When, where and what to visit in the Polish capital – here is our short guide to the best attractions in Warsaw.
The Old Town (Stare Miasto) - This is the historical center of Warsaw, surrounded by an ancient wall, filled with churches and monuments. As you walk down the cobblestone streets, you will find yourself in the midst of colorful houses. In the middle of the Old Square, also called Rynek Starego Miasta, is the mermaid statue (Pomnik Warszawskiej Syrenki), which is the symbol of Warsaw. She is heavily armed, in order to protect the city. Every few minutes, the mermaid’s fundament fills up with water, to the pigeons’ delight. Find a nearby bench and enjoy their chipper dance.
Barbikan Warsawski - This is the outer city wall. Remains of an ancient wall, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, still surround the Old Town and separate it from the New Town. The Barbikan was destroyed during World War II, but was later rebuilt with bricks from the Old Town.
The Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski) - The official residence of the Polish monarch. It is located at the foot of the Old Town. Built during the 14th century, the castle was reconstructed after being torn down during World War II. All the art and furnishing is original, since it was put away for safekeeping before the war began. You will be able to enjoy the monarch’s chambers, the parliament hall and the king’s chapel.
Multimedia Fountain Park (Multimedialny Park Fontann) - Welcome to Europe’s largest fountain park! It is located right next to the Old Town. Once there, you will be surrounded by the whispers of water. There is also an impressive light show during which music, water and light become one. But that’s not all – one of the fountains turns into a 10 m. by 30 m. water screen, 8 mm. thick. It is the canvas for contemporary and retro sceneries from Warsaw. This memorable show has no entrance fee and can be enjoyed every Saturday night, from June to August.
Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and of St. Joseph (Kościół Wniebowzięcia NMP i św. Józefa Oblubieńca) - This is a catholic church, built in the 18th century. Its neoclassical architecture is completed by a bell tower, in the shape of censers. At the church’s top, you will see a green globe, representing the Earth. The interior is in luxurious rococo, with plenty of gilded elements and beautiful frescos. You can find more information on the church here.
Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki) - This is the tallest building in Poland, with over 3000 rooms. Build in the period of 1952-1955, as a present from the soviet to the Polish people. Today the building houses the Polish Academy of Sciences, along with a cinema, a post office, a library and a museum. The 30th floor of the palace offers a splendid view of this city and at the top of the building you will find an impressive clock tower – the tallest one in the world.
Museum of Technology (Muzeum Techniki) - It is located in the Palace of Culture and Science. Here you will learn about the development of science and technology in Poland. The museum covers plenty of areas, such as metallurgy, transportation, astronomy, household appliances, music technology, telephones and communications; you will also learn about the first typewriters and much more.
Lazienki Park - A beautiful spot to relax in nature. There are ducks and peacocks, strolling around the carp pond. Stunning buildings peek out of the greenery: Palace on the Water (Palac na Wyspie) with its own amphitheater; The old and new greenhouses; the Myslewicki Palace. As you reach the upper portion of the park, the statue of Polish composer Chopin will emerge behind the hill.
Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki) - This is the perfect place to enjoy classic and contemporary Polish art pieces. Paintings, sculptures, photographs and collages are some of the highlights. You can find additional information on the gallery if you click here.
Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanow (Muzeum Pałac Wilanowie) - It is also known as the Polish Versailles. The palace, with a luxurious baroque interior, was built for the purpose of being the residence of Jan III Sobieski. The structure was somewhat damaged during World War II, but was restored to its former glory in 1962. Enjoy the gilded ceilings, gorgeous chandeliers, mirrored walls, and finally – walk around the palace’s large gardens.
Marie Curie Museum (Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum) - The building is located in the new part of Warsaw. Madam Curie is a Nobel Prize winner, famous for her research in the field of radioactivity. As a child, she was raised in this Polish home, but left Warsaw in 1924, to work in Paris. The museum consists of two rooms, which hold her personal belongings, books, letters, photographs, a model of a nuclear reactor and minerals. Click here for more information.
Fryderyk Chopin Museum - Here you will find the composer’s last piano, invaluable music manuscripts, letters, and some personal belongings. The museum is equipped with a concert hall and, what is more, a high-tech music capsule, where you can listen to Chopin’s music, while taking a virtual tour of his family home in Zelazowa Wola. To complete the experience, you will be drawn in by the scent of violets – the flowers that Chopin loved the most and always kept in his house. National Museum of Poland ((Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie) - The museum holds a collection of pieces by Polish and international artists, whose works date from ancient times, the Middle Ages, and the 20th century. Enjoy a bountiful collection of sculptures, traditional Polish household items, old maps, stamps, as well as temporary exhibitions.
Polish Army Museum (Muzeum Wojska Polskiego) - The building, which holds the history of Polish warfare, is located right next to the National Museum. This is the place to learn more about army air forces, see tanks, armored cars, missiles, armor plates, helmets, weapons and many more.
History Museum (Muzeum Historyczne m.st. Warszawy) - The museum consists of 11 houses, located in the Old Town. Each room represents a period of Polish history, starting from the year 1300, until 1990’s democracy. You will find art pieces, blueprints, and postcards. Some of the rooms have been restored to their previous historical appearance. If you are interested in Warsaw before World War II, it is a good idea to pay a visit to the museum’s cinema, where you’ll find a movie dedicated to that part of history, as well as photographs from the destruction of the city in the period of 1939-1945.
St. John's Archcathedral (Katedra św. Jana) - This is one of the three cathedrals in Warsaw and serves as the episcopate’s main building. Located in the Old Town, the cathedral has been the site of many rulers’ coronations, whose remains are now kept in the crypt.
Grand Theatre (Teare Wielki) - Its neoclassical façade features five galloping horses, on the building’s roof. This is where the Polish National Opera and Ballet companies are housed. The interior has been designed in a 19th century fashion, while the stage is host to some of the best performances in Europe. So why not buy a ticket and see it with your own eyes?
Have some bigos - This is a traditional Polish meal that you should certainly try while in Warsaw. It contains a few types of meat, mushrooms, smoked meats, and pickled cabbage, served with freshly baked bread. Bon appetite!
Try mazurek - A delicious desert, similar to sponge cake, with a grid-like top layer, filled in with almond paste, dried fruit, jams, nuts and all of your favorite toppings. It is traditionally served on Easter, but can be found year round.
Shopping and flea markets in Warsaw - On Sunday, don’t miss out on the opportunity to buy anything and everything, very cheaply, at the Russian flea market. It takes place at the old soccer stadium. If you would prefer to have an indoor shopping experience in fashion boutiques and cosmetics stores, followed by a cup of coffee or a nice meal, you’d enjoy mall Arkadia and the Golden Terraces shopping center, located near the train station.
Nightlife in Warsaw - Warsaw has something for every taste and style. Pubs, cocktail bars, piano bars, rock, jazz, live music, modern clubs with house music or R&B, karaoke bars, casinos, and much more. You’ll find this abundance in the New Town. Most establishments are fully functional until 6 AM.