8 Must Visit Places on Bucharest Walking Tour
I love walkable cities. Walking is the best way to get underneath the skin of a megapolis and get to know local culture. Bucharest City Centre is pleasantly walkable and as a bonus, it is peppered with lots of small coffee shops. If you get tired of walking you can quickly take a pit stop. And coffee is good too!
On our second day in Bucharest we woke up to glorious sunshine and perfect walking weather. We met up with our guide Laura from Bucharest Step by Step and started our exploration of the Old Town and surrounding areas. I want to show you 8 must visit places in the city centre of Bucharest.
1 Roman Athenaeum
Magnificent Roman style building with a pleasant park in front of it. The Athenaeum was built using public subscription service, where people were asked to donate “One Leau for the Authenaeum”. They succeeded and now we are able to enjoy it. It is possible to visit the building inside to witness nearly perfect acoustics.
2. Revolution Square and King Carol I Statue.
While the square might not look particularly interesting, it is the surrounding monuments and buildings, which are worth to discover. Equestrian statue of the first Romanian King, who was invited from Germany, his Royal Palace (now the National Musuem of Art of Romania) and the University of Bucharest Library.
On this square the critical events happened prior to assassination of the Romanian leader Nikolai Ceausescu. Laura used the ipad to show us what exactly happened at the square in 1989 and we spotted the buildings, which has seen so much through the years.
This was my absolute favourite place on our walk. The women monastery is small, but perfectly formed. Try to time your visit with the evening service. No light is used during the service and the monastery’s main hall is completely dark. The only light is used by the nuns to read the prayers, which creates a magical atmosphere and almost trans-like state.
Bucharest used to welcome plenty of merchants and they would live and do their business in “hanul”, which was an equivalent to caravan sarai. Lots of small rooms upstairs for living, while the downstairs space wasbdedicated to shops or warehouses.
You can still see a few of these hanuri in the old city. They are marked, so keep your eyes peeled and duck into courtyards if they are open. One of the most famous ones is Hanul Lui Manuc which you can’t miss. Nowdays it has been converted into a restaurant and during warmer months the area outside is the perfect place to have a refreshing drink or a cup of coffee.
5 Caru’ Cu Bere Restaurant
The name translates as the beer wagon and it is one of the prettiest and the oldest restaurant in Bucharest. You don’t need to have a reservation to see the interior, you can just walk in if you want. We did go for dinner one night and while atmosphere was great, the food was not as impressive, so I would probably recommend just a drink here.
This bookshop is one of the most beautiful bookshops I have ever been to. I am not talking about Porto Livraria Lello, as I refused to pay admission price to enter the shop as well as to stand in 2 hours queue.
The white woodwork creates a flowing space and the shop is filled to the brim with goodies. While books in Romanian might not be something you might find useful, the shop also stocks plenty of local designers or small things for cosy home.
8. Passage Macca-Villacrosse
Open day and night, it is a small covered street which houses lots of small shops, restaurants and cafes with outside sitting. Fairy lights twinkle warmly in the evening and the shisha pipes come out. Great place for some chilled time.
7. Architectural mix
Here I do not mean to visit any particular building, but just wander and see how many styles you can spot. Bucharest is a complete fusion of styles, epochs and period fashions. Due to WWII Bombing some buildings have been partially destroyed, but reconstruction either restored them to their initial state or added contemporary parts to otherwise traditional architecture. Along Calea Victoriei you can see 19th, 18th and 20th century styles all at once.
I wanted to say a few words about our experience with Bucharest Step by Step. Laura was great at communicating before our tour. For me consistent communication is a great sign of commitment and ability to help, if anything goes wrong. You want to be sure that your guide will meet you at a ceratin meetings place, help you if you get lost and amend the tour according to your wishes. Laura was welcoming and adjusted the tour according to our wishes, she was also brilliant in conveying all the complicated history to my daughter Letitia, who is 9, and might not necessarily appreciate what communism is.
I would certainly recommend Laura to anyone , as her company is small and they try to give all visitors the best experience of Bucharest. She can also offer different kinds of tours, whether it is food, culture or communist past. We saw a lot in a space of nearly 3 hours and Laura was happy to give suggestions for places where we might come back during our stay, like restaurants, shops or other museums. A walking tour with Bucharest Step by Step is definitely a great way to get familiar with the city on your first visit.
Disclaimer: we were hosted by Bucharest Step by Step, but all opinions are my own.