Poland’s capital and largest city is a fascinating place for a city break or longer stay, depending on your travel schedule. Filled with museums that capture the city’s tumultuous past, as well as unique neighbourhoods each with their own distinct personality, Warsaw is a haven for culture and history. But that’s not all — the city is also brimming with amazing food and the chance to take advantage of a vibrant nightlife and bar scene. Ready to go? Our local Warsaw tour guides share some of the best things to see and do in the city.
Traces of Frederic Chopin can be seen all over Warsaw. One of the world’s greatest composers completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in the city, before leaving Poland at the age of 20. When visiting Poland’s capital, you can’t miss one of the events related to this famous pianist. In the summertime, concerts take place by the Frederic Chopin Monument in Lazienki Park every Sunday at noon and 4pm, free of charge. Sit down on a bench or lie down on lawn, close your eyes and listen to Chopin’s music.
If you visit Warsaw outside of the summer season, you can still enjoy the music of Chopin. Piano concerts take place in many locations, mostly close to the Old Town Square and usually cost around EUR 8-10. And if you find yourself walking down the Royal Route and around the Old Town, you will find Chopin’s benches — 15 musical benches located at key sites connected with the composer’s life. Press the button on the bench and piano music will surround you.
Four times per week, Thursday through Sunday in summer (roughly from the end of April to September) you can enter a foodie paradise in an unexpected place. The platform of an unused train station (Warszawa Główna) is now home to the city’s Night Market (Nocny Market). Plenty of food stalls courtesy of some of the best chefs in Warsaw and local food trucks offer cuisine from all over the world in a unique setting — as you browse and snack, you’ll see old trains signs now adorned with neon lights and artwork. In addition to whirlwind of Instagrammable goodies, there are DJs, beer and cocktails for sale, and even a stall where you can get a tattoo.
Wedel Chocolate is the oldest chocolate factory in Poland and if you love chocolate, we recommend trying some while you’re visiting Warsaw. Ptasie mleczko, chocolate-covered marshmallows in various flavours, are probably the most common gift when Poles go abroad, and the most desired souvenir bought by tourists before heading back home. Torcik Wedlowski, a large chocolate-covered wafer, is still decorated by hand. And there is nothing better in the middle of the winter than a cup of Wedel’s hot chocolate served in one of their chocolate lounges dotted throughout the city.
After dark, the gardens surrounding Wilanow Palace shine and flicker. The Royal Garden of Light at the palace is an open-air exhibition where thousands of lights create a magical atmosphere. The exhibition is open every day October to March from 4pm to 9pm, and if you want to see even more, choose Saturday or Sunday for your visit when three-dimensional shows that combine light, images and sound are screened on the Palace façade.
The mermaid is a legendary protector and symbol of Warsaw, and if you look around, you will see her tail, shield and sword in plenty of places in the city. Spot the iconic creature on frescos on the Old Town’s houses, wooden doors of churches, in the coat of arms, in modern street art, on statues, fences and even on tickets for public transport. A mermaid hunt could be the main theme of a walk through the capital of Poland — how many can you spot?
One of the best ways to see Warsaw is on two wheels, and renting a bike in Warsaw is super-easy. Simply register, top up your account for at least EUR 2.50, and enjoy your ride. There are over 300 city bike stations in Warsaw, which means you can change your bike every 20 minutes and ride through the whole city for free. The best trail is along the river Wisla. If you choose the left bank, you will have paved bike lanes with plenty of cafés, food trucks, live music bars and lounges on the way. If you choose the opposite side of the city, you will ride through a natural forest, accompanied by the birds, making stops on wild, sandy, river beaches. Both banks are highly recommended for a sightseeing ride.
Warsaw is the beating heart of Poland, with the Wisla River as its aorta, dividing the city in half and creating two different worlds on two riverbanks, on bustling with glam nightlife but sweet and sour memories of the old days; the other, rediscovered by artists, still a bit shabby, and full of dark stories for those who want to explore.