Poland's capital is often described as one of Central and Eastern Europe's top destinations...
... but that doesn't it justice. Whether you're visiting for work or a weekend away, Warsaw is one of the continent's most exciting cities. From its blend of architecture that spans centuries to its quietly excellent restaurant scene, Warsaw is one of Europe's most underrated city break destinations and a pleasingly fun and soulful place to do business.
If you’ve only got half a day in this fascinating city, your best bet is to choose some top attractions that are in walking distance of each other. Warsaw’s imposing Soviet-era Palace of Culture and Science is a must and worth spending half an hour or so exploring. Don’t forget to head up to the roof terrace for some great photo opportunities.
From there, check out the Chopin Museum, just a short walk east. Alternatively, head west and spend an hour wandering around the emotive Warsaw Rising Museum to learn more about the city’s more recent history.
After your chosen museum visit, stroll towards the north and enter the city’s charming Old Town and take in its quaint buildings, including the Barbican, St John’s Cathedral and the area around Castle Square. Then cross over the bridge into Praga for a bite to eat before getting the metro back to the main station for any onward travel.
To get a real sense of Warsaw’s history, start your weekend off in the Old Town, where you can learn more about the city's beginnings and early aristocracy at the Royal Castle, the Museum of Warsaw and the Warsaw Barbican. All this can easily be done in a few hours and then followed up by a relaxing stroll south along the riverfront.
It’s then worth spending an afternoon in picture- perfect Lazienki Park. You could either bring your own picnic or delve into one of the traditional milk bars around it, such as local favourite Prasowy, that serve up basic but tasty meals at wallet-friendly prices. The park is home to several wonderful sights including the Palace on the Isle, the Botanic Gardens and several large monuments of notable Polish figures. If you’re visiting in the summer, you can also catch one of the Chopin concerts that take place every Sunday afternoon.
On your second day of visiting Warsaw, move onto the city’s modern history by heading to the Warsaw Rising Museum, the Jewish Cemetery and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Finish up at the Palace of Culture and Science for views from the 30th-floor terrace before catching the metro across the river to Praga for an evening out at 11 Listopada Street.
If you’d rather keep your night low-key, you could hang around the Palace of Culture and Science and see a film at its cinema or catch a performance at one of its theatres. As with most theatres, it’s best to book these tickets in advance to avoid missing out.
Days 1 and 2
Tick off all the must-see places in Warsaw in your first couple of days, starting at the Palace of Culture and Science and working your way past the Warsaw Rising Museum into the city’s Old Town. Check out the Museum of Warsaw and then head to the Royal Castle for a dose of grandeur. Come dusk, take to the cobblestone streets and find a traditional restaurant to try out some local cuisine.
On your second day in Warsaw, head across the river into Praga, where you’ll find the quirky Neon Museum, which exhibits some fun vintage neon signs from the 1950s and 60s. You can then spend an afternoon exploring the area’s shops before enjoying an evening in one of the many bars.
Warsaw is famous for its classical musical connections, so take a day to learn about famous native Frédéric Chopin. Start off at the Chopin Museum, housed in a 17th-century mansion in the city centre and full of interesting displays about his works. From there, you can walk to the Palace of Culture and Science and catch the bus to Zelazowa Wola on the outskirts of the city to see where the great composer grew up.
You could easily spend an entire day exploring every nook and cranny of Warsaw’s huge Lazienki Park – especially if you’re visiting in the summer. As well as taking a stroll around its manicured gardens, you can also pop into the Lazienki Museum in the park's former bathhouse, walk around the Warsaw Botanic Gardens and take photos of the huge sculpture of Chopin.
By your fifth day you might be craving some more scenic views – rent a car and you can drive north to Zegrze Lake. It’s more of a summer destination, so if a dip is out of the question, try a visit to Czersk Castle instead – it's fascinating to visit any time of year.
Days 6 and 7
In your last couple of days spend some time exploring more of the city’s lesser-known districts to soak up some local vibes. Beautiful Żoliborz is a smart neighbourhood that’s made up of lots of pretty, traditional-style houses. Another impressive area is Mokotów, which is where you’ll find most of the city’s embassies, as well as some great spots for Polish eats.
For another more rural day out, get the metro south to Kabacki Forest, where it’s not unusual to spot a variety of wildlife, including deer, owls and foxes. The forest is also the location of a World War II military hideout.