Ultimate guide to Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw is the capital and the biggest city in Poland. Through the incredible history Warsaw has experienced, this country has showed how determined it really is to get back on its feet. Before WWII, Warsaw was considered one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. After the war was over, Warsaw was completely destroyed with heavy air attacks and artillery bombardments. Soon after the war was over, the citizens of Warsaw began a 5-year reconstruction of what we know as the Old Town of Warsaw- building churches, museums and a marketplace. We have to say, Poland was are favorite country in the Eastern Europe that we explored because of its kind and gentle locals, the amazing architecture and the history you feel when walking through the Old Town…. oh and not to mention the local food was to die for!!!!
THE HEART OF OLD TOWN. This large open square is full of colorful buildings, cafes and the Royal Castle. The entire walk through the square is very enjoyable and picturesque through the cobblestone roads. Musicians, artists and vendors with souvenirs are often set up in this square to entertain people walking through. The square seems to always be crowded with tourists taking pictures, head there early in the morning if you would like to see the square not so crowded. We would recommend taking about 2-3 hours to walk through this square as there is so much to see and so much history to learn about.
Explore through Old Town
It is hard not to fall in love with the colorful houses and unique atmosphere of its narrow streets. It is no surprise that the old town of Warsaw has now been entered on the UNESCO World Heritage list! The town definitely takes you back in time as the buildings were restored to their original design before the war. Inside the Old Town, you will find many different restaurants typically only serving the local cuisine. We ended up finding an Airbnb within the old town and it made our stay so much better being within the walls of all this history.
Climb the defense walls in Old Town
The Warsaw Barbican is an old watch tower in Warsaw. It is one of few remaining artifacts that once encircled Warsaw. Located between the Old and New Towns, it is definitely a MAJOR tourist attraction. The defensive walls once protected the northern entrance to the city, which was structured around 1548. Today this is a known place for many young adults hanging out drinking, artists selling their work, locals singing in the streets and vendors selling cheap souvenirs.
Palace of Culture and Science
The tallest building in Poland stands 237 meters (778 feet tall) and is situated in the city center of Warsaw. This clock tower was built in 1955 by the Soviet Union as a gift from Stalin to Poland. After being opened, the palace hosted many different festivals and well known artists on its stage. Today, the palace is home to concerts, wonderful museums, the city’s most popular cinema, and several bars and theaters. If you go to see this building at night, you can enjoy the newly installed colorful lights that are displayed.
EAT your way through Warsaw
Home of the well known Pierogi!! Poland by far had the best food in Europe for me (Katie). There are so many different restaurants within the city of Warsaw, especially the Old Town, that serves the local cuisine. We ate pierogis almost every day we were in the city and we were so happy about it!!! It was surprising how many different options you could get inside of the pierogi and then topped with as well. We found two different restaurants that we thought served the best local food in Warsaw. Gościniec and Zapiecek (both chains) are found throughout the city with a very traditional feel, AMAZING food and pretty reasonably prices. Our favorite Pierogi was the potato and cheese or beef topped with sour cream of course. For a side dish to the pierogi we recommend the chicken broth soup or the mushroom gravy potato pancake. Mmm mmm!
Popular Polish cuisine includes
- Pierogis (polish dumplings)
- Chicken broth soup
- Polish potato pancakes
- Cabbage rolls
- Bread and sausage
Around the Old Town and within the city center of Warsaw you will find a handful of different types of cafes serving delicious coffee from around the world. If you need to do a little travel planning or simply just relax in a calm environment, head over to the nearest cafe. Our favorite cafe while we were staying in the Old Town was called “Pożegnanie z Afryką.” This wonderful cafe with WIFI had just an incredible coffee list from all around the world. You simply pick which type of coffee you want (latte, drip, etc.) and then pick which beans you want your coffee made from (Peru, Ethiopia, etc.) depending which flavors and how strong you like it. We have never experienced a cafe to this level and we highly recommend it. They are open every day/all day and also serve food as well (we tried their panini for lunch and they were delicious).
Stroll through the ginormous park of Ogród Saski (Saxon Garden)
Take a break from life and stroll through this lushes green garden while heading to the Old Town of Warsaw. This 38 acre park is the oldest public park in the city of Warsaw. Feed the ducks, lay in the grass or just take in the natural beauty while experiencing some old history of the city. This park is also home to the Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza (tomb of the unknown soldiers). This monument truly represents the respect and gratitude of a nation to the soldiers who lost their lives. The tomb is guarded permanently by two soldiers, with rotation every hour on the hour. On Sundays at noon there is a dull Military Parade that is very much worth seeing.
Enjoy the colorful fountains at night in Old Town
If you are in the Old Town of Warsaw after dark, head down to the Multimedia Fountain Park and be ready to get blown away with the majestic show that is put on each night (seasonal). With multiple fountains, LED lights and a synchronized show with music, this park has really proven to attract more and more tourists every year. As it was built in 2011 to increase the amount of culture and tourist attractions in the city- it has done just that. Come early and stake out your seat to enjoy the night!!
Where we stayed
In Warsaw we decided to stay in the Old Town, which is a lot less busy as the city center. We found an Airbnb right in the middle of Old Town, walking distance to so many of the sights. We HIGHLY recommend this apartment as you get the feel of being a local. In the picture below is the apartment building we stayed at in Old Town. Old town is about a 25 minute walk from the city center which is such a beautiful stroll OR you can get a very cheap Uber to take you to and from the center as well. When we return back to Warsaw- we will definitely be staying in this apartment again.
DON’T RIDE THE HORSE CARRIAGES WHILE IN WARSAW!!!!!!!
Lined up around the market square are many horses with carriages ready to take naive tourists around the city. We cannot urge this enough- DO NOT RIDE THESE HORSE CARRIAGES, they are used for several hours a day and are exhausted. They are made to stand still and whipped if they don’t. Making horses pull over sized loads like carriages is cruel. Horses are forced to work in all weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. I know everyone these days are trying to step up their Insta posts and get all the likes they possibly can but this is just inhumane.
We hope you have enjoyed our recommendations to the city of Warsaw, Poland. Now get out there and go EXPLORE!