Bucharest’s Palace of the Parliament, formerly known as “The House of the People” (“casa poporului”), is one of Romania’s most iconic landmarks. The socialist-era building is the second-largest government building in the world and will likely be at the top of your to-do list if you’re planning a trip to Bucharest.
The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest welcomes tourists all throughout the year, seven days-a-week. To visit, you’ll need to schedule your tour in advance, bring proper identification, and carry adequate cash to pay for your tour.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through planning your tour to this socialist relic and give you a glimpse of what you can expect from each tour package. I’ll also provide information that doesn’t appear on the building’s official tour site, like how to find the entrance (seriously, how did they leave this out).
Hours of Operation
Impressively, the Palace of the Parliament is open seven days-a-week year-round, though it is closed for government holidays. This site provides a list of government holidays in Romania.
It is important to note that the Palace of the Parliament is a functioning parliament building, so you cannot simply wander around on your own. As a tourist, you are only permitted in the building if you are taking part in an official, scheduled tour.
The building’s operational hours vary according to the time of year:
- March-October: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- November-February: Open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The last tour of the day begins thirty minutes before closing time, so keep this in mind when scheduling your visit.
Additionally, visitors are required to be at the information desk at least 15 minutes before their scheduled tour begins, otherwise the tour may be canceled without notice. Plan your trip so that you will have plenty of time to get to the building and find the information desk.
Tickets and Packages
Adults: 40 lei ($10 USD)/person
Students: 20 lei ($5 USD)/person (19 – 26 years old, with a valid student ID)
Children: 10 lei ($2.50 USD)/person (7 – 18 years old)
Standard + Underground Tour (access 2 floors on stairs)
Adults: 45 lei ($11 USD)/person
Students: 23 lei ($6 USD)/person (19 – 26 years old, with a valid student ID)
Children: 15 lei ($4 USD)/person (7 – 18 years old)
Panoramic Tour – Terrace (lift access)
Maximum 6 people/group
Admission price: 600 lei ($150 USD)/tour
Scheduling your Visit
One cannot visit the world’s largest monument to Socialism without encountering some form of post-socialist bureaucracy.
Anyone who has visited Rome, where the Colosseum or Vatican can be visited on a whim, will be surprised by the amount of fussing it takes just to visit a landmark in this part of the world.
Before you can tour the Palace of the Parliament, you must schedule your tour, by phone, with a live operator, at least 24 hours beforehand. For most of you, this means you will have to make an international call in order to schedule your visit.
If your telephone provider does not allow international calls to Europe or if they charge an arm and a leg, then I recommend using Skype to place the call. I’ve used Skype many times in the past to make calls to landlines and cellphone numbers in Europe without any hassle. Simply create a Skype account, add $10 of credit, and place your call. It couldn’t be simpler, really.
You must schedule your tour by dialing either of these lines during operational hours:
- + 40 733 558 102
- + 40 733 558 102
Luckily, the tour staff speaks English so you should be able to communicate easily when you call in. The scheduler should let you know if they have availability on the date you are requesting and what type of tours are being offered that day.
Finding the Entrance
Finding the entrance to the Palace of the Parliament can be quite daunting. The grounds are completely walled off except for a few designated places. Complicating matters further, the grounds are bordered by busy boulevards with few crosswalks.
The entrance you must use to arrive at the information desk is located on the north side of the palace, across from Izvor Park (Parcul Izvor). If you are traveling via metro, you’ll want to exit at Izvor station, located in Izvor park. From the station, you’ll have to walk through the park and toward the Palace.
Using the designated crosswalk, traverse Izvor Boulevard and enter the palace grounds where the car approach and security booth are located. Walk up the long sidewalk toward the building’s facade and enter through the doors at the center of the building.
Once inside, you will have to undergo a brief bag check and metal detector screening. Be careful not to bring anything sketchy (knives, lighters, fireworks, etc.). You will also be asked to present a recognized form of identification.
You must bring your valid passport in order to enter the Palace of the Parliament and participate in a tour.
Is It Worth It?
At a price point of just $10, it would be hard to argue against visiting the Palace of the Parliament.
The sheer scale of the Palace speaks to the grandiose vision of Romania’s brutal dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, who demolished entire historic neighborhoods to make space for his grand tribute to socialism, the House of the People.
Walking through the building’s unused chambers and empty halls inspire visions of a different Romania, one far removed from the bustling shopping malls and commercial centers that now dot the cityscape. A visit to this monument allows for moments of reflection, fascination, and learning from the past.