Ever thought about going on vacation to Warsaw, Poland? No? Me neither. Until I did and fell in love with the city!
When thinking about going on vacation I think of big cities like New York, beaches like the ones in Sardinia or skiing in the Alps. But never before had I put a single thought about going to Poland. I always had this picture of a rather poor country in my head. I thought of WWII ruins and poor infrastructure. And even though this may be true for some parts of the country, Poland has much more to offer. Being able to stay in Poland for 4 month made me realize how beautiful this country really is. I was able to get to know the culture as well as the people a lot better. Since I know about the beauty of Warsaw, I can’t keep this a secret. I want to shout it from the rooftops: Go see Warsaw! So let me show you my Warsaw, the way I experienced it, the way I fell in love with it.
Staying in Warsaw is rather cheap if you’re used to Western-Europe / Northern-American / Australian prices. You can get an inexpensive room even when staying in the city center. And this would be my first recommendation: Look for an apartment, hotel room or B&B somewhere in the city center as it’s a lot more convenient and most of the sights are close by.
How to get around
Warsaw has its own transport network consisting of a metro line, busses as well as trams. You can get anywhere within the city, but of course you’d rather spend your time on the fun part of a vacation than on figuring out how that darn tram map works. As always, when exploring a city, I’d recommend you putting on your most comfy pair of trainers and get on walking. You’ll miss out on so many things when taking public transportation.
If you do want to take the metro, there is one going from the North to the South of the city. They are currently working on building another metro line going from East to West, but as always, no one knows when exactly the construction will be done.
Also, you could rent a bike. There are some beautiful bike trails along the river or through the city. This way you can explore the city a lot faster but you won’t miss out on any of the good stuff. I would recommend you taking the veturilo bike rental. You see their pit stops everywhere around the city. With them, you’ll have to register online and then you can just go to any bike stop, collect your bike, ride around all day and park it at any of the many bike stops around the city. So handy! 😉
On your first day in the city, I would recommend you do the free walking tours. They are amazing! I absolutely love them. And you will too, especially if you’re traveling on a low budget. All you have to do is show up at one of their meeting points and enjoy the guided tour through the city. After the tour is finished you’ll give the tour guide as much as you can. Meaning, if you liked it and you earn a great living, you give a little more, if your liked it and you are a poor student like me you give a little less. No judging! And if you didn’t like it at all, just turn on your heel and leave. Although, that’s not likely to happen as the tour guides are very committed. They make their tours informative, funny and exactly on point.
Palace of Culture & Science
The Palace of Culture and Science is an impressive building in the center of the city. It was built in 1995 as a gift from the Soviet Union to Poland. Today, it’s the tallest building in the country. It seats various companies, movie theaters, theaters as well as a library and much more. I also went there for a chocolate fair once. *So good!* From their observation deck, you’ll have a great view over the city. I’d recommend going at daytime to fully take in the city. For a night-time view, I have the city tower in mind, which I’ll write about in a second.
Warsaw has a beautiful old town. Close to the Vistula river, you can spend a lovely couple of hours strolling through the narrow streets admiring medieval architecture. This place is full of rich history. So for all you history lovers out there – this is the place to be!
It was established in the 13th century but was badly damaged during World War II. Nowadays, the old town is near-total reconstructed and UNESCO Heritage. So it’s definitely worth seeing.
In the center of Old Town is the Market Place where the Royal Castle is located. It served as the official residence of Polish monarchs throughout the centuries. Even though a fire broke out in 1732, it’s still a beautiful place to visit when staying in Warsaw. But see for yourself:
Right next to the Royal Castle, you’ll find an observation terrace overlooking most of Old Town. It’s a great spot to see the sparkling lights at night. Also, it’s a great kissing spot 😉
(Old Town Main Square: On the right the Royal Castle)(From up there, you’ll see the National Soccer Stadium)
Around Old Town there are still parts existing of the old town walls. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting in spring or winter – this place is always great to see. Take a stroll along the town walls and see where it may take you. If you follow the town walls eastwards in direction to the Vistola river, you’ll find yourself at the Multimedia Fountain Park where there are beautiful light shows during the summer. They take place May through September each Friday and Saturday at 9.30 pm.
Vistula River Beach
During the summer, you can also enjoy some nice drinks and the sun at the river bank of Vistula river. A nice sandy beach and a spectacular view make for a great afternoon.
The Nowy Swiat street is like the “KuDamm” in Berlin, the “Champs-Elysee” in Paris or any other high street. Many expensive and not so expensive shops as well as fancy and not so fancy restaurants line up along the pretty street. It winds its way all the way up from Old Town along the Presidential Palace, the University of Warsaw and the Holy Cross Church to a big square with an artificial palm tree – so random.
Lazienki ROYAL Park
If you’re up for some relaxing time without the city noises, Warsaw has many parks to offer. The biggest and in my opinion the most beautiful one is the “Lazienki” Royal Park. It’s fairly big, has its own little castle as well as a lake and if you’re lucky you’ll encounter some peacocks you can feed.
Open Air Summer Concerts
From the middle of May to the end of September fans of Frederick Chopin gather every Sunday at noon and at 4 pm at the foot of the Chopin monument to listen to some exceptional music. Grab your blanket and some drinks and enjoy a free music concert in the sun!
If you have the time, you can bike all the way to the outskirts of the city, or you take a bus from the city center, but make sure you’ll go see the Wilanow Palace, a baroque royal residence with beautiful gardens and a cute café where you could enjoy some afternoon tea feeling like a royal. There is also a typical Polish restaurant where you could drink some Polish beer and eat some delicious Pierogi – a typical Polish dish.
I hope you enjoyed this Blog post about Warsaw and got some insights to this beautiful city. If you ever get the chance to visit, I’d definitely recommend you going. Especially in autumn the city radiates in all its colors.
Let me know in the comments down below if you’ve ever been to Warsaw or some other place in Poland and if I forgot about any other must-sees.