Krakow may be considered Poland’s prettiest city, but Warsaw has a unique beauty of its own that travellers shouldn’t overlook.
Rich in history, culture and green spaces, the country’s capital city took me by surprise during my recent trip and now I cannot recommend a Warsaw city break enough!
A Warsaw city break
I’ll hold my hands up and admit that Warsaw, and Poland generally, hadn’t really been on my travel radar. Our summer trip to the city was actually the choice of my step-kids. I’m quite chuffed to say that when we asked them where they’d like to go for our summer trip they came up with Warsaw because “all our friends go to France and Spain and we want to visit somewhere different!”
Flights were cheap and we found a wonderful central apartment called the ‘Warsaw Nest’ via Wimdu, so we booked everything up and started to look at what the city had to offer.
A tumultuous history
And this was when my interest was piqued. I discovered Warsaw’s tumultuous past, learning that during WWII its people were the first to stand up to the Nazis but that Hitler’s response to the Warsaw Uprising was to literally destroy 80% of the city.
Rightly so, the Warsaw Uprising is still a strong part of the city’s identity, and it still wears the scars of the battle, with bullet holes visible on many buildings. And although a terrible tale, it was amazing to learn about the strength of its people in the Warsaw Uprising Museum and to see how they rebuilt their devastated city.
Warsaw’s Old Town
And rebuild they did. Hitler wanted anything of value destroyed in the city just to ‘pay them a lesson’ and so the Nazis entirely destroyed Warsaw’s old town. Yet it stands today. How you ask? Well the original architectural plans were found and it was rebuilt stone for stone.
Walking round today it’s odd to think that these old looking buildings are actually less than 100 years old!
Distinct districts offering a variety of attractions
Nods to the Warsaw Uprising may follow you around the city during your visit, but there is much more to the city. When possible we tried to explore the city by foot (taking advantage of Uber whenever my legs got too bad). This allowed us to see that each area of the city had a distinct look and feel, with the old town’s quaint squares juxtaposed by the financial district’s business buzz with tall, glass buildings and the iconic Palace of Science and Culture.
Like Marmite the locals either love or hate it. A gift from the Soviets I actually thought the building was amazing, although I did expect Zuul or the Stay Puft Marshamallow Man from Ghostbusters to appear…
More modern buildings can be found towards the south along the river, where you’ll also find the city’s university (if you get a chance visit the university library’s rooftop garden!) and the renowned Copernicus Science Centre.
Then just a short walk away you’ll come to tree lined streets dotted with cafes and restaurants reminiscent of Greenwich Village.
Green spaces and breathtaking palaces
Yup, Warsaw has it all – wide cobbled streets, a Jewish ghetto and beautiful parks scattered throughout the city including Lazienki Park a huge green space dotted with lakes, palaces and even an amphitheatre for summer Chopin concerts.
This is just a taster of what Warsaw has to offer (and I haven’t even started on the amazing chocolate, giant beer tankards or food platters!), but I hope it will show you that wide range of activities, culture and history it has to offer.
Whether you’re looking for bars and fun in the city’s many escape rooms or palaces, churches and classical music this city has it all.
This is why I think a Warsaw city break should be high on your travel list – it’s a truly wonderful city that offers elegance and luxury without breaking the bank.
Have you been to Warsaw before and would you agree? Or perhaps this has inspired you to visit? Let us know in the comments below!