I’ll be the first to admit that Poland had never struck me as a ‘bucket list’ destination. Maybe this is because of its dark history, of which there is an abundance, or maybe it’s just that I was a bit ignorant. However as is often the case with travel, you have to be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
We travelled to Poland in Sept for a 3 night stay in the capital city, Warsaw. And we loved it! Warsaw is a bustling metropolis with so much to offer and in this post I am going to do a quick run-down of how we spent our time there and offer some recommendations on how you should spend yours.
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 going directly to the city centre, stopping at the Palace of Culture & Science. It pays to book your tickets for this bus in advance, as it does get busy at times 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.
WHAT TO SEE/DO
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 Viewing Terrace on the 30th floor. The admission price is low at only 20zl per person during the day or 22zl per person at night and it is well worth it!
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 on the street. People-watching is a past time in itself and Old Town offers plenty of opportunities to do this. What is amazing is that Old Town actually isn’t old at all. Much of it was flattened by bombs during WWII and was reconstructed afterwards. Old Town is a true testimony to the resilient nature of the Poles and looks as amazing today as it did originally.
A beautiful building which served, in times past, as the official residency of the Polish monarchs. It was reconstructed post WWII after it was almost completely destroyed by the Germans in 1944. Make sure you take the time to explore the inside, which is truly jaw-dropping. Admission is free on Sunday’s and you should allow at least a couple of hours to see it all.
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 enjoy a stroll around the park and explore some of its beautiful buildings and lakes. It is the perfect place to take a picnic and while away the afternoon, especially if the sun is out. 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 pretty street lined with cafes & restaurants. While strolling along this street you would be forgiven for thinking you had just been transported to Paris, it is so pretty. We settled down for breakfast in one of the many bakeries and enjoyed the morning sun before continuing. Don’t miss ‘Cheesecake Corner’ for some beautifully made cheesecakes and excellent coffee.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
This is 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 remnants 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, every hour. Be sure to be present for the ceremonial changing of the guard which happens at 12 noon every Sunday.
If you are girl after my own heart (or boy even) and enjoy a spot of shopping while you are away, don’t miss Zlote Tarasy. Located right next to the Palace of Culture & 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 hearts content.
Warsaw’s very own Versailles! Unfortunately we didn’t get time to head down to Wilanow and I think we definitely missed a trick there. The palace managed to survive both World Wars relatively unscathed and is a stunning example of pre-war architecture. To get there you will 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 then Warsaw is a great place for you! With many museums covering a great range of topics, you will not be stuck for something to do. 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
Poland is famous for its use of sauerkraut and sausages and we were not disappointed. Our first port of call was to try the local Polish sausages, because you can’t go to Warsaw and not. Also, be sure to try Bigos, a traditional meat and cabbage stew. It is the national dish of Poland and extremely rich and tasty. Pierogi is also a must-try when it comes to traditional Polish food. As a dumpling with a range of fillings from savoury to sweet, Pierogi can be eaten either as a snack, a main meal or a dessert. We recommend you try the duck pierogi, they were delicious! Pastries and cakes are also very popular in Poland so expect to see lots of cafes with beautifully decorated sweet treats in their windows!
The easiest way to get around is on foot. This also means you get to see as much of the city as possible which is always what we recommend! However, if you’d rather not walk too far there is a good public transport system consisting of trams, buses and the underground Metro.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in a great little apartment that we booked through Airbnb. I would recommend this place to anyone! It was all we needed and had the most amazing view over the city skyline! The first picture in this post was taken from our apartment window!
Here’s the link —> https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/5808114
Warsaw offers so much more than we were able to fit in, but the above guide should give you a good idea of the city over a 3-4 day visit. I can’t wait to return and carry on exploring; I really did fall in love with Warsaw.
Have you been to Warsaw? What were your highlights? Is there anything we have missed?
Feel free to leave us a comment below to let us know what you love about this cool city.