What is impressive about Warsaw is, despite its most recent history, it hasn’t lost even an ounce of its culture and identity. The city’s streets are strikingly modern; glass buildings tower above picturesque parks, trams whizz between hectic traffic and yet turn a corner and you’ll find yourself discovering traditional food in squares that have barely changed since their first sods were dug.
- Check out the Old Town for culture, charming squares and history.
- The best food is served to the locals, don’t be afraid to try out backstreet eateries.
- Budget more Zloty than you think you’ll need, Warsaw has a lot to offer and you’ll want a taste of it all.
Like most capital cities, Warsaw is a sprawling modern metropolis. It is defined by communist era boulevards, glass buildings and colourful squares.
The Old Town is the most picturesque area of the city, laid out in phases since the 12th century. The main market square, built in the 13th century, is home to colourful townhouses and has a fascinating history of hosting key moments in Poland’s past. Nowadays it’s home to fine restaurants and gift shops. In the area, it’s worth checking out the Historical Museum of Warsaw and the Royal Palace. There’s also a great Italian restaurant just off the main square. Known as Rucola, dishes start at £5 ($7) for a main and it’s a great stop for a leisurely lunch.
The towering city streets are impressive (and totally not what most Western travellers associate with Poland). London has the City, Warsaw has Emilii Plater street. It’s home to a cluster of impressive modernist structures that are a visual reminder of how Poland’s economy is changing and growing. The tallest of these towers is the Communist era ‘Palace of Culture and Science’ rising to 237metres. Close in its shadow are the Warsaw Spire and Warsaw Trade Tower standing at 220m and 208m respectively.
Warsaw was nominated as one of Europe’s greenest cities, in a bid to hold the title for 2018. It’s true that it has some fantastic parks that offer a quick getaway from the hectic streets. When the snow falls, the park at Królewska offers splendid scenic adventures. There are even some ducks that call it home. Come snow or shine, it’s a good place to stop by on your way to the Old Town.
It’s home to Poland’s tallest building. Built in the mid-50’s by the Communist regime, the 231m Palace of Science and Culture sets the standard for height in Poland. On clear day it’s worth taking the lift to the 30th floor to take in the views of the city. The building was gifted to the Polish people and takes inspiration from the Empire State Building.
The food is a fusion of local and international cuisine. Make sure you spend an evening at low-key Banjaluka on Grenadierów for a mix of Polish and Balkan cuisine. Raki, shopska, cevapi and live music – what could possibly go wrong…? The friendly and attentive staff speak excellent English and are keen to recommend items from the menu if you’re not sure.
Tip: get one of the bar stools near the stage, the local bands that play here are phenomenal and put on a real show.
It has some of the best hostels in Europe. After a day of exploring, bed down at ultra-cool Chillout Hostel. A stone’s throw from the main sights, the hostel is situated in a renovated tenement house near Central station. It has quirky staircases, cosy dorms and a charming area to relax with fellow travellers and share stories. You can save a few Zloty on accommodation, Warsaw ranks cheaply for a place to stay, beds start from £6 ($8).