Warsaw – the capital of Poland and as the name suggests, a city that saw a war. I had the pleasure of spending 3 days in Warsaw, which I would like to go through in my blog. Of course, 3 days is not enough time to say something more about life in this given city, but on the other hand, it is enough to do a lot of sightseeing. This review, consist of two episodes, where the second will be released next week Friday. So, let’s get to work.
- Day one – itinerary
- Złote Tarasy
- Palace of Culture and Science
- City Parks
- Old Town and Market Square
- Day two – itinerary
- Royal Łazienki Park
- Parliament building
- Chmielna Street and surroundings
Day one – itinerary – Sightseeing Warsaw
The route itself, according to the “graciously reigning” Google Maps, is a distance of about 4 km. However, I must honestly warn you, that we (together with my wife) did at least 10 km on foot, every day. Where did we rack-up that mileage, you ask? Złote Tarasy itself is a huge shopping mall. Therefore, only the walk through itself consumed a lot of a time.
The same applied to parks and the old town. Every now and then we diverted our interests to see something else, so as a result our planned route changed into a zigzag. But that was also the plan – there was no rush. Important to state, the route I had chosen here can be downloaded to your phone or opened in a browser and freely edited according to your preferences. Just by clicking this link. So let me move on to the description of the attractions themselves.
I will start with Złote Tarasy, because it is “regular” and at the same time “unique” shopping mall. Or rather a shopping-office-entertainment complex. Like any shopping mall of this type in Poland. So why do I bother you with such a regular place? Because it is really nice and is impressive with its eponymous terraces – during the day and at night. In addition, the fact that it is located next to the main railway station and vis-à-vis to the Palace of Culture and Science, makes it really accessible and worth spending a moment on the exposed terraces.
Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN)
But man does not live by the shopping mall alone. That is why the Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki – aka. PKiN) in Warsaw comes to the rescue. It is not only the second tallest building in Poland, but also a place that actually plays a role of a center of Culture and Science. Leaving aside the whole history (abbreviation on Wikipedia), at this moment the Palace allows you to enter the observation decks at the top of the tower, from which you can view a wonderful panorama of the Polish capital. In addition, only during the few days I spent in Warsaw, it is impossible not to come across advertisements for events that take place in the palace.
The palace hosts many enterprises and public institutions, including four theaters, two museums (the National Museum of Technology and the Museum of Evolution of the Polish Academy of Sciences), the “Kinoteka” cinema, Collegium Civitas, the authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Council of Excellence and Science. There are also various types of exhibitions and fairs organized there. From 1958, for many years, the International Book Fair and accompanying fairs have been held there. As well as for several years the “Komputer Expo” fair. Even if you do not plan to attend any attraction in the palace on the day of your trip, there is still a good chance that the palace will allow you to visit, for example, the “Spider Exhibition” or “Regional Costumes Exhibition”.
Tallest buildings in Poland
It is worth noting that passing through this part of the center, we had the opportunity to admire some of the tallest buildings in Poland. Warsaw is the only Polish city that currently has about 30 buildings with a height exceeding 100 m, of which about 10 of them oscillate around 200 m and the highest of them is the newly created Varso. It measures as much as 310 m in height, thus becoming the tallest building in Poland, taking this title away from the Palace of Culture and Science. The observation deck on Varso is twice as high as the terrace in PKiN and will be available from 2023 for tourists purposes.
Warsaw offers all kinds of city parks and green squares. Heading north from the Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN), you will pass through the Świętokrzyski Park and the Saxon Garden (Ogród Saski) which is a place from this “must see” category. It is also one of the oldest parks in Poland. Entering it from the west side, we had the opportunity to admire the flower composition, as well as baroque sculptures and fountains.
This sight really calms you down in all the hustle and bustle of the city. Heading further towards the Vistula River, you are bowing to the grave of an unknown soldier who commemorates the nameless heroes who died for their homeland. It is on the same square that State celebrations are often held on television. Immediately after leaving Józef Piłsudski Square, heading north, you will enter Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, where going towards the Old Town you will be able to see, among others, the Presidential Palace.
The capital boasts more than 30 different parks, of which in my humble opinion, Royal Łazienki (Łazienki Królewskie), Skaryszewski Park and Saxon Garden are the most interesting and distinctive. I will talk about Łazienki and Skaryszewski Park in the further part of the material about Warsaw, having that in mind, sticking to the planned sightseeing route. But since I’ve already mentioned the Old Town…
Old Town – Sightseeing Warsaw
Continuing sightseeing in Krakowskie Przedmieście, I recommend stopping here for a bite to eat. On this particular street, you can find a lot of restaurants and cafes with varying price ranges. From expensive and exquisite places, through regular fast-food joints ending with kebab to go. For sure you will find something for yourself. When you pass over Solidarity Avenue (Aleja Solidarności), you will see on your right hand the National Institute of Culture and the Academic Church of St. Anne. With a few steps further, you will get to the castle square. As you can easily guess, there is the Warsaw Royal Castle in there, which performs representative functions, as well as the function of a museum. Visiting this castle takes about 1.5 hours and ticket prices are available via this link.
Historical points in the old town
As well as Warsaw Royal Castle, you will also find here one of the most popular Warsaw monuments – Sigismund III Vasa (Zygmunt III Waza). King, who in 1596 had moved Poland’s capital from Kraków to Warsaw. It is here that you will also find a wonderful view of the eastern part of Warsaw. If you have a sharp eye, you will easily notice the PGE National Stadium from there. And speaking of monuments, if you go deep into the old town, you will reach the main old square, where the Warsaw Mermaid proudly presents itself. The main market is definitely smaller than the main markets in Wrocław or Krakow (which I find was slightly disappointing), but you simply cannot deny its charm.
If you head further north, you will go out to the Warsaw Barbican and you will be near the monument of the Little Insurgent (Mały Powstaniec), which is also a historical souvenir. And from here, a straight road to the Multimedia Fountain Park where takes place the show of lasers, sounds and water. The fountain show takes place every Friday and Saturday in May, June and July at 21.30, in August at 21.00, and in September at 20.30.
In winter, instead of water, you can see a show consisting of dancing streams of light. On weekends during the winter, the main fountain turns into a multi-colored animated sculpture, and the shows are accompanied by festive music tracks. In my opinion, this is a must see and rounds of a very nice day, which was full of sightseeing. Especially, if you go on a trip only with your other half. Such an evening can be complemented by a romantic walk along the Vistula River.
Day Two – itinerary – Sightseeing Warsaw
We started the second day a bit later, due to our night sightseeing, which took us a bit longer than we expected. At first glance, the route seemed to be less complicated, but do not be fooled by appearances. The law of zigzagging also worked in this case. The map that I represent here is also available in the form of the link (click). Also in this case, you can edit it according to your own preferences. So, we start the second day from the Royal Łazienki, entering from Aleja Ujazdowska.
Royal Łazienki Park
The Royal Bathrooms (Łazienki Królewskie) are really big and there is a lot to visit here. It is as much as 76 ha of park almost into the city center. It takes a few hours to get acquainted with the park and its attractions. Why would anyone like to spend few hours there? Because a large part of the mentioned attractions is of great importance to Polish history and culture. In the Łazienki there are over 20 buildings built between 1683 and 1863. In addition, 5 different gardens with different themes, monuments and busts of personalities of the Polish nation, as well as playgrounds for children.
Such a walk through Royal Łazienki, met our needs of communing with culture. Although if you feel unsatisfied with this number of cultural attractions, the Royal Łazienki have a museum in its offer, to which the link is here. The fauna of the garden is also worth mentioning. In the Royal Łazienki live squirrels who have become even too accustomed to the presence of people. Resulting in them jumping off the trees and catching food from tourists. You can also meet there free-living white peacocks, which are not at all skittish.
Although I would rather avoid talking about politics, I think it is worth mentioning the possibility of seeing the Polish Parliament building in real life (budynek Sejmu), where the most important state decisions are made. Heading north from the Royal Łazienki, you can see the above-mentioned building with your own eyes. Is there anything worth adding? I don’t think so. However it is worth mentioning, that in the vicinity of the Sejm, you can find a lot of Embassies. Including the Embassies of Finland, Hungary, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Canada and the USA. This may be actually very useful information for some of you.
Chmielna Street and surroundings
Chmielna Street was chosen by us, as the crowning point of the visit on the second day. In this area you can find quite a lot of pubs as well as milk bars that offer really solid meals offered by weight at very affordable prices. From my standpoint, Chmielna Street is the equivalent of Sławkowska Street in Krakow. In both cases, within a few blocks we found bars, clubs, beer gardens, vodka pump rooms as well as restaurants and SPA centers. This was a great contrast to a late evening romantic walk along the banks of the Vistula.
Summary from 1st part of Sightseeing Warsaw
Personally, I hesitated for quite a long-time what transport to choose, going to Warsaw. On the one hand, the car gives a kind of independence. Especially if we are going on a trip with children. In the end, I am really glad that we chose the option with public transport. JakDojade and Uber (read more about public transport) did a great job, not ruining the budget allocated for trips and saving our time by avoiding traffic jams. I would also like to add that as of now, Warsaw is the only city in Poland with a metro. Admittedly, only two lines, but well – Rome was not built in a day. Anyway – it’s a chance to take the subway, if you haven’t had such an opportunity yet.
In the next article, which
will appear next Friday appeared here, I wanted to tell you a little more about Warsaw “on the other side of the river” and the history of one of our most popular Polish national treasures and the place that is directly related to it. I am talking about the Museum of Polish Vodka in the connoisseur’s square located in Warsaw’s Praga district. See you next Friday!
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Special thanks to Eamon Gosney, who has helped with proofreading of this article.