Neatly tucked away in the eastern part of Europe is a worthy, slow-paced but fun, family vacation destination. In Bucharest, one can enjoy and admire the unique architecture, outdoor interactive museums, as well as embark on delightful culinary adventures of traditional Romanian cuisine.
On the northern side of the city is an iconic park surrounding a lake.
Estimated to be the largest urban park in Europe, it is a Mecca for outdoor lovers; offering diverse family activities like skating, free biking, boating including paddle boats, and rollerblading.
Tip: Go on a weekday since it tends to be crowded with locals on weekends and don’t forget your bug spray!
The Village Museum
Muzeul Satului is a unique open-air museum housed in Herăstrău Park.
It showcases farming houses from the different parts of the country.
Its 272 peasant farms and houses created in 1936 by Dimitrie Gusti allow visitors to observe local craftsmen at their work, as well as sample traditional foods like sherbet and homemade jams that are hard to find elsewhere.
Tip – since most of the display areas are not paved, it is best to avoid visiting on rainy days. Make sure to wear non-slip shoes.
The Parliament Palace
The World Record Academy lists this architectural masterpiece as the largest civilian administration building in the world, making it the number one tourist attraction in the Romanian capital.
The mammoth complex stands tall on a hill; a reminder of the country’s deceased dictator and communist past. Visitors will be surprised at the enormity of the rooms, the extravagant lighting fixtures along with the sparse, almost nonexistent décor.
Tip: Be advised that you can only visit the building if you partake in an official tour.that is about 2 hours long.
It involves extensive walking and strict safety regulations disallowing separation from the group.
Don’t book if you think your child won’t be able to cope.
Admire the architecture
Since 1878, following the Romanian War of Independence, Calea Victoriei has been a most exclusive shopping boulevard.
It started off as part of the trade route between Bucharest and the city of Brașov, but in today’s capital, it projects a mélange of old grandeur with palaces like Cantacuzino and Stirbei, elegant hotels like the Athenee Hilton and the former Hotel Bucharest now called Radisson Blu, and exclusive foreign designer shops like Gucci and Cartier.
There are iconic buildings and memorials too; the column commenting those fallen in the 1989 revolution, the National Museum of Art, the Telephone Palace, Pasajul Macca, and the CEC building as you stroll down towards Piata Unirii.
Tip: On your walk, stop and introduce your child to Covirigi – a Romanian pretzel snack filled with different jams or cheese.
Arcul de Triumf
Built in 1936 to commemorate the creation of the Greater Romanian state and bravery of the Romanian soldiers in WWI, the Romanian Arch is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe, its more famous French counterpart. Located along Kiseleff Road, the 85-foot tall arch designed by architect Peter Antonescu stands in the place of two preceding arches that celebrated Romania’s independence and the establishment of the monarchy.
Tip: For adventurous tourists and energetic children, I highly recommend the interior staircase leading to the top.
Lipscani is both a street and a district that has been a Bucharest feature for the past six hundred years
Once a flourishing commercial center it was named for the Lipscan (traders) who brought goods from Western Europe. During the communist era, the suburb became a giant slum and narrowly escaped demolition plans. After the revolution of 1989, Lipscani made a surprising comeback and is now a renovated pedestrian zone with food, retail and entertainment venues.
Tip: Stop by Stavropoleos Church to see a representation of the Romanian Brancovenesc style which blends Ottoman and Western elements.
Built in 1724 with impressive woodcarvings and frescoes, it is an excellent opportunity to introduce your child with autism to typical Romanian religious art.
Located in the center of Bucharest and considered the city’s oasis by the locals, you will find a park called Cismigiu; the name derived from the Turkish word for fountains.
The garden offers multiple outdoor activities like rowboat rentals, a winter skating rink, a children’s playground and cafes and restaurants.
During the summer months, you can feed swans, geese, ducks and peacocks in large cages, as well as listen to live music in the gazebo area.
Tip: The gardens are a beautiful spot to de-stress in an otherwise noisy, bustling city.
During the holidays, one can attend fairs with craftsmen displaying their traditional products and souvenirs.
Have you visited Bucharest with your family?
What are your favorite spots?