Since Romania joined the European Union in 2007, more and more business travelers have made their way to Bucharest, the eclectic capital of Romania.
Business travel is not always as entertaining as it could be, it’s not even a vacation, after all. But, with good time management, business travelers to Bucharest should find ways to soak up of the local culture and to explore the city’s main attractions when not at the board table.
1. Visit The Palace of Parliament
Feature Image, Wikipedia
Located smack in the center of Bucharest, the Palace of Parliament, also known as “The House of the People” is without any doubt the city’s most famous building. Its greatness consists not only in the 330,000 square meters surface, which makes it the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon, but also in its controversial symbolic significance. Some people think of it as an architectural horror proving Nicolae Ceausescu’s megalomania and a place where many citizens’ dreams and memories were buried, while others are impressed by its luxurious interior, by the dictator’s ghost that seems to haunt continuously the colossal halls and the interesting stories and secrets told by the guide.This fascinating building is opened to the public every day between 10 a.m. and 16 a.m. and a regular tour lasts 2 hours. Ticket price – 45 lei (10 euros)
2. Take a journey back in time via Bucharest’s Old Town
Macca-Villacrosse Pasage, Wikipedia
The historic Lipscani District represents a major part of the city’s old town and one of the liveliest areas in Bucharest. Pedestrian cobbled streets, stunning baroque, renaissance and neoclassical architecture, a great array of bars, pubs and fancy restaurants, old churches and charming buildings, these are the main lures of this medieval landscape. Whether one chooses to wonder about Lipscani during the day, or to hit it in the night, this animated area of the city will provide a lot of after work activities for any business traveler to Bucharest.
3. Spend the night in style at The Romanian Athenaeum
Feature Image, Wikipedia
The finest concert hall in the country, and perhaps the most beautiful building in Bucharest, this 120 year old construction represents is home of Romania’s premier orchestra, the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, and the venue where many prestigious international artists have performed over the years.
If you fancy wearing an elegant outfit, listening to some world class and classy music, and relaxing in an atmosphere of aristocracy (at least for one night), you should definitely attend a concert at the Athenaeum. The tickets are relatively cheap, between 2 and 9 euros. For bookings and further information, please visit the official website: http://fge.org.ro/ro.html
4. For a spot of history and traditions, stopover the Village Museum
Timseni Church in the Village Museum, Wikipedia
Aiming to present a clear image about peasant life in Romania, this oasis of peace is one of the oldest ethnographic museums in the world. The 100,000 m2 open-air museum, located within Herestrau Park, hosts over 270 authentic peasant houses from all over Romania. These include; barns, farms, sheds, windmills, gates, churches, chapels, all organized on Romania’s ethnographical regions, giving you the feeling that you’re traveling across the whole country from village to village, from an era to another. Visiting the Village Museum is a most relaxing experiences in a bustling city like Bucharest, and a great opportunity to disconnect from the pressure that any business trip involves.
5. Chill out in Bucharest’s beautiful Parks and Gardens
Cismigiu Garden, Wikipedia
Located near the Cotroceni Palace, Bucharest Botanical Garden stretches out onto a 17 hectares area, hosting an impressive collection of more than 10,000 species of plants, and the amazing display makes it perfect for an afternoon walk. Bucharest is blessed with a great variety of parks, allowing visitors to enjoy nature and to take part in many fun activities such as: renting a bike in Herestrau Park, the most popular of Bucharest’s parks, exploring Cismigiu Gardens by rowing a boat on the lake or skating in the winter, relaxing in Tineretului Park by having a coffee at “Cafeneaua Actorilor de Vara”, eating an ice-cream in Titan Park or taking enjoying a pleasant quiet stroll in Carol Park.
6. Attend a free city tour
Bucharest Triumph Arch, Wikipedia
Bucharest can be a very complicated city too, especially for first-time visitors. So, if the business trip seems to be more demanding than you’d be expected, the safest option is always to choose a guided tour, especially when the tour is free. For the complete route and further information regarding the tour, visit the official website:
7. Take home with you a bit of Bucharest
Romanian Work Craft, Wikipedia
Shopping can be a very relaxing activity, but in the case of Bucharest, it can also be an opportunity of taking home with you a bit of the city’s charm. Like most European capitals, Bucharest has a unique personality and a hectic past still vibrating through every narrow alleyway. Art galleries and antique shops are always an excellent opportunity to buy original souvenirs which will remind you of Bucharest and its good old days in Romania. Covaci Street in the Old Town offers some nice shops to buy antiques, books or a bottle of the best Romanian wine. All Bucharest’s museums, especially the Village Museum, provide amazing collections of folk crafts such as embroidered clothing, woodcarvings, pottery, glass icons and many other Romanian traditional stuff.
Finally, Bucharest is also the city of malls, so if you’re looking for designer clothes or famous brands, a place to see a movie or just rambling, Sun Plaza Mall, Unirea Shopping Center, Baneasa Shopping City, AFI Palace Cotroceni will always be at your service.
8. Taste the Romanian varied cuisine
“Sarmalute cu mamaliguta”, Wikipedia
Romanian food is an eclectic fusion of Turkish, Hungarian, Austrian, Polish and Russian cuisine finely complimented by some delightful local dishes. Anyway, it’s not the mix which makes Romanian food so delicious, but the way the food is cooked, using fresh natural products instead of those altered by the new technologies and the latest discoveries of genetics.
Bucharest provides an incredible range of traditional restaurants where the food is served in clay vessels and it will be a shame to miss such an authentic experience. Ask for “sarmale cu mamaliguta”(mincemeat wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves served with polenta and cream ) , “mititei” (grilled mincemeat rolls served with mustard), or “papanasi”(a kind of doughnut with cottage cheese, jam and sour cream on top). Any Romanian meal is incomplete without a glass of local wine or at least a shot of “tuica” or “palinca” (very strong drinks made from fruits) served before the meal.
9. Flavor your business trip with a glimpse of trendy nightlife
Lipscani Street, Wikipedia
If you are in a business trip in Bucharest doesn’t mean you cannot have fun. Bucharest has an incredible cultural scene but when the evening comes, the city becomes a completely different place, revealing people’s Latin origins and their aptitude for fun. There is something for every night person in Bucharest, from trendy bars and jazz clubs to elegant lounges and comedy clubs. Just follow the type of entertainment or the music that suits you and spend a night dancing till down in a discotheque. If none of these please you, don’t worry, Bucharest’s club scene is one of the best in Eastern Europe and there’s still plenty of mega-clubs with famous DJs performing all night, luxury casinos and high class night clubs to choose from and to party till the sun rises.
10. Visit some nice places outside Bucharest
Mogosoaia Palace, Wikipedia
Once you’ve completed your business trip and still have time to spend in Bucharest, take a day excursion to Snagov, a small village 40 km north of Bucharest. The main attractions here are the beautiful 16 km long Snagov Lake and Snagov Monastery located on an island in the middle of the lake. A legend says that Dracula was buried in this monastery after being murdered in the forests nearby.
Mogosoaia is yet another nice place 10km away from Bucharest, featuring a well-kept secret, the Mogosoaia Palace. Build in the 17th century by Constantin Brancoveanu, the palace provides both an amazing architectural style and a wonderful location with spectacular gardens, timberlands and a lovely lake.
Any trip to Romania, whether about business or pleasure, should be seen as an adventure and an opportunity to see the world and not taking advantage of travel it’s like not living your life at it’s best.