I opened the guidebook and it declared ‘this city doesn’t offer much to the traveller’. I burst out laughing. Thankfully my guide book was misinformed, as the city well exceeded my expectations
Day 1 – The Old Town & Palace of the Parliament
A. Romanian Athenaeum
One of Europe’s most beautiful concert halls, the Athenaeum was built between 1886 and 1888. This was the period where modern Romania was emerging and its economy growing, giving it the nickname ‘the Paris of the East’. You can see the architectural influence here, and it’s absolutely STUNNING inside the rotunda and the concert hall itself.
B. Stavropoleos Monastery Church
Heading in to the heart of the Old Town, the next stop is Stavropoleos Monastery Church dating back to the 1700s. The site used to house a much bigger monastery, but today it’s just the church and courtyard remaining. It makes for a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.
C. Cărturești Carusel
Probably one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, this is one of the biggest treats in the old town. Not only is it super wow to look at, it also stocks such an amazing variety of books, games, toys and other lovely gifts – we managed to spend 1.5hrs in here and come out with lots of lovely Christmas gifts for family.
D. Lunch at Caru’ cu bere
Traditional Romanian food aplenty is on offer at this characterful old town restaurant with communal tables and tasty food. It makes for a great place to stop for lunch – I had the traditional sausages and they were delicious.
E. National Museum of Romanian History (or alternative)
You know me, I can’t visit a city without learning about its history – so I headed to the Romanian History Museum. It was very interesting and covered the ancient time before Romania was formed, the region’s amalgamation in to the Eastern Roman Empire, and later the spread of Christianity. It was well worth an hour or so, but if history isn’t your thing you could also head to the Romanian National Museum of Art or Romanian Jewish Museum which are both nearby
F. Palace of the Parliament tour
Well. Probably the most famous building in Romania, and one of the most famous in Europe – it has to be seen to be believed. The Romanian Palace of the Parliament is famous for being the heaviest building in the world – it’s depth under the ground being more than its height above the ground. It’s just absolutely HUGE and photos can’t possibly capture how massive it is. A recent valuation put it at £1trillion, and it is bursting at the seems with marble, gold and chandeliers. To visit, you need to have pre-booked and show your passport, so be sure to plan in advance.