Visiting Warsaw - What to See and Do
(Warsaw Chopin Airport WAW, Poland)
possesses some of Europe's finest palaces, inner-city parks and museums, worthy enough to entertain tourists for days on end. This is impressive in anyone's view, but considering that Warsaw was completely destroyed by Nazi Germany
by 1945 and subsequently had to rebuild itself from scratch, it makes this city even more remarkable.
Sightseeing enthusiasts have a fantastic list of attractions to explore in the city. The royal buildings are usually at the top of the list, but other phenomenal sites include Lazienki Park and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Of course, the darker side of the city's history is also on display at landmarks like Umschlagplatz. The sights of southern Warsaw's Ghetto Uprising can still be explored nowadays.
Festivals are part of local Polish pop culture, with plenty of celebrations held throughout the year. The Warsaw Film Festival and Jewish Culture Festival lead an 'all-star cast' of alluring events. Tourists can enjoy the festive atmosphere of the Old Town area every night, as an eclectic nightlife surfaces after dark.
Ten things you must do in Warsaw
- The Palace of Culture and Science is the largest and most recognisable building in Warsaw. This large complex was built by the Soviet government in the 1950s, so is greeted with mixed feelings by Poles today. A museum, restaurant and cinema complex are located inside the building. An observation deck is also found at the top floor of the 'palace'.
- Umschlagplatz has an extremely dark history, but one that is still exhibited for visitors today. This was the site of mass herding of Jewish prisoners during the Nazi occupation. Numbers suggest that more than 300,000 Jewish people were sent to their deaths in Treblinka from here. This landmark may not be the happiest of places, but it is still one attraction that travellers need to experience.
- Even though the Saski Garden isn't the largest park in Warsaw, it is still a fantastic place to visit for a bout of rejuvenation. There was once a fabulous palace built within the grounds, but this was destroyed following the Warsaw Uprising in the Second World War.
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located within the Saski Garden and is now one of the world's most recognised war monuments. It holds the remains of a local soldier who died fighting in the Ukraine. Built in 1925, the tomb also displays soil collected from every land that Polish soldiers have fought on. Nowadays, the Polish-Soviet conflicts are displayed, even though they were removed during the communist era.
- Paintings, monuments, sculptures and relics are all on display within the National Museum. Even tourists who aren't art buffs will be able to catch some familiar works of art in this museum, including Jan Matejko's famous Stanczyk masterpiece. This is certainly the most alluring art gallery and museum found in Poland.
- For a more focused story of Warsaw itself, head to the Warsaw History Museum. This grand complex is an intriguing landmark, complete with exhibitions from ancient, medieval, recent and modern society. It can be explored in an hour or two, but still provides an excellent site for a spot of sightseeing.
- Nestled amongst the picturesque royal gardens, Wilanow Palace is one of the highlights of historical Poland. Even with the mosquitoes that frequent the grounds around dusk, this place has to be experienced. The palace is actually quite romantic and makes the perfect spot for a weekend picnic. The lakes surrounding the palace are majestic.
- While Lazienki Park is called home by a number of interesting structures, the park itself is quite spectacular. It is possible to rent a boat and laze about in the middle of its large lake. However, the main attraction would have to be the former royal residence known as Lazienki Palace. There is also a Roman Theatre sited in the park's grounds too.
- Ujazdow Park is one of Warsaw's most renowned green spaces. It is situated just to the north of Lazienki and possesses the beautiful 13th-century castle known as Ujazdow Castle. Visitors will find the Centre of Contemporary Art housed inside the castle, so after strolling around this stunning city park, take some time to explore the galleries.
- Poland's most famous historical figure would have to be Frederic Chopin, so visiting the Frederic Chopin Museum should be on everyone's Warsaw itinerary. Located inside Ostrogski Castle, the museum is mostly an interactive exhibit centre that is perfect for children and adults alike. It is free to enter on Tuesdays, but isn't overly expensive anyway.