Top Things to Do In Warsaw
Warsaw is a very vibrant city which is rapidly catching up to other European capitals. There’s a lot to see and do here. For complete Warsaw Travel Guide check this link and if you want to try the best restaurants in the city, check out this article about my favourite Nightlife and Food in Warsaw.
Take The Free Walking Tours of Warsaw
I took the Free Walking Tour of Warsaw through the Orange Umbrella Tours. It was a great way to go around and explore the history of the Old Town of Warsaw as well as the complex relationship Warsaw has with WWII. I found the tour to be quite informative but it was only limited to the Old Town only though.
Warsaw has three main parts when it comes to exploring this city; The Old Town, The New Town and the City Centre.
Explore The Old Town of Warsaw
The Old Town of Warsaw is quite small and not old at all. It was almost completely destroyed during the bombings of WWII. It was painstakingly rebuilt over the years. It is a great spot to start exploring Warsaw. The Free Walking Tour was quite informative when it came to the Old Town. It is also the most touristy part of the city. It took me half a day after the tour to explore it on my own which was great fun. The must-do spots for me were:
This is the entrance to the Old Town and gives the old Town and illusion of a castle with its red brick walls and tower. Funny enough, it never actually protected Warsawians from invaders so it was eventually disassembled.
Old Town Market Square
The most beautiful square in the Old Town. The square was completely destroyed by the bombings of WWII but the bravery of two Polish architects saved the day and the entire square was later rebuilt with the exact same detail. The statue of the mermaid with a shield and sword is the emblem of Warsaw, she is the protector of the city.
A small square with more beautiful, colourful mansions with a bell in the centre and the narrowest façade in Europe (to avoid taxes of course).
St John the Baptist Royal Cathedral
This is the main cathedral of Warsaw and built in a variety of styles. Almost all cathedrals have the same interior in Warsaw and if you have seen the interior of this cathedral, consider it done for all of them.
The Castle Square is towards the other end of the Old Town and a great spot with the Royal Castle, the column of Sigismund and the City walls all in one Square. The Royal Castle is host to some of the most important paintings of Polish history and if that sort of stuff interests you, it is a must-visit. It is quite a lively and busy place.
Visit the New Town of Warsaw
The New Town of Warsaw is an extension of Old Town and it isn’t the modern centre of the city. It follows the same structure of cobbled streets with colourful buildings streets after streets and most of it is pedestrianised. It is equally colourful and playful without the walls and some great views of River Vistula. The spots I really loved were:
Marie Curie Museum
I am fairly allergic to museums which is why I didn’t go in (plus I know a fair bit about her already and the fact that she lived most of her life in Paris). It pays homage to probably one of the smartest women in history (the only one who has two Nobel prizes in different fields of Chemistry and Physics).
New Town Market Square
It is supposed to be the new centre of town but it usually is pretty empty with a huge church in the background.
The best street with a beautiful church on one side and my favourite church on the other with lots of colourful mansions in the middle.
Church of Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary
It is a Gothic red brick church and my favourite one due to its tower which I a miniature version of a mansion top. From a distance, it almost looks like a bizarre elevated house.
Take A Stroll On Aleja Soledanosci In The Evening
The street from Castle Square all the way to Copernicus Monument is a great place in the evenings with plenty of things to see and do. It has a few churches as well as the Presidential Palace and leads to the new city centre. It is great for cycling.
Chill on the Rooftop Gardens of University Library
It is unusual to have a university so high up on the to-do list but Warsaw University took care of that. The rooftop gardens of the library are amazing. Not only are they very serene and calming, but they also offer great views of the river, the Bulvar (the river walk on the Western part of the town). I really enjoyed rolling around in the grass on a hot day with the calming sounds of water around. Great place to chill and relax in the afternoon.
Visit Prague District
The Eastern part of the town is called Praga District. It is much less developed and if you are looking for the real Old Warsaw feel, this is your spot. It wasn’t as badly destroyed during the bombings and most buildings are really old. I’d recommend getting off at Dworzec Wilenski station with the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on one side.
A little bit of walk will bring you to the Konoser which is the old Vodka factory recently converted into a beautiful square.
On the way, there are plenty of old buildings which are nothing like the old town in the Western part of the city.
Don’t forget to check out the Praga Cathedral, its gorgeous towers are visible all the way from the Old and New Town.
Pay a visit to the Jewish Past of Warsaw and Learn about the destruction of WWII
Warsaw has a deep and painful relationship with WWII, It was almost entirely destroyed after the war and whatever was left had landmines to break the spirits of locals to ever rebuild this city again. The invaders were wrong, the city survives and serves as a tale of caution. The markings of the walls of old Jewish Ghetto lie just outside the New Town with the monument of Warsaw uprising a few metres away outside the Supreme Court building. It is quite depressing but a sombre reminder especially for Poland which is currently in the hands of far-right populists.
The three ladies you see bearing the roof of Supreme Court at the back are love, faith and justice, quite a beautiful reminder especially of lady love which most people neglect when it comes to matters of law.
I think there are Free Walking Tours which are centred around WWII in Warsaw if you would like to explore the subject further.
Explore Lazienki Park & Its Palace on Water
This gorgeous park is the most beautiful corner of warsaw for me with so much serenity and I think because I was visiting during a really hot time, I really enjoyed strolling through the beautiful park. I met Michael from Grindr and he told me about this gorgeous place. We started from the Ujazdowski park which is much smaller but very beautiful. It is very beautifully manicured with flowers throughout, I loved walking through it (and taking pictures of course).
Skipping the Botanical gardens, we headed straight to the Lazienki Park and the first point was the monument of Chopin, who’s a big-time celebrity here, his name is everywhere (rightfully). I summer months there are free concerts every Sunday here, we managed the catch the last few minutes of it.
From the Royal baths to the Belvedere Palace, it is a gorgeous park and I would have loved to spend more time here if only they didn’t have so many mosquitoes. Do buy some mosquito repellent if you are coming to Poland in summer you will need it dearly.
The last stop on this Tour a la Michal was the Palace on Water which is gorgeous no matter which side you view it from. This is the most instagrammable spot in Warsaw in my humble opinion.
Get on Top of the Palace of Culture and Science
I honestly think it is a very overrated experience to go on top of this bizarre and huge building which looks like a birthday cake with lots of candles because the viewing deck is quite crap and clunky, you’d be much better off at the neighbouring Marriott Hotel bar on the top floor.
BUT I recommend it for two reasons; it is a great and cheap way to get inside this giant gift of Stalin to Warsaw and secondly the terrace is open-air and despite the ugly metal net that covers the windows there is something about the view from the naked eye that you just cannot get elsewhere.
Pamper Yourself in a Spa
Warsaw has plenty of nice spas and massage centres, I was absolutely tired after my flight and booked myself a nice Thai massage at One World Thai Spa. It wasn’t exactly a spa but rather a massage place tucked in a former apartment but who cares about that when the massage is amazing. I honestly do not understand how such petite women get so deep into the muscles. I came out fresh as a daisy. If you are looking for something more high spec, Raffles Spa is also beautiful.
I really enjoyed the time I spent in Warsaw, it is a beautiful city and despite all the difficulty it currently sees, it is fighting back to reclaim its space as a modern, multicultural and inclusive city. Have you been to Warsaw, what did you think of it? Heading there soon and have more questions? Feel free to reach out.