Guide to Warsaw
With its long history, dynamic development, rich cultural offer and creative energy of its inhabitants, Warsaw lets you discover yourself anew with every visit. In spite of any preconceived notions regarding the city, one thing is certain – it always surprises with its diversity. We present a guide to the great variety of experiences a weekend in the capital of Poland can offer in order to encourage you to learn about its various aspects.
How to move around Warsaw?
The easiest way to move around Warsaw is to use public transport: trams, buses, SKM and two metro lines. The schedules are available at www.wtp.waw.pl. The citizens of Warsaw generally use the Warsaw City Card, which can also be used to pay for parking and to access various facilities.
Residents and tourists willingly use the Veturilo city bikes (over 5,700 bikes and nearly 400 parking stations). The number of bicycle paths increases each season. You can cycle the entire length of the Vistula boulevards and the forest cycle path on the eastern side of the Vistula. The Łazienkowski, Świętokrzyski and Gdański bridges have separate lanes or bridges for cyclists.
Key facts to learn before coming over?
We recommend you to read about the offer of attractions and museums online, published on the website of the Warsaw Tourist Organisation and choose the most interesting ones. We also recommend downloading the City Talks application, featuring find plenty of recorded stories which can be listened to while visiting specific areas around the city. The application also features a number of themed walks. The Warsaw Quest quiz is also a great source of inspiration before the trip, as it allows you to learn about your specific style of tourism, to find out which places you like most to learn interesting facts about Warsaw legends. The tourist information points at the Palace of Culture and Science and the Koneser Praga Centre provide useful materials, including the Best of Warsaw City Tours map and thematic brochures. There, you can also purchase the Warsaw Pass, which allows you to visit Warsaw’s most important tourist attractions at discount rates and to use a tour bus.
What to eat, best foods in Warsaw
Warsaw dumplings – a cult delicacy from Bazar Różycki in Praga district, traditionally served in a jar with smoked bacon and onion topping. More exotic versions, such as ones with pesto or chanterelles, and of course vegan ones are also available. They are absolutely mandatory when visting the Praga district.
Wuzetka – the exact origin of the name of the favourite cake of the communist era remains is disputed among varsavionists. The most likely version states that the name was inspired by the newly built W-Z route. A confectionery which served this wonderful cocoa sponge cake with jam and whipped cream was located just nearby.
Where to eat?
In recent years, Warsaw has undergone a real culinary revolution, offering a variety of culinary experiences: ranging from top-class original cuisine through numerous vegan pubs, world cusines up to cult milk bars.
If you fancy a casual meal in a relaxed atmosphere, you can follow the example of many locals in one of the renovated historical market halls, such as Hala Koszyki or Hala Gwardii. In the summer, the popular choices include the open-air Breakfast Market or Slow Market on the Vistula River and the neon-lit Night Market in the evenings.
A local recommends:
- While walking around, seek out Warsaw’s mermaids.
- Compare the phenomenal views of Warsaw from the 30th Floor of the Palace of Culture and Science, the tower of St. Anne’s Church on Castle Square, the top floor of the Warsaw Museum in the Old Town Square, the gardens on the roof of the University of Warsaw Library and the Copernicus Science Centre on the Vistula River.
- Almost half of Warsaw includes green spaces. Hop on a Veturilo city bike and join the citizens of Warsaw picnicking at Mokotów Field, Skaryszewski Park or on the “Poniatówka” beach near the PGE National stadium.
Day one - FRIDAY
First impressions: The Royal Route with Chopin's Trail and the Old Town (4 hours)
If you wish to reach the Old Town first, you can take a walk along the Royal Route, pass by the Church of the Holy Cross with Chopin’s heart, the gate of Warsaw University and the Presidential Palace. Before that, you can also visit the intimate Fryderyk Chopin Museum in the Ostrogski Palace and sit on one of the granite benches allowing you to enjoy the famous composer’s music at a press of a button. A Chopin concert in one of the concert halls located near the Castle Square will make for a great start of the weekend: Chopin Point, Time for Chopin or Presto Agency's Fryderyk Hall. The Royal Castle next door tempts with its fairy-tale gardens, opening onto a panorama of the Vistula River. For photographic inspiration, we also recommend visiting the top floor of the Museum of Warsaw, situated on the western part of the Old Town Square. When travelling with children, visit the Museum World of Illusion.
Crossing the Barbican and walking among the restaurant gardens along Freta Street past the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum and the New Town Market Square to reach the Fountain Park, where evenings, shows of images, water, music and lights are organised on weekend evenings
The route past the Warsaw Uprising Monument at Długa Street and later along Miodowa Street takes you to Theatre Square, where you can sit in one of the cafés with a view of the illuminated edifice of the Grand Theatre and the National Opera. If you have enough free time, consider visiting the Zachęta gallery, pass by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the border of Piłsudski Square and Saxon Garden, and finish the evening in one of the numerous restaurants on Nowy Świat or Świętokrzyska Street.
Day two - SATURDAY
Start the day in Srodmiescie (3-4 hours)
It is best to welcome the Warsaw day with an aromatic coffee in one of the numerous cafes on Saviour Square, the heart of the local social scene. T Constitution Square and the famous socialist realist MDM housing estate are just nearby. The later houses a true gem of a long gone era – the Museum of Life in Communist Poland, located among monumental architecture, basreliefs and candelabras. After enjoying this sentimental trip, fulled with soda and the cult Wuzetka, you can enjoy a complete meat at Hala Koszyki or near Wilcza, Hoża and Poznańska streets, offering wide range of vegan restaurants and light Polish cuisine in a modern edition. Right nearby, there is the Palace of Culture and Science where you can enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the capital from the observation deck on the 30th floor. The Palace houses a number of institutions: theatres, restaurants, cafés, the multiplex Kinoteka cinema, as well as the magical Museum of Dollhouses in the inner courtyard. It also hosts the seasonal exhibition of the Gallery of Steel Figures.
Visit a museum in Warsaw
People who are interested in history must see the interactive and memorable Warsaw Uprising Museum as well as the architectural and interior design of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN in Muranów, a housing estate constructed on the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. Art lovers should visit the modernist building of the National Museum, housing over 830,000 works of Polish and world art, ranging from antiquity to the present day.
Afternoon in Praga (4-5 hours)
In the afternoon, take a tram or metro and go to Praga across the Vistula river to enjoy the atmosphere of old Warsaw, delving into its mysterious courtyards. The City Talks application is going to teach us about the history of a number of visited places, such as the old factories or tenement houses. Here, we can taste the famous pizzas from the Różycki Bazar, or enjoy open-air concerts on Ząbkowska street on the weekends while sitting in one of the summer gardens, enjoying galleries or browsing through old books or vinyl records during one of the frequent flea markets. A visit to the nearby Praga Koneser Centre on the premises of the former Warsaw Vodka Factory “Koneser” is going to make you want to spend the rest of the evening in Praga. While there, you can purchase works made by Polish artists and designers, visit the interactive Museum of Polish Vodka with its fantastic cocktail bar, have a snack in one of the many restaurants. If you are travelling with children, please also consider a visit to the Warsaw Zoo or the PGE Narodowy stadium.
Day three - SUNDAY
A morning among greenery (2 hours)
A walk through the Royal Lazienki Park and resting at the Chopin Monument – the venue of the popular Sunday concerts are going to make for an ideal start of the day. The Ujazdowski Castle with its Centre for Contemporary Art is right next door. Behind it, there is a beautiful view of Agrykola, the Legia Warszawa Stadium, Torwar and the Vistula River.
Relax at the Vistula River (2-3 hours)
The green Powisle district and the Vistula Boulevards are just around the corner. You can cross them on foot, by Veturilo bike, or – from the perspective of the river - aboard the Kropka or Kreska boats, passing by countless summer gardens, food stalls and cafes on moored barges. While in the area of the Świętokrzyski Bridge, take a look at the Museum of Modern Art and the Copernicus Science Centre. The volcanic gardens on the roof of Copernicus Centre provide a beautiful view of the Vistula River, the roofs of the Old Town and the PGE National Stadium. Consider taking a walk through the lush vegetation on the roof of the neighbouring University Library of the University of Warsaw. Lastly, strolling around sleepy Mariensztat, whose charming market square will make you feel like you are in a small Polish town.
Warsaw cannot be entirely explored during a weekend, but you are likely to fall in love with it so much that you will want to return as soon as possible. The impressions of tourists from all over the world confirm this. Take the first step and the capital city is going to surprise you again every time.
Author: Warsaw Tourist Organisation