Romania's capital is one of the largest cities in the whole of south-east Europe, a sprawling metropolis with a huge population and a lively atmosphere that is also home to many of the country's major industrial and commercial businesses. Bucharest was built on the banks of the Dambovita River, a waterway which flows into one of the tributaries of the Danube, the Arges River. Bucharest is not a staple of all Danube River cruises, but a number of itineraries which explore it do choose to focus on more of the eastern parts of the river, which is when Bucharest becomes a major port of choice and a focal point of your river voyage.
The most unmissable landmark in the city, in every sense, is the huge Parliament Palace, which is none other than the second-largest building in the entire world. There’s no need to worry about finding your way around, as walking tours showcase the parts of this epic building which holds over a thousand rooms. Other celebrated architectural attractions include the Romanian Athenaeum, which is one of Romania’s most celebrated concert halls and Stavropoleos Church, which boasts some splendid architecture and dates back to 1724.
Elsewhere in the city, Revolution Square is another popular place to visit, being the focus of a number of attractions including the former Royal Palace which is nowadays the museum of Art, and the Atheneum – a statue of Romania’s first king. The square though is an attraction in itself and a historical place of pilgrimage, being the scene of revolution in 1989 and of the communist-liberal clashes of the 1940s. When it comes to landmarks, the Triumph Arch is one of the most recognisable, being a tribute to those returning to the city alive after the First World War and resembling its more famous counterpart, Paris’ Arc de Triumph.
The city is also home to a great number of museums, so if you have an interest in the history of the region itself, the arts, geology, transport among other subjects, you'll find Bucharest to be a thoroughly absorbing and fascinating destination. One of the most unique however, is the Village Museum, a fascinating and informative open air site with over 300 traditional buildings which tells the story of Romania’s history in full scale.
If you simply want to get away from the crowds, then there are plenty of delightful parks in or close by the city, including Cismigiu Garden which lies conveniently in the centre. With lake boat rental and its own bars, it’s the perfect place to relax during your visit.
For a taste of Bucharest on the go, try Shaorma, which is a kind of kebab-like meat sandwich and the go-to fast food of choice in the city. If you've time to shop, head to the city's main boulevard which runs from Piaţa Romană to Piaţa Unir. Bucharest has various shopping centres with a mix of chain and independent stores, meaning you’ll always find interesting souvenirs to take home with you. There’s also a good choice of bars and restaurants in which you can find a number of locally-brewed, high quality beers.
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