Vienna is known as the “city of dreams” and also…
Warsaw is definitely not your usual destination for a city trip. When planning a European city trip places like London, Paris or Barcelona come up. Or cities further north like Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Stockholm.
Time to rethink and discover a place off the beaten track. Warsaw has a very complex history, over the years the communist architecture is getting replaced by new, modern buildings. A lot of trendy bars and restaurants are popping up. Warsaw is slowly becoming the ‘new Berlin’, but is still way more more affordable.
Time to start planning your next city trip to Warsaw.
Warsaw can easily be reached by plane, train, bus or private car. From Frankfurt we boarded a flight to Warsaw and reached the Polish capital in less than two hours. The Chopin airport where we landed, is located only 10 km out of the city center. To get to the city center you can either take the bus or the train, this is the cheapest option. The same journey by taxi will take around 15-20 minutes and costs around 15 Euros.
What to do in Warsaw
A Visit to the Old Town
The Old Town of Warsaw was actually established in the 13th century but has been destroyed in World War II to most parts. It has been rebuilt using as many of the original bricks as possible and now has been placed on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. It is a great place to go for a stroll, take pictures and is very lively, full of restaurants, cafes and shops.
Viewpoint Old Town
On Castle Square there is a building where you can head up for a small fee for a great view over Old Town. Make sure to bring a camera as this is the perfect spot to take a picture.
Panorama Sky Bar of the Warsaw Mariott Hotel
Here on the 40th floor you can enjoy a cocktail and the spectacular view over Warsaw. For everyone looking for a great photo opportunity this is a great place to get a good shot of the cityscape and the Warsaw Palace of Culture.
A place to go! The earlier, the better. Come here for the atmosphere, the friendly people and the great food. You can get some tasters at almost all the stalls and the food you can buy here is fresh, of good quality and relatively inexpensive.
Pub Crawl Warsaw
Want to experience the nightlife of Warsaw but aren’t sure where to go exactly? The pub crawl happens every night from Wednesday to Saturday and you can drink and party with locals and other travelers in various, cool locations throughout the capital.
This palace survived both world wars and still is in perfect condition and is one of Poland’s most important monuments. You can easily get here by bus and should plan a few hours to see the garden and wander the rooms of the palace that are all decorated with paintings and artifacts collected from all over Europe.
In Warsaw’s largest park there is a lot to do and see that you could easily spend the entire day there wandering around. Have a look at the Łazienki Palace, the Old Orangery, the Egyptian Temple and also check out the Chopin statue.
Warsaw Rising Museum
The Warsaw Rising Museum is one of the most visited places in Warsaw and a must if you want to understand the complex history and is a tribute for those who fought and died for a free Poland. Images and sounds present the days prior to the outbreak of the Uprising, its subsequent phases, as well as the insurgents’ exit and their subsequent fate. With an area of over 3,000 meters, there are nearly 1,000 exhibits and 1,500 photographs and films to see.
Hot Chocolate at one of the Wedel cafes
Wedel is the chocolate trademark in Poland. When visiting Warsaw make a stop at one of their cafés, the best one is on Szpitalna Street and have their classic hot chocolate. In the shop you should get the Ptasie Mleczko, sweet foam in chocolate, something you won’t find anywhere.
Saska Kepa is a district close to the city center with many nice cafés and restaurants. Just wander around and stop for a drink if you spot a nice one.
Krakowskie Przedmiescie and Nowy Świat
On the main steets leading from the city center to the Old Town you will also find many nice places to eat and drink.
In a Soviet van you can travel back in time to communist Warsaw and discover how life was back in that period during a three hour tour. You will have the chance to see places connected to this troubled period but you’ll also get the chance to experience them.
Where to eat
Looking to try authentic Polish food? I usually wouldn’t recommend a chain, but I will make an exception for Zapiecek. This Polish restaurant chain can be found all over Warsaw. We went to one of their restaurants in the Old Town and really enjoyed the traditional setting and the food we tried. Think pierogi- a special kind of dumplings filled with fe. cheese or mushrooms and sausages/meat with sauerkraut. The portions are large and food is very reasonably priced.
We got this restaurant recommended by the concierge of our hotel. It is situated in the heart of the Old Town. Here you can try delicious Polish food in a chic setting. Expect the prices to be more upscale. Best is to make a reservation beforehand.
Ristorante Repubblica Italiana
I love Italian food and so do the Polish. Expect to find a rich culinary scene in Warsaw with a lot of international restaurants to choose from. Ristorante Repubblica Italiana (in Francuska Street 44) was a recommendation by one of my instagram followers who used to live in Warsaw. It is a beautiful small restaurant with dishes varying from meat, fish and pasta dishes and delicious pizzas. Try the gnocchi e tartuffo there, simply heaven. Perfect spot for a date night or a cozy dinner with a group of friends.
Where to Stay
If you like unique, boutique hotels as much as I do, look no further.
Hotel Rialto is one of the fist premier boutique hotels in Warsaw and has been opened in 2003. Once you enter the wooden doors of the hotel, you will find yourself being transported back in the Art Deco époque. I have always been fascinated by the roaring 20s, the clothes, the music and the style. Here at Rialto this period comes to life. The hotel is not only located in a fully-restored, early 20th century tenement house in the heart of the city, but this period has been an inspiration for the hotels interior design. All rooms are equipped with original unique furniure that has been found in auctions across Europe creating a very special atmosphere.
The love for detail is visible in all the corners of the hotel, from the lobby, to the elevators and and the guest rooms. The hotel truly is one of its kind in Warsaw and I haven’t seen a similar concept elsewhere.
The hotel has 44 rooms and apartments all unique in style as each room showcases a different facet of the 20th century applied arts. For two nights we stayed in one of their 7 one bedroom suites that consists of a living room and a double bed bedroom. To open the door to our room we received this beautiful, metal key but instead of putting it in the door lock you could use it just like a modern key card. We entered the room and were fascinated by all the beautiful furniture and décor. The suite features a balcony and a beautiful marble bathroom with a free standing bathtub. A nice touch was the fruit basket and a handwritten welcome card that was waiting for us.
Whether you are staying at Hotel Rialto or not, you should definately check out their Argentianian Restaurant Salto during your visit to Warsaw. It is the signature restaurant by Martin Gimenez Castro, one of Warsaw’s culinary celebrities. Enjoy Southamerican delicacies with a modern twist in a setting that is inspired by The Great Gatsby.
Another highlight of our stay was the breakfast. You can choose delicious dishes like waffles, pancakes, omelette or English style breakfast from their menu and help yourself from the buffet. On the weekends breakfast is available until 12 am, great if you are planning to have a night out or like to sleep in.
A big thanks goes to Hotel Rialto for the lovely stay.