Visit Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, in Polish, Warszawa, is the capital city of Poland.

It is the city I always wanted to live in. Fast, modern and developing. The only city that actually has a Subway (Metro) system (only 2 lines though) in Poland.

We (me and my boyfriend) have only spent 2 days in Warsaw. We stayed at the Hotel Première Classe Varsovie/Warszawa hotel. At first I got a bit worried, as the hotel was not exactly in the city centre (I have obviously chosen a ‘’budget’’ option, so not exactly in the city centre even though I usually get lost on public transport), but in fact it was only around 20 minutes walking to the Palace of Culture and Science and 15 minutes to Warsaw Uprising Museum. Perfect location. In total we have paid around £66.00 total: 2 nights for 2 people with buffet breakfast included. The hotel was nice and clean, staff helpful and breakfast tasty (although quite limited choice of foods and not very tasty coffee). Cannot complain, especially for this price.

Palace of Culture and Sience, just by Zlote Tarasy shopping centre

Most of our trips/holidays are planned in detail by my boyfriend. This time it was my turn and therefore I have not planned this visit at all. I have decided to go with the city beat and see where it will bring us. I am not a fan of running from museum to museum, trying to squeeze as much to see in a day as possible. I like to enjoy the views, walks and the atmosphere. This is my way of sightseeing.

First we have visited the Palace of Culture and Science. It is a monumental building, in the centre of Warsaw. The construction of the Palace was finished in 1955. It was conceived as a gift from the Soviet people to the Polish nation". Now it is a home to many organizations, companies, theatre and even pubs (yes, you can have a drink inside the ‘’Cultural Palace’’), open to the public for sightseeing. 

Monumental Palace of Culture and Science
How to take a proper selfie with a DLR

We have decided only to visit the 30th floor Viewing Terrace (ticket is around £4.00 per person, full price), but also more detailed sightseeing is available, if booked in advance. The Viewing Terrace, as the name indicates, is a terrace situated around the building, giving you a chance to admire the 360 degree breathtaking panorama of the city of Warsaw. 30th floor seems quite overwhelming, but do not fear. The lift will bring you up or down in roughly 30 seconds. We took many, many pictures from different sides of the Palace and we stayed there for a moment just enjoying the view. There is a coffee shop open at the Terrace as well as a gift shop.

After this exciting experience we have met with my aunt and uncle, whom I have not seen for at least 4 years. Even thought they do not originally come from Warsaw, they were living here since they started studying at the university, so for over 50 years. Together we walked among the streets to the Saxon Park to visit the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of Unknown Soldier, Saxon Gardens

The monument has been built to honour all unknown soldiers who lost their lives fighting for free Poland. Afterwards we moved towards the Old Town and the Royal Castle. Unfortunately no admissions were allowed into the Royal Castle any more when we actually reached it (last entry at 3 p.m. that day) so instead we just wandered around, admiring the buildings and the atmosphere. My uncle reminded us of the horrifying history of Warsaw, as the city was completely destroyed during the World War II and all those beautiful buildings have actually been reconstructed after the war finished (original buildings and the Royal Castle were completely destroyed during the occupation, leaving only piles of bricks). He obviously shared some anecdotes and stories from his private life as well. The story of Warsaw, the capital city, although so terrifying and scary, is also a story of bravery, hope and patriotism.

Old Town
Pubs and restaurants, Old Town, Warsaw

As it was a long day for as we have decided to eat very late lunch in one of the restaurants in the Old Town, Kamienne Schodki. My boyfriend chose a Polish-Style Duck with fried apples  (big portion, boneless duck meat) and I choose Pork Scallops with wild mushroom sauce, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. We have paid around £9-10 per each dish, what I have to say was quite pricey. My advice – for more budget options look for a restaurant outside of main squares.

Pork dish, Kamienne Schodki Restaurant
Duck dish, Kamienne Schodki Restaurant

We have also photograph the symbol of the city, original statue of the Warsaw’s Mermaid.

Warsaw's Mermaid

In the evening we have joined my good friends for a very late dinner and then some drinks, but unfortunately these cheerful moments have not been documented, therefore you have to believe my word, that we had lots of fun.

The second day was the last day in the hotel, therefore after breakfast we left our luggage in the hotel’s luggage facility (free of charge) and as we were still hungry of Warsaw, we went to see more.

We have visited (walking distance from the hotel) the Museum of Warsaw’s Uprising. Tickets are around £4.00 (full price ticket). We spent around 2 hours inside. The Museum is very moving as it tells a story of uprising that took place in Warsaw in 1944. Stories of participants, so young you do not want to believe(even children as young as 11 year participated), their dedication and will to fight, photos of destroyed Warsaw – all a very important part of Polish history. I have to admit that I had tears in my eyes almost all the time. I guess the most moving part of the visit was the 3D movie showing demolished Warsaw from the plane flying over it (you can also watch the movie here). The destroyed Warsaw, with no buildings, covered in dust, completely gone. Everyone watched the movie in silence. We all left the cinema room with our heads down, thinking about the past. Even if you are not interested in history, I highly recommend to visit this museum. It is very well designed, interesting and interactive.

A picture from the 3D movie about destroyed Warsaw, poster promoting the movie at the Museum

Next step was to finally visit the Royal Castle and happily we have managed to get in. We have chosen the basic Castle Route, just to see the Castle's apartments.

Royal Castle, Warsaw

Tickets were around £4.00, full price. As I absolutely love all castles in general, I have enjoyed every room we visited. Royal and so decorative; seemed like it the time has stopped there. Only when you realize that the Royal Castle has been completely (only one wall remained) destroyed and plundered during the II World War, you can fully appreciate it. What should be remembered that all funds needed to rebuild the Castle have been provided by the community.

Royal Castle apartments, Warsaw
Royal Castle Canaletto's Room with his original paintings
Guarding curators of the Royal Castle

The square in front of The Royal Castle, Warsaw

It was a long day for us, all day on our feet, therefore we have visited Sphinx restaurant (at Plac Bankowy) for once again, a very late lunch. We had some really nice food. Stefano choose a mix of grilled meats, called Sphinx (chicken, beef and pork) and I had a burger (my usual choice in a new restaurant is a burger). Meat was tasty, portions big and prices not so high. My generous burger with fries and salad as around £5,50 and Stefano's meat platter with fries and salad around £6.00. Worth a visit, especially that there are several Sphinx restaurants around Warsaw (and Poland).

Tips and hints for travellers. Public transport is cheap but make sure you buy your tickets in advance from a corner shop. If you travel by taxi make sure you choose the ''licensed'' taxi, with prices clearly stated on the window. Otherwise you might get seriously ripped off.
Avoid main squares for food. Warsaw can be overpriced sometimes and if you are travelling on a budget check TripAdvisor or ask friends for tips and hints.
Warsaw Chopin Airport is located …. almost in the city centre. Use public transport and if not, make sure to avoid ''strange taxis''. Again a rip off possibility!
People speak English here. Ask for English menus if you are struggling with Polish kielbasa, bigos, kapusta kiszona zasmazana or flaki (sausage, sauerkraut stew-kind dish, fried sauerkraut, tripe stew).

Warsaw is definitely worth a visit. Modern, fast-forward and beautiful. It is a city where the new meets the old, where most of the inhabitants have not been born in this city. Perfect for sightseeing as well as partying. We have only seen a small part of the city and I am truly sure there is much, much more to visit.

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