The hidden gems of Bucharest walking tour

The Hidden Gems Of Bucharest

What do you usually do to fulfill your wanderlust when you are not traveling? Have you ever considered being a tourist in the city you live in? Ever since I visited the Little Bucharest Old Town Hostel, I wanted to go on a walking tour and when a friend suggested it last weekend, I immediately agreed. On a perfect spring morning I joined the hidden gems of Bucharest walking tour from Interesting Times which turned out to be well, interesting, because I learned the story of beautiful buildings and charming neighborhoods from places that only 10% of the people living in the capital of Romania know about.

Once again, I discovered the good parts of my hometown, realizing why the city was called Little Paris in the good old days. Let me take you on a (virtual) tour that includes the oldest building in Bucharest, a house built in Gaudi’s style and….a witch’s house?!

Bucharest is a city dominated by tall apartment buildings, most of them built in the communist era, and tall office buildings, or as I like to call them, glass boxes. However, hidden not far from the historical center there still are places thatย  preserve the same charm that gave the city its Little Paris nickname and made people fall in love with it. On this walking tour you will discover buildings in many architectural styles, from Byzantine to Art Deco, Romanesque and Art Nouveau, which have all been popular throughout the city at theirย time. Let me give you some examples.

 

I got to learn a little more about the history and old habits of the people who lived in my city, its stories and myths. For example, when electricity was a luxury, the numbers of the houses on the street used to be lighted by candles. I’ve also passed by the only Dutch-style house in Bucharest and stopped at the oldest building in town, the Melik House, which accommodates the Theodor Pallady museum with a collection of Romanian art. The house has an eventful past, from a family home, it became a shelter for people who planned the 1848 revolution, then it was a sanctuary for poor Armenian women. It had many owners over the years which contributed toย its degradation. Finally, in 1994 it opened its doors as a valuable, yet unknown museum.

Bucharest wouldn’t be Bucharest without its quirks and I was amused by some of the things we found, such as houses covered with ivy and vines, that made them look like a witch’s home or as if the building had a beard. This reminded me how I couldn’t live in a house covered inย ivy, all the time I’d worry about bugs, haha. ๐Ÿ˜€ People have always been fascinated with the details from the properties owned by the Royal family and one tall apartment building has lions instead of the usual drain pipes. However, for me the highlight of the tour was seeing a house built in Gaudi’s style. Not much is known about it, but being the Gaudi fan that I am, I couldn’t help but admire all the shapesย andย curves, the fence and the dragons guarding the entrance.ย  Some people say the house is owned by an architect who invested 2 million euros to bring the building to life. Sigh, I wish I could randomly decide one day that I wanted a house in the style of a great Catalan architect.

 

However, it wouldn’t feel right not to mention the negative parts. I wish I couldย have been a tourist completely and not notice the bad things that I dislike about my city, but they stood out here especially since they were surrounded by such beautiful places. Here’s the ugly truth: Bucharest is a city without an urban plan. It never had one, and it doesn’t now, and to be honest, it seems like no one in charge ever cared about making the city one that people travel to year after year. So much for Romania not needing bloggers to promote the country abroad. *end of mini rant*

Historical buildings are demolished every day to make space for new constructions, the new ones don’t have any connections to the surrounding neighborhoods and are painted inย the craziest colors. In addition to this, there are many “red dot” buildings, which means that if there is a large earthquake, they will be nothing but dust. I don’t even want to mention the wires that are everywhere or the fact that the whole city is one giant parking lot, since there aren’t enough parking spaces so you can see cars on sidewalks everywhere. I could have easily photoshopped the cars and wires out of the pictures, but I’ve decided to let them there, just in case the right people will see it….

 

Tour details

The hidden gems of Bucharest walking tour starts in front of the the Intercontinental Hotel and ends at Manuc's Inn

The tour starts from the Intercontinental Hotel and ends at Manuc’s Inn, it costs โ‚ฌ19ย  and it includes one refreshment and one street food snack, the bus/metro fair and, of course, the professional guide with a PHD in History, Anita. You don’t need to be inย the best physical condition for this tour, but you should have comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking for a few hours. A small warning if you’re doing the tour during the summer: it can get quite hot at times, so covering your head and wearing sunscreen is recommended.

Would you like to explore the hidden gems of Bucharest if you visited the city? ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • YES! I LOVE this post!!
    I have never seen Bucharest in such a way. Good for you for participating in such tours and sharing them with us! I am also planning a few days of sightseeing in my own city, since I don’t have any posts on Tg. Mures yet! (shame on me).
    Keep up the awesome work, Vlad! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks! I’m planning on going on more city tours around Bucharest ๐Ÿ˜€ Looking forward reading your posts on Tg Mures and making me want to visit! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I am waiting for the sun to come out so i can take nice photos. An hour ago it was snowing. We don’t have any city tours here, but maybe I should do something about that ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Super photos! Such beautiful architecture! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, I was impressed by the architecture as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Aw it is a shame the city is in such disrepair as the photos you have taken do show the beauty that still lingers there.

    • Indeed it is, I hope someone will do something about them until it’s too late.

  • Thank you so much for writing this post about Bucharest! Yes, you are absolutely right that Romania doesn’t get enough visitors, because your typical tourist, not knowing anything about it, will not include it on his or her itinerary. The good thing is that true travelers generally aren’t like that, but yeah, it wouldn’t hurt to let everyone know what Romania and the rest of Central East Europe is like, so I’m pinning it to my Central East Europe board. Keep writing!

    • You’re right, there’s no reason for Romania not to get as many visitors as other countries abroad, if it was better promoted and well taken care of. Thanks for pinning! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Heather Hall

    I’m starting to think about making a trip to Bucharest! It looks like a fascinating and lovely place!

    • You should definitely come to Bucharest! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m really hoping I can visit Riga this year, if only for a few hours.

  • Looks great! YYou should include a map view with all the points of interest included… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I’ve thought about it, but the tour is better with a guide explaining the history and urban legends behind some of these buildings. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Beautiful architecture, too bad people don’t care to maintaining them. At the next 7 or more Richter scale earthquake, we’ll lose all this amazing buildings, and not only…..pity…

    • Yeah, there are a lot of buildings like this in Bucharest (and probably the whole country). I wish they would do something about them until it’s too late.

      • It isn’t that easy, Vlad…as nothing is in Romania. The more complicated, the better. I wrote a post a few weeks agp on the situation of the buildings, and in Bucharest only, we have over 200 buildings we know about, which will come to the ground at the first larger earthquake. And they can’t do much about it, one, because they don’t have the money, and second, because the building owners must all be in agreement in order to start the construction, and most of them, elderly, don’t want to temporarily move out until the work is done…I really don’t see a decent solution to this, and I’m so sorry about it, because you can’t just rebuild them, with the gorgeous architecture that they currently have. But again, the interest is to have more space for office buildings, so they can earn more money…. ๐Ÿ™ Giving up history and culture, for material benefits….

        • Sadly, I don’t think the money is the biggest issue, there are always solutions for this (such as funds from the EU). I think the problem is that the people in charge only care about making more money for themselves. I’ve seen how every project in Bucharest works, if it has the deadline in 6 months, you can be sure it will be finished in 2 years. ๐Ÿ™

          • True…this is another reason why it will never work. And when it comes to problems at the structure of a building, there isn’t much time left. ๐Ÿ˜

  • I love to know about hidden gems! As Bucharest is on top of my bucket list and I plan to visit this or next year, this is perfect for me to know! Love to get tips from an insider! Thank you so much for sharing. I will bookmark this for see again when I leave for Romania ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Let me know if you need any help planning your trip to Romania, I’ll happily help you! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I love Bucharest….I gotta get back there…was only there for 12 hours once..but LOVED it….

    • I hope your next visit will be just as good as the first! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I think I’d love this city when I’ll be visiting there.

    • When are you coming to Bucharest? If you need any recommendations, don’t hesitate to ask me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bucharest looks amazing! I can’t wait to come over some day and explore it. And stunning photos, Vlad ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Kavitha! Can’t wait for you to finally visit Romania! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Great post and lovely photos ๐Ÿ™‚ I really love that you did this walking tour in your own city, great #Take12Trips inspiration! I also like to explore around my home when I can’t travel far but have never really considered doing a walking tour – I think you may have just inspired me to investigate similar activities on my own doorstep – thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It was definitely my plan this year to travel more locally and I decided to start with my own city. Thank you and happy exploring! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I think it is awesome to visit the place your are living in ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a great idea !!

    • Thank you, it’s always nice to find interesting places nearby that you didn’t know about! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Loved reading this – I want to go back!

    • I hope you come visit us again, the city is so much nicer when it’s not cold and snowing. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • marinigh

    I have never been there before but after this I would love to go!

    • Glad I could convince you! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Wow, this is a cool post. I like when bloggers blog about their own cities, especially if they are so underrated as Bucharest is. I wish i knew about this tour when I was there. I missed the Gaudi style house, but I found Melik house myself and I even went int to see the museum. I’d like to go back tho.

    • To my shame, I haven’t seen the museum yet, but I’m hoping to change this soon!

  • Actually, my hometown Riga was also called Little Paris back in the day! Quite funny to find out that Bucharest had the same nickname, too ๐Ÿ™‚
    http://www.therussianabroad.com

    • I didn’t know Riga was called Little Paris, I knew it was called Paris of the North, haha.

  • That is too bad regarding the urban plan. But regardless, you still sure have shown your city in a positive light! I would absolutely love to explore this area! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m happy I could convince you to put Bucharest on your wish list ๐Ÿ™‚

  • nonstopdestination

    I really like your photos! I would love to visit Bucharest one day. You’re always quite surprised about your home town when you discover it through tourists’ eyes. I’m trying to do the same in London!

    • Thank you! I’m sure you could hardly get bored exploring London, I’d love to revisit one day! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I haven’t been here yet! Very cool post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I would most definitely want to take this tour in Bucharest! Your pictures are so beautiful, inspite of the wires…I know what you mean about being frustrated when it’s your own city and you see all the unplanned development going all around..there are parts of Dhaka, old Dhaka that could so be restored and be wonderful for locals and tourists alike..but alas, nothing is done about it..When back in Europe I would love to visit and be a tourist in your home town ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, if you ever visit, I’ll happily show you around ๐Ÿ˜€

  • (You TOTALLY stole my post idea! Just kidding ๐Ÿ˜› though I am about to add two more categories to my Moscow posts: Moscow Gems and Moscow Hidden Gems.)
    ANYHOOOO …this is probably my favorite post on EIIOH this far. I love all those bits of culture and history that usually are missed by major guidebooks but actually in many ways define the cultural fabric of a place. I cannot believe Bucharest still doesnt have an urban plan. Why is that? Moscow administration was really reckless (and hella corrupt) with city construction in the 1990s, which lead to monstrosities like photo #2 https://gohomeandaway.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/playing-around/ being erected in one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city. Things have gotten a bit better but the architectural integrity of most spaces has been forever ruined (Soviet housing and administrative projects did their bit too. It’s all depressing. Is it too early for a breakfast cocktail?).

    • After searching a bit online, I found something on a site that looks like it was made in 1999. However, I didn’t have the patience to read everything, although I know what I see – they rarely bother preserving the historical buildings, in favor of building SHINY NEW things and turning the whole city into a mess caused by all the construction sites. There are a few cases where big glass boxes were built next to historical buildings and churches. Whatever project is in town, it always brings more benefits to the people in charge than anything else. Can we have a breakfast cocktail now?

  • Taking this tour was a very good idea Vlad!! Wow!!
    It is always nice to learn a bit more about the city we live.
    And OMG, I really hope there will never be an earthquake there!!!
    Beautiful buildings <3

    • Thank you, Allane! I hope you come to Bucharest to show you around! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Kimberlee Pociengel

    I can’t wait to see all the architecture and the history of Bucharest. One of the things I love to do now when visiting a city is walk through the city and not take the metro so much. I feel I get to see a lot more by walking and don’t feel like I miss as much if I were on the metro. So ready to walk while I am in Bucharest at the end of this month.

    • Hope you’ll have a great time in Bucharest (and lovely weather, currently it’s gray and rainy). If you have any questions about the city, I’ll gladly help ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Kimberlee Pociengel

        I have my umbrella packed so am just as prepared as I can be for the rain. I am not one of those people that stay in their rooms if it is raining. I figured if i am in a new city I am going to see it and not from my room. I know I have lots of questions so be prepared for them before I leave later in the week. I can’t wait to visit Bucharest!

  • Deanna St

    “However, for me the highlight of the tour was seeing a house built in Gaudiโ€™s style. Not much is known about it, but being the Gaudi fan that I am, I couldnโ€™t help but admire all the shapes and curves, the fence and the dragons guarding the entrance. ”

    That is not “built in Gaudi style” that is an what is called in architecture an Art Nouveau house – plenty in Vienna and all over Europe and plenty more in Bucharest as well.

    1.Here’s an example from Belgium, very similar motifs and wrought iron work:

    https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5162/5345295829_a456739dee.jpg

    2. Here’s another gate from Bucharest, also Art Nouveau:

    https://historo.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/artnouveaugate-1.jpg?w=593

    3. I believe this is the house – right? Before renovation? Yep, it’s by definition point by point Art Nouveau.

    http://historo.wordpress.com/files/2009/12/dp_17dec09s1.jpg

    Informations about Art Nouveau in Romanian here (because so many Romanians don’t know how much treasure hides and gets lost these days in Romania due to negrlect, so they better check out here what the experts say): https://casedeepoca.wordpress.com/category/stil-art-nouveau/

  • Deanna St

    Yes, I realised that somehow but every reference to that particular house made by a Romanian or a Romanian site, mentions Gaudi as being the source of inspiration.
    Gaudi did not invent Art Nouveau, he was one of the Art Nouveau practitioners, ended up at the top after years and years, and the style was common to that era he lived in and sort of started while he was still a student or even before. He even evolved away from the style of Art Nouveau at the end, creating his own niche.
    The same way we cannot say Le Corbusier invented brutalism, he is one of the best known promoters of it, got to the top as well, but he actually started about 5 years after the term was already coined and the style defined in Sweden.
    That is why I had a bit of a problem with everyone referring to that house as a ‘Gaudi’ inspired house.
    To be honest, the architect, whoever he was, might not even had heard of Gaudi at the time he planned that house in a style that was wide spread across Europe and most familiar to Romanians via Vienna and Paris.
    Gaudi at that time we don’t even know if he was famous yet…we don’t know for sure until we find out who’s the architect who plotted that house in Bucharest & in what year he did that.

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