Bucharest is very lucky to have many historic parks and public gardens all across the city.
At one point in the mid-19th century, Bucharest was poetically named by the French journalist Ulysse de Marsillac the “garden-city”. Many things have changed in the meantime, but the historic green spaces of the capital still capture a particularly charming atmosphere and are definitely worth visiting.
Here is a shortlist of my favorites parks and public gardens in Bucharest:
Grădina Cișmigiu (Cismigiu Garden). We will start with an all time favorite for most Bucharestians: the Cișmigiu Garden, which also happens to be the first public garden inaugurated in Bucharest at the middle of the 19th century.
Austrian landscape architect Karl Fr. Wilhelm Meyer lead the works and in 1854 the garden was officially opened. For decades it remained the place for promenade in town.
The Cișmigiu park is filled with interesting statues, including a couple dedicated to the French soldiers from WW1 and to the American pilots from WW2. There all sorts of tourist attractions from the birds’ pond, to the chess tables, the paddle boats and the fountain on the lake, the many cafes and playgrounds.
The current surface is of roughly 14 hectares*. It is super central and easily accessible on all sides.
Parcul Herăstrău (Herăstrău Park). The largest park in Bucharest is also one of the richest in tourist attractions/
The park dates from 1938, when it was inaugurated by King Carol II. The current surface of the park, roughly 130 hectares, makes it the largest in the Romanian capital.*
The Herăstrău Park is so vast that one can spend several days exploring its many tourist attractions. To name just a few, for families we warmly recommend to visit the amazing Village Museum or to enjoy quality time in the amusement park on Children’s Island. For more of a romantic touch, there is the option of renting boats or sipping a drink in one of the many restaurants and cafes with a lovely view on the lake.
After King Michael’s death in December 2017, the Herăstrău Park was renamed in his honor. However, locals still use the old name of Herăstrău instead of King Michael I Park.
There are numerous entrances into the park, including by the beautiful Arch of Triumph or, more conveniently, right by the metro station Aviatorilor in Charles de Gaulle Square.
Carol I Park (Parcul Carol I). Inaugurated in 1906 for the General Romanian Exhibition, the Carol I Park was designed by French architect Édouard Redont. That year Romanians celebrated 40 years of rule by King Carol I, hence the name of the park.
The main element that will grab your attention in the park is the huge monument standing on top of the hill. Built in early 1960s, this authentic piece of socialist design was initially named “Heroes for the Struggle for the People’s and the Homeland’s Liberty for Socialism”. Presently, the monument and the eternal flame at its base commemorate the fallen soldiers of the Romanian people.
At the main entrance in the park lies the Technical Museum “Dimitrie Leonida”, worth visiting for families with children. Bikes and minikarts are available for rent nearby.
Currently, the park has a total surface of 45 hectares.* There are several entrances, but we warmly recommend the view from the main entrance by the Horoscope fountain.
Off the beaten path and in the heart of a historic neighborhood, we recommend two beautiful public gardens from the turn of the century (previous one, that is):
Grădina Icoanei (Icon’s Garden). This is Bucharest’s second public garden and it was inaugurated in 1873.
Icon’s Garden is named after the neighborhood and its historic church: Biserica Icoanei (Icon’s Chuch), which takes its name in turn from the holy icon of the Virgin Mary (still working miracles, as it is said in the local community).
This little park is less than 3 hectares in surface, but its together with its neighboring park (the Ioanid Garden) and the neighborhood it is absolutely charming. We focus a lot on this particularly authentic atmosphere, when we step off the beaten path on the Hidden Bucharest private walking tour.
The Northern entrance into the park is guarded by the bronze statue of C.G. Cantacuzino, made 1904 by French sculptor Ernest H. Dubois. A couple of restaurants are conveniently placed on each side of the Icoanei Park, take your pick for a lemonade after strolling in the area.
Grădina Ioanid (Ioanid Garden). Officially renamed Ion Voicu Park, after the great musician, the Ioanid Garden is a beautiful testimony to the French influence in Bucharest in the early 20th century.
The surface of the park is less than 1 hectare, we kept the smallest for last!
In spite of its tiny size, the garden and the surrounding neighborhood is really enchanting. Both were planned out as an allotment project in the 1910s and modeled after the Monceau park and neighborhood in Paris.
When exiting on the Northern entrance to the park, we recommend paying to the French Institute, for more French influence in our little Paris of the East.
* The current surface of the parks is the one indicated by the local administration (Administrația Lacuri, Parcuri și Agrement București). Detailed maps of the parks are availabel on their official website.
** To make it easer to explore these beautiful green oasis across the Bucharest, you can click on their names and their location on Google Maps will pop up in another window.