Warsaw is a famous city with steeped in history with magnificent castles and quaint streets of hundreds of years. The romantic, ancient and modern city located on the Vistula river has long become the pride of the people of this country. Warsaw still retains its ancient features intact despite the terrible losses during the second world war. A worth-visit capital in Europe with 8 UNESCO heritage sites. So, what to do and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Warsaw for the first-time? Let’s check out our Warsaw travel blog (Warsaw blog) with the fullest Warsaw guide (Warsaw travel guide, Warsaw tourist guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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Warsaw travel blog: Overview of Warsaw
Warsaw (or Warszawa in Polish) is a city that reborn from the ashes, suffering severe consequences of wars. Today, it has restored and has become the economic, political, historical and cultural center of Poland and is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Europe. The name Warsaw was formed by Wars (the fisherman), and Sawa (the mermaid on the Vistula river). With a history of more than 700 years, at first, Warsaw was just a citadel built by the Prince of Mazovia on the banks of the Vistula river (Wisla River). Today, the vestiges of this citadel are still kept in the Royal Palace of Poland (Royal Castle of Poland).
Under King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, Warsaw flourished and was almost destroyed during World War II with 85% of the buildings in a state of complete destruction. Like phoenix, Poland’s capital has revived strongly and become a modern, dynamic city. The blending of different architectural styles and the obsession with the past have created an irresistible attraction for a nuanced Warsaw.
Warsaw travel blog: Some interesting facts about Warsaw:
- Warsaw became the capital of Poland in 1918. It is the only city in Europe with a nature reserve – Jeziorko Czerniakowskie.
- Warsaw is home to the world’s first official library in 1747.
- The Białowieża Primeval Forest in Poland is the last primeval-forest in present-day Europe.
- Poland is the only country in Europe that never officially cooperated with or surrendered to Germany during World War II. The German resistance movement of the Polish people during World War II was the largest resistance movement in Europe.
- Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland is one of the oldest salt mines in the world, found in the 13th century and still producing salt until 2007.
- Marie Curie (Manya Sklodowska) was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867. She coined the term “radioactivity” and won the Nobel Prize in Physics with her husband and colleague Pierre Curie in 1903. She won the second Nobel Prize in 1911 for her research on pure Radium.
- Poland is one of the countries with the most Nobel Prizes in the world.
- Frédéric François Chopin is a world famous Polish composer. The largest international airport in Warsaw is also named after him.
- Warsaw’s population is estimated nearly 1.8 million and the metropolitan area is over 3.1 million, making Warsaw the 8th largest city in the European Union.
Warsaw travel blog: When to visit?
Like other Central European countries, the climate in Poland is quite mild and pleasant. For me personally, the most suitable time to travel to Warsaw is from late March to August or early autumn from September to October. At this time, the weather is cool, not too hot, nor too cold, very suitable for sightseeing and exploring tourist attractions in Warsaw in particular as well as Poland in general.
The period from late spring to early summer (ie from May to June) is the peak tourist season of Warsaw.
Warsaw guide: Where to stay?
During my trip, I stayed in a room of an Airbnb apartment in the center of Warsaw for €23 / 1 night / 2 people. The house has 4 rooms and is used for tourists to rent. The house is located right on a bustling street with many restaurants, bars, and supermarkets. From here, traveling to the new or old town is also very convenient. In general, I feel very good. However, guests have to share the toilet and bathroom with the other 3 rooms as well as the mini-kitchen with only a kettle and a mini-fridge.
Also on this street, there is Nowy Świat studio (Agoda.com or Booking.com) apartment for rent for €40 / night. The house is very nice, clean and because it is an apartment, you are also feel more comfortable than the room I stayed in above. Recommend staying here if you want to find a comfortable private place in the center. Unfortunately, the day I booked the room, this studio was fully booked. This apartment is quite hot, so it often rented out quickly!
In addition, you also can book a room at Central station Hostel (Agoda.com or Booking.com) for only €17 / night / 2 people. This hotel is located right near the station, shopping malls, so it is very convenient.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Sofitel Warsaw Victoria Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Mercure Warszawa Centrum (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- InterContinental Warszawa (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- The Westin Warsaw (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Mercure Warsaw Grand (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Warsaw guide: Getting to Warsaw
The largest airport in Poland is Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, with direct connections to about 50 cities and more than 30 other countries in Europe and around the world.
Getting to the airport to city center
The airport located in south-west part of Warsaw city, about 10 km (6.21 mi) from the city center.
Train: You can take the S2 or S3 train depending on your specific destination. S3 will take you to the city center train station. The train time about 20 minutes.
Bus: Take the bus 175, 188, 143, N32, 331. These bus lines directly run to central city.
Tickets can be used for both bus and train. You can buy tickets at ticket counters at the airport, ticket vending machines in the basement at station or buy directly on the bus.
- 20-minute ticket: PLN 3.40 – €0.8
- Single-fare transfer tickets (75 minutes): PLN 4.40 – €1.03
- Single-fare transfer tickets (90 minutes): PLN 7.00 – €1.64
- One-day ticket: PLN 15.00 – €3.52
- 3-day ticket: PLN 36.00 – €8.5
On the day I went, I bought a €3.5 day ticket at the ticket machine right at the bus station outside the airport entrance.
Taxi: It takes about 20 minutes and costs about €8 – 12.
Bus or train
Alternatively, you also can take a bus or train from other European cities to Warsaw which is easy and convenient. To find the cheap tickets, most suitable routes and timetables you can refer to OMIO website.
From other cities to Warsaw
Poland is famous for its 4 tourist cities Warsaw, Krakow, Zakopane and Gdanks. In which Krakow is the most famous tourist city in this beautiful Central European country.
- Warsaw – Krakow (292km): You can take the train for €20 – 30 depending on the time or flixbus with average price around €14 in about 4 – 5 hours of riding.
- Warsaw – Gdanks (330km): By train or bus for about €10 – 15 for about 4 hours of traveling. I took Polishrail train from Warsaw to Gdansk for €15 and only booked 1 day in advance. If you book earlier, it will cost around €10. This is probably one of my most memorable train ride experiences. The train is quite old, crowded and tight. In addition, there is no air conditioner like trains in other European countries, so it is extremely hot. In general, the most memorable 4 hours of the trip.
The day I went from Vienna to Warsaw, the price was also very cheap. With a direct flight of more than 1 hour for only €10. In general, traveling between Central European countries is quite convenient and easy.
Warsaw guide: Getting around Warsaw
The public transport network in Warsaw is well developed and widely used. You can use bus, metro, tram to travel between Warsaw tourist attractions. The ticket price is still the same as the ticket used to get from the airport to the center. If you only go to famous tourist places and to airport, you can choose to buy zone 1 tickets as above is okay.
Hop on – hop off bus tickets: €16.7 (24 hours), €23 (48 hours).
Warsaw travel bog: Where to go?
The central square and the old town were built in the 13th century, which like the Royal Castle, was heavily destroyed during the war and was also rebuilt by the Polish. The old town along with the Royal Castle, has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site since 1980. The square is the center of the old town and until the 18th century it was the heart of Warsaw. This old town features a statue of a mermaid designed by sculptor Konstantin Hegel, which is considered a symbol of Warsaw.
However, in the 17th century, a great fire destroyed the entire area and was later rebuilt by the people in Renaissance and Baroque architecture. When walking around the old town square, you should stop at the bronze statue of the mermaid Syrena – the national emblem of Warsaw to see and take pictures.
The Old Town Square is one of the world’s cultural heritages recognized by UNESCO in 1980. This place was once bombed and heavily destroyed by Hitler’s army. After the war, this famous tourist attraction was rebuilt in Gothic architecture.
The ultimate symbol of historical heritage, the main attraction of Warzsawa is the Royal Castle. This palace was built under King Sigizmund III Vasa in 1618, on the site of a wooden fortress. During the war, this castle was destroyed, leaving only one arch. From the outside, the castle looks more modest than its name suggests, but the wealth and luxury of the interior is what makes visitors overwhelmed. The antiques in the palace were fought, hidden, kept and reclaimed from Germany by the Poles in the years after the war.
Along with Old Town, the Polish royal castle was also recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage in 1980. The personal office of the King of Poland as well as the Court were located here for a long time. During the length of history, this was the site of the most raided and plundered by foreign invaders in Poland.
After the Warsaw Uprising, Hitler had destroyed this castle. And it took quite a long time after the end of World War 2, the new palace was rebuilt with the same model as the old one.
Another interesting thing is that the Polish-American community has remodeled the Gateway Theater in Chicago with the same exterior architecture as the Royal Castle in Warsaw to commemorate that period. Chicago is home to the largest Polish population in the world today.
Address: plac Zamkowy 4, 00-277 Warszawa, Poland
Hours: 11AM–5PM/Monday: Closed
Łazienki Królewskie (or Royal Baths Park ) is a complex of hot springs comprising 75 acres of gardens and many historical buildings and works dating back to the 17th century.
Lazienki is a very large park and covered with lush green. Lazienki Mansion, also known as “The mansion on water” is one of the famous tourist attractions you should not miss when coming here.
In addition, this tourist place also has a monument to Chopin built in 1910 to commemorate the centenary of his birthday. However, the Nazis completely blew up the Chopin monument in 1940. And it was not until 1958 that the monument was completely rebuilt based on the old model design.
Admissions: Depending on each place to visit, the price varies, such as palace, museum, etc. Ticket prices can be referred at lazienki-krolewskie page. Only Friday will be free.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
The Warsaw Uprising Museum is a place to display works about the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 when the Nazis invaded. This museum was opened in 2004 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the uprising.
The museum displays hundreds of artifacts, ranging from weapons used by the rebels to love letters from young people at the time. From there, it clearly depicts a vivid picture of this brutal war. The Warsaw Uprising Museum is like a repository of historical information about the uprising that day as well as a place to record the stories and memories of those who participated in the war.
Address: Grzybowska 79, 00-844 Warszawa, Poland
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Tuesday: Closed
Admissions: €5.9: adult / €4.7: student under 26 years old and retirees over 65 years old
Palace of Culture and Science
The Tower of Culture and Science with a height of 237 meters is the tallest building in Poland as well as the 6th tallest building in the European Union. This tourist place is home to a lot of cultural and entertainment activities such as cinema, theatre, library, sports club…
The tower was designed by Soviet architect Lev Rudnev in the Art Deco style. However, this is a controversial work in Poland. The tower is seen as a reminder of Soviet influence over Poland as it was built during the period of human rights abuses under Joseph Stalin. A group of veterans as well as many political parties have called for its demolition. In 2009, the Polish Foreign Minister and even Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki approved the plan to demolish the structure. However, it still standing today.
Address: plac Defilad 1, 00-901 Warszawa, Poland
Ticket price: €4.7: adult / €3.5: students under 26 years old. This ticket is to access the top floor for a panoramic view of the city. You can buy tickets online at the official website.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
This museum was opened in 2014 and showcases works on the Jewish community that have flourished in Poland for over 1000 years. This building is a postmodern structure of glass, bronze and concrete. This construction was designed by Finnish architects Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma.
Address: Mordechaja Anielewicza 6, 00-157 Warszawa, Poland
Hours: 10AM–6PM/Tuesday: Closed
Ticket price: €5.9
Holy Cross Church
With Baroque architecture, Holy Cross Church, where the heart of Chopin is kept, the genius Polish musician. He died at a young age (39 years old), Polish could not bring his body back to Poland as he wished, his body left in Paris but his “heart” was brought back in the arms of God in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
Address: Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00-047 Warszawa, Poland
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka welcomes visitors with unique works of art made from rock salt. Therefore, this place is very attractive to tourists. In addition, when you come to the city of Warsaw and visit the Wieliczka salt mine, you will an opportunity to visit a church with extremely good resonance.
Address: Daniłowicza 10, 32-020 Wieliczka, Poland
If you are a nature lover, then Bialowieza forest will be a famous tourist destination that you should visit. It will bring you fresh and cool air. In particular, you will be able to see and explore a unique ecological world with many beautiful and attractive scenes.
Warsaw guide: Suggested Warsaw travel itinerary
For me personally, Warsaw does not have too many outstanding places like other European capitals. I think it’s ok to spend 1-2 days here.
Regarding the self-sufficient Warsaw travel itinerary, you can refer to the location of the places as on the map above to arrange a suitable itinerary to go.
Day 1: Exploring the old town – Royal Castle – Nowy Swiat street.
Day 2: Lazienki Park – Palace of Culture and Science – Warsaw Uprising Museum – POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews – Wilanów Palace or Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów (this place is about 12km from the center).
Warsaw travel blog: What to eat?
Here are some must-try dishes you should try in Warsaw and Poland.
- Bigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew), which is made from stewed meat, white cabbage, sausages with sauerkraut and honey.
Chlodnik (Cold Polish Beet Soup) soup is made from beetroot, so the color is also very beautiful.
- Golabki: Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Sauce
- Pierogi: Polish dumplings which is made of wrapping unleavened dough around a savoury or sweet filling and then boiling.
- Zurek Soup: Classic Polish Sour Rye Soup which is made of white sausage, smoked meat, and sour liquid made from fermented rye flour.
- Zrayzy: Polish Beef Rolls
- Rosot: Traditional Polish Chicken Soup
Save money on food by visiting a “bar mleczny”: A “bar mleczny” is a cheap canteen-style restaurant in Poland that brings the country’s traditional dishes to tourists at an extremely affordable price.
Dine in Vapiano: Another culinary option that tourists can choose is the Italian restaurant chain Vapiano. In Warsaw, Vapiano restaurant often is located very close to major shopping areas, so you can absolutely stop by here for a meal before going in search of unique souvenirs to commemorate your journey.
- Traditional Polish Restaurant: N31 restaurant&bar by Robert Sowa and Soul Kitchen
- Italian restaurant: Ciao Napoli, cheap €4-7
- Vietnamese restaurant : Mama Pho
In addition, on the Nowy Swiat street, there are many other restaurants serving Asian to European cuisine. Most restaurants show their menus at outside. If you see a place that is crowded and suitable for you, visit.
Warsaw guide: Travel costs
The cost of traveling to Warsaw in self-sufficient way is quite cheap compared to other European tourist cities. The cost is only about half that of Austria, Italy, the Netherlands…and on par with the Czech Republic. On average, each meal here costs about €5.
Hotel: €12, shared
Traveling: €3 / day
Meals: €15-20 / day
Entrance ticket: €20
The total cost of traveling to Warsaw is only about €40 a day.
Warsaw travel blog: Some notes before you go
- You should stay at Nowy Swiat street for convenient travel between tourist attractions in Warsaw. It is not necessary to stay in the old town, according to me.
- Around central station, palace of Culture and Science with many restaurants and shopping malls. This is considered the new neighborhood of Warsaw with many high-rise buildings of large corporations. If you need to buy something or souvenirs, you should come here. The shopping center is located right opposite the Palace of Culture and Science.
- Besides Warsaw, Poland also has many other famous tourist cities such as Krakow, Gdansk or Zakopane. Personally, I prefer the other 3 cities. However, each of you has a feeling and for me, Poland is very beautiful, not inferior to tourism in other European countries.
- All public toilets in Warsaw charge a fee and are only open until 10pm. However, you can also find restrooms in shopping centers or restaurants.
- Poland uses Zloty as the national currency. Visitors can exchange money for banknotes and coins to use, or pay by credit card, which is accepted at most restaurants and hotels nationwide.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Warsaw you can refer to
- Fryderyk Chopin’s Concert Ticket in Warsaw Old Town
- Warsaw Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
- Private Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport (WAW) Transfers for Warsaw
- Best of Warsaw Half Day Tour
- Frederic Chopin Evening Walking Tour in Warsaw
- Warsaw Off the Beaten Path Half Day Tour
Are you looking for more top things to do in Poland: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here.