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.
Travelers love Old Town's lively atmosphere and charming buildings, adding that the neighborhood is a prime spot for shopping, people-watching and getting your caffeine fix. However, the area is often packed with tourists, so expect higher prices at the restaurants lining the square. If you don't want to rub elbows with other visitors, consider arriving early (before 10 a.m.).
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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.
Recent travelers raved about the Lazienki Królewskie Museum, citing its "lovely park" and "impressive" palaces – especially the Palace on the Isle – as highlights. However, several cautioned that the property can get crowded on weekends, so claim your spot early if you plan on attending one of the free piano concerts, which take place at noon and 4 p.m. every Sunday from May through September.
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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.
According to previous visitors, no trip to Poland would be complete without checking out the POLIN Museum. Many said that this attraction's main exhibit is "superb" and "in-depth," although some felt overwhelmed at times by the amount of information provided. Others appreciated the property's design and layout but wished it didn't take hours to get through.
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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.
Past visitors described this castle as "excellent" and "surprisingly awesome," adding that its refurbishment is so well-done that the structure looks original. Additionally, many appreciated the property's less crowded atmosphere and low entry fees, and some suggest paying an extra 5 Polish zloty (or about $1.50) to rent an audio guide.
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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.
Recent visitors enjoyed checking out this attraction, calling it impressive and very moving. However, a few said that the information provided at the monument is not enough to gain a full understanding of what occurred during the Warsaw Uprising, so they suggest visiting the Warsaw Uprising Museum or doing some research before you arrive. Others also recommend saving time to admire the architecture at the adjacent Supreme Court of Poland.
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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.
Although one visitor described the street's restaurants as "a bit expensive" and "not as good" as other Warsaw eateries, many highly recommended taking a leisurely stroll here. But remember to wear comfortable shoes, since this road is more than a half-mile long.
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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.
Past visitors said this museum as a "must-see" for history buffs. Many were impressed with its interactive, kid-friendly exhibits but cautioned that the property can get crowded and hot inside, no matter when you visit. For temporary respite from the attraction's hordes of tourists, consider grabbing a snack at the cafe. Some travelers also suggest renting an audio guide for 10 Polish zloty (about $3) to help you better navigate the museum's confusing layout.
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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.
Visitors describe the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów as a "pretty palace" with "beautiful and great art." Many also rave about the property's gardens, though a few say some of the palace's rooms could do with fewer paintings. Nature enthusiasts should consider visiting in spring when the museum's flowers are in bloom.
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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.
Families will enjoy visiting this science museum. Various gadgets and experiments throughout the center entertain and educate children of all ages, but the property fills up fast (and occasionally sells out of tickets before closing for the day), so visitors recommend arriving early or buying passes in advance on the museum's ticket page (which is in Polish). Also, travelers who want to visit the Buzzz! gallery will need to pick up a timed ticket when purchasing museum passes. If you're not traveling with kids, many reviewers suggest you skip this attraction.
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