Holding a tourist map in their hands, many might say that 2 days are enough to visit Bucharest. That may be true only if you settle for quick stops in front of some major attractions, take a few pictures and leave (without actually visiting).We challenge you to throw away your tourist map and get off the beaten track to discover 10 hidden gems in Bucharest!
Spice up your journey in Bucharest by including some hidden gems to your bucket list. The best thing? Most of them are free to visit!
1. The Xenofon stairway street – the only one of its kind in Bucharest. Built 220 years ago, this strange narrow street is actually a stairway with 100 steps and also an example of modern street art. The steps are repainted each year, exhibiting various themes like Bucharest’s famous monuments or a superb waterfall. The stairway ends close to a century old palace (currently a luxury hotel), located in the highest point of the city.
2.Vlad the Impaler’s Castle – located in the middle of the city, the building is a replica of the famous Poenari Fortress belonging to prince Vlad the Impaler (a.k.a. Dracula). Built more than 100 years ago to commemorate 40 years from the coronation of King Carol I, the castle had a functional purpose and it was supposed to host a water reservoir.
3.Melik House – the oldest private building in Bucharest. Built around 1750 by a merchant, the house retains its initial shape and structure while displaying elements of a traditional Wallachian peasant house: high cellar, glass covered veranda etc. Legends say that Melik House’ cellars expand over large distances, communicating with several establishments owned by old Masons. Now, the house hosts the Theodor Pallady Museum and it can be visited from Wednesday to Sunday.
4.Politehnica subway station hosts unique prehistoric fossils that are more than 65 million years old. Hard to believe, right? The station’s construction began in 1983 and the limestone plates used to build it were extracted from the Apuseni Mountains – an area entirely covered by water during the Cretaceous. All the fossils were marine creatures like seashells, snails, corals and algae and are perfectly visible on the subway station’s floor. The Bucharest Metro operator plans to open a museum along with interactive screens to highlight the history. It would be the only subway station in the world to host such a museum.
5.Macca Vilacrosse passage – a spectacular yellow glass covered passage built in 1891 during Bucharest’s most prosperous era – the Belle Époque. Reminding us of the Boehme lifestyle of those days, the passage was designed to encourage commerce at street level. In other words, this was Bucharest’s first shopping mall. Today it hosts several indoor/outdoor eating establishments, including an Egyptian-themed bar, the Blues Cafe, a bistro, a Chinese restaurant and a wine bar.
6.Mihai Voda Church – one of the oldest, best preserved churches in Bucharest and a rare example of Wallachian medieval ecclesiastical architecture. Built in 1594 by Michael the Brave (the first man to unify Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia), the church was once surrounded by large defensive walls and it stood high above the city, on top of a hill. Unfortunately, the towers are no more and the church is now hidden behind high-raised communist apartment blocks. Why? Back in the communist era, Ceausescu wanted to see no churches next to his Palace of Parliament and ordered their destruction. The chief architect managed to save 13 such buildings by performing a stunning feat of engineering: he literally moved them using rail tracks. Thus, Mihai Voda church was moved 285 meters to East and also lowered by 6 meters, despite weighting 3100 tons.
7.The Virgin Island – one of the 5 small islands spread across the lake of Alexandru Ioan Cuza Park (IOR Park). This tiny island is unique because it has developed its own ecosystem, providing shelter for a lot of species: ducks, swans, turtles, water snakes, seagulls and many species of insects. It’s a protected area so you can’t set foot on it, although you can get close by renting a boat, stroll around it and admire the wild animals. IOR Park is one of the biggest parks in Bucharest, a real oasis of nature and tranquility, being a top open-air leisure alternative for the locals. It has a diverse flora and fauna: willows, sycamores, pine species, squirrels, ducks, peacocks, swans, egrets, fish or turtles.
8.The Choral Temple is a synagogue and the most important Judaist religious building in Romania. It was built between 1857 and 1867, when the Jewish community used to be Bucharest’s largest minority (around 11%). The temple was devastated by the Legionaries and it was restored after WW2.
9.Amazing rooftop bars – Dinner with a view, above the city? Who doesn’t love it? Lovely during the day and magical by night due to the city lights, each part of Bucharest has its own spot from where you can admire the surroundings. Escape the urban atmosphere and enjoy a refreshing drink in one of Bucharest’s rooftop bars – the new trend in the city:
- Charming terraces: Astrodom Residence Hotel, Upstairs, Pasha by Noah
- Amazing view of the city: 18 Lounge, Pura Vida Sky Bar, Silk
- Romantic escapes: Sole Bar & Restaurant, SkyBar, Avantgarde Double Tree by Hilton
10.The hidden gardens – during summer you can escape the heat & noise by relaxing in one of the many beautiful, secluded terraces. Pick your oasis of calm in the heart of the city:
- The Hipster’s Mecca: Eden Garden, Ceai la Metoc
- Boehme gardens: OAR, Verona Garden, Shift Pub, Infinitea
- New art & good vibes: Acuarela, Fabrica
The above are just a few examples of hidden gems in Bucharest, but the main attractions aren’t to be skipped either. How would you like to combine famous monuments with secret places while revealing a certain era from Bucharest’s history? Make the most out of your day and pick a quick getaway:
|The Ashes of Communism – 4h tour||Charm of the Belle Époque – 3h tour|