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6 Sensational Things to Do in Warsaw, Poland

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Warsaw was our final destination during our roadtrip through Poland. After a wacky car rental experience in Wroclaw (that seemed more like a covert spy operation than a simple business transaction), we then made our way east to Krakow to enjoy the Vistula River. Next, we followed a northbound route which ended in Poland’s capital and best known city, Warsaw. 

Warsaw, Poland suffered massive destruction during the siege of Warsaw in 1939, the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the largest Jewish revolt during WWII), and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising (led by the Polish resistance Home Army). Most of the classic architecture and monuments damaged during World War II remained unrestored during the country’s Soviet period. Fortunately, today, many of Warsaw’s most notable areas  have been returned to their former glory, and there’s plenty for history and culture-lovers of all stripes to enjoy.

Warsaw, Poland can be cold, cloudy and wet in Autumn. For us, that meant one thing…a chance to explore the city with fewer tourists! Our short time in Warsaw meant we could only see a small portion of what this fantastic city has to offer. (We didn’t, for instance, have a chance to explore Warsaw’s Jewish history — something we plan to remedy on our next trip to Poland!) But, like our brief (but beauty-filled) time in Prague, we didn’t dwell on the fact that we couldn’t see and do everything. Instead, we focused on savoring the experience. So what were our favorite things to do in Warsaw? Glad you asked!

1. Visit the Palace of Culture and Science

Palace of Culture and Science, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Build in the mid-1950’s by architect Lev Rudnev as a symbol of Soviet power during the USSR’s control of Warsaw, the Palace of Culture and Science was left uninhabited for many years.

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Today, however, this massive structure (rising 758 feet) plays host to a wide variety of commercial, educational, and cultural entities. Visitors looking for things to do in Warsaw can attend a movie at the multiplex, visit the Museum of Evolution and Museum of Technology, and — most popular for visitors — get epic views of the city skyline from the Palace’s 30th floor viewing terrace.

Architecture, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Unfortunately on the day Justin and I visited the Palace, low clouds hid said view, but we did get to check out the Palace’s Soviet-chic lobby, and get our very own Alice in Wonderland-style experience thanks to a public art project.

Art Exhibit, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

2. Enjoy Classic Polish Fare in Old Town

Classic Polish Food, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Warsaw’s gastronomic scene has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. But those on the hunt for a more classic dining experience can will find plenty to tickle their taste-buds in Warsaw’s Old Town area.

Zapiecek, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Justin’s and my Airbnb host in Warsaw recommended one particular branch of the local restaurant chain, Zapiecek, (Freta 1, 00-227 Warszawa, Poland) which, she promised, had one of the best chefs in the city. And while we don’t usually go for chain restaurants, we can’t deny she steered us very right.

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Great food at a moderate price? Definitely worth adding to your list of things to do in Warsaw!   

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3. Indulge in the Chocolatey Delights

Chocolate, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Speaking of delicious…no list of things to do in Warsaw would be complete without E. Wedel’s.

Wedel's Chocolate, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

This historic chocolate shop and cafe first opened its doors in 1851, and, since that time, has become the gold standard of the Polish chocolate scene.

Chocolate Bar, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

And for good reason. Whether you’re tasting their truffles…

Chocolate Truffles, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

consuming their chocolate dumplings…

Wedel's Chocolate Dumplings, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

or sipping their “I’ve died and gone to heaven” chocolate drinks…

Chocolate Drink, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

you’re in for a memorable treat.

4. Walk the Royal Route and Along the Old City Walls

Old City, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

While Warsaw’s Old Town technically ends at the Royal Castle (Castle Square), the so-called Royal Route which runs from Old Town to the Castle in Wilanow is one of the most historic in the city. 

Royal Castle, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Another walk worth taking: along the Old City Wall, first constructed in the 13th century.

 

Connected to the wall, is the 16th century Warsaw Barbican — a defensive fortress. Barbican, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

5. Explore Old Town’s Famous Squares and Courtyards 

Bride, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Of all the things to do in Warsaw, wandering Old Town is truly a special experience.

Street, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

The city’s historic Stare Miasto (Old Town) is a fairytale-esque mixture of brightly-colored houses, cobbled streets, Baroque churches, and cosy shops. 

Old City Street, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Old City, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

The magnificent courtyard outside the Royal Castle is overseen by a statue of Sigismund III Vasa, who moved the Polish capital to Warsaw from Krakow in 1596.

Sigismund III Vasa Statue, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

From this courtyard, you can admire the 15th century red-brick Zamek Królewski (Royal Castle), now fully restored from the bombing damage without (and Nazi art plundering within) which occurred during WWII. 

Royal Castle, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Another famous public space is, of course, the central marketplace, which dates back to the 13th century.

Central Marketplace, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

The square was all but obliterated during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 — the doomed, but heroic effort to expel Nazi German forces from the city. 

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

The Renaissance-style houses bordering the square were rebuilt with painstaking detail in the 1950’s. 

6. Pass an Hour at the Historical Museum of Warsaw

Historical Museum of Warsaw, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

For those interested in learning more about Old Town’s history — particularly, the WWII period — the small, but dynamic Historical Museum of Warsaw is one of the best things to do in Warsaw.

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Museum, Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

The museum is located inside several historic tenement houses in Old Town, and offers an array of rare artifacts from the WWII period and the 1944 uprising, augmented by moving audio-visual features.

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Justin and I stumbled upon this museum by accident toward the end of our explorations of Old Town, and felt extremely lucky that we did! 

Bonus ideas for visitors looking to dig even deeper into Warsaw’s history: check out the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Uprising Museum. 

Things to do in Warsaw, Poland, Uncontained Life

Have a favorite Warsaw site or experience to share? Sound off in the comments!

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