At nearly 4 million square feet, Bucharest’s Parliament is the largest and most expensive government building in the world, and a testament to the ego and excess of the Communist regime of Nicholae Ceausescu.
‘Cause nothing says “one for all and all for one” like a $4 billion palace.
As you know if you’ve visited other formerly Communist countries, the Communists weren’t exactly known for erecting snazzy structures, so Bucharest’s Parliament stands in stark contrast to the depressing, institutional Communist buildings you’ll see in places like China. But between this building, and the sections of Bucharest’s charming Old City that remain (parts of it were bombed during WWII), plus many pre-Communist churches and palaces, Romania’s capital city has a beauty and sophistication that has earned it the moniker, “the Paris of the East”.
Add to that the city’s tremendous affordability – Romania is one of the cheapest European countries to visit – and Bucharest deserves a special place on your bucket list of Europe destinations.
So, whether you’re hitting Bucharest on your own Eastern European jaunt, or doing it as part of our summer, 2019 Budapest to Bucharest river cruise (which includes two nights in Bucharest, plus an option to extend with additional hotel nights), here are some sights you won’t want to miss:
The Old City – sit in a charming outdoor café and have a mint lemonade and some zacusca (a delicious vegetable spread with tomatoes, eggplant, onions and peppers, spread atop breads).
Romanian Athenaeum – Take in a concert at this beautifully restored 19th century concert hall, home of the Philharmonic and an annual international music festival.
Snagov Monastery – Visit the (alleged) final resting place of Vlad the Impaler, the bloodthirsty 15th century prince. The monastery is located on tiny Snagov Island, at one end of Snagov Lake. An inexpensive boat ride will take you there.
Therme – opened in 2016, this spectacular, 46-acre wellness spa just 10 minutes outside the city is filled with hot springs pools, treatment rooms, a wellness water park with a wave pool and (we’re not kidding) toboggan slides, and the largest indoor and outdoor gardens in Romania.
[The Artist restaurant]
And when in Bucharest, DINE. Traditional Romanian fare now blends with world cuisine in chic, memorable restaurants that are surprisingly affordable for their quality – everything from stately old-world restaurants like Caru’cu Bere, to modern, celebrity-chef-style outposts like The Artist and Joseph.
And to make all this sightseeing and dining easier, Bucharest has an excellent public transit system (the 4th largest in Europe), so the city is easily navigable by bus and subway.
So, what are you waiting for? Romania’s calling, and we, for one, plan to accept the charges.