucharest and the entire country of Romania
We were looking at Bucharest just today as a possible destination for travel in 2020 so this post has come in very handy – thanks.
Lol, I would also love to visit Bucharest its been on my radar for quite some time to visit.