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BUCHAREST

Destination Romania: Why Not Choose… Bucharest?

 

The capital of Romania, Bucharest is the cheapest of the European capitals… but this does not make it any less culturally rich. Concept Stores, young designers and original cafés have set up in the city known as the "Little Paris of the Balkans", which moves to the rhythms of gypsy music. In overcoming its painful communist past, the city made space for the creativity it needed to free and revive its heritage, much to the delight of its visitors.


Great artistic and architectural variety

Bucharest's elegant architecture offers a surprising mix of styles: Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, neoclassical or faux baroque sit side-by-side, providing beautiful variety. The large avenues are interspersed with gorgeous gardens and pretty little alleys. As you explore, make sure you stop at the Palace of the Parliament, a vast and impressive structure. It is the second-largest administrative building in the world (just behind the Pentagon), with an area of 365,000 m2. For a single building!

In terms of museums, Bucharest has plenty to satisfy your appetite for art in all its forms: architecture, music, visual art…

the National Museum of Art focuses on Romanian modern art. It is housed in Bucharest's Royal Palace and was built by French architect Paul Gottereau. It offers three flagship collections: ancient and mediaeval Romanian art, modern Romanian paintings, and European art.

the Museum of the Romanian Peasant celebrates the rich local peasant world. Make the most of your visit with a stroll around its artisan market on Saturdays and Sundays, and by discovering traditional cuisine with a meal out.

the National George Enescu Museum. Enescu is Romania's greatest composer, as well as a famous pianist and violinist. The museum is in the Cantacuzino Palace. The entrance to this superb building features a stunning Art Nouveau canopy.

 

Shopping and night-life

Lipscani. Remember this name, because you're not likely to forget the area! Both historical and trendy, its charming little pedestrianised streets offer many bars, shops and concept stores. Stroll around the district to admire its Art Nouveau façades and discover small antique shops and art galleries.

When you get hungry, enjoy a fairytale restaurant experience at the Caru’cu Bere. This prestigious establishment, which survived the Communist period, is a preferred haunt of international celebrities. Despite its elegant food, the prices are affordable.

Bucharest comes alive at night… Romanians love to party, and they really know how! Looking for an underground atmosphere? Go dancing at Control, a trendy underground club. After something more bohemian? You'll love the Dianei 4, a pub in an old house, once used by the secret services. A complete change of scene!

Good news for shopaholics: Bucharest has plenty to offer. Explore the shops in Piața Unirii, as well as the main streets. Fancy losing yourself in a bazaar? The little streets around Lipscani are the place to find small traders.

If you want to bring home a typical souvenir, head for the flea market on Sunday morning, along the Dâmboviţa River. You will find wooden sculptures, pottery, and local fabrics.


Top 10 places to visit in Bucharest

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The Palace of the Parliament: the site will show you the excesses of a single man: Nicolae Ceaușescu. This huge monument has entire hectares of marbled floors, and you can see exceptional chandeliers, the largest of which weighs no less than 3 metric tons!

The National Village Museum: one of visitors' favourite attractions, this typical open-air village-museum brings together all the country's architectural styles from over the centuries.

The Romanian Athenaeum: a magnificent neoclassical building which hosts concerts by international artists.

The Stavropoleos Monastery Church: a true architectural gem, this orthodox religious site is richly ornamented all over.

Herăstrău Park: a large park in the north of Bucharest, which is magnificent in autumn. Rent a bike, a pedalo or a boat to make the most of it.

Lipscani: this is the old town, the surprising and romantic heart of Bucharest. It is home to a labyrinth of cobbled streets reminiscent of Paris.

Cișmigiu Park: if you're looking for romance, this is the park for you! A real idyll of trees, flowers and lakes, where you can watch the locals taking time out to play chess, wash their boat, or just walk hand-in-hand.

The Grigore Antipa National Museum of Natural History: ideal if you're on holiday with kids. It offers a huge variety of stuffed animal specimens, as well as a wonderful insect collection.

Victoriei Street: one of the longest streets in Bucharest, with a mixture of old and new buildings.

The CEC Palace: with its elaborate façade, this building is located opposite the old town.


Culinary specialities

When it comes to gastronomy, Bucharest will take your taste buds travelling and satisfy your curiosity, your stomach… and your wallet! Its rustic cuisine with peasant roots uses local and often organic produce. Here are a few specialities you must try during your stay.

Mititei: garlicky, spiced, grilled meat rolls that are very popular in Romania.

Sarmales, cabbage or vine leaves, served with rice, mushrooms, herbs and vegetables. You have to try them!

Ardei umpluti, peppers with a stuffing very similar to that used in samarles.

Mămăliga, delicious cornmeal, rather like the Italian polenta.

Zacusca, an assortment of vegetables, herbs and mushrooms preserved in oil, vinegar or brine.

If you want to sample a local tipple, there will be plenty of chances to try țuică, a plum-based alcohol drunk before meals.

 


Cultural Events

September 2017: For music, the George Enescu Festival, a prestigious classical music festival held every 2 years. For sport, the Open Romania, the country's largest tennis tournament where international players compete.

April: EuropaFest, a music festival welcoming international artists of various genres (jazz, pop, blues, classical, and more).

May/June: Gay Fest, in honour of the LGBT cause, offers a wide range of events (film projections, debates, shows and parades).

July: B'Estfest, numerous music performances taking place in the park of the same name.


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