Julie Poland 19 Comments

Warsaw is a city with a very tumultuous history. Once called “Paris of the East,” this was one of Europe’s most beautiful cities until it was flattened in World War II. Over the past decades, Warsaw has rebuilt itself, rising up from the ashes and emerging once again as one of Europe’s great cities.

Warsaw is well worth a visit on even the fastest itineraries through Poland. Walk through the historic old town, sample Polish food, and get an eye-opening history lesson at several world-class museums.

Here are the best things to do in Warsaw, with tips for planning your time and having the best experience.

A Brief History of Warsaw

Since its founding in the 10th century, Warsaw has been invaded and occupied numerous times, most notably by the Russians and the Germans. Just before the start of World War II, Warsaw enjoyed a brief period of autonomy.

That rapidly changed in September 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland. The entire Jewish population of Warsaw was herded into the Warsaw Ghetto, cramming between 300,000 and 400,000 people into a 3 km² area.

In August 1944, Polish resistance fighters launched the Warsaw Uprising, in order to drive the Germans out of Warsaw. The fighting was brutal and despite lesser manpower and artillery, the resistance fighters were able to hold out for almost two months. The Germans won the battle and nearly all of the resistance fighters were either executed or deported to extermination camps. In retaliation, Hitler leveled the city of Warsaw with systematic bombings.

From 1945 to 1989, Warsaw, and Poland, were under Communist rule. Many of the city streets, churches, and buildings were restored to their original form.

Since 1989, Warsaw has been undergoing a golden age. In 2004, Poland joined the European Union. Businesses came flooding back to Warsaw, along with artists, families, professors, scientists, and tourists. Warsaw may have a gloomy past but it has a very bright future.

Best Things to do in Warsaw

1. Walk along the Royal Way

The Royal Way is one of Warsaw’s most famous streets. Starting at the quirky Palm Tree in the south, this avenue heads north past some of Warsaw’s most important sights, ending at the Old Town. It is roughly 2 km long and it takes 30 minutes to walk the entire Royal Way, but with stops, it can take half of a day to walk the entire length.

This mostly pedestrian avenue has two sections. Nowy Swiat, in the south, is lined with small shops and restaurants. The street name changes over to Krakowskie Przedmiescie at Copernicus Square. It is at this point where the buildings grow a little taller and more colorful, a hint of what is to come once you reach the Old Town.

Warsaw Nowy Swiat

Nowy Swiat | Best Things to Do in Warsaw


Warsaw Royal Way

Sights to See along the Royal Way

A. Blikle and Bar Mleczny Familijny

These are two famous restaurants in Warsaw. A. Blikle is the place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth, with cookies, pastries, and coffee. Bar Mleczny is a milk bar, a cafeteria where you can eat cheap, Polish food.

A Blikle

A. Blikle | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

Copernicus Statue

Copernicus was born in Torun, Poland and went to college in Krakow. His statue stands in the center of Copernicus Square. Radiating out from the statue are the rings of our solar system.

Copernicus Statue best things to do in Warsaw

If you want to visit the Copernicus Science Center, it is located just a few blocks away from this point, on the Vistula River.

Church of the Holy Cross

The exterior of this church was under renovation during our visit but we were still permitted inside. This church gets its claim to fame for housing the heart of Fryderyk Chopin. His heart is safely hidden away in one of the pillars of the church.

Chopins Heart Warsaw

Church of the Holy Cross | Best Things to Do in Warsaw


Chopins Heart

The heart of Chopin rests inside of this pillar.

Chopin Benches

Along the Royal Way are black marble benches. Each bench plays music by Chopin, just look for the button and listen closely…it can be a bit difficult to hear the music if it is noisy nearby.

Pilsudski Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Pilsudski Square is a large open square located just next to the Royal Way. A large plaque on the ground commemorates Pope John Paul II’s visit here in 1979.

If you take a very quick detour off the Royal Way, you can also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This memorializes the Polish soldiers who fought and died in World War I.

Presidential Palace

This is the site of the signing of the Warsaw Pact in 1955. This pact united the Soviet satellite states (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union) against NATO.

Warsaw Pact Signing best things to do in Warsaw

Presidential Palace | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

St. Anne’s Church

This church features a beautiful interior and if you get your timing right, you can watch a free organ concert.

2. Old Town Observation Tower

Located right next to St. Anne’s Church, climb 150 steps up to the observation tower for one of the best views over Warsaw. From here, you can look back down the Royal Way and overlook Castle Square and the Old Town.

Warsaw Observation Tower


View from the Old Town Observation Tower | Best Things to Do in Warsaw


Overlooking Warsaw

3. Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy)

This large, open square is surrounded by more colorful buildings, cafes, and the Royal Castle. Proudly standing in the center of the square, on top of the column, is Sigismund III. Sigismund III was the Polish King who moved the seat of government from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596.

Castle Square

Castle Square in the Rain best things to do in Warsaw

Castle Square | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

4. The Royal Castle

The large, reddish-pink building that dominates Castle Square is the Royal Castle. It looks rather plain on the outside but it is very opulent on the inside. If you enjoy touring royal residences and exquisitely decorated rooms, consider taking a tour of the castle.

Warsaw Royal Castle

Website: www.zamek-krolewski.pl/en
Guided Tour: This small group tour includes skip-the-line tickets and a professional guide. You have the option to add on a tour of the Old Town.

5. The Old Town and the Old Town Market Square

This is Warsaw’s most colorful, photogenic spot. Wander the narrow streets, go shopping, pop into a café for a drink or a snack, and take lots of photos.

This small area starts at Castle Square and encompasses the Old Town Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta). Stroll through the streets (Piwna and Swietojanska were some of my favorites), see the unique Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and say hello to the Statue of the Little Insurgent (Maly Powstaniec).

Warsaw Old Town best things to do in Warsaw

Warsaw Old Town | Best Things to Do in Warsaw


Warsaw Street Corner best things to do in Warsaw

Old Town Church

Barbican best things to do in Warsaw

Walking through Warsaw best things to do in Warsaw

Little Insurgent

The Little Insurgent | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

Sitting in the center of the Old Town is the Old Town Market Square. This large, open square is surrounded by numerous restaurants. In the center of the square you will see the mermaid statue.

Warsaw Market Square

Market Square Warsaw best things to do in Warsaw

Old Town Market Square | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

Walking Tours of the Old Town

There are several guided tours of the Old Town, perfect for those who want to learn more about the history and culture of Warsaw. This 3 hour small group tour includes the Old Town, the Royal Route, and Lazienki Park. For those with more time, this walking tour includes the Old Town, a visit to the Royal Castle, and visit to the Palace of Culture and Science, and St. Anne’s Church.

6. Warsaw Uprising Monument

Unveiled in 1989, this monument commemorates those who fought and died during the Warsaw Uprising in World War II. It sits in front of the Supreme Court and to get here it is just a short walk from the Old Town.

Warsaw Monument

Warsaw Uprising Monument | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

7. Warsaw Uprising Museum

This is one of Warsaw’s best museums. In great detail you can learn about the Warsaw Uprising and its aftermath. Since this is such an important piece of Warsaw history, a visit to this museum is well worth your time while in Warsaw.

Uprising Museum

PRO TRAVEL TIP: There is a lot of information to take in at this museum and it can get overwhelming. The best exhibit, in my opinion, is the short, 3D film called “City of Ruins” that contains aerial clips showing the devastation in Warsaw after the Nazi’s flattened the city. To avoid waiting in line, go here first, while everyone else is looking at the first exhibits (you can go back and do those later). Watch the first showing of the day and then explore the museum at your leisure.

Website: check the official website before you go for pricing, updated hours, and holiday closings.

PRO TRAVEL TIP #2: We visited the museum on Sunday, when admission is free (that was in 2018…now the museum is free on Monday), and it was very crowded. The line to get in and crowds of people inside the museum were enormous. We arrived at least 15 minutes before opening time and still had to wait in a long line to enter. If you don’t mind spending the money, I recommend avoiding Mondays for a more pleasant experience. Or, go later in the day, crowds may be lighter before closing time.

8. POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

This is another must-see in Warsaw. This museum tells the story of Jews in Poland from the middle ages to present time. It is a great history lesson in very modern museum.

The museum is free on Thursday so expect larger crowds.

Website: Get updated pricing and hours on the official website.
Authorized Ticket Seller: You can also purchase your ticket through GetYourGuide.

The museum recommends purchasing your tickets online in advance to ensure you get a ticket. You can learn more about this here. We visited the museum on a Saturday afternoon in July and had no issues getting tickets, and in fact, the museum seemed quite empty.

9. Jewish Ghetto Memorial (Pomnik Bohaterow Getta)

Sitting right in front of the Polin Museum is this large monument that commemorates those who fought and died during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. This monument and the Polin Museum sit in the heart of what once was the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto.

Warsaw Ghetto Monument best things to do in Warsaw

For those who want to learn more, this private walking tour of the Jewish Ghetto includes a visit to the Jewish Cemetery, the only synagogue in Warsaw that survived WWII, and your transportation.

10. The Jewish Cemetery (Cmentarz Zydowski)

This sprawling cemetery is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world. It is estimated that there are over 250,000 graves here. It opened in the 19th century and it was used in World War II as a site of executions and for the burials of victims in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. About twenty to thirty people are still buried here every year.

Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

Warsaw Cemetery best things to do in Warsaw

Jewish Cemetery Warsaw

There is a second notable cemetery in Warsaw, Powazki Cemetery (Cmentarz Powazkowski), which is slightly older than the Jewish Cemetery. Powazki contains over 1 million tombs, some of them containing very important people in Polish history.

11. Lazienki Park (Lazienki-Krolewskie)

Lazienki Park is an enormous park located just a short distance from the Royal Way. With rolling hills, lakes, historical buildings, and gardens, it’s easy to spend a lot of time here. The centerpiece of the park is the summer residence of King Stanislaw August’s summer residence.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: During the summer months, Chopin concerts are held inside the park. In 2022, the concerts were held on Sundays at noon from May 15 through September 25. Entrance is free. Learn more here.

12. Chopin Museum

Chopin spent his first twenty years in Warsaw. This is where he went to school and studied music. Those with an interest in Chopin may want to spend an hour or two at this museum. Get updated hours and pricing here. 

13. Copernicus Science Center

This is an excellent museum to visit if you have an interest in science or if you are traveling with kids. Exhibits include a planetarium, hands on science labs, and more.

Website: www.kopernik.org.pl/en/

14. National Museum

The National Museum is Warsaw’s main art museum. It contains Polish art plus works of art from ancient Greece and Egypt as well as a private collection of European art.

Website: www.mnw.art.pl/en/

15. Try Some of Warsaw’s Best Restaurants

Our favorite restaurant may come as a surprise. It gets decent reviews and it is somewhat touristy, but we had so much fun here the first time that we came back again the following day. Podwale 25 is a Bavarian style restaurant that serves Polish food. It’s a beer hall where you can dine on schnitzel, pork knuckle, and steak and wash it all down with a liter of beer. Our favorite thing on the menu…the homemade lemon vodka. Yum!!

Podwale Warsaw best things to do in Warsaw

Podwale 25 | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

If you want to try traditional Polish food, we had great experiences at two restaurants. Specjaly Regionalne is a small, traditionally decorated restaurant located right on the Royal Way. Stara Kamienica is a little bit fancier and more expensive and the food is delicious. This makes a nice spot for dinner. It’s located outside of the Old Town and the neighborhood is nothing special, but once inside, it is elegant and the service is impeccable.

Lunch in Warsaw best things to do in Warsaw

Specjaly Regionalne

If you are looking for a gourmet experience, have dinner at Polska Rozana. They are located south of the Old Town, so to get here you will need to take a taxi or use Uber, but they get rave reviews.

Tours of Warsaw

If you prefer to visit Warsaw with a guide or are looking for unique things to do, here are several highly rated tours of Warsaw.



Planning Your Time in Warsaw

In one day, you can zip through the city and tour the main sights. Walk the Royal Way, stroll through the Old Town, and visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum and/or the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. End the day with dinner at a Polish restaurant.

With two days you can tour one or two more museums, visit Lazienki Park, and take a stroll through the Jewish Cemetery.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Hotel Polonia Palace, a 4-star hotel in downtown Warsaw. This hotel is fancier than where we typically stay but it was perfect for our visit to Warsaw.

Hotel Polonia Palace has an excellent location, since it is within walking distance of the train station. It’s a 10-minute walk to get to the quirky palm tree at the southern end of the Royal Mile. You also have easy access to the trams and metro lines.

Rooms are large, clean and quiet and the Wi-Fi is excellent. The hotel offers a delicious breakfast (although it’s a bit pricey) or you can walk around the corner to Starbucks.

Polonia Palace best things to do in Warsaw

Lobby of the Hotel Polonia Palace | Best Things to Do in Warsaw

If you are looking for a cheaper place, the Apple Inn, which is located a little bit closer to the Old Town than Hotel Polonia Palace, also gets very good reviews.

Things to Do in Warsaw: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

If you have any questions about the best things to do in Warsaw or if want to share your experience, comment below!

More Information for Your Trip to Poland

WARSAW: For a list of the top experiences, take a look at our guide to the Best Things to Do in Warsaw.

POLAND ITINERARY: In our 10 day Poland Itinerary, visit Gdansk, Warsaw, and Krakow.

KRAKOW: Discover what there is to do in our article Best Things to Do in Krakow. Plan your visit with our 3 Day Krakow Itinerary and get hotel recommendations in our guide on Where to Stay in Krakow.

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU: Learn how to plan your visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau on a day trip from Krakow.

TRAVEL INSPIRATION: Here are 30 great travel books and a list of the best travel movies to feed your wanderlust.

Read all of our articles about Poland in our Poland Travel Guide.


Warsaw Poland Travel Guide


Best Things to do Warsaw Poland

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Comments 19

  1. Avatar for Igor

    I ate at the Specjaly Regionalne and I can attest this is just a tourist trap. You need to step outside of the tourist zone to find good Polish food.

  2. Avatar for Robert

    Summer is not peak season. In Europe we visit cities in late spring and early autumn while in July and August we all go to the seaside so the cities are usually deserted.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Thanks for writing in. From our research, summer is typically the busiest time to visit Warsaw, with international travelers coming to Poland. Warsaw, Krakow, and Gdansk were quite busy during our visit in July. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Mark

    I will travel to Warsaw in a couple of weeks. What is weather like over there? Do I need to bring heavy winter clothes? I may stay in the city center area. I will be there for just more than one week. What do you recommend me visit during my stay in Warsaw. Does Poland use Euro currency? Is the crime rate high over there? Do you have Uber taxi there?



    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hi Mark. Thanks for writing in. We are based in the USA and spent about two weeks in Poland in the summer months. In Poland they use the zloty (not the euro). In the winter time, yes you will need heavy winter clothes. To look up averages for Warsaw in the winter I recommend using a website like Weatherspark. But it will be cold that time of year. During our trip in 2018, we used Uber quite a bit to get around in Poland. Crime is low. Have a great time in Warsaw! Cheers, Julie

    2. Avatar for Wanda Urbanska
      Wanda Urbanska

      Mark, Warsaw is one of the safest cities in Europe. For many years (not sure about it now given the war in Ukraine), the American Ambassador had no body guard, one of only 2 countries in Europe. Poles generally love Americans and most people on the street speak English. The No. 1 site to visit is the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Warsaw University is also lovely, along with the Old Town in Warsaw. The Polin Museum is new and excellent. Soon, the Polish History Museum will open. Lots to see and do; excellent shopping and great food. One of my favorite, well-located places to stay is the Chopin Boutique B & B, which is centrally located, serves local food and has a “salon type” dining room. Also free Chopin concerts on the deck most nights. Enjoy!

  4. Avatar for Pawel

    Hi, it,s a really nice post. I live in Warsaw and to complement the list i would definately suggest the wilanow palace (must see in my opinion) and boulvards on the bank if vistula river.

    If you have more than 3 days here a kabaty forest that is just next to the metro station is a great choice. You can also make a trip to zelazowa wola and visit the place where chopin was born. There are also beautiful gardens there.


    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  5. Avatar for Megha
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
    2. Avatar for Pawel
  6. Avatar for Jacques

    Warsaw is a perfect place for a city break. I’ve been there with my mates like two years ago and all I remember from that trip was a banging night life haha :DD I remember we have visited new orleans club and it was awesome 😀

  7. Avatar for Karol

    Thats interesting, i did read somweare that Poland has removed all of its gold to Farance and England to prevent Hitler from continuing the war, i am pretty sure the Germans as well as Russians came for the gold.I alsaw read that in 16th century Poland had alot of land that is Ukraine and Russia and many other countries around that region, i belive Poland was a first democracy in Europe and a richest country at the time, look up 16th century Poland and you will understand what really happened there, they been robbed by all of their neighbors after they invited everybody to be a part of their whelthy Democratic country and they ended up devided, broken and destroyed.Human nature i guess……

  8. Avatar for Alan

    Thanks for your informative blog. Just a little correction to suggest if I may? Hilter didn’t order the levelling of Warsaw in response to the Jewish Ghetto Uprising (which happened in the latter stage of the Jews being forceably removed to the extermination camps. The entire Ghetto was torched as part of the German’s tactics to defeat the Jewish resistance fighters. Hilter’s decree to destroy Warsaw was actually in response to the Warsaw Uprising late in 1944 which saw the Polish Home Army and other militias, rise up and attack the Germans, expecting support from the Soviet Army who were just across the Vistula River. The support never came and Warsaw was destroyed, and tens of thousands of civilians slaughtered while the Soviets watched. Very sad time.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      1. Avatar for Prof Robert
        Prof Robert

        It is important to recognize that the Ghetto uprising is not the same as Warsaw 1944 uprising, which was by far the largest military operation staged by citizens of any occupied city in WWII. It is often forgotten and confused with the Ghetto Uprising.
        The “Little Insurgent ” statue commemorates thousands of your Poles who died in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
        Another common error made in many of these blogs is the use of the term “Nazis”. It was Germany who invaded Poland thereby starting WWII not the “Nazis”. The term “Nazi” refers to members of the ruling party of Germany at that time- NSDAP.

  9. Avatar for Riley
  10. Avatar for Katie Diederichs
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Our visit was in July. Summer is peak season, but even so, it feels much less crowded than Paris or Amsterdam. It can get warm (up over 80 Fahrenheit) on some days. I think that May and September would be great times to visit because the weather should be pleasant and crowds a little lower. Cheers, Julie

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