When visiting Bucharest, the Romanian capital city, you will discover a city not only rich in history and culture but fun too. There is so much to do in Bucharest, Romania, that you may not know where or what to spend your money on. That is not a problem, you don't have to spend it all.
That is right! You can spend entire days exploring the city and not spend a dollar, or in this case a leu. Historic sites, art galleries, beautiful parks, and other attractions can all be accessed for free, you just need to know where to go. Fortunately, we know all the great free places to hang out.
Here is a little fun fact: if you like to do a little gambling, the food and drinks are free in the casinos. Doing free things isn't much fun if you are hauling heavy backpacks or cumbersome shopping bags around, so make sure you store them safely and secured in one of our convenient Bucharest storage locker locations.
Officially the name of the park is King Mihai I Park, but the locals still call it Herastrau Park. It is a very large park that surrounds Herastrau Lake. With plenty of green space and forested areas, you could spend the day relaxing and enjoying nature here. Find a sports area to kick a ball around or go for a jog on one of the many trails.
If you want to feel like you have stepped into another world, visit the Japanese Garden. It is especially beautiful in the springtime when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. And if you don't mind spending a little money you can rent a sailboat, hydro-bicycle, or visit the aquarium.
If you have kids with you, they can have a great time seeking out busts and statues of famous people like Michael Jackson and William Shakespeare. You can also visit a very cool open-air museum called the Village Museum for free on the 26th of each month. It is a re-creation of traditional houses of Romania from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Herastrau Park is a very popular spot for locals, but because it is so large you will never feel overwhelmed by people.
Considered the most beautiful area of Bucharest, Cismigiu Park is the largest park in the central part of the city. Over 30, 000 trees and plants from the mountains of Romania along with exotic plants and flowers from the botanical gardens of Vienna were originally planted to create a magical setting to walk through.
Even though people call it a park, it is actually a very large garden that incorporates other gardens, such as the Roman Garden that was designed after the gardens of ancient Rome. Cismigiu Gardens can be enjoyed throughout the seasons with lakes for rowing on in the summer and skating in the winter. You will find sculptures and busts commemorating famous writers of Romania and others.
Spring through fall, the garden hosts a number of traditional fairs that feature artists from all around Romania. Restaurants and cafes with terraces to enjoy the sunshine can be found throughout the garden, and if you have children they will love the large playgrounds. When the weather is good the park can be busy, but still a great place to spend a little "free" time.
Being one of the largest parks in Bucharest you expect to find a lot to do here, and you'd be right. The park features some fabulous attractions for everyone, especially for families with kids. There are two sections to the park. The main section is close to the Tineretului metro stop, with open green spaces for relaxing, tree-lined paths for jogging or walking, kids playgrounds, trampolines, and a few rides for kids.
In the summertime, you can rent a bike from I'Velo, near the entrance. The cost is about $1 an hour or the whole day for less than $6. If you are under 16 or over 65 it is free for a max of 2 hours.
There is a venue in the middle part of the park called Sala Polivalenta, which holds free exhibitions, concerts, and indoor sporting events. A little further up the hill of Tineretului Lake is Cafeneaua Actorilor de Vara (the Actors Cafe) which has a great terrace that serves delicious Mici (a garlicky meat sausage).
You will also discover Oraselul Copiilor (Children's Town). It is an amusement park that is free to enter. You only need to pay for the rides you go on, which will cost between $1.20 and $2.40 per ride.
And although it is called Children's Town there are plenty of rides for adults. But if you have kids, this is a must-visit.
In the second section, known as Parcul Vacaresti, there are workout stations, football (soccer) fields, volleyball, basketball & tennis courts, bouncy castles, and a go-kart track. And a plethora of great barbeque spots where you can get your grill on. This is a park that really does have it all.
Bucharest Old Town
Known as Centrul Vechi, the Old Town is one that the most popular tourist destinations. A mix of old and new buildings (some of them not in such good condition), they stretch from Dambovita River in the South, Calea Victoriei on the West, Regina Elisabeta to the North, and East to Bulevardul Bratianu. Wander the new and old cobblestone streets, grab some traditional food and drink in the life of the city.
While in Old Town, check out the many beautiful churches hiding in plain sight like the Stavropoleos Church. Like many of the Orthodox churches, it had to "hide" in order to escape destruction during the communist regime, and so you will find it surrounded by larger buildings. If you like your churches, head to the St. Joseph's Cathedral with its stained glass windows, marble altar, and vivid frescoes.
The Old Town of Bucharest gives you a look into the past, as to what Romania's capital city looked like before the bombings in World War II and why it was known as the "Little Paris of the East".
National Museum of Art of Romania
If during your visit to Bucharest, you happen to be in town on the first Wednesday of the month you can visit the museum for free! When you are there you can enjoy Europe's largest art collections from Romania, as well as many other famous European artists. The National Art Museum is located inside the Royal Palace at Revolution Square.
Give yourself a few hours to explore and enjoy all three sections of the National Museum of Art.
Romanian Peasant Museum
If you want to see what life was like for peasants in Romania this is a must-stop place. Learn about Romanian history through 90,000 objects including ceramics, furniture, ironware, costumes, and religious items, all housed in a Neo-Romanian style historical building. You will find the Romanian Peasant Museum a short distance to the north from Victory Square.
The museum is free on the 26th of every month, but at less than $2 for the normal entry fee, it is pretty much free all the time.
George Enescu Museum (National)
The George Enescu National Museum can be found in the Cantacuzino Palace. Walking through the Art Nouveau style entrance you will wander through three rooms that contain photographs, documents, musical instruments, and other objects relating to his life's work. Although he wrote many compositions, his Rhapsody 1 and 2 are his most famous.
George Enescu is considered the most important Romanian musician of not just his time but to this day. The museum is free to the general public on the 26th day of each month. Museums are always a great place to spend time.
One of the most incredible private collections of art in Romania can be seen in this restored villa in the Dorabanti District of Bucharest. Hop on public transit (which can be a bargain too). The famous Romanian art critic Krikor H. Zambaccian put together an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and furniture made by Romania's most famous artists. He also collected some great works by masters such as Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Bonnard, Marque, and Utrillo.
The museum is free on the first Wednesday of the month and costs less than $2.50 the rest of the time. It is always free for children under the age of seven.
Palace of the Parliament
Situated in the Old Town District, this might be one of the largest buildings you will ever see, but it is certainly the heaviest, weighing in at 9.035 billion pounds! The interior of the Palace of the Parliament is like a grand palace with all of the marble. It was once a reminder of the oppression of the former communist regime but now is looked at as a symbol of the democracy of Romania.
While there is an entrance fee to the building and you can only see it by booking a guided tour, exploring the outside is free. Looking at the second largest government building in the world is still very impressive, so whether you are inside or outside, this grand Palace of the Parliament is well worth your time and money.
Arc de Triomphe
Yes, Bucharest has its very own Arc de Triomphe, one more reason for the nickname Little Paris. It is a symbol of Romania's alliance and victory in WWI with the Allied Forces. It is slightly smaller than its big brother in Paris but its architectural design and importance are just as impactful. It is a photo op you don't want to miss.
Originally opened in 1808, this is now the oldest operating hotel building in the city. The historical building has been the site of several important events in Romania. Talks for the Treaty of Bucharest, the first performance of a Romanian opera, and meetings of the Romanian pro-war party before WWI all took place here.
If you are looking for some tasty traditional dishes, the traditional restaurant serves them up in a historical setting.
Carol I Central University Library
If you love to read, this is the place to hang out. The library contains over 2 million books and more than 20 scientific databases that you can access for free. You could spend a lifetime in the library and still not read everything it has to offer. You can do the same at the Metropolitan and National Libraries as well.
Street Art of Bucharest
If you like your street art, or if you have never really seen any, head to Authur Verona Street near Piata Romana, and you will be amazed at the colors and passion of the local graffiti artists. One of the best things about the area is that the murals change every year during the annual Street Delivery Festival. So even if you have seen them all before, you can discover new ones the next time you visit Bucharest.
From University Square and Beyond
If you are not up to exploring Bucharest, Romania on your own, there are actually free tours available from several companies. You will hit all the highlights of Bucharest led by knowledgeable local guides that speak English. You can find and book them online. The tours are free but they appreciate tips.
There are so many free things to do in Bucharest, like seeing architecture in University Square or the Patriarchal Cathedral on Metropolitan Hill. Visiting museums and wandering Charles de Gaulle Square are fun pastimes as well. In Romania, you'll have the time of your life and save money while doing so. Go out there and make the most of it!