Things To Do In Warsaw
Warsaw has always been a busy center for trade and culture in Poland. Today, it is a very popular tourist spot. See the grand palaces and buildings in the Old Town, where on weekends you can meet artists with their paintings or -- in the winter -- go skating in the main square. In its parks, there are many monuments to honor their cultural heroes including an expressive monument dedicated to Chopin.
Take a glance at the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising Fighters and view the symbolic memorial created to immortalize the persistence and fortitude of the people of Warsaw who decided to fight for their freedom or die.
When To Go:
Warsaw experiences chilly winters and hot summers, with the winter season additionally seeing a decent measure of snow. Summer is the perfect time to explore the city, with temperatures reaching highs in the 80's, but with tolerable humid conditions. June through August in Warsaw normally has more precipitation than the rest of the year, and in some cases the rains get intense. Summers can be exceptionally hot; accordingly, the best times are May or early fall. If you intend to go out despite the heat be sure to have a bottle of drinking water handy to keep yourself hydrated.
Here is a list of things to do when in the city of Warsaw:
The Lazienki Park is a place where you can relax along the green pathways -- with picturesque ponds and squirrels that run up to you for nuts, peacocks stepping with dignity along the walks, and gulls and ducks swimming gracefully in the water. It is a cool place, and easily accessible from the city center by public transport. In general there is an atmosphere of calm and escape from the busy city. In the park is a wonderful castle and architectural complex with the famous monument of Chopin. The shaded avenues provide shelter from heat during the summer season and the frequent events and concert performances put this park in the category of outstanding.
At the palace complex, you can have an audio guide for the buildings, where you can see beautiful interiors and periodic exhibitions. On site as well there are small cafes where you can eat something or simply enjoy a cup of coffee with a great view outside the window. There is a pond where you can go boating, green lawns where you can sunbathe, and other outdoor activities are also available. You can come for a picnic or just walk as a couple or a family with kids all day. The park is within walking distance from the center of Warsaw (less than an hour) through the Legation Quarter or you can take the bus for more convenience.
The Old Town is a truly beautiful area in Warsaw where everything is accessible on foot. There are many souvenir shops in the center of the square, and restaurants where you can eat well. This wonderful old town is lined with neat and pretty houses, narrow streets, cozy cafes, squares and churches. At night you can enjoy a safe and pleasant evening walk. During warmer months, the square is always busy and there is always something going on, including a lot of fun for kids -- they always like the big bubbles and the shiny beads. From the square you can take a carriage to ride around the middle of the old town.
You can wander aimlessly on the small streets and alleys; they have a tendency to lead you on to the right place at the right time -- inexpensive restaurants, museums, monuments, and other interesting historical sites (the Royal and the Wilanów Palace Park, Museum Lazenkovsky Copernicus, the Palace of Science and Culture, and the Barbican). Where to eat is not a problem, because every corner has diners and cafes that offer delicious Polish cuisine. The old town in Warsaw is famous all over the world for the column in the middle of its square. Be sure to walk to the square and visit the fountains, the night view is just amazing!
Warsaw Uprising Museum
It is no secret that the history of Warsaw -- and Poland in general -- is sad and tragic, but listen to the entire 1.5-hour tour inside the Warsaw Uprising Museum and you will realize that much was also heroic and inevitable.
The museum succeeds in recreating the image of Warsaw during that troubled era. It is a nice museum in all respects and pretty much everything that is connected with the Second World War is properly highlighted in their exhibit rooms. It is not boring as some people imagine about war museums; the presentation is complete with audio and video demonstrations. While you tour this museum, you will see things that will start to change your perspective about society; that is what this museum is all about, to educate the viewer about the horrors of a violent uprising.
There is a small cinema where you can see the devastation of Warsaw and the (superimposed) tunnels through which people brought food to central Warsaw. Postwar art is also featured here, along with much more.
Teatr-Wielki National Opera
The theater itself from the street reminds visitors of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow although it is not entirely similar. Inside, the hall is not particularly ornate -- but it never fails to attract a curious crowd and entertain guests with its marquee musical performances. The Teatr-Wielki National Opera was built by Antonio Corazzi, and is a nice example of nineteenth century neoclassical architecture. The famous theater is one of the largest in all of Europe and has great seats, an imposing staircase and precious chandeliers.
The ticket office is on the ground floor and everything about the theater is very comfortable and spacious. The facilities are clean and well kept. If you get a chance, watch a presentation. For those who enjoy good quality music and classic opera you cannot miss this place because it is one of the great and venerable opera houses of the world.
This is a wide busy boulevard with very old buildings, churches, plazas and parks that are all in excellent condition. There are many cafes, leafy squares, and boutiques along the street. It is one of the main entrances to the Stare Miasto (Old Town in Polish). It is filled with historical and gastronomic offerings. One of the main attractions of the street is the Church of Santa Cruz, which was built between 1682 and 1696.
The Krakowskie Przedmieście (which means Krakow suburb), is one of the most famous and prestigious avenues of the city; it connects the Old Town and the Castle with the Nowy Swyat, the high-end shopping street. It is embellished by elegant buildings, luxury hotels, and shops -- and is almost "surrounded" by historic buildings, churches and noble houses. Among these are the Presidential Palace, the University of Warsaw, St. Anne's Church and the Polish Academy of Sciences (Staszic Palace). Don't overlook the special benches showing the location of the churches and monuments -- each bench also has a button that instantly plays the music of Chopin.
Old Town Square Market
The charming Old Town Square Market or the Rynek Starego Miasta in Polish is located in the heart of the Old Town (Stare Miasto). In the ancient times, it is where fairs were held and even for a time was chosen as the site of executions. Today, it is a very popular hangout for locals and tourists with many restaurants and bars, and an air of constant vitality. Stroll around and you'll see beautiful and colorful baroque palaces, even a few renaissance and gothic-inspired buildings. Some even frame the square, which is also enhanced by a fountain with the Little Mermaid, the symbol of the city and according to one of the three legends about her, the sister of Copenhagen's famous Mermaid.
Despite the fact that the square dates back to the thirteenth century, it was rebuilt (as indeed almost the entire old town) following a great fire in 1607 and again after the Nazi bombings of World War II. However, the reconstruction has recreated a wonderful atmosphere, especially in the evening when guests can take a walk and a break maybe for dinner to enjoy the most beautiful slice of the city and then browse the various stores for objects of amber, souvenirs, and other interesting and curious pieces.
Monument To The Warsaw Uprising Fighters
The monument memorializes a famous historical episode called, "The Warsaw Uprising". It was a heroic and tragic event: thousands of heroes gave their lives for their homeland in 1944 after fighting against the Nazis for 63 days. In fact, the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising Fighters is made of two parts: the first part represents the fighters as they crawl out from under a collapsing building, while the second part shows the soldiers descending into a manhole -- the Warsaw sewer system was used by the insurgents for transportation and communication.
It is a monument of great emotional impact and one that should be visited if only to pay homage to these heroic and glorious defenders of the fatherland and freedom. The scene reflects a great emotion about the incredible suffering brought by war. In front of the monument also stands the Church of Our Lady of Poland (protector of the armed forces) which houses a mausoleum to commemorate another tragic incident (the Katyn Massacre).
The Uprising Monument is accessible from the Old Town (Stare Miasto); pass the Warsaw Barbican then take the first road to the right, go slightly uphill and you will see this beautiful monument.
St. Anne’s Church (Kosciol Swietej Anny)
St. Anne’s Church is known as the "pearl of the Polish churches," and truly inspires with its indescribable beauty. It is quite difficult to determine what architectural style it is because it has a mixture of Gothic and classical styles. Inside there is a monument to victims of the plane crash near Smolensk. Visitors are always impressed by the live organ music that is played during the holy service (the mass is conducted in Polish). Many are so inspired by the musical atmosphere that they join in the singing (there are screens all around that display the lyrics).
The organ of the Cathedral is considered one of the best in Poland. The acoustics, architecture and famous organ in the cathedral during an evening concert will definitely leave you with positive emotions. One of the interesting things to do while in Warsaw is to visit the church bell tower observation deck. You can climb the steep stairs to the bell tower and observe the life of Castle Square, and you can see the entire Old Town and market.
Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski)
It is interesting to see the interiors of the Royal Castle as well as the portraits of the rulers of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. With a free entrance, you have the chance to visit almost all the rooms (Great Apartment, Great Assembly Hall, Throne Room etc.). You can also take the audio guide for an additional fee.
It is nice and entertaining inside, showing not only the interiors of the castle, but also the history of Poland. When sightseeing, it is necessary to allocate two hours to be able to see all the rooms on the ground floor. There is a movie theater showing a film (without interruption, it just ends and begins again) about the history of Poland, as well as how the castle recovered after being completely destroyed during the Second World War.
Jewish Ghetto Memorial
The memorial is dedicated to the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto who rebelled against the fascist regime that spawned the Poles' Warsaw uprising. The transport bus route passes just outside the Jewish Ghetto Memorial so it is impossible to miss this landmark monument.
With the help of an audio guide (available in many different languages) you will learn much more about the events of that time and the importance of this historic memorial. It captures the spirit of the place, and you can imagine the pain as you notice frequent plaques and commemorations. It is built on the site of the original Warsaw ghetto and the initial clashes with the Germans. Across from the monument, a Museum of the History of the Polish Jews has been opened, extending the scope of this commemorative site.
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