Bucharest is the main city of the region of Wallachia and the capital of Romania; first documented in 1459 by Vlad Tepes. Whether you are spending most of your travel time here or just using it as a gateway to a journey of discovery around Romania, Bucharest and its cultural scene is going to surprise you: 37 museums, 22 theatres, 18 art galleries, opera houses and concert halls await your visit.
The best way to explore Bucharest is to take a stroll along Calea Victoriei to Piata Revolutiei, site of the Romanian Athenaeum and the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum of Art. The old city centre (near Lispcani) is a must to understand why Bucharest was known as "Little Paris" in the 1920s. Also, don’t miss the Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world.
The foothills of Wallachia give way to the Carpathian Mountains. Just an hour and a half north of Bucharest is the beautiful Prahova Valley, where the popular ski resorts of Predeal, Busteni and Sinaia are located. Sinaia is also home to the magnificent Peles Castle - a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered one of the best-preserved royal castles in Europe. In the summer time, these resorts are starting points to hiking trails in the nearby Bucegi Nature Park.
A must stop for art lovers is the town of Targu Jiu on the banks of the Jiu River. This former market town is closely associated with Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian artist who is considered to be the founder of modern sculpture. Some of Romania’s most tranquil monasteries can be found in this region, including Horezu, a masterpiece of the 'Brancovenesti' architectural style and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Horezu is also a renowned pottery centre, where travellers can marvel at the colourful pottery created in local workshops by talented artisans.
Muntenia and Oltenia cuisine feature a variety of sour soups with lots of vegetables. It is not unusual to find an earthen oven in the backyards of houses in the Muntenia region. Here knot-shaped bread and pies are baked and delicious vegetable stews are slow cooked in clay jars.
Wallachia produces some of Romania's best red wines including Feteasca Neagra, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dealu Mare, extending from the Prahova Valley along the south-facing hillsides of the Carpathian foothills eastwards to Vrancea County, is considered to be the best area in Romania for the cultivation of red grapes.
Where to stay
Novotel Bucarest is ideally located right in the heart of the city with a unique blend of classical architecture and modern design.
The Herastrau hotel is just 15 minutes from central Bucharest, to the north by Lake Herastrau. In over 50 years of tradition, Herastrau restaurant has become a landmark with a good reputation.
Hotel Mercure Bucharest City Centre is in a prime location in the heart of the city, near all main attractions with public transportation also just a short walk away.
The best located Hotel in Bucharest, Le Boutique Hotel Moxa is situated in the heart of the city. Enjoy the unique experience of luxury and avant-garde.
"We really enjoyed Bucharest and visited most of the museums. The Natural History museum is one of the finest in the world. The recreated Romanian Village at Herestrau Lake is truly interesting to see. It is in a lovely setting alongside a lake and is very relaxing to just walk around and look at the buildings depicting the old ways of life. There is a nice restaurant within the park to sit and relax and have a nice lunch. Taxis are inexpensive in Bucharest. We discovered that they post their prices on the passenger side door. They run between 1.39 lei per km to 3.50 lei per km. We didn't notice this at first and wondered why some cab rides were more than twice the cost of others for the same ride...... Europa Royale is perfectly situated on the edge of the Old Town, which is really lively every evening with outdoor cafes. I would stay there again on a visit to Bucharest."
M Attell, October 2016
"We were met by the link tour operators who were charming and cheerful. We were able to see many of the sites of Bucharest the following day, and the trip around the other parts of Romania over the subsequent week was brilliantly organised. The historical buildings, both religious and secular were stunning, and the young guide who took us around was knowledgeable, accomodating, and lovely to be with. Marvellous. If you have any preconceptions of Romania, they are likely to be wrong. It is a clean, bright country with excellent infrastructure, including much better Wifi speeds everywhere than most of the UK. The guide made it possible to visit small museums and 'cottage industries' such as a rural tile maker, which involved a pony cart ride, none of which would have been possible without her local knowledge. A thoroughly memorable and enjoyable experience."
J Stokes, October 2014