If there’s one city that piques a traveler’s interest in mixed ways it’s going to be Warsaw.
The city has generally gotten criticism from travellers I know well on social media. From lacking a sense of wonder, looking bland and gloomy, political history. Other Polish towns and cities such as Krakow, Poznan and Lublin are often more well received.
In spite of the negativity, I actually discovered that Warsaw has a lot of positives things to offer beyond that. Wonderfully lit buildings at night, Cool and engaging museums, excellent quality of food and drink and respect for nature and has visible presence of its. Look no further than Lazienski Park for instance.
I for one feels, having spent three days over there, that I can give you lot a brief low down on the most intriguing side of Warsaw. To guarantee yourself the best possible experience, here’s 5 things that must be done:
1. Eat Pierogi
Now lets start off with the very best of what Warsaw has to offer – and that is Pierogi. Pierogi is a delicious, delicate and delightful dessert that takes the shape of a Chinese dumpling. There are loads of fillings and varieties, including meat, savoury, vegetable and sweet ones. This was the food everyone who I know and who went to Warsaw before me was hyping up about. From the looks of it you don’t think it’s filling but it actually is very much the opposite.
You’ll be able to try out Pierogi at any local milk bar (Bar Mleczny in Polish) that you find. My recommended milk bar to go to for a first time visitor? Bar Mleczny near the Old Town or Bar Mleczny Prasowy 10 mins away from Lazienski Park. Alternatively you can buy packs of them from a local supermarket or off-licence at a fair price.
A food diary on Pierogi has been done by myself which fleshes out the historical and cultural background of the popular Polish national dish
Image Credit: Salt & Baker
2. Explore the Old Town via walking tour
Walking tours are one of the most interactive and light-hearted ways to get to know a city. Especially when it understand the roots of the place you’re visiting.
In Warsaw’s old town, which is one of the youngest in Europe, there’s plenty going on. Visitors will be seeing many of Warsaw’s best attractions. Some of these attractions are the Warsaw Barbakan, which one divided Old Warsaw and New Warsaw, the Royal Castle, where many kings of Poland resided and Taras Widowsky, a viewing terrace where you can catch some cool views of the majority of Warsaw. That’s providing the wind doesn’t knock you off in Autumn or Winter of course 😛
It is somewhat kind of fitting that the city’s old town is among the youngest to exist. With all the action that’s unfolding you can get the impression of youthfulness and exuberance.
As for my walking tour I did one with Walkative. Shoutout to the guy with the yellow umbrella (he didn’t actually give us his name haha!) The meeting point is between the Royal Castle and Taras Widowsky and tours are held regularly throughout the day. A walking tour around the old town takes at most 2 and a half hours and you can choose to do it in either English, German or Spanish I believe.
3. Check Out The Neon Muzeum
We can’t have a to-do list of Warsaw without having a few of its fascinating museums featured. The first to visit is the Neon Muzeum in the Praga district.
The museum features a collection of neon lighting used on many buildings in the past. Neon lights have been strongly symbolic to the city. It has been central to representing the light side of the history as well as central to representing to the darker. For instance neon lights were commonly used to symbolise the ray of hope and optimism the city had post World War II. However the majority of them were turned off and removed during the 1990s due to economic struggles.
All in all going to Neon Muzeum is an eye-catching opportuity to delve into a side of a history that reflects contrasting sides to the city. Its gallery of colourful, illuminating lights makes it a strong candidate for quality photos for Instagram. Also It’s free of charge so you’re not breaking the bank. Opening hours are 12-5pm from Monday to Thursday, 11am-5pm on Sunday, 12-6pm on a Saturday and are closed on Fridays.
4. And also Warsaw Uprising Museum
Another museum that you must see if you want to understand Warsaw as a city better, look no further than the Uprising Museum (or Rising Museum).
Located in the Wola district, the museum is a tribute to the dark times history of the city. In particular the Warsaw Uprising started by the Jewish/Polish communities to take their freedom back from the Nazi regime towards the tail end of WWII and post WWII respectively. Uprising that has its roots from the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Holocaust.
There’s loads of fun, interactive exhibitions and experiences to take part to immerse yourself in the stories of those who gave their lives fighting for their rights. All of which are organised in chronological order in terms of when the events happened.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the inspiring and the 15th anniversary of the museum’s opening.
Opening hours are 8-6pm on all days but Tuesday and Thursday. The museum is open 8-8pm on Thursdays while its closed on Tuesdays. Standard admission costs 25 PLN with discounted admission being 20 PLN. Free entry into the museum is on Sundays.
Image Credit: Bautrip
5. Take home some Polish Chocolate at E.Wedel Chocolate Cafe
Poland is well established for its love for vodka, its excellent quality in craft beer and desserts and appetisers like Pierogi and Crepes. However one thing that can go unnoticed is the quality of Polish chocolate.
And E.Wedel Chocolate Cafe’s got you covered! The country’s oldest chocolate brand dating back to the mid/late 19th century has Lunges and cafes in many of Poland’s major cities. They offer a wide collection of chocolate-themed treats and confectionery. From chocolate cakes, bars, candy, drinks, liquor – tea bags even.
Some free samples are given for you to help choose your preferred chocolate to buy. Maybe take some with you back home as a souvenir itself. You have flavours from dark, milk, mint, coffee, caramel, even chocolate with alcohol included as well.
Time to fet your sweet tooth going and treat yourself!
Special mentions goes to Lazienski Park, Fotoplastikon Muzeum, dining at the Manekin restaurant and shopping at the Westfield Arkadia.
Have you guys visited Warsaw before? If so, what’s your favourite things about the city and Poland in general. Give this post a like and a share if you enjoyed reading it. It helps me out a lot in the way of support and keeping me motivated to bringing you more content like this.
Till the next post – peace xD
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures