Warsaw: Poland’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Although it is Poland’s most populous city, it’s also incredibly underrated. We’re talking, of course, about Warsaw. Unlike the more popular Kraków, the Polish capital isn’t one of your usual travel destinations.
The city on the Vistula is constantly changing. All of Eastern Europe’s important political connections converge in this booming metropolis. In addition to skyscrapers and shopping malls, Warsaw is also shaped by the destruction caused by World War II. This fascinating combination makes Poland’s capital the ideal destination for your next city trip! To make sure you don’t miss any important sights, here are our top 10 places of interest in Warsaw!
Warsaw in Nutshell
Because of its location in Central Europe, Poland is a geographically very diverse country. In the north, it borders the Baltic Sea, while the south reaches into the Carpathian Mountains. As a consequence, the country’s climate also varies a lot.
Warsaw is home to around 1.8 million people. The capital is also one of the most important economic centers in Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, many people do not consider this metropolis to be a worthwhile destination for a city trip. They often prefer Kraków, despite this city being a lot smaller, with only around 880,000 people living there.
As the climate is rather moderate in Warsaw, you won’t have to worry about the weather during your trip. The summers aren’t too hot, either – it’s always perfect sightseeing weather! July is the warmest month, with an average temperature of around 25 °C, but it is also the month with the most amount of rain. As a matter of fact, it rains quite often in Warsaw, even in February, the month with the lowest precipitation.
Of course, a little rain won’t spoil the mood – Poland’s many festivals will make sure of that! The country’s many cultures all have their own traditions and celebrations. One example of this is the Jewish Cultural Festival in Warsaw! It lasts for nine days, during which you will be able to enjoy literary works, theater, and music.
The best way to explore Warsaw is on foot or by public transport. Here, you have the choice between going by bus, streetcar, or metro. They’re all pretty reliable and will get you to any place in the city, while allowing you enough time to see all of the sights!
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Warsaw
Many people underestimate Warsaw’s potential for a city trip – for no good reason, in our opinion. We’re sure you’ll agree after visiting our top 10 sights in the capital!
The Old Town of Warsaw
The heart of Warsaw is the Old Town, founded in the 13th century. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s history is incredibly fascinating. World War II destroyed large parts of Warsaw, and it took a lot of work to rebuild the city. The loving attention to detail in this process ensured that the capital has now returned to its former glory.
The Old Town will fascinate you with its colorful patrician houses and its unique atmosphere. Take all the time you need to explore its charming alleys!
Old Town Market Square
The center of the Old Town is the beautiful market square, Rynek Starego Miasta. This is where most of the city’s public life takes place, and you’ll always see locals around here! You can also find the heraldic figure of Warsaw, the Siren, here. According to legend, she is the city’s protector.
Lined with countless cafés and restaurants, the square is the place to be for any food lover. In winter, the square also hosts a festive Christmas market.
The imposing Royal Castle – called Zamek Królewsk in Polish – is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in the 14th century. Unfortunately, like many other buildings in the Old Town, it was destroyed during the war. It took 17 years to rebuild it! The complex you can visit today is a faithful reconstruction of the Royal Castle.
History and art fans should definitely take a tour of the Royal Castle Museum, where you can get a fascinating insight into the lives of Polish kings. Many of the castle’s original artistic and architectural details have survived to this day. In addition to the throne room, the knight’s hall, the marble room, the castle church, and the ballroom, you should also visit the painting gallery, which houses, among other things, some works by Rembrandt.
The Royal Route in Warsaw
The Royal Route connects the Castle Square with the Castle in Wilanów, another former royal residence. We recommend following the route along its most interesting part, the northernmost section between the Royal Castle and the Charles de Gaulle Roundabout.
Along the streets of Krakowskie Przedmieście and Nowy Świat, you can admire the numerous town houses, embassy buildings, and churches. We especially recommend visiting the Carmelite Church, the Visitationist Church, and the Church of the Holy Cross, as well as the Presidential Palace, the Kossakowski Palace, and the University of Warsaw.
The Castle Square is not only the start of the Royal Route but also a popular meeting place. In the middle of the small square is Sigismund’s Column – another landmark of the capital.
This is the perfect place to start your trip through Warsaw. From Castle Square, you can easily get to the city’s other sights. Seeing as you’re already here, why not start with the Royal Castle itself?
Łazienki Park and the Water Palace
Another place of interest in Warsaw is the large Łazienki Park. It covers almost 200 acres, making it the largest park in the city. At its center is the summer residence of the last Polish king. He owned the park in the middle of the 17th century.
You’ll find some beautiful green spaces here, including orangeries, pavilions, an amphitheater, and even a beautifully designed Chinese garden. ŁazienkiPark is also very popular with locals because of the free open-air concerts that take place here every Sunday at 12 pm. We highly recommend attending one of them while you’re here!
The main attraction in the park is Łazienki Palace. It is also known as the “Palace on the Isle” or the “Baths Palace”. The reason for this is obvious once you’ve seen it. The whole building appears to be floating on water, although it is, in fact, on an artificial island. You have the choice between two bridges to reach the Palace. Inside, you can find a ballroom, sculptures of Polish kings, and Solomon’s Hall. Łazienki Palace also has a picture gallery and its own chapel.
The Palace of Culture and Science
Let’s move on to the next stunningly beautiful building, the Palace of Culture and Science. It is the tallest building in Warsaw and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. But it’s not only tall by Polish standards – with an impressive height of 237 meters, the Palace of Culture and Science is the second-tallest building in Europe. Joseph Stalin gave it as a “gift from the Soviet people to the Poles” in 1952. The Palace has been a somewhat unpopular symbol of Russia’s 45-year-long oppression of the Poles. It has remained standing, however, allowing both locals and tourists to visit it.
Don’t forget to check out the Palace’s observation terrace. You might want to take the elevator to get there, as the terrace is on the 30th floor. At a height of 114 m, you can enjoy a unique panoramic view of the Polish capital. Of course, the view is especially beautiful during sunset. The pompous interior of the Palace of Culture and Science, which is full of marble and chandeliers, is reminiscent of a bygone era and former royal glory. Today, the Palace houses a cinema, a theater, a swimming pool, and two museums.
Just outside the city center, you will find Wilanów Palace, another royal residence. It was built around 1675 on behalf of King John III Sobieski. The building was destroyed during World War II, but it was also subsequently rebuilt to its original Baroque form. The people of Warsaw have nicknamed Wilanów Palace the “Polish Versailles”. Not only its interior is incredibly beautiful but so are the Baroque Garden and the Palace Garden! You can also find the world’s oldest Poster Museum on the grounds of the Palace.
The interior of Wilanów Palace is characterized by both the Baroque and the Rococo style. It includes a library, an integrated palace chapel, and the private royal chambers. Nearby, you’ll find the Potocki Museum, which houses a collection of Antique sculptures. Finally, don’t forget to visit the Lapidarium, where you can admire sculptures and other remains of Roman coffins.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
The Polish capital is full of places for history fans! One of them is the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Construction began in 2007, and the museum opened in 2014. It gives you the opportunity to learn about the long history of Jews in Poland. On 5,600 square meters, the museum covers Jewish history from the Middle Ages to the present day. The museum is directly next to the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto, the location of the city’s former Jewish district.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum is also worth a visit. You will get a lot of information about the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. Other popular museums are the Theater Museum and the Museum of Warsaw on the Old Town’s Market Square. Of course, there are many more museums in the city, and it’s impossible to list them all. Just keep your eyes peeled while you’re walking around!
On the right bank of the Vistula River lies the district of Praga. It’s considered the most authentic part of Warsaw, because it survived World War II pretty much unscathed. It’s the perfect place to admire the capital’s original architecture. At the same time, it’s a chance to leave the busy crowds of the city center behind you and to just stroll through charming streets, linger in small cafés and bars, and visit trendy art galleries.
The oldest buildings in Praga date back to the 1860s, and most of them are very well-preserved. Many of them are also decorated with fantastic street art. While you’re here, you’ll also see a lot of churches as well as some small chapels hidden away in backyards. Unfortunately, some of Praga’s historical buildings have to make way for new buildings every year.
Magnificent palaces, modern corners, and historic monuments – Warsaw has it all! In the Old Town, you can immerse yourself in the life and charm of the Polish capital.
What makes Warsaw so special is the dedication to its reconstruction, after so many buildings were destroyed during the Second World War. To see some of the original Warsaw, don’t forget to visit the Praga district!
The many cafés and bars along the Vistula as well as the city’s diverse architecture make Warsaw the perfect destination for a city trip. Don’t miss out on this wonderful capital!