Bucharest is Romania’s energetic and resilient capital. After suffering the ravages of heavy bombing during World War II and the brutalist urban planning of communism, the historic centre is being refurbished to its former glory, and there are still plenty of belle epoque villas, gothic churches and renaissance mansions tucked away down quiet streets.
The exquisite Romanian Athenaeum has a colonnaded façade, a 41-metre-high-domed roof and an interior painted with frescos of Romanian history. Meanwhile, the vast Palace of Parliament – started by former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1984 and still unfinished by his execution in 1989 – is a testament to the cult of the personality. Boasting more than 3,000 rooms, this chunky edifice is the world’s heaviest building. The National Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in the southwestern wing, and boasts an eclectic collection of Eastern European art.
The city boasts many other interesting museums, including the Art Collections Museum, which displays a collection of paintings and handicrafts donated by the most prominent aristocratic families of Romania. The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum is an open-air museum located in Herastrau Park, showcasing traditional houses, farms, windmills and churches from across the country.
Bucharest also boasts a great nightlife, with plenty of hip neighbourhoods and rooftop bars. Lipscani is the epicentre of many a night out. It’s Bucharest’s oldest district, with plenty of edgy clubs, bars and cafés housed in ornate buildings. Floreasca is another up-and-coming neighbourhood, with an abundance of restaurants, wine bars and manicured parks.