The capital of Poland is one of the most special in Europe. A mix of soothing greenery, historic sites, hazy communism and vibrant modernity, a rising capital that promises to leave you unmoved as long as you keep your eyes and heart open. Ready for a trip to up-and-coming, vibrant Warsaw?
For those who know me, Warsaw is my second home, as I am half Polish so – GET READY – this article will be written with special love and hope that you will love it as much as I do!
A few words about Warsaw
So Warsaw. Capital of Poland with a population of about 1.7 million, a city that has been through a lot and was literally reborn from its ashes after the end of World War II. You arrive in Warsaw by air with many direct flights, or by train from neighboring cities and stay for at least 3 days if you want to explore and understand it to a satisfactory degree. It’s a relatively budget destination, so you won’t have any trouble finding the right accommodation for your taste, whether it’s in the “new” side of town in one of the many hotels that exist, or in the Old Town, in a beautiful airbnb.
👉 Evita’s tip: If you are a romantic soul like me, prefer a cute airbnb, in a colorful alley of the Old Town to experience the absolute Polish vibes.
So, what do we do in Warsaw
Old Town, my love
Yes, I admit it, I am a fan of the Old Town of Warsaw (Stare Miasto) and always when I visit Warsaw, I start my day by walking among its colorful buildings, trying to discover some hidden cafe, some traditional restaurant or some interesting museum! The heart of Warsaw beats in its Old Town and you should walk it too!
During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw’s historic center was destroyed by Nazi troops. After the war, a five-year rebuilding campaign by its citizens resulted in today’s meticulous restoration of the Old Town, with its churches, palaces and marketplace. It is an excellent example of an almost total reconstruction of a historic city!
I suggest you start your day with a free walking tour to learn useful information about Warsaw and acclimatize to the Polish vibes. You’ll find plenty going on with a quick search online!
👉 A stop at Kawarnia Patio for coffee and breakfast is a must. The inner courtyard is wonderful!
Stop at the Royal Square
Continuing your walk you will end up at the Royal Square and the impressive Royal Palace (Zamek Królewski), which was completely destroyed in World War II and rebuilt between 1971-1988. If you choose to take a guided tour inside, you will see the King’s apartments, art galleries, reception rooms and much more. In the center of the Square, there is the column of King Sigismund III, who was the one who moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw, in 1596.
Before leaving the Square, go up to the Church of St. Anna and Taras Widokowy na Stare Miasto for the most beautiful view of the city. Yes, the 149 steps are more than worth it!
👉 At To Lubie you make the necessary stop for dessert. Ideally you sit on the floor to see the beautiful view of the city from the windows and order a traditional sernik.
Walk the Royal Street
From the Royal Square, a beautiful, lively street starts that ends at the Wilanow Palace. The Presidential Palace, the historic Hotel Bristol, the University of Warsaw, the statue of Copernicus, Lazienki Park are just some of the sights you can see before ending up at the beautiful Wilanow Palace.
👉 Time for food and a good cocktail at my favorite Karmnik, a bistrot that has it all. Great decor, great food and cocktails that will take you on a journey.
Cross to the other side of Vistoula River
If you want to see a completely different side of the city, go across the river to the famous Praga district, a former “notorious”, rather poor neighborhood turned into an art center, street art, alternative galleries, cool cafes and… how much more should I tell you to convince you?
Important Museums of Warsaw to visit
Warsaw, and Poland in general, is a country with a rich history and, unfortunately, the traumas of World War II are very much alive. Personally, I consider it necessary to visit the most important museums in the city, such as the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which revolves around Poland’s struggle for independence in 1944, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and the National Museum.
On a completely different note, a wonderful Center for science knowledge and activities is the Copernicus Science Center. Poland’s leading science museum opened in 2010 and features more than 400 interactive exhibits in six zones, each dealing with a different field, from the roots of civilization to the light zone. The center also has a state-of-the-art planetarium with a 3D sound system, projections about the world, but also nature and human cultures.
And of course we don’t forget perhaps the most famous attraction of Warsaw, the controversial in the hearts of Poles Palace of Culture and Science. It was built in 1955 on the initiative of Stalin as a “gift of the Soviet people to the Poles”.
It is now home to theatres, a cinema, museums, trendy pubs and Warsaw’s main tourist information office. Don’t forget to go up to the Observation Deck on the 30th floor of the building and see the beautiful panorama of the city from a height of 114 meters.
Time to relax in the green
Warsaw is a capital city with a lot of green, really a lot of green, one of those cities where you can find everywhere a beautiful park to take a walk. But my favorite (and of course many others’) is the Royal Łazienki Park.
The park began as the royal baths (Łazienki translates to “baths”) and was enriched in the 18th century during the reign of King Stanisław II Augustus. The 76 leafy hectares are home to palaces, pavilions, two orange groves, an amphitheater, a planetarium, arcades, promenades, water features and national monuments. At intervals throughout the year, in the Park area and specifically near the Chopin Monument, piano recitals by world-renowned pianists, with free entry!
Nightlife and food all in one!
I may have visited Warsaw more than 5 times but I only discovered this one last time and I was really excited! Nocny Market (in translation Night Market) is located in and is a street food market created in an abandoned metro station, where you can eat, drink, listen to music, even get tattoos on the craze of the moment and all those under the light of many neon signs!
Have a great time!