If you’ve only got a weekend to spend in Bucharest, you’ll need to move fast to fit everything in. With world-class museums, enchanting architecture and award-winning theater, Romania’s capital wasn’t nicknamed ‘Little Paris’ for nothing.
Start at the beginning with a visit to the National History Museum, where you can view a replica of Trajan’s Column along with medieval tombstones. Don’t miss the Romanian crown jewels in the museum’s basement vault, including dazzling royal scepters and emeralds fashioned for Queen Marie. The National Art Museum is located within the former royal palace in Revolution Square. Explore its collection of Romanian art from the medieval to modern eras, along with an enviable gallery of European works including masterpieces by Tintoretto and Vasari.
Justifying its former moniker, Bucharest retains many glimpses of its Art Nouveau charm. The most direct parallel with the City of Lights can be found on the avenue Şoseaua Kiseleff, which culminates in its own Arc de Triomphe, modeled after that in France. Our Radisson Blu Hotel, Bucharest, is located on Bucharest’s oldest street, Calea Victoriei. It’s lined with architectural highlights including Cantacuzino Palace, once the home of celebrated composer George Enescu, and Revolution Square. Relax in the picturesque Cișmigiu Gardens, wandering between the tranquil lake, wrought-iron signposts and Carrara marble monuments.
The Palace of Parliament is the world’s largest parliamentary building, a visually astonishing work of architecture commissioned by former Romanian president Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1980s. With over 3,000 rooms and three million square feet of gold, marble and exotic hardwood veneers, it’s difficult to know where to start on your own, so it’s best to take advantage of the excellent guided tour.
Established in 1879, Caru’ cu Bere is decked out in sumptuous gilt, dark-stained wood, mosaic floors and vaulted ceilings. This classic beer hall is one of the best places in town to sample traditional Romanian fare, including the ‘Lord’s Dish’ of roasted pork knuckle with braised cabbage and polenta. For more modern cuisine, visit The Artist, where Dutch chef Paul Oppenkamp will wow you with his creative, molecular take on Romanian food. Start your meal with a refreshing blast of feta cheese mousse before moving on to pork ravioli with quail egg and parmesan. On your last day, begin with a leisurely breakfast in the sunny garden of Lente CAFE, which has board games on hand to keep you entertained while you eat.
Theater and nightlife
On Friday and Saturday nights, revelers line the streets of Bucharest’s historic Old City, Lipscani. Primarily a pedestrian zone, the narrow cobblestone lanes are dotted with pubs, bars and nightclubs. Visit Mojo for live music and karaoke, or Club A if you’re more interested in sipping a beer and people-watching. If you want to hobnob with the city’s rich and famous, don your finest designer gear and brave the door at glitzy Bamboo, where the party rages on until 6am. Next evening, conclude your visit in style at the Romanian National Opera, which offers a packed calendar of classic ballets and operas, or the National Theatre of Bucharest, which has showcased dramatic talent from Romania and abroad for more than 160 years.