24 good reasons to visit Warsaw
In case you were wondering where to spend your next city break, you should probably consider Warsaw!I You will come back filled with an enthusiasm for the destination that you wasn’t expecting.
Probably you hadn’t heard too much online hype about Poland’s capital, but now, cheap flights from all over Europe can lead you to the discovery of this uncommon destination, with over 70 museums, a picture-perfect Old Town and a plethora of cheap, unique bars (three nights in Warsaw was barely enough time to get round them all!).
If you’re wondering how many days you’ll need in Warsaw, I thought three days was the perfect amount of time. We were able to get around all of the best things to see in Warsaw without feeling rushed, and this was made easier by the fact that the city is super easy to get around!
If you like picturesque buildings steeped in history, craft beer that doesn’t cost a fortune and immersing yourself in a destination’s culture, you’ll love visiting Warsaw. Without further ado, here are 24 good reasons to visit Warsaw.
1. YOU CAN VISIT WARSAW ON A BUDGET
Poland is a cheap destination for budget travellers from the UK and even though it’s a capital city, Warsaw has plenty of cheap or free things to do. You’ll need Polish zloty for your trip (nope, not Euros) and everything is likely to be cheaper in Warsaw than at home. Expect to pay around 22 PLN for a good pint of beer in a craft bar, and around 45 PLN for a main meal in an average Warsaw restaurant. You can find city-centre hostels for under 10 Euros per night. For under 100 PLN per day, you can have a brilliant budget weekend in Poland. Like, it’s probably cheaper than staying at home.
2. WARSAW’S NIGHTLIFE IS AN ATTRACTION IN ITS OWN RIGHT
Warsaw has plenty of fun and unique bars and many are open 24/7. Whether you’re a craft beer lover or you prefer creative cocktails with a view, you won’t go thirsty in Warsaw. After all, Eastern Europe is renowned for its love of a good party and the numerous shot bars in Warsaw get any night out off to an inevitably messy start. If you want to go clubbing in Warsaw, try N58, Na Lato or Level 27. Remember to dress to impress: Warsaw’s bouncers take no prisoners.
3. GETTING AROUND WARSAW IS EASY
It’s Poland’s capital city, so Warsaw’s public transport links are excellent. There’s an efficient train and metro service, as well as a tram. UBER is super cheap. Most of the big attractions are within walking distance from each other but there are public use bicycles and electric scooters all over the city. Download the Lime bike app when you arrive in Warsaw and enjoy zooming around the city’s landmarks. Heads up – the scooters aren’t covered by law so you can even use them (responsibly) to go from bar to bar at night. SO. MUCH. FUN.
4. THERE’S AN INTERESTING MIX OF OLD AND NEW ARCHITECTURE
Famously labelled the ‘Phoenix City’ because most of the Old Town was destroyed during the Second World War and subsequently rebuilt from rubble, Warsaw’s main tourist area, Stare Miasto, is made up of exact replicas of the original buildings. The UNESCO site is painted in vibrant colours and makes for stunning holiday snaps. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Warsaw. The more modern city centre, on the other hand, is all glitzy skyscrapers like the spectacular Palace of Science and Culture, a gift to the city from Stalin.
Check out these tours around Warsaw’s most beautiful buildings
5. IT’S EASY TO GET TO WARSAW
You can find cheap flights to Warasw on Skyscanner all year round and it’s possible to fly direct from airports all over the UK and Europe. Keep in mind that there are two airports in Warsaw! Ryanair use Modlin while all other airlines operate via Chopin Airport. If you’re getting to Warsaw by train as part of a European backpacking trip, or coming from another city in Poland, you can buy an Interrail pass to save money on the journey. Search for the cheapest flight to Warsaw on Skyscanner or check bus and train prices.
6. WARSAW IS A CULTURAL TREASURE TROVE
With too many museums and galleries to count, Warsaw packs quite the cultural punch for curious travellers. There’s zero chance of getting bored on a rainy day in Warsaw. Art-wise, there’s the Museum of Modern Art, Zacheta Gallery and Galeria Grafiki i Plakatu, a Graphic Art and Poster Gallery. In terms of museums, you can spend some time at Katyn Museum, the National Museum and even a dollhouse museum.
Check ticket prices for Warsaw’s top museums
7. YOU CAN EVEN SPEND A DAY AT THE BEACH IN WARSAW
Warsaw lies on Poland’s longest river, the Vistula. The city takes full advantage of the water with a handful of urban beaches including Poniatowski, Płyta Desantu and Saska Kępa. There are even hammocks you can lounge in and trampoline pads on the waterfront! Some of the city’s beaches are barbecue-friendly, which further reduces the cost of a city break in Warsaw if you’re on a backpacker’s budget. And if you’re into watersports, Port Czerniakowski is the place to go. Warsaw also has a smattering of riverside bars and even a river cruise for tourists.
8. WARSAW IS CHOPIN’S OLD STOMPING GROUND
Frédéric Chopin called Warsaw home and though his body was laid to rest in Paris, his heart was taken to Warsaw. The city pays homage to the pianist and composer in many ways – they didn’t stop at naming an airport after the guy. Classical music fans can visit the biographical Chopin Museum, sit on the musical Chopin benches, and even catch a free concert dedicated to the Polish musician in Royal Łazienki Park, where there’s also a Chopin monument. You can also see Kazimierzowski Palace and Czapski Palace, where Chopin’s family lived.
9. YOU CAN GO HUNTING FOR MERMAIDS IN WARSAW
The mermaid is kind of a big deal in Warsaw. The icon not only appears on the city’s coat of arms, but also lurks all over town. Aside from the iconic Mermaid of Warsaw who watches over the market square, see how many mermaids you can spot during your stay. It’s an easy way to keep kids entertained! Pay close attention to stained glass windows, clock faces, lamp posts and any building decorations in Warsaw – you might just catch the swish of a tail…
10. WARSAW’S GREEN SPACES ARE A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
It may be a capital city, but Warsaw is no grey metropolis. 30% of Warsaw is greenery and there are 79 parks in the city. The most famous, of course, is 17th century Łazienki Park, which sprawls over 76 hectares. You could spend an entire day in Warsaw’s park-and-palace complex and even walk or cycle from the north to the south of the city on a trail that takes around six hours to complete – and it never leaves the park.
11. THERE ARE PLENTY OF STUNNING VIEWS OF WARSAW
Climb the dizzying staircase to the observatory at the top of St Anne’s Church to see Castle Square from above or ride up to the viewing terrace in the Palace of Science and Culture for sweeping views of Warsaw from the city’s tallest building. If you prefer your views with a drink in hand, the Panorama sky bar in the Marriott Hotel is a must. Want to wake up to Warsaw at your feet? Book a stay at the Intercontinental, Poland’s tallest hotel which has the highest indoor swimming pool in Europe. Who knew?
12. WARSAW BOASTS POLAND’S LARGEST SCIENCE CENTRE
Don’t consider yourself much of a geek? Neither did I, until I visited the Copernicus Science Centre. This is an absolute must-do in Warsaw, whatever your age. There are over 450 interactive exhibitions that will blow your mind, plus a planetarium, themed laboratory classes and a High Voltage Theatre and Robotic Theatre. You can spend 3 – 5 hours in the futuristic building, which is right next to the Vistula river. Warsaw is quite rightly very proud of this place.
13. WARSAW’S JEWISH COMMUNITY IS NEVER FORGOTTEN
Before World War II, Warsaw was home to the second largest Jewish community outside of New York City’s. The atrocities of the past are commemorated with various historic attractions, including the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warschauer Kniefall (the Warsaw Genuflection) and a fragment of Ghetto Wall at 55 Sienna Street. You can take a four hour tour that will teach you more about Warsaw’s Jewish past.
14. THERE ARE POLISH FOODIE TREATS GALORE
From the pączki carts dotted around the Old Town selling cheap, delicious Polish donuts to the many ice cream vendors, you can really indulge your sweet tooth in Warsaw. If you like chocolate, you simply must visit the original E. Wedel Chocolate Lounge for a seriously indulgent hot chocolate. For adventurous travellers, local menus are usually comprised of hefty portions of pork knuckle, pierogi, Polish soups like borscht, zurek and Chłodnik, and tripe. Picky eaters might prefer to chow down on a typical Polish fast food called zapiekanka, which is basically an open-faced baguette sandwich.
15. WARSAW HAS A NEON MUSEUM
That’s right: an entire museum dedicated to old neon signs. This unique museum located in Soho Factory in Praga documents and protects Polish light advertisements created after World War II. The private initiative is one-of-a-kind and makes for a fun half hour posing for snaps.
16. YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT THE CITY’S COMMUNIST PAST
Warsaw has changed a lot in the past 20 years but the city’s socialist past is still evident when you step outside the Old Town and things go a bit… well, grey. Besides the towering Palace of Science and Culture, there’s Constitution Square and the Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party and Museum of Life Under Communism. Why not book a communism tour in a retro car?
Check out these popular Communism tours of Warsaw
17. YOU CAN SIT ON WARSAW’S LIBRARY ROOFTOP (WITHOUT GETTING IN TROUBLE)
The tranquil landscaped gardens on the rooftop of the University of Warsaw Library provide an oasis of calm that stretches, lush and green, over one hectare. With fountains, a fish pond and panoramic views over the river and the city, this is sort of a hidden gem in Warsaw. It’s also one of the largest rooftop gardens in Europe. The lower garden is open to visitors every day but the upper terrace is closed during winter.
18. YOU CAN GO SKIING IN THE CENTRE OF WARSAW
Winter sports fans don’t have to make the long journey into Poland’s Tatra mountains to hit the slopes, because there’s a ski slope right in the middle of Warsaw. Górka Szczęśliwicka is an artificial mountain with special dented mats, allowing for skiing and snowboarding any time of year you visit Warsaw.
19. WARSAW HAS A FREE WATER SHOW
Warsaw’s Multimedia Fountain Park in the Podzamcze district offers a free show with lights, water jets and music. Firing to heights of 25m over the 3,000 square metre pond, the breathtaking visual show uses 295 coloured LED RGB lights and a laser projector to show moving scenes on the water, including Warsaw’s iconic Syrena mermaid. Get there early for a good view!
20. YOU CAN SEE THE WORLD’S NARROWEST HOUSE
Keret House in Warsaw is less of a home (although someone does live there!) and more of an art installation, designed by the architect Jakub Szczęsny. Nestled between 22 Chłodna Street and 74 Żelazna Street, the skinny building measures just 92 centimeters in its narrowest point. Go have a look!
21. THERE’S LOADS OF STREET ART IN WARSAW
Travellers interested in learning about the alternative side of the destinations they visit will love the fact that there’s oodles of street art dotted around Warsaw. Some of it has political and social commentary undertones while other pieces are Chopin themed! Seek out the coolest murals, where Polish artists have created their own urban canvas.
See the best pieces on these Warsaw street art tours
22. YOU’RE ABLE TO EXPLORE MORE OF POLAND FROM WARSAW
Poland is pretty easy to travel around, and if you have more than a few days in the country, you can squeeze in a day or two in Krakow (check train prices here) or Gdansk. You can also pay your respects to Holocaust victims with a trip to Auschwitz.
23. WARSAW HAS SOME SERIOUS LUXURY HOTELS
It may be ideal for a budget city break, but Warsaw isn’t lacking in luxury hotels. Travellers who prefer to splurge on lavish accommodation can book to stay at Hotel Bristol, H15 Boutique Hotel, Raffles or Hotel Bellotto. Hotel Bristol gets my vote – it’s got pride of place on Warsaw’s iconic Royal Route and the decor is so elegant.
24. POLAND = VODKA
Not a vodka drinker? You are when you’re in Warsaw! Poland is part of Europe’s so-called Vodka Belt and there’s an entire museum dedicated to the stuff in Warsaw. The Polish Vodka Museum was even a vodka distillery from 1895-2007. Of course, all the local bars have a heavy focus on the stuff. During my stay, we wound up in a vodka bar called ‘Klar’ every night, where they infuse their own flavoured vodkas behind the bar.