Both the capital and largest city of Poland, there are numerous great things to do in Warsaw. It is sometimes called the Phoenix City because it was totally destroyed by Nazi forces during World War II, before being completely rebuilt and rising from the rubble like a magical Phoenix rising from the flames.
Somewhat unusually for a European city, Warsaw has a prominent skyline, with many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in the city centre. It is one of just a few European cities to have such a skyline.
A visit to Warsaw will reveal wonderful examples of architecture from varying points from throughout time and in diverse styles, including Gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical. A lush and green city, a significant portion of Warsaw is made up of grand and pretty parks and elegant royal gardens.
Some top things to do and see on a trip to Warsaw include:
Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Opened in 2013, this informative and moving museum is located in the area of the former Warsaw ghetto. A highly interactive museum, it is housed within a modernist and rather futuristic-esque building that was created by award-winning Finnish architects. It is certainly a major change to what once occupied the site in the past. The museum shares the rich culture of Polish Jews through a variety of exhibits that include old documents and photos. Well-curated, visitors can take a logical journey through time via the chronological and educational displays.
The Jewish cemetery is next to the museum. One of the biggest Jewish cemeteries on the planet, it was established at the start of the 1800s. The final resting place of many Jews, it also contains the remains of several famous historical figures. The former ghetto area has a few original old buildings – take a wander around outside the museum and imagine how this area once looked in times gone by.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
An interactive museum that documents the historic struggle of the Poles during World War II, the Warsaw Uprising Museum is a terrific place for people who want to know more about the local history and the terrible plight that was suffered by the Jewish population.
The Warsaw Uprising was one of the most important and devastating events in the long history of both Warsaw and also of Poland as a whole. The uprising lasted between August and October 1944 – although those three months undoubtedly felt much, much longer during those dark and terrifying days.
The Museum doesn’t just outline the events of the uprising. Rather, allows you to experience some of the horrors of the past, plunging you right into the heart of occupied Warsaw. Visitors can understand a little more of what happened in the past, thus gaining greater empathy. The rooftop Peace Garden allows one to pay their respects to those who perished during this period.
Copernicus Science Centre
The Copernicus Science Centre has been open at its present building since 2010. It is Poland’s first interactive educational centre and one of the largest facilities of its kind in Europe. A fascinating and educational museum that deals with all things scientific, visitors can learn all about aerodynamics, electromagnetism, human anatomy, genetics and more. Experiments, demonstrations, and various other hands on activities make it fun as well as interesting. The permanent exhibitions have more than 400 interactive exhibits – you really are sure to learn something new! Great for people of all ages, plan to spend at least a couple of hours enjoying the centre.
Located in the centre of Warsaw, The Royal Castle has been the official residence of Polish royalty for many years. Sitting in the charming Castle Square, it is right at the entrance to historic part of the city. As well as admiring the grand building and grounds from the outside, visitors are able to access large parts of the castle. Wander through elegant rooms with plush furnishings and ornate details and see where former kings, queens, and members of the court once lived.
Other top Warsaw attractions include the quaint and quiet Market Square, the Museum of Modern Art, the Presidential Palace, Wielki Theatre, Carmelite Church, the old Citadel, and the impressive cathedral. The Chopin Museum is ideal for music and history lovers, and the striking Wilanow Palace makes for a great excursion. There really are so many excellent things to do in Warsaw!