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Authored by Aleksandra Milewicz

An affordable European capital with a huge range of things to do and direct flights to most European cities sounds like a dream city break, right?

Growing up in Warsaw, I was convinced that my hometown was anything but a coveted tourist destination. Most people I met abroad had only been to Cracow, and the few who visited Warsaw usually came for business.

But after having moved to the UK for university, I now have a different perspective on things. Several friends have visited me over the years and they all absolutely loved it here. I slowly realised that Warsaw is, in fact, a pretty great destination.

For those willing to give Warsaw a chance, the following is an itinerary for a two-day city break, complete with sightseeing highlights and locals’ favourites for things to do.

Accommodation in Warsaw is pretty affordable by European standards, so you’ll be spoiled for choice! My personal recommendation is Sen Pszczoly: a good introduction to the city’s quirky vibe located right in the center.

Things to do in Warsaw Poland: The Best Sightseeing on a 2 Day City Break

Things to do in Warsaw

Image credit: xiquinhosilva

Things to do in Warsaw on Day 1

Morning

Start by learning the essential history facts about Warsaw at the Warsaw Rising Museum (open every day except Tuesdays).

The exhibition is devoted not only to the fighting and everyday life during the uprising of 1944 but also to the post-war fate of Poland and the rule of the Communist regime. Make sure to watch The City of Ruins during your visit – an incredible 3D animation of the city after the bombardment.

If you prefer a more light-hearted museum, head to Fryderyk Chopin Museum (open every day except Mondays) and learn about Poland’s most famous classical music composer.

Afternoon

In the afternoon, head to the historic part of the city.

Start at de Gaulle’s roundabout and have a leisurely stroll along the streets of Nowy Świat and Krakowskie Przedmieście. You’ll pass by such landmarks as the University of Warsaw and the Presidential Palace.

At the end of Krakowskie Przedmieście, you’ll reach the oldest part of the city, the Warsaw Old Town. Make sure to find the charming little Old Town Market Square with its iconic colourful buildings.

Pro tip: Make a quick detour to Chmielna street (off Nowy Świat) for best doughnuts in town from a hole-in-the-wall bakery called Cukiernia Pawłowicz (you want to get the rose and almond, trust me).

Things to do in Warsaw Sightseeing

Image credit: xiquinhosilva

Things to do in Warsaw at Night

If you want to try traditional Polish cuisine (and you should!), I recommend Zapiecek. Yes, it does look pretty touristy with its country house décor but their pierogi (Polish dumplings) are some of the best you can find!

If you’re visiting Warsaw in summer, definitely see the fountain show in the New Town (Fridays and Saturdays).

From autumn to spring, I recommend the Great Theatre – National Opera for world-class operas and ballets at reasonable prices (but do book in advance because the shows are in high demand).

In summer, Warsaw’s nightlife migrates to the river bank where you’ll find countless pop up bars with live music. Start at Pomost 511 and make your way along the river.

Alternatively, head to Nowy Świat Pavilions – a secret backstreet filled with dive bars, each uniquely decorated and with its own atmosphere.

Things to do in Warsaw on Day 2

Morning

Lazienki Palace things to do in Warsaw

Start the day slowly with a walk around Łazienki Park, the largest park in Warsaw.

This park and palace complex dates back to 17th century and features some stunning architecture like the fairy-tale Palace on the Isle. Łazienki is also home to red squirrel so bring nuts and seeds if you want to feed them.

For lunch check out Hala Koszyki, a newly opened upscale food court, or Krowarzywa for vegan burgers with seasonal ingredients. The most classic lunch staple is kotlet schabowy (a pork breaded cutlet) with a side of mashed potatoes and salads.

If you still haven’t satisfied your craving for Polish cuisine, you can opt for a truly old-fashioned experience of going to a milk bar (Bar Prasowy is the closest to Łazienki). Milk bars are cheap cafeterias serving homemade style food.

Image credit: Neil Williamson

Afternoon

In the afternoon, pay a visit to POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (open everyday except Tuesdays). Opened in 2013, it’s a very engaging museum that makes extensive use of multimedia storytelling to take you on a journey through 1000 years of the history of Polish Jews.

Even the building itself deserves a mention having won multiple architecture awards. Keep in mind that this museum is very popular so buying tickets in advance is recommended.

Alternatively, have a relaxing afternoon by the river on the Vistulan Boulevards. You can make a short detour to the Warsaw University Library which has a delightful rooftop garden overlooking Vistula river.

Things to do in Warsaw at Night

Palac Kultury i Nauki by Night - things to do in Warsaw Poland

Finally, no trip to Warsaw is complete without visiting the most iconic landmark of the city, the Palace of Culture and Science.

Residents of Warsaw either love it or hate it but hardly anyone feels indifferent about it. Constructed in 1955, the Palace was a gift from the Soviet Union built in the style of Moscow’s Seven Sisters. Today it houses several theatres, museums, offices, a cinema and even a swimming pool.

There are many ways to enjoy this unique building but my favourite thing to do is going up to the observation deck on the 30th floor for a beautiful sunset panorama of Warsaw.

Palac Kultury i Nauki by Night (featured image) by Enrico Strocchi

Hipster Warsaw Dining

Now that you’ve already tried pierogi, you can explore the more hipster side of Warsaw dining, and afterwards aim to find a hidden speakeasy bar.

Zorza, Pink Lobster and Silk & Spice are three fashionable eateries on Żurawia street with designer interiors and signature cocktails. For more relaxed atmosphere, try Poznańska Street: Tel Aviv and Beirut are known for great Middle Eastern bites.

In summer, the undoubtedly most hip place to be is the Night Market – a food court on an abandoned train platform serving international street food and drinks. The night market is scheduled to close in 2019 after a decision by the city to reopen the train, so get there while you can! It may reopen, but if it does, it will be in a different location.

OUR FAVORITE GUIDES TO WARSAW. CLICK PHOTO ↓

 

The Rough Guide to Poland

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Pinterest image credits: Enrico Strocchi & Neil Williamson

Originally from Warsaw, Aleksandra has spent the last few years studying in the UK, Russia and the Netherlands. She loves getting to know new places and cultures and she plans to live in as many new cities as possible. Her greatest passions are travelling and podcasting, which she dreams of combining into a full-time career.

Aleksandra writes about exciting hotels around the world at uniqhotels.com. You can also find her on Facebook.

    33 Comments

  1. Pierogi! I love them Aleksandra; my wife happens to be obsessed with ’em. We live in a New Jersey town with many Polish people. Meaning a few shops with real Polish provisions. Meaning some of the best pierogi in the US. A meal in itself, for sure.

    • So fab Ryan that you have access to a little bit of Poland in New Jersey, I love how diverse the US is!

  2. I just landed back in NZ today after two weeks in Poland. Warsaw is a fantastic city and the history of it’s rebuild post WWII is fascinating.

    • So glad to hear you had a fabulous time Andrew! I can’t wait to get to Warsaw myself one day :)

  3. Warsaw is not ‘traditionally’ pretty, yet it is pretty in its own way. I like Warsaw for its diversity in architecture. It is charming. Then people are nice too!

    • @Roman Majcher In my long long long bucket list

    • It looks a lot more stunning that I would have imagined before publishing Aleks’ post. Definitely can’t wait to get there myself at some point!

  4. I have been there and loved it … the old city looks fabulous!! It’s has a strong history and history of WW2 which destroyed Warsaw !!

    • Glad to hear that Samaresh! I think the Old Town is definitely where I would focus most of my time, I’m a big history buff :)

  5. Novotel Centrum is literally the center of Warsaw,30 mins of scenic walk to the Old Town.

    • Thanks for the tip Caleb, sounds like the perfect central location :)

  6. Warsaw is a big place with many options. Nice to see a blog post.

    • Definitely sounds like it! My bucketlist grows longer every-time I accept a new guest post! :)

  7. My husband and I will be connecting through Warsaw on our way back to the US from elsewhere in Europe, and have 7 hours between flights. We’re planning to go to the Old Town and walk around, grab lunch, and maybe do some light shopping for souvenirs, snacks, etc. I doubt we’ll have time to go to any museums. I’m undecided about taking a taxi vs. the bus to/from the airport and may end up doing a bus into town, then a taxi back to the airport. My question is, how much cash should we have with us based on where we can expect to pay cash vs. credit card? Do all taxis accept credit cards? Most restaurants? Shops? About how much should we expect to pay for a light lunch (i.e., not fast food, but not fine dining)?

    And should we change money at home and bring it with us, or does it make more sense to just use an ATM when we get to the airport? It seems like finding a reputable currency exchange when we get there would just waste time since we do not have a lot of time in the city. I would feel uncomfortable not having any zloty with us, but also don’t want to get too much and end up having to change it back!

    • Hi Anne, you’ll be fine with credit card in Warsaw. Almost all places accept Visa and Mastercard (just confirm it with the taxi out of general principle beforehand), the only one you might run into trouble with is AMEX.

      Have a great layover!

  8. Have literally never thought of Poland as a city break destination, though we’re in London and have been really trying to take advantage of our location to travel and see a lot of Europe. Have admittedly been sticking more around Western Europe, but Warsaw sounds like it could be quite interesting. Consider the idea planted!

    • Glad we could team up with Aleks to inspire you to visit! :)

  9. Warsaw is not boring like many people say. It’s a bit ugly here and there, but boring definitely not ;) I like this place, modern and vibrant vs historical.

    • Definitely doesn’t sound boring from Aleks’ descriptions, I can’t wait to visit myself :)

  10. If interested in WWII or how Warsaw “survived” the war a Warsaw “must” is a visit to the Uprising Museum {Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego}.

    Anyone interested in steam trains should make the trip out to Sochaczew, about 35 miles away, and a direct train service if not driving.

    • Thanks for the tips Tony … Sochaczew sounds really interesting, we recently did a steam train journey through Tasmania and it was the most fun!

  11. oh….if anything its too short a time….the old town is wonderful….theres also marlbork castle an hour away…the biggest badest gothic castle in europe….just dont take the boat to westerplatte (where WW2 began and past the fmous gdansk ship yard),keep on going to hel…a charming fishing village at the tip of the hel peninsula….sopot is a charming fin de sicle seaside resort town…on your way there stop off and visit the charming cathedral,monastary,park complex of oliwa.

    • Definitely sounds like you could spend a couple more days! I’ll have to make a note of Marlbork Castle for when I manage a visit, thanks for the additional tips!

  12. Warsaw sounds like a winner to me!

    • Same … I’m also convinced!

  13. I am going to stay in Warsaw for three days, I appreciate this itinerary :)

    • Have a great trip Prisci, glad Aleks itinerary was helpful :)

  14. Poland…lovely, peaceful country, friendly people, strongly recommend for family vacation. And one more thing: Poland is very safe, no terrorists attacks, woman can walk at night but…Poles drive like lunatics so be careful driving a car in Poland.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Jerry, glad to hear you had a fabulous time … noted on staying safe on the roads!!

  15. Looks like Cleveland.

    • Funny how city’s start to mimic each other as the world becomes more globally connected!

  16. Not yet, but definitively on my bucket list😎

    • Hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

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