What could be better than a stroll along the river, a colourful Old Town with the sound of classical music drifting through the air and fresh donuts steaming invitingly in the bakeries? Not much could be better, which is exactly why I love Warsaw!
The Colourful Warsaw Old Town
Here are my favourite things to do in Warsaw:
- Old Town – Although most of the original Old Town was destroyed in World War II, it was carefully rebuilt to look just like the original. This walkable neighbourhood is full of lovely cafes, boutiques and markets.
- Trakt Królewski (the Royal Route) – Beginning at the Royal Warsaw Castle on Palace Square at the edge of the Old Town, this thoroughfare spans all the way to Wilanów Palace. It makes its way past historic landmarks such as Warsaw University and the Polish Academy of Sciences. The whole route is about 11km (7 miles), a nice stroll in good weather.
I can’t get enough of Wilanów Palace!
- Palace of Culture and Science – This striking high-rise building is the tallest building in Poland and came as a ‘gift’ from the Soviet Union. It contains various institutions including theatres, sports clubs and cinemas. It is sometimes referred to as the Eighth Sister, in association with the Seven Sisters whose imposing vision of the future define the skyline of Moscow .
- Parks – There are over 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of parks in Warsaw! The oldest park in the city is Ogród Saski dating back to 1713. Royal Łazienki Park is the largest and arguably the most beautiful. It is also the most significant with attractions such as Palace on the Water, an amphitheatre and weekly yoga and meditation classes.
- Wisła (Vistula) River – The Wisła River is the longest river in Poland and runs the entire length of the country. There are boat and walking tours that you can take along the river or, if you prefer to simply stroll, you will find many bars, cafes and the occasional free concert.
Here’s a Pro-Tip: Check out Bluwar Flotylli Waślanej area along the river during the warmer months for an array of bars, clubs and even an out-door gym!
Uprising Museum – a sober reminder of Warsaw’s turbulent history
- Museums – With such an impressive history, it is no wonder that Warsaw has such an exciting variety of museums. From neon signs, to vodka, to more sobering subjects, it may be hard to pick one. The museums I definitely recommend are, the Uprising Museum, Museum of the Polish Jews (POLIN), Copernicus Science Centre and Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum.
Here’s a Pro-Tip: As you walk around Warsaw, you may notice a series of black benches scattered throughout the city. They are located in places where the great composer Fryderyk Chopin, a Warsaw native, spent his time. At the press of a button, the black benches play a 30-second sample of his music.
Speaking of Chopin, the International airport of Warsaw is named after him! Warsaw Chopin Airport is a new and modern facility built to service the recent World Cup. It is a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Besides taxi or ride share, other transfer options include either the 188 or the 175 bus, both a 25-minute ride, or the S2 train which is a 20-minute ride but at a more economical cost. Once you arrive in the city, ride share, taxi, bus or the metro underground are all great options. Biking and walking are also rewarding options that allow you to see the city in more detail, especially along the Royal Route or the Wisła River.
Due to its incredible history, many old buildings have been repurposed. H15 is one of my favourite places to stay. It is located in a beautiful 19th century building that was once used as the Soviet Union Embassy.
What’s good with the goose, is good with the gander!
My all-time favourite spot for traditional Polish cuisine like pierogis and goose is at the oldest and most famous restaurant in Warsaw, U Fukiera, which has been serving a clientele that consists of Roman Polanski, Naomi Campbell and many royals for centuries. Another fabulous traditional Polish dish restaurant is the classily decorated Stary Dom. The name translates to “Old House” and their food translates to delicious! Goose dishes are a local speciality and their succulent flavour is like nowhere else in the world. For more modern cuisine, the Michelin Star restaurant, Senses, puts a creative and modern twist onto traditional dishes while Nolita offers a creative menu full of contemporary European dishes. Boathouse Restaurant and Wine Lounge is my favourite spot for fresh Mediterranean food and Qchnia Artystyczna is where I go to enjoy a bite just outside of Royal Łazienki Park.
Nothing like a little vodka to lift my spirits!
From high-end designer brands to small independent boutiques, there are so many shopping options in Warsaw. There are also many markets on the squares including my favourites of Hala Koszyki and Hala Mirowska. You can find many treasures there!
Warsaw has a brilliant spirit that is perfect to experience with friends! I always leave feeling cultured… and full!