Your Weekend Guide To Warsaw
Poland’s capital of Warsaw is a thriving city full of history, culture, nature, and nightlife. A Central European country with Eastern European prices, this bustling metropolis is perfectly priced for anyone’s budget. Wandering the busy streets is like walking through history. There’s plenty of museums and galleries to explore, surrounded by dozens of picturesque parks. After a busy day of exploring, you’ll be spoilt for choice for where to eat or grab a drink. In short, there is something for everyone in Warsaw.
With hostel beds from as little as £7 a night, even budget travellers will struggle to pick a favourite from all of the choices. The Warsaw Hostel is perfect if you’re looking to keep accommodation costs to a minimum, as you’ll pay only £8 a night for a bed in this cosy spot. If you’re after something a little more central, for £12 a night try the sleek and modern Warsaw Hostel Centrum located, you guessed it, right by Centrum. Got a little more cash to spend? Consider Warsaw Downtown Hostel. The highest rated Warsaw hostel on Hostelworld.com, this option is a modest £14 a night. With social activities happening every evening, this hostel is great for solo travellers and groups alike and is probably one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in. Because of that, it’s earned a spot on my favourites list.
The savings keep on coming with Warsaw’s food options. You can get a decent meal for as little as £6, and if you want to splurge on something fancy (because with hostels as cheap as that, you can certainly afford to!) a pricier restaurant is likely to cost no more than £15. Drinks are just as inexpensive too, with the average beer costing just £2.
Warsaw is a great and beautiful city to walk through, but buses, trams, and the metro are all cheap ways of getting around. A standard ticket is as little as £1, but fines for not validating your ticket can be pricey, so don’t forget!
MONEY SAVING TIPS:
Poland is cheap enough that you probably won’t need to scrimp in Warsaw to keep within your budget. Of course, it’s always cheaper to visit major cities in off-peak seasons, so consider going either side of summer to bag yourself a bargain. You should definitely take your student card and try to use it as much as you can, though some places in the city shrugged at my ISIC (International Student Identity Card) and would only accept ID from a Polish institution. But hey, doesn’t hurt to try!
An architectural landmark synonymous with Warsaw is the Palace of Culture and Science. Located right next to Centrum, this skyscraper towers over the city and the rest of the country, claiming the title of tallest building in Poland. A topic of controversy for many years due to its Soviet symbolism, the Palace is now home to museums, theatres, and shops, as well as offices and even a swimming pool. The 30th floor also offers panoramic views of the city skyline.
Warsaw’s Old Town is a charming neighbourhood just north of Centrum. It’s full of beautifully coloured buildings, street markets, and quaint cafes, so clear your camera roll because you’ll be snapping pictures for hours here.
If the beauty of Old Town has whet your appetite for art, the National Museum is a must-see. With rooms ranging from Medieval Art to Hungarian Photography, it’ll keep you occupied and entertained for a few hours, so give yourself plenty of time to check out all the exhibitions.
Chopin is probably Warsaw’s most well-known resident, so it’s no surprise that homages to the influential composer can be found throughout the city. The Fryderyk Chopin Museum is a brilliant and interactive exploration of his life and works, and definitely worth a visit. If you’re stopping by over a weekend, you can nab a free ticket every Sunday.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum chronicles one of the most significant events in the city’s history. In 1944 the Polish resistance attempted to liberate the city from Nazi occupation, and this museum serves as a tribute to the thousands that perished for the cause.
LOOK OUT FOR:
Centrum is the heart of Warsaw. Here you’ll find all their major transport stations, the aforementioned Palace of Culture and Science, as well as plenty of places for a shopping spree.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to grab a cold one after a day of sight-seeing, then look no further than Pawilony. Located behind the historic Nowy Świat Street, Pawilony is a collection of cosy and quirky bars perfect for finishing your day in – or starting the night in!
Warsaw’s beautiful parks offer a welcome reprieve from the busy city streets, and you don’t have to look far to find them. Almost 25% of the city is green space and each one is just as beautiful as the next. My personal favourite is Łazienki Park, full of flowers, lakes, and museums. If you like to travel slow, you could easily spend a whole afternoon soaking up the sun in Warsaw’s biggest park.
Under constant guard, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a somber memorial dedicated to all the unknown soldiers that died fighting for Poland. An eternal flame accompanies the guards, the changing of which can be observed once an hour.
No matter where you head in Poland, you’ve got to try pierogi. These yummy dumplings come with a variety of fillings and toppings, and can be boiled, fried, or even baked. I can’t get enough of these little parcels of goodness, and if you can’t either, there’s even dessert pierogi so you can have double your dose of dumplings!
The Panorama Sky Bar at the Marriott Hotel is a great alternative to The Palace of Culture and Science’s 30th floor observation terrace, and you can enjoy the views with a drink or even over dinner if you don’t mind splurging a bit.
If you’re keeping to a budget, be sure to check out Warsaw’s milk bars. These little restaurants started out as canteens for the working class in the early 20th century but have recently made a comeback, offering filling and traditional dairy-based meals for low prices.
I always seek out a walking tour when I arrive in a new city. With so many free, tip-based tour operators around now, it’s a cheap and easy way of getting the feel for a new place without getting lost. For a few extra zloty you can join tours for more specific periods in Warsaw’s history, or even explore alternative and artistic spots in Warsaw’s Praga district. Don’t forget to tip and review your tour guide!
What are your favourite Varsovian spots? Any hints or tips for the city? Let me know in the comments!
[All photos my own.]