Are you looking for things to do in Bucharest in winter? The capital city of Romania has plenty of museums, warm indoor attractions, spas and free walking tours.
If you are a tourist planning on visiting Bucharest in winter, you have just made a great decision.
In the cooler months, the welcomes tourists with a dazzling display of lights, incredible winter food and hundreds of activities that will keep you entertained all winter long. It’s the perfect winter city break!
I’m a Bucharest local, and have created a comprehensive guide full of inside information to help you plan your trip.
Bucharest in winter instantly becomes easier to navigate once you know what to wear, what to eat and which places to visit – and you’ll learn all of that in this blog post!
This blog post was written by Mari, our Romania local expert.
What is the weather like in Bucharest in winter?
Most people visiting Bucharest wonder, “is Romania cold in winter”? The stereotype, of course, is that Bucharest is one of the coldest capital cities in Europe.
In reality – and unfortunately – global warming has ended that.
In Bucharest in winter, you’ll experience cold temperatures, but they remain well above freezing for the most part.
This means that, for example, even on Christmas day, the temperature will be somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius (41°F – 50°F). As a result, this also means that it doesn’t usually snow on Christmas.
The coldest months are January and February when temperatures sometimes go below zero. There might even be a dusting of snow once or twice!
Things to do in Bucharest in winter
Not only is Bucharest one of the best places to visit in Romania in winter, but it’s also one of the best Eastern European Cities for history, culture, food and activities. It’s even an ideal destination in winter!
Read on for tips for places to visit in Bucharest in winter.
Visit the Palace of the Parliament
The Palace of the Parliament is thought to be the heaviest building in the world, and it’s open year-round, including in winter.
Built by Ceaușescu, Romania’s former dictator, it was one of the most significant examples of propaganda imaginable – he made an enormous palace to demonstrate his power.
The palace was never used, but it still dominates Bucharest’s skyline.
You can do tours around the palace to learn more about the communist regime. It’s only possible to visit the Palace of the Parliament on a tour.
I think the easiest way to book a tour is to use Get Your Guide. This tour includes a skip the line ticket and full tour around the building.
Visit the House of Ceaușescu
Another attraction that involves Romania’s communist history is the house of Ceaușescu or Casa Ceaușescu.
This is where Nicolae Ceaușescu lived with his family, including his wife, Elena. They ruled Romania under a brutal communist regime, living in luxury while the rest of the country was in poverty.
You’ll notice this luxury while you’re visiting the house. Ceaușescu’s bathroom is decked out in gold, and there’s a huge indoor swimming pool amongst many other lavish features.
As you hear the stories of the Ceaușescus, the sumptuous decor will seem even more excessive.
Again, it’s easiest to book this tour using Get Your Guide – this tour includes a full guided route around the mansion.
See the churches
Romania is a deeply religious country, and you can feel this throughout the many churches and religious buildings dotted around the capital.
There are a few churches you can visit, including the Mihai Vodă Monastery, which is pictured. This building dates back to 1591 and was actually moved from its original destination on train tracks!
Have tea or coffee in Bucharest’s most beautiful coffee shops
One of the most essential things to do in Bucharest in winter is having cup of coffee or tea in a cafe or tea house – as you’ll need to stay warm!
I’ve compiled a small list of the best places you can go to, complete with websites.
- Ganesha Caffe – you are at the gates of the Orient, after all, so why not an oriental café?
- Grand Cafe van Gogh – preferred by locals and tourists alike for its artistic ambience.
- Cereal Crunch Café – serves an all-day breakfast with over 100 types of cereal to sweeten your day.
- Rio Juice Café – specializes in vegan and healthy breakfasts. You can enjoy an incredible acai bowl here.
Visit one of Bucharest’s board game cafes
Playing board games has to be one of the best ways to pass time with your travel mates or new friends. So if you find yourself braving an especially cold day in Bucharest in winter, why not head on to one of its board game cafes?
- Journey Pub – a restaurant with great food and plenty of space
- Kuma Bar – a bar in Bucharest’s old City Centre
- Lente Bar – a historical house that promises to offer urban fun
Keep in mind that these locations don’t advertise their board games on their websites or social media pages. However, you can ask for them at the bar.
You will have to pay a fee to play – usually, they charge by the hour.
I recommend you call or text them if you want to find out just how much each location charges per hour.
Let’s go ice skating!
Are there any better activities to do in winter than ice skating?
If you’re a fan of the ice, Bucharest in winter has plenty of locations that you can check out!
- Afi Palace Cotroceni: This is a mall and the ice rink, called Cotroceni on Ice, is inside.
- Bazilescu Parc: This park offers an outdoor ice rink.
- Mega Mall: This is another ice rink inside a mall. One 90 minute-session costs 25 lei for an adult, which comes roughly to €5. Renting a pair of ice skates costs 15 lei, roughly €3.
Don’t forget to buy souvenirs for your friends!
One of the most pleasurable activities you can do in Bucharest in winter is shopping for souvenirs.
Wander through the city’s many traditional shops, pick up small items that will remind you of the time you spent here, and learn more about the country’s culture. Here are some places you can visit.
- Romanian Boutique: this is where you can buy a Dracula fridge magnet for a pound or a traditional Romanian shirt for £200. We all have different budgets.
- Artizanat Bucuresti
- ColorEscu: for T-shirts and accessories with a traditional Romanian pattern.
Admire the incredible architecture of Bucharest in winter
You will have to bundle up for this one, so get those gloves ready! But I promise it will be worth it.
When it comes to architecture, Bucharest is a city like no other because it offers an incredible look into its tumultuous past.
A simple walk down one of its gigantic boulevards will show you a wild mix of beautiful buildings and classic, superb architecture with intricate designs and breath-taking facades that rival Paris next to minimalist, communist, grey buildings.
Walking down one of Bucharest’s significant streets, especially in the centre, feels almost like walking on a movie set.
Beautiful palaces from the 1800s stand next to concrete, communist cubes from the 1980s, almost as if they don’t belong next to each other.
So, put an extra scarf on, get a to-go coffee, and admire the striking architecture of Bucharest in winter.
If you’re interested in learning some history about the buildings and city as you walk around, you could do this three-hour walking tour exploring the city centre.
Try authentic Romanian cooking and its best dishes
Romanian food is a melange of Balkan and Turkish dishes such as sarmale and ciorba (both Turkish words), some Slavic influences (such as bors), and a little Oriental cuisine thrown in there for good measure.
You can try all of these because they are simply delicious!
Don’t worry if you’re vegan; there’s room for everyone at the Romanian table!
Here are some restaurants in Bucharest that serve authentic Romanian food the way it really should be.
- Hanul lui Manuc: translated to Manuc’s Inn, this is one of the oldest restaurants and hotels in Bucharest. Dating from over 200 years ago, the inn where the leaders of Europe signed the peace treaty which ended the war between the Russians and the Turks in the early 1800s. Have a plate of sarmale there and enjoy the historical atmosphere.
- Caru’cu Bere: translated to ‘the beer wagon’, this restaurant indeed takes the cake as not only one of the most beautiful places in Bucharest, but one of the most infamous. It was adored by the most well-known writers and musicians in the country throughout the late 1800s and 1900s. Legends flow freely of their drunken nights and debaucheries.
- Lacrimi si Sfinti: translated to ‘tears and saints’- this is probably the restaurant to go to if you want to eat authentic Romanian food. The restaurant prides itself in serving food prepared following recipes from the 1700s and 1800s. This includes sarmale (cabbage rolls) made with goose and duck meat but also wild mushrooms for vegans, ciorba (sour soup) with lamb meat, and a wide variety of precious wines from the north of the country.
If you want to explore Bucharest’s gastronomy with a local, you could do this three-hour street food tour where you’ll head to some of the best local spots with your guide.
Try international cooking in Bucharest
If you are visiting Bucharest in winter and suddenly feel homesick, don’t worry. There’s a simple remedy to that. Food!
Bucharest is a melting pot of international cuisines and restaurants serving some of the most incredible delicacies from all around the world.
This also means that Bucharest will be able to cater to every diet or lifestyle you might be following at the moment of your visit.
Here are some international restaurants for you to check out.
- Le Bistrot Francais: located in a stunning 19th-century mansion that belonged to French architect Albert Galleron, this is the perfect place to bring a date.
- Pata Nera: Spanish food at its finest that you won’t forget quickly.
- Godai: Fusion Asian cooking for a refined evening with a select group of people.
- Poesia: Classic Italian food in a gorgeous setting that will make you forget the winter and think about the Mediterranean.
Make a snowman in one of Bucharest’s many parks
If you fancy a wintery walk, visit one of Bucharest’s parks!
Most of the city’s parks are, in fact, a remnant of the old forest that used to surround the entire area before the first dwellers began building houses and settling down.
This is the reason why you will see many ancient trees, lakes, and ponds on a simple walk through the park.
If the mood should strike you, here are the parks you can visit.
- Cismigiu Gardens: even though it carries a Turkish name, this park is arranged in the style of English gardens. Inside the park, you will find a pond that becomes an ice-skating rink in winter, a stream of potable water where the famous poet Mihai Eminescu used to drink from, and the ruins of a monastery with a series of secret tunnels built in 1756.
- King Michael Ist Park: it’s worth noting that this name has been given to the park only in recent years. As a result, the chances are that, if you ask a local about it using this name, they might not know what you’re talking about! The park’s original name is Herastrau. It’s a gigantic park, sprawling over 187 hectares, perfect for long walks and enjoying nature.
- Izvor Park: this park is situated right in the middle of the city and has an incredible view toward the gigantic Palace of Parliament. As a result, a walk through Izvor Park will allow you not only to breathe in fresh air but to admire the outstanding feat of communist architecture.
Go to the spa or for a massage
After a long day of walking through Bucharest in winter and admiring its beautiful parks or taking in its fascinating architecture, you might need a day at the spa!
Bucharest can accommodate this! Here are some of the best spas in the city!
- Orhideea Spa: €50 gets you a Warm Winter massage, a facial hydrating ritual, an antistress massage for your head and neck, and full access to their pool, sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, tropical and Scottish shower, and more.
- Belle Maison Spa: Their winter and Christmas offers start at €60.
- Thaico Spa: A wellness and beauty centre where you can also get your hair and nails done while relaxing.
Therme Bucharest is the biggest wellness centre complex in Europe. It’s kept a toasty 28-30 degrees year-round, so you can come here to warm up after exploring the cold city!
At Therme Bucharest, enjoy wellness facilities such as 9 swimming pools, 6 saunas and 4 steam rooms. There are also waterslides for the big kids amongst you!
It even has a botanical garden, so you can enjoy nature after your spa session!
Visit the famous Bucharest Christmas Market
If you travel to Bucharest in Christmas time, you have to spend a day visiting the city’s famous Christmas market.
The Bucharest Christmas Market is organized by City Hall and you will need to buy a ticket to enter. It costs €1 if you buy it online and €1.50 if you buy it on location. Children get free entry.
The Bucharest Christmas Market is in the centre of Bucharest in Piata Universitatii (University Square).
Inside, you will be able to shop or simply visit the hundreds of small wooden stalls.
They sell all sorts of Christmas goods such as decorations, candy, traditional food, beverages, toys, and more.
Of course, if you don’t want to shop, you can simply have a cup (or two) of mulled wine and enjoy the atmosphere, music, and Christmas lights!
Escape the cold… into a museum
Bucharest in winter is the perfect time to visit one of its many superb museums.
The cold weather makes it the best opportunity to take shelter inside a museum and get lost for hours exploring.
And here’s the best part. You can do it for free!
Most museums in Bucharest are free of charge on the 26th of every month.
Apart from that, selected museums let you go in for free on certain days, such as Monday or Wednesday. For example:
- Antipa Museum of Natural History: free of charge on the 26th of the month
- The National Museum of Art: free of charge on the first Wednesday of the month.
- The National Museum of Contemporary Art: free of charge on the last Sunday of every month
- The Romanian Peasant Museum: free of charge on the first Sunday of every month
Take a free walking tour of Bucharest in winter
Since we’re already talking of things that you can do for free as a tourist in Bucharest, here’s another idea. Take a guided tour of the city, entirely for free.
To get on one of these tours, all you have to do is show up in a specific place where you will find the guide, usually holding a sign or wearing a T-shirt saying ‘Free Tours.’
You can follow them, listen to the explanations and add your own points of view or questions.
Here are some useful websites where you can find such tours.
These tours will tell you stories from ancient and medieval Romania to Bucharest in its communist rule through the city’s cobbled streets and historic buildings.
Learn about Vlad the Impaler, Ceaușescu’s rule in the 20th century and more.
Visit the Witches’ Pond – one of the spookiest places in Bucharest
If you’re interested in myths and legends, Dracula and vampires because, after all, this is the land of Dracula, there is one place in Bucharest you cannot miss.
Balta Vrajitoarelor or the Witches’ Pond is a dark place steeped in legends.
The small body of water is only a few minutes outside of Bucharest and very easily accessible if you’re in the mood for some exploring.
Local legends say that this is where Vlad the Impaler was decapitated by his noblemen after they betrayed him.
Even though this has never been proven, many spooky things have indeed happened here over the years.
Animals refuse to drink the water or bathe in it, and there is no wildlife of the forest to be found anywhere near it.
Are you brave enough for this adventure?
Check out Bucharest’s nightlife
If you’re in the mood for something more mundane or want a simple night out, Bucharest is a true city that never sleeps.
The clubs stay open all night long and are packed with interesting people.
Want to visit some of Bucharest’s favourite bars with a local? Check out this craft beer tour.
Ride the Bucharest subway
At first glance, this winter Bucharest attraction might not seem like much, but I promise you that riding the Bucharest subway will be an experience you will never forget.
Going for a ride through the Bucharest underground is like travelling back in time. It’s the best way to see an authentic slice of communism.
Due to lack of funding, the subway stations have not changed at all since they were built in the 1980s during the peak of the communist regime. As a result, they have become a living museum of that era.
Not only that, but you can see subway stations with a fascinating history. Piata Romana (Romana square) was initially a secret location built without approval.
That is why the platform is only a few inches wide. If you’re not careful, you could easily fall on the tracks.
Stop at Politehnica station and walk onto the platform. The stone there is made of precious fossils.
The builders, rushed by the infamous dictator Ceausescu, wanted to fulfil his maniacal desires.
They extracted the stone from the Apuseni Mountains, worrying only about the colours, not about the fact that it contained 180 million-year fossils and is quite literally a petrified ocean.
But you can now take a selfie with it for the price of one euro, the metro card!
Where to stay in Bucharest in winter
As a tourist, you are always advised to stay nearest the city centre.
However, if you want to break this rule and move further away, prices will drop considerably!
Run by the Marriot brand, this hotel is part of the Autograph collection.
Prices in this luxury complex reach £1500 per night for a suite, although there are other, more inexpensive options!
This hotel has a personal spa, wellness treatments, and beauty packages.
Prices at Hotel Epoque vary, but it’s another luxury joint right in the heart of Bucharest and also has a spa and restaurant.
Situated right in the city centre, this little hotel is much more basic, but it’s fine as a place to rest your head after all the sightseeing! Plus, it asks for only £20 per night.
What to eat in Bucharest in winter
One of the best things to do while travelling to Bucharest in winter would be to sample its incredible traditional cuisine.
The incredible thing about it is that it accommodates both vegetarians and vegans.
The reason for that is that Romania is a profoundly religious country that has to go through long periods of fasts during the year.
As a result, Romanians are not allowed to eat animal-based food. You might find this ideally suited for you.
Therefore, try dishes such as Oriental Salad, eggplant spread, zacusca (made with bell peppers and mushrooms), an entire collection of vegan soups and stews, mushroom musaca, a dish similar to lasagne that replaces the meat with mushrooms and the noodles with baked potatoes, and much, much more.
How to get to Bucharest in winter
The most convenient way to travel to Bucharest is by plane. If you’re travelling from another part of Europe, it will only take you between one and three hours to arrive at Otopeni Airport.
However, you can also drive to Bucharest or, if you’re in the mood for a more romantic trip, why not take a train and enjoy the beautiful scenery?
What clothes to wear in Romania in winter
When visiting the Romanian capital, the number one thing I recommend packing is a good pair of boots.
The streets of Bucharest are constantly flooded and never drain properly.
As a result, the moment you step outside, your feet will get soaked. Make sure you avoid this!
You can also pack fancier clothes along with your travel ones if you want to go to a club or particular restaurant.
By doing this you won’t be so obvious as a tourist, wearing thick boots and jeans.
Last tips for visiting Bucharest in winter
- Don’t take random taxis at the airport or off the street. They are most likely a scam. Always call an Uber!
- If you’re a woman travelling alone, Romania is a safe place for you, but don’t respond to any catcalling or staring from men.
- Since you are travelling in wintertime, you will most likely deal with religious activities around the holidays. Show proper respect as Romania is a very religious and conservative country.
- If you want to start a conversation with a Romanian person, talk about sports or politics. They love those topics!
Are you ready to visit Bucharest in the winter months?