Warsaw is Poland’s capital and biggest city. It’s huge, famous, and important…but not particularly romantic. If you’re looking for Old World quaintness, head for Kraków. But if you want to experience a truly 21st-century city, Warsaw’s your place. Stroll down revitalized boulevards that evoke the city’s glory days, pausing at an outdoor café to sip coffee and nibble at a pączek (jelly doughnut). Stroll through a leafy park to an al fresco Chopin concert, packed with pensive Poles. And ponder the wide range of Warsaw’s postwar urban architecture. Between the buildings, you’ll find fragments of a complex, sometimes tragic, and often inspiring history. A product of its complicated past, sprinkled with the big-city style and sophistication of its present, Warsaw remains quintessentially Polish. It is a place worth grappling with to understand the Poland of today…and the Europe of tomorrow.
At a Glance
▲▲ Royal Castle Warsaw’s best palace, rebuilt after World War II, but retaining its former opulence and many original furnishings.
▲▲ Old Town Market Square Re-creation of Warsaw’s glory days, with lots of colorful architecture.
▲▲ National Museum Collection of mostly Polish art, with unknown but worth-discovering works by Jan Matejko and the Młoda Polska (Art Nouveau) crew.
▲▲ Museum of the History of Polish Jews High-tech exhibit on the full Jewish experience through Polish history, displayed in a purpose-built facility.
▲▲ Warsaw Uprising Museum State-of-the-art space tracing the history of the Uprising and celebrating its heroes.
▲▲ Copernicus Science Center Spiffy new science museum with well-explained, hands-on exhibits in English; Warsaw’s best family activity.
▲ Castle Square Colorful spot with whiffs of old Warsaw — Royal Castle, monuments, and a chunk of the city wall — and cafés just off the square.
▲ Łazienki Park Lovely, sprawling green space with Chopin statue, peacocks, and Neoclassical buildings.
Chopin Museum Elegant old mansion features slick exhibits but not much substance about Chopin; occasional piano concerts worthwhile.
Warsaw Museum Glimpse of the city before and after World War II, with excellent movie in English.
Palace of Culture and Science Huge “Stalin Gothic” skyscraper with a more impressive exterior than interior, housing theaters, multiplex cinema, observation deck, and more.
Jewish Ghetto: Path of Remembrance Pilgrimage from Ghetto Heroes Square to the infamous Nazi “transfer spot” where Jews were sent to death camps.