Bucharest might not be the greenest European capital on an area per capita basis, but it is still has a fair amount of parks and public gardens. Open day and night, they offer an escape from the daily hassle, clean air, and the chance to rewind.
While the park was recently renamed to honor the last Romania king, Mihai I, who passed away recently, locals still refer to it as Herastrau. Located in the northern part of the city, Herastrau is developed around the lake baring the same name. The park stands apart because it is located in area of Bucharest which is posher than the rest. It is enough to look at the premium clubs and restaurants that flank its eastern side. A round trip of Herastrau starting and finishing in Charles de Gaulle Square is approximately 8 km long. Leisure activities include open air cinema festivals, bike rentals, and boat cruises on the lake.
Cismigiu is the oldest and probably best-known park of Bucharest. Established in 1847 in an attempt to copy the style of contemporary English gardens, it is now classified as a historical monument. Testimony to that is the impressive number of sculptures and monuments that ornate the alleys and provide even the most casual of strolls with a bit of history. Cismigiu is the traditional place for first dates, wedding photoshoots, and is packed throughout the warm season.
Tineretului (Youth’s Park) has the largest area of all Bucharest’s parks and the history behind the name is intriguing. The communist authorities wanted to quickly repurpose an old landfill and they resorted to a practice common for the time – patriotic voluntary labor. It took just 8 months to the work and the landscape is pretty much the same since then. A central lake with a circumference of 3 km is the focal point of Tineretului. Bucharest is a flat city here is one of the few places where one can actually find high ground to admire the panorama and enjoy a sunset.
Carol Park is built around the Mausoleum dedicated to the Unknown Soldier, an impressive homage paid to the fallen soldiers of World War I. However, the park was first created as grounds to host the National Exhibition of 1906, honoring the 40 years of reign of King Carol I, the first monarch of modern Romania. The stairs leading up to the monument offer a great view overview of Bucharest and the park is typically less crowded than others throughout the week-ends.
Alexandru Ioan Cuza Park
Located in Sector 3, it is generally viewed as the most stylish and well-maintained park of the city, with upkeeping being carried out almost on a daily basis. Although officially named after Romanian ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza, this is another case where locals refer to it according to the older names (IOR Park or Titan Park). Like most parks of Bucharest, it also has a lake in the middle. Throughout the summer months hydro bikes and kayaks are up for renting. Because it is literally the only oasis of green in a sea of 10-story blocks, this park is one of the busiest when the weather is fair.
Although small when compared to others on the list, this park stands apart for having a natural lake at its center, packed with water lilies and aquatic birds. In its proximity one can also admire the unique architecture of the National Circus.
Izvor is another park located in the center of Bucharest, nor far from Unirii Square. Because it was recently opened, most of its trees are young, and its alleys are not quite as shady as one would need to escape the scorching summers of Bucharest. From Izvor, tourists have a great panorama of the imposing People’s House (the seat of the Romanian Parliament and one of the largest buildings in the world).
Although not technically a park, this is a great location for nature enthusiasts. Vacaresti was for a long time a huge abandoned area, with no development plan whatsoever, after the communists failed to create a lake. Because vegetation developed and wild animals found refuge here (more than 90 species of birds), authorities decided to call it a protected area. Still in its infancy, Vacaresti Delta has the potential of becoming Bucharest’s most important green lung.