Warsaw, Poland is one of our favorite cities in Europe with its long and rich history, as well as a picturesque historic city-centre to explore. We have created a complete guide with the best things to do in Warsaw!
The interesting thing about the the city of Warsaw is that over 90% of the city was destroyed at the end of WWII in response to the Warsaw Uprising. However, walking through the old city, this might come as a surprise to you as Poland rebuilt many of their historic architecture.
We planned to visit Warsaw just for one day and then go to Krakow but the truth is that we ended up staying longer because we were captivated with its beauty and history. We recommend you to stay at least 3 days to visit the most important and beautiful places in Warsaw.
The coolest things to do in Warsaw:
Walking through the city of Warsaw gives you a nice mixture of modern and historic architecture as well as an in depth look at the historical events that have happened in the city. Come explore Warsaw with us in our 18 km walking travel guide with the best things to do in Warsaw!
➳ Where to stay in: Warsaw
What to see in Warsaw Walking Map:
Practical advice for visiting Warsaw:
- Most museums in Warsaw have a day where admission is free.
- The best time to visit Warsaw is the days at the end of April to June or the end of August to September. Avoid visiting Warsaw during the summer, as it is very hot and there are many more tourists. We have been in Warsaw at the end of May and end of October and both times were magical. In the fall we were able to witness the foliage, which made the city even more colorful and beautiful.
- It is very easy to travel through Warsaw, as it has a good public transport system and is a very passable city. We use Google Maps since it gives you the information of which bus or tram you should take and how much it costs.
- Where to stay in Warsaw? It all depends on your preferences and your budget. Our first time in Warsaw we stayed at the Helvetia hostel. The second time we rented an apartment called “Little Home“, which is perfectly located between the historic center and the new city but is on the third floor without a lift.
- Warsaw is not as expensive as other European cities such as Berlin or Paris. We find Warsaw quite affordable, not too cheap or too expensive. An approximate estimate that we spend between $ 40 and $ 60 USD per person per day, which includes eating 2 to 3 meals, transportation, lodging and attractions. Again, it all depends on the activities you choose to do, where you would like to stay and eat.
➳ Read More: A Practical and Complete Travel Guide to Warsaw
How to get to Warsaw?
The best way to get to Warsaw depends from where you are coming from. We flew from Madrid, taken the train from Krakow and the bus from Berlin. If you are flying into the city, you most likely will arrive at the Frederic Chopin Airport. The airport is about 25 minutes away from the Old Town and you will have to take a private bus, public, private shuttle or an Uber to get to the city. When traveling with multiple people or large amount of luggage it is actually cheaper and easier to take an Uber.
If you are taking the train into Warsaw, you will be arriving to central station. If you arrive by bus we recommend using FlixBus as they have a wide network of bus routes across Europe with comfortable seats and great service!
Should I have a travel Insurance?
Yes, the answer will always be yes, no matter where you go! We always make sure to travel with an insurance in case things get awry. We use WorldNomads.com as it has a simple and flexible search system that helps me get the right insurance for any type of trip.
What to eat in Warsaw?
Poland has many delicious dishes that you should try on your visit to Warsaw, my favorite dish is the famous Pierogi stuffing. In Warsaw, be sure to try Mizeria, a delicious cucumber salad made with dill and sour cream, and Gołkibki, a cabbage dish stuffed with meat with rice. There is also an infinite variety of kielbasa to taste, but be sure to save space for some Paczki, the most delicious Polish dessert of all.
Another great way to discover the delicious Polish cuisine is by embarking on a three-hour food tour of Warsaw.
What to see in Warsaw:
There are so many amazing things to do in Warsaw like visiting some of Warsaw’s interesting museums or enjoying panoramic viewpoints of Warsaw.
In this post we want to help you navigate through all the things to do in Warsaw and choose the best things, we provide you with all the information you need to have a great trip in this wonderful city.
Most of the things to see in Warsaw are found in the historic center and in the old Jewish quarter. During World War II, the old town of Warsaw was completely destroyed and it was after that respecting its previous aspect was repaired until it was completely restored. Today the Stare Miasto in Warsaw is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Things to do in Old Town Warsaw:
Since we arrived so early in the morning, we first went to the Royal Castle and surrounding Castle Square. The castle long served as the home to the Polish monarchy. Leveled to the ground in WWII, the building has been reconstructed and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the middle of the square is Sigismund’s Column.
Being so early, the square was empty, allow us to get photos with no tourists, but it obviously meant we had to come back later in the day when everything was open.
St Anne’s Church
Across the square is St. Anne’s Church, which has the Old Town Observation Terrace in its bell tower. Just a walk up a narrow winding staircase to an amazing view of the whole city.
➳ Tip: Be sure to climb the tower a couple of hours before sunset, as you should avoid the long shadows of the surrounding buildings that are projected on the square.
St. John’s Cathedral is the most important church to see in Warsaw, as it is dedicated to the patron of the Polish city. The church dates from the fourteenth century and was built in brick with a Gothic style. The church, like another of the most important buildings in Warsaw, had to be rebuilt after World War II.
Old Town Market Place
Our next stop was the Old Town Market Place. The square is lined with beautiful facades that were rebuilt to their 17th century glory. One entire side of the square is home to the Warsaw Historical Museum.
To get the best photo, it is best to arrive early in the morning. However, if you want to enjoy the many cafes it is better to arrive later in the day.
In the middle of the Old Market Square is a statue of a mermaid, which is the symbol of the city of Warsaw.
We then walked to the end of the old city, to the Barbican. This old fortified outpost once served as part of the historic city walls.
La Barbacana is a 16th-century fortification belonging to the city wall. Together with the Łazienna Gate and the Polvorín Tower, they formed the entrance to the city known as Zakroczymska.
Next to the Barbican you will see a small monument in commemoration of the children of war.
Things to do in the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw:
Warsaw before World War II had 1,300,000 Jews (30% of the population of Warsaw at that time) but unfortunately only 400,000 people survived the Nazi invasion. The Jews during the Nazi occupation had to live in a ghetto where there was more than one uprising.
Free Tour Through the Jewish Quarter
We strongly recommend you to take a completely free Spanish tour through the Jewish quarter of Warsaw so that you can live a better experience and learn more about the history of the place. You can book the free tour here.
A few blocks behind the gardens is the Nozyk Synagogue. This is the only synagogue that survived the war, although it faced great damage, of which it has not been fully restored.
The Nozyk Synagogue was built at the end of the 19th century in Neo-Romanesque style, with Neobizantine and even Moorish touches. Today, this temple remains a place of worship for the Jewish community.
Ghetto Wall Fragment and Memorial
We then walked to the Ghetto Wall Fragment and memorial located at 62 Złota Street. To get to the memorial you must follow small signs into an apartment complex courtyard. The small remaining brick wall shows the reality thousands had to live with during the Shoah.
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest Jewish ghetto in Europe where nearly 400,000 people died.
Memorial of the Evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters
Walking to the Uprising Museum we passed the Memorial of the Evacuation of the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters. It is a small memorial at the location of where the last group of Warsaw Ghetto Resistance Fighters escaped.
We then took a long walk to Jewish Cemetery of Warsaw, one of the largest in Europe.
Remember, the cemetery is closed on Saturday’s for religious reasons, so do not plan to walk across the city if you are in Warsaw that day.
Our next stop was the Umschlagplatz, a memorial at the site of deportations of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. It is the square that was the waiting area for 300,000 Jews on their deportation trail to the Treblinka extermination camp.
Bunker on Mila Street
We then walked several blocks to Miła 18. During WWII this location served as an underground bunker for the leaders of the Jewish Combat Organization, a Jewish resistance group in the Warsaw Ghetto. On May 8, 1943 the Nazis found out about the spot, and attempted to smoke them out. At this point 300 Jewish resistance leaders committed suicide to prevent surrender. There now sits a memorial for these resistance fighters on this spot.
Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes
One block south is the Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes. This memorial to the ghetto uprising is placed at the first armed clashes of the uprising.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Right behind the monument is the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The museum covers the thousand-year history of Polish Jews through an immersive and interactive experience. The massive museum can take several hours, so plan accordingly.
Tickets cost 25 PLN/adults and 30 PLN for the main and temporary exhibit. The hours of the museum are as follows:
- Monday, Thursday and Friday from 10AM to 6PM
- Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 10AM to 8PM
- Closed on Tuesday
Janusz Korczak Monument
The monument to Janusz Korczak and the children of his orphanage commemorates the Jewish victims who were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp when the institution (within the Jewish ghetto) was liquidated.
More things to do in Warsaw:
The new city
To the north of the Stare Miasto is the New City, Nowe Miasto. The New City was built in the 15th century between the Multimedia Park of Fuentes and the Old City. This part of the city is still beautiful, colorful and less crowded than the historic center.
Krasinski Square and the Warsaw Uprising Monument
Walking outside the old city, we headed to Krasiński Square. At one side of the square is the grand Krasinski Palace. On the other side of the square is the Warsaw Uprising Monument.
Visit the emotional Warsaw Uprising Monument dedicated to fighters who lost their lives during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 that lasted 63 days.
The monument consists of two parts, the first represents the insurgents leaving between the pillars of a bridge, and the second shows them when they enter the canal system.
Our next stop massive Grand Theatre with its nice facade. As one of the largest theatres in Europe, the complex takes up an entire block and hosts the national opera and ballet.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
We then walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its eternal flame. You can also watch the changing of the guard, which takes place on the hour of every hour daily.
Behind the tomb is the Saxon Garden. Once the grounds of a palace, the building was destroyed in WWII leaving behind beautiful gardens with flowers and fountains.
Museum of Culture and Science
The Palace of Culture and Science is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Warsaw. This controversial building is the tallest in the country with one of the best panoramic views of Warsaw.
The Palace of Culture and Science is one of the most hated buildings by the Poles because it was a gift from Stalin to the Polish people in 1955.
Tickets to the observation deck cost 20zł / adults, and the line can take a long time, so be prepared. The observation deck is open every day from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. From May to September it is open from Sunday to Thursday from 9:00 AM to 8:30 PM and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM.
Warsaw Rising Museum
Our next stop was the Warsaw Rising Museum. The museum is focused on the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi occupation. It not only covers the general history of the Polish underground, but the individual stories and artifacts of fighters themselves.
Tickets to the museum cost 18 PLN/adults with free admission on Sundays. Make sure to arrive as early as possible, as the entry line can get long.
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8AM to 6PM
- Thursday from 8AM to 8PM
- Saturday and Sunday from 10AM to 6PM
Rooftop garden of the Warsaw University Library
The first time we visited Warsaw we missed visiting this amazing garden, but on our second visit to Warsaw we knew we could not miss this place. It is a great place to visit, especially during the fall, as the colorful leaves make the place more vibrant. My cousin who used to live in Warsaw tells me that she is even more beautiful during the summer. It is definitely a hidden gem in the city.
The Garden is a large green space located on the roof of the Warsaw University Library with a great view of the city and the Vistula River. In the garden you will find streams, ponds, sculptures and solar panels.
Frederic Chopin Museum
The museum dedicated to the Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin is very close to the well-known Nowy Swiat street. The museum has two branches: the birthplace of Frédéric Chopin, in Żelazowa Wola; and the family room of the Chopin in Krakowskie.
We recommend attending to a Chopin piano concert while in Warsaw. The show last 50 minutes and cost $20 USD per person.
Multimedia Fountain Park
If you are in Warsaw over a summer weekend, you need to go to the evening show at the Multimedia Fountain Park. The popular fountain shows can bring in crowds over 20,000, so arrive a bit early to get a good seat.
The shows run May through August on Friday and Saturday at 9:30PM and in September on Friday and Saturday at 9PM.
Łazienki Palace and Park
Łazienki Park is one of the places you must visit in Warsaw for its great beauty. In the park you will find squirrels, ducks and peacocks. The most beautiful thing in this park is the Island Palace. The palace is surrounded by a beautiful lake, and the huge monument to Frédéric Chopin.
The Palace of the Island used to be the royal summer palace of the Polish monarchy.
➳Tip: The best place to take a picture of the palace is from the bridge on the south side of the park.
The Wilanów Palace is our favorite palace and without a doubt one of the best things to see in Warsaw due to how colorful it is. The palace is known as the Polish Versailles and is one of the few historical places that survived World War II.