I’ll admit that Poland has never struck me as a ‘bucket list’ destination. Until now. It seems the cliché is true; you absolutely cannot judge a book by its cover.
So, when we travelled to Poland for a three-night stay in its capital city, Warsaw, we were prepared to be pleasantly surprised. And surprised we were!
Warsaw is a bustling metropolis with so much to offer, perfectly balancing old and new architecture across the city with a vibrant cultural scene to match. So, if you decide to head to Poland, here’s how to spend three days in Warsaw with a travel guide to the best things to see, do and experience in this underrated city.
Getting to and from the airport
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon around 3:30 pm and hopped straight on the Modlin Bus from Modlin airport. There are several routes you can take, one of which goes directly to the city centre, stopping at the Palace of Culture and Science.
It pays to book your tickets for the Modlin bus in advance, as it does get busy, and ticket holders are given first priority when boarding. The journey was so simple and hassle-free and we got into the city centre by about 4:45pm, just in time to freshen up and head out for dinner.
Things to see and do in Warsaw
Palace of Culture and Science
As the tallest building in Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science towers over Warsaw’s city centre and offers great views from the 30th-floor viewing terrace. Open from 10am to 8pm daily, I’d recommend heading up after dark to see the city lit up below. The admission price is low at only 20zl per person during the day and 22zl per person in the evening.
Warsaw’s Old Town
On our first morning, we headed straight for the Old Town, which is as picturesque and quaint as the name suggests. Just a short walk from the city centre, we arrived for breakfast and set up camp at one of the many cafes. People-watching is a great way to spend time in any city and the Old Town offers plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Surprisingly, the Old Town isn’t actually old at all. The majority of the historical buildings were completely flattened by bombs during World War II and have been reconstructed over the years; a true testimony to the resiliency of the Polish people. According to history books and photographs, the Old Town looks as amazing today as it did before the war.
A beautiful building which previously served as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. It was reconstructed after World War II when it was almost completely destroyed by the Germans. Take the time to explore inside, which is truly jaw-dropping. Admission is free on Sundays and you should allow at least two hours to take it all in.
A nice long stroll down the river takes you to Lazienki Park, a green oasis in the midst of a bustling city. We took some time out of the city to explore some of its beautiful buildings and lakes. The perfect place to enjoy a picnic, you can while away an entire afternoon. Be sure to check out the free Chopin concerts at the Chopin Monument held every Sunday afternoon from May to September at 12 noon.
On our second morning, we headed straight for Nowy Swiat, a picturesque street lined with cafes and restaurants. Strolling along this street, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to Paris. We settled down for breakfast in one of the many cafes and enjoyed the morning sun while watching people go about their days. Don’t miss Cheesecake Corner for some beautifully made cheesecakes and excellent coffee.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
A touching monument dedicated to the Polish soldiers who lost their lives fighting for Poland. The tomb is situated inside the Saxon Gardens in the remains of a Saxon Palace which was destroyed in WWII. The tomb is constantly guarded by two uniformed soldiers and the changing of the guard happens on the hour. Be sure to check out the ceremonial changing of the guard which happens at 12 noon every Sunday.
While I don’t tend to do much shopping when I’m travelling, I did enjoy visiting Zlote Tarasy. Located close to the Palace of Culture and Science, this modern glass building houses a huge shopping centre and entertainment complex. With plenty of places to eat and all of the best-known brands, you can spend a couple of hours shopping to your heart’s content. Or if like me, just enjoy the unique architecture from the outside.
Warsaw’s very own Versailles! Unfortunately, we didn’t get time to head down to Wilanow and I think we definitely missed a trick. The palace managed to survive both world wars relatively unscathed and is a stunning example of pre-war architecture. To get there, you’ll need to catch a bus from the city centre, which takes about 35 minutes. Alternatively, many taxi companies will take you there from the city centre for around 45-60zl.
If museums are your thing, Warsaw is a great place for you! With many museums covering a great range of topics, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. Check out the Copernicus Science Centre, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews or the National Museum, to name but a few.
What to eat in Warsaw
From sauerkraut and sausages to Bigos stew and Pierogi dumplings, Poland has a fascinating food scene perfect for those who like trying something a little different. Bigos, Poland’s national dish, is a rich and tasty dish consisting of meat and cabbage, often cooked in a ‘bread bowl’ while Pierogi dumplings, sweet and savoury, are a traditional Polish favourite.
Pastries and cakes are also very popular in Poland so expect to see lots of cafes with beautifully decorated sweet treats on display.
Getting around Warsaw
Walking around a city is always my favourite way to get around because you get to really experience the city and see as much as possible. But if you’d rather not walk, Warsaw enjoys a good public transport system which is (apparently) very easy to use.
Where to stay in Warsaw
While in Warsaw, we stayed in a great Airbnb apartment that I would recommend to everyone! Perfect for a quick stay in the city, it had everything we needed and enjoyed the most amazing view of the city skyline!
With just a few days, we only scratched the surface of what this interesting city has to offer. But, hopefully, this travel guide should give you a good idea of how to spend three days in Warsaw. I can’t wait to return, we absolutely fell in love with Poland.
Have you been to Warsaw? What were your highlights? Is there anything I missed? Leave a comment below and let me know what you love about this cool city.