Best Things To Do in Warsaw
If you're not a history and culture buff, consider vacationing elsewhere. Poland's capital city is filled with educational attractions, most of which are museums. Some (like the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Uprising Museum) focus on the country's history, while others (such as the The Royal Castle in Warsaw - Museum and the Copernicus Science Centre) feature art- or science-focused collections. Music lovers, meanwhile, can admire Frédéric Chopin-focused sights along Krakow Suburb Street and within the Lazienki Królewskie Museum's park. But no visit to Warsaw would be complete without wandering around Old Town. The neighborhood's Old World charm is apparent no matter where you look.
Updated February 9, 2018
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Warsaw's central Old Town neighborhood is one of the city's most popular areas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historic district, which was rebuilt after bombings from World War II destroyed most of it, is filled with restaurants, art galleries, shops and cafes housed in structures designed to replicate the region's former 14th- to 18th-century buildings. Old Town is also where attractions like The Royal Castle in Warsaw - Museum and the King Zygmunt III Waza Column, among other landmarks, reside.
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The 188-acre Lazienki Królewskie Museum is one of Warsaw's most scenic locales. Here, you can go for a leisurely stroll through gardens, explore former palaces, admire various works of art or even catch a free piano concert (by the attraction's Frédéric Chopin monument). You'll also find amenities like a restaurant, gift shops and an amphitheater on-site.
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Though several Warsaw sights (think: the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the Warsaw Uprising Monument) pay homage to Polish Jews who lost their lives during World War II, one of the city's best attractions for learning about the country's Jewish population is the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Inside, travelers will see collections about Poland's earliest Jews, the Holocaust and more. Temporary exhibits that focus on everything from the meaning of blood in Jewish culture to the Jewish community's impact on popular music are occasionally offered as well.
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One of Old Town's most recognizable buildings is The Royal Castle in Warsaw - Museum. This former royal residence and administrative center, which was bombed during World War II and reconstructed in the '70s and '80s, now houses an impressive collection of Oriental rugs, coins and paintings (including two by Rembrandt). Travelers can also tour the former apartments of Polish royals like King Stanislaus Augustus and Prince Joseph Poniatowski.
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Monuments and memorials can be found throughout Warsaw, but one of the city’s most memorable is the Warsaw Uprising Monument. This 33-foot-tall bronze sculpture was created to commemorate the thousands of Poles who fought against Nazi Germany (which occupied the region during World War II). And the sculpture’s location is just as meaningful as the monument. The site once featured an entrance to a canal that was used by Polish fighters to escape from the Germans. As such, one part of the sculpture depicts fighters crawling out from underneath a bridge, while the other shows them heading into the canal.
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One of Warsaw's most popular thoroughfares is Krakowskie Przedmiescie, or Krakow Suburb Street. This street was once the start of a route that connected Warsaw with Kraków (hence the name). Now, the road connects Zamkowy Place in Old Town to Nowy Swiat’s (New World Street's) shops and restaurants. It is also known for its abundance of sights, including Czapski Palace (where Polish composer Frédéric Chopin once lived), the 17th-century Presidential Palace and monuments for notable Polish figures like Adam Mickiewicz and Nicolaus Copernicus.
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To gain a better understanding of how Poland gained independence, visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum. This attraction, which sits in a former tram power station in the Wola district, is home to nearly 1,000 exhibits that touch on the country's occupation by Nazi Germany and the post-war years. The museum also features Freedom Park, where a memorial with the names of more than 10,000 insurgents who died during the Warsaw Uprising is located.
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Warsaw is home to many historic structures (think: The Royal Castle in Warsaw - Museum and Old Town), but only a few buildings are exactly as they were before World War II, and this museum is one of them. The former palace of King John Sobieski III, a baroque-style property built in 1677, now welcomes visitors to explore its royal apartments, chapel, library and galleries. And surrounding the museum are manicured gardens filled with rose bushes, lemon trees, tulip bulbs and other colorful plants.
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Named for Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, the Copernicus Science Centre is where budding scientists can learn more about topics like electricity, light and engineering. In addition to hands-on activities, 20-minute workshops that focus on everything from building a fire without modern equipment to writing hieroglyphs are provided daily. The museum also features a rooftop garden, a theater, a planetarium and a park with additional interactive exhibits.
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