Warsaw is that one destination that surprised me in the best way possible. I took a flight to Warsaw last summer not knowing what to expect, and within five minutes of myself being in its Old Town, I was already in love to say the least.
Being a city with many charms, Warsaw has something for everyone. From museums filled with stories of past, to large green areas and parks; from Michelin star restaurants, to an incredibly exciting nightlife; from breath-taking sunsets by the Vistula river, to the Royal route and its picture perfect colourful houses; Warsaw is a destination where you will never run out of things to do nor places to see.
Honestly speaking, I did get a few raised eyebrows when I told my friends about my plan to visit Warsaw. Overshadowed by Krakow and other major European cities, Warsaw sometimes doesn’t get the love it deserves. But, as a city that has seen the worst that history has thrown at it and has impressively rebuilt itself piece by piece, I, for one, was sure that it had many interesting stories to tell.
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Some Useful Info before you trip:
Currency: Polish Zloty
Language: Polish but English is well spoken too.
How many days do you need?
My mother and I spent a total of 3 nights in Warsaw thinking that we could do a day trip to a nearby city during that time. Unfortunately, it was raining when we were there (I know, the sun doesn’t like me either), so we decided to stay put and explore just Warsaw.
If you are planning to do just Warsaw then I think a weekend’s time is enough. But I strongly recommend you to explore Gdansk and Krakow for a few days too. I know I personally regret not going there and I wouldn’t want you to feel that as well.
Best time to visit Warsaw?
Having visited Warsaw during end of April, I really feel that it’s a great time to go there. Not going to lie, there were a few wet hours during the day but I just loved how empty the touristic places were.
However, if you are looking for a warmer holiday that is also crowd free, then May and June are ideal months to travel. Being an emerging touristic destination in Europe, Warsaw is still less crowded compared to the other cities.
Where to stay in Warsaw?
I am someone who likes to stay in a central area with quick access to public transportation, restaurants and touristic sights. When I came across Novotel Warszawa Centrum online, it looked like exactly what I was looking for.
With a tram and bus stop right in front of it, and high street shops and restaurants right beside it, Novotel Warszawa Centrum definitely checked all the boxes for an apt location for me. It even was a walking distance from one of the biggest shopping malls in Warsaw (which is always good when it’s pouring outside).
However, I am not sure if it was the management or just simply a bad day, but the check in process couldn’t have been any slower. Fortunately, we got a room that was situated on a higher floor with an amazing view of the Palace of Culture and Science, which made all the waiting a little bit sweeter.
We also got to have breakfast in the hotel once after a long morning of sunrise shooting and I must tell you that it was incredible. From fresh juices that were made to order to a great spread of breads, fruits and what not, I was definitely the happiest vegetarian in Warsaw that morning. Check availability for Novotel Warszawa Centrum on booking.com here!
There were a lot of other properties nearby as well, so in case you are interested in something else, I will still recommend you to look at the properties in Sródmiescie district.
How to get around Warsaw?
Like other major European cities, the public transport of Warsaw is top notch. I usually like to walk around a city to get to know it better, but we used the tram every time we wanted to go anywhere that was even remotely far.
Google maps was very reliable in Warsaw, so we would just put the destination in and see which tram to take. Luckily, the tram station was right in front of our hotel, making it really convenient for us to go to the platform, buy a ticket from a machine and just board.
CG’s tip: The same public transport ticket in Warsaw could be used for buses, trams and metros. The cost is dependent on the durability of the ticket, so if you are there for a weekend then I recommend you get a weekend ticket for PLN 24 instead of buying new ones every time you travel. You can also get a 24-hour ticket for PLN 15 or a three-day ticket for PLN 35, depending on what you need. Just make sure to validate them on your first journey after purchasing the said ticket.
Best places to see in Warsaw?
Nowy Swiat Street
On our very first day itself, we randomly found ourselves on this lively street during our search for a restaurant. From what I experienced, this street became my favourite part of Warsaw to just wander around. Filled with street performers, grand buildings and churches, this street is home to an ample number of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and boutiques. There is also an adjacent street called Chmielna (google maps location) which has many cafes and shops as well.
CG’s tip: If you start exploring this street from Sródmiescie, then sooner or later, you will find yourself at Old Town. You might also want to stop midway and admire the beauty that is Warsaw’s Presidential Palace. Guarded by armed personnel, this palace can be visited if arrangements are made in advance.
Being a lover of colourful houses, the first thing that I wanted to see in Warsaw was its Old Town. Having heard stories about how it was completely destroyed during WWII and rebuilt afterwards, I was a bit sceptical about if I would agree with the people who felt it looked more like a movie set. I am glad to say that even though you can tell that some of the building facades are painted on instead of having detailed carvings like they probably used to, it still feels very charming.
I, for one, think it speaks volumes about the Polish people and how much they value their culture and heritage. I mean, rebuilding the entire old town after facing such horrific events wouldn’t have been easy, but even after facing the worst they have probably seen, the citizens of Warsaw worked tirelessly to build their beautiful town, free of cost.
Along with the Royal Castle and a few museums, Old Town also has a very lively Market Square which is home to many restaurants and cafes. Although they looked a bit too touristy for my taste, I did enjoy taking a stroll in the square itself. There are also many small alleys near the square where you can find even more colourful houses and souvenir shops. No such thing as too many of those, right?
CG’s tip: Because so many restaurants are spread out in the square, it almost becomes impossible to take pictures without people during the day. I went around sunrise on one of the days and found it completely empty. So, if you love taking pictures like I do, then definitely go early at least once.
Taras Widokowy Tower
Situated right on the castle square in Old Town, this tower provides a beautiful bird’s eye perspective of Old Town and Nowy Swiat Street. So if you are looking for a rooftop to enjoy a sunset in Warsaw, then this, my friend, is the place to go to.
Warsaw Barbican and City Wall
After exploring the Old Town, we found ourselves in front of Warsaw Barbican and the city walls. These remains of Warsaw were so impressive from every angle that I would totally recommend you to go see them whilst you are there. The new town is located right beyond the Barbican and is such a pleasant area to just wander around. Of course, you can expect to find even more beautiful buildings and churches there.
Łazienki Park and Palaces
We also visited this park for a picnic when it got sunny one day and I just loved how huge and peaceful it was. I also spotted some peacocks and beautiful architecture whilst we were there, so it’s definitely a must go if you ask me.
Where to eat in Warsaw?
The food in Warsaw is so good. I honestly didn’t expect to find so many amazing cuisines here and that too cooked to perfection. With delicious Mexican, Thai, Indian, Italian and of course Polish food, Warsaw really is a culinary delight.
La Sirena: The Mexican Food Cartel: I don’t remember how we came across this place but the food there was so good that I would happily return, over and over again. If you end up going there too, then don’t forget to have tacos and loads of guacamole for me. Also, make a reservation in advance as it’s a very small but lovely place.
Restauracja Frida: Located on my favourite street in Warsaw (Nowy Swiat), this Mexican restaurant had amazing ambience. We chose to sit outside and people watch while indulging in some delicious tortilla chips with guacamole and vegan fajitas. What I loved the most about this place was that they had a separate vegan menu with really good options to choose from.
Bombaj Masala: I am always sceptical about trying Indian restaurants outside India as I don’t find them authentic, but this was one of the best Indian meals I have had abroad. My mum and I liked it so much that we even wanted to return for another round the next day. It is called Bombaj Masala but for some reason, it will only show as Bombay masala on google maps (which makes more sense to me to be honest).
Thaisty: I saw it from the tram on the first day and noticed a huge queue of people waiting to be seated. So, I made a mental note of the name and googled later to see what the hype was about. We decided to try it for late dinner that same day and let me tell you that the green Thai curry there did not disappoint at all. Make sure to reserve it in advance as every time I crossed this place, I noticed way too many people waiting.
Vapiano: I think I have spent most of my time at university in the U.K. in Vapiano. So naturally when I saw it near my hotel in Warsaw, I just had to stop for another delicious meal here. I got my standard order of Spagetti Aglio Olio and Pesto Con Spinaci Pizza, which tasted exactly like I expected them to be.
What should you know before visiting Warsaw?
- Warsaw is an ideal city for an inexpensive break. With affordable food and transport, one doesn’t really end up breaking the bank whilst exploring this gem.
- Most museums and touristic places were shut on a Monday while we were there, so make sure to check opening days before your visit.
- If you are in search of another sunset spot, then you might want to check Poniatowski Bridge Beach out. It is a pebbles beach (pictured below) where we enjoyed one of the most amazing sunset overlooking the skyline of Warsaw’s Powiśle area.
I hope that this ultimate Warsaw, Poland guide helps you plan your holiday there! If you have any questions or doubts, then please leave a comment below and I will answer it at the earliest. You can also DM me on Instagram by clicking here.
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