📌 Read in / Lire en : Français (French)
What should you see and do during a trip to Warsaw? One of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and the capital of Poland since 1596, we are sure the city of Warsaw has everything you need for a great trip. Its turbulent past can be experienced through its rich and diversified architecture, with buildings in the Gothic and neoclassical styles dating from the old era standing side by side with the blocks of grey buildings marking the Soviet era. The contrast is striking. What’s more, options for activities are numerous: located on the Vistula, about 320 km from the Baltic Sea and the Carpathians, Warsaw is the eighth largest city in the European Union and, of course, the largest in the country. So, what are the top 15 things to see and do in Warsaw? Here is our own selection.
☃️ Where should you travel in November? It’s not Christmas yet, but Europe still has great destinations to offer at this time of year. Here are some ideas.
🗒️ What you need to know before your trip to Warsaw
Before we start our list of must-do things in Warsaw, here are some tips for your future getaway, in terms of transport and accommodation.
When should you go to Warsaw?
Warsaw is a beautiful city, but it lacks the tourist appeal of its central European sisters, Prague and Budapest. This means that you will also have fewer people in high season than in the two other other capitals. We therefore advise you visit Warsaw in summer, to take full advantage of the milder temperatures. September seems to be the most suitable month, because rain showers are less frequent. However, be careful: the winters are harsh.
Which hotel should you choose in Warsaw?
Warsaw has an excellent selection of hotels on offer. The city has many modern establishments from global chains, with all the necessary comfort and at prices much lower than in the capitals of Western Europe. Here are some hotels we would recommend.
To escape the modern world, why not try the Hotel Polonia Palace, located just opposite the Palace of Culture and Science? In this beautiful period building, you will find all the modern comforts at a fairly reasonable price for what’s on offer.
In the same style, we also suggest the Hotel Indigo Warsaw Nowy Świat. Behind this extended name hides a building, opposite the National Museum, dating from the 19th century. It has been completely renovated, offering elegant rooms.
Finally, for smaller budgets, there is the ibis budget Warszawa Centrum. This modern hotel is ideally located in the Sródmiescie district and offers rooms with everything you need for a good night’s sleep, all for just over thirty euros. What more could you want?
🔝 The 15 must-see things in Warsaw
After these few tips, let’s see what you absolutely must see during a trip to Warsaw. Fifteen must-see places in the Polish capital.
The Old Town of Warsaw
Built in the 13th century around the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia, the Old Town, called Stare Miasto in Polish, is the oldest district of Warsaw. It was seriously damaged by the aerial bombardments of the German army in 1939. However, after the Second World War, it was renovated and retains much of its authenticity. In the Old Town, you can visit “the market square” which is famous for its cafes, shops, and restaurants serving traditional Polish specialties. Stare Miasto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Old Town Market Square
This magnificent square located in the heart of the Old Town seduces visitors with its beautiful, colourful houses decorated with frescoes. Its lively streets lined with cafes and small restaurants will not leave you indifferent. Although completely renovated after the Second World War, the square retains a certain authenticity that is very popular with tourists.
Lazienki central park
This vast park of 76 hectares impresses with statues and monuments (especially the amphitheatre located near the lake), and the beauty of its fauna and flora. Located near the Old Town (Stare Miasto) away from the main roads, this park is nicknamed “Little Prague”. It is ideal for walking alone, as a couple, or as a family. After a hectic day of excursions, it is the perfect place to relax or have a picnic.
The Royal Palace in Warsaw
If you go to the district of Śródmieście in the Old Town of Warsaw, you will find the famous Royal Palace of Warsaw (official site) at No. 4 Castle Square. This is none other than the former residence of the kings of Poland, an impressive Baroque-style building has been destroyed and renovated several times. The building was open to the public in 1984 and is a branch of the national museum today, meaning you can admire a good number of works of art on display there. It is also still used for certain official ceremonies
In the same borough, opposite the Royal Palace, is Zamkowy Square meaning, literally, ‘Castle Square’. Built between 1818 and 1821, this square welcomes tourists who come to soak up Polish culture and to learn about the events that have marked the socio-political history of this country. Here, you can admire Sigismund’s column, which is the oldest monument in the city and ranks among the most symbolic.
🗺️ Looking for more magic? If you have the time, make a round trip to Krakow, in the south of the country. Why? Read our guide and you will see!
The Polish Army Museum in Warsaw
A place full of history to discover, this museum is dedicated to the military history of Poland. If you are a fan of ancient weapons and objects related to the conduct of war, this is for you. This museum opened in 1920 has more than 250,000 objects including armour and combat helmets, sabres, uniforms, saddles, and a Gothic relic.
The Palace of Culture and Science
Located in the Centre-North district of Warsaw, the Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN in Polish) is one of the many legacies of the Soviet Union, found on all the postcards. Built between 1952 and 1955 on an area of 3.3 hectares, it was the largest building in Poland until 2020. This huge architectural work (3288 rooms spread over 46 levels) is a must-see. Its large terrace, open to the public, is on the 30th floor.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum
This museum (official site) is housed in a magnificent red brick building erected between 1904 and 1908 and is dedicated to the insurrection of the city against the German occupiers during the Second World War. It brings together hundreds of items, from weapons used by insurgents to love letters, to present a full picture of those involved, including numerous photographs, and audio and video recordings from the time. Tourists from Europe and even other cities in Poland come here every year to do their duty of remembrance.
Warsaw Zoological Park
The Warsaw Zoological Garden (official site) – in Polish, Ogród Zoologiczny w Warszawie – is the zoo of the capital. Housing nearly 4,000 animals of 530 different species, it is an excellent way to travel without even leaving Poland. A good chance to relax with the family.
The Frederic Chopin Museum
Palac Ostrogskich ul. Okólnik 1, Warsaw: this is where you will find the Fryderyk Chopin Museum (official site). It is housed in the baroque palace of the Ostrogski family, on the escarpment of the Vistula. This museum contains the largest collection of works by the musical virtuoso Chopin, including his manuscripts, notes, autographs, and personal objects like his piano. The museum is particularly well-known for its multimedia exhibitions, allowing you to enter the composer’s universe virtually.
The Copernic Science Center
The most interactive museum in Warsaw, the Copernic Science Centre is dedicated to science in general. All scientific disciplines are represented: chemistry, physics, biology, and medicine – perfect for an educational visit with family. You can also, thanks to various simulators and games, test your senses and learn a lot about science in a fun way.
This building, inaugurated on February 24th 1833, houses both the National Opera and the National Theatre. If you want a great cultural outing, buy tickets to spend a pleasant evening with family or friends.
The many churches and cathedrals of the city
For those who don’t know, Poland is one of the European countries where Catholicism is most deeply rooted. If you go to church in Warsaw, especially during Holy Week, you will be pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere and warmth that greets you. Each church has its own strong identity, although many were rebuilt after the war, such as the Saint-Jean cathedral, the Carmelite church, and the Sainte-Croix church.
If you are a photography enthusiast, you must take a tour of this magnificent and unusual place (official site). This is a stereoscopic theatre installed in 1905. You will discover no less than 3000 original photographs of Warsaw, including portraits and life scenes that will take you back to the time of the Second World War. These photographs are in 3D and are strikingly realistic. Also perfect for a day out with children!
You will no doubt be wondering how autumn in Warsaw is different from that of other European cities… Just look around and you will discover for yourself the many colours that the city wears during the season. From the ground to the roofs of the houses, including the benches and the trees, everything is tinged with shimmering yellows and red-browns. This gives you the opportunity to take very beautiful photos. More information on “golden autumn” in Poland at this address.
Our small selection of things to see in Warsaw is complete, but if you have other ideas, do not hesitate to share them in the comments. We are looking forward to hearing them!