Despite being Poland’s capital, Warsaw is surprisingly underrated when it comes to attractive destinations. But whether it’s elegant avenues and grand architecture, or cobbled streets and secluded green spaces that you’re interested in, Warsaw has plenty. We pick the top 10 things to see in this surprising city.
Łazienki Palace, is undoubtedly one of Warsaw’s most celebrated, classicist buildings, having been the residence of the last king of Poland. Surrounded by the expansive gardens of Łazienki Królewskie, Warsaw’s most famous park, the palace and the area around it is a tranquil place to go for a gentle afternoon walk, just moments from the city center.
A stary rynek (old town market square) seems to be a staple in every great Polish city, and Warsaw’s certainly doesn’t disappoint. Once the very heart of Warsaw, the market square was the medieval city’s trading and communal center. Nowadays the square is a lively meeting place full of al fresco restaurants and seasonal markets.
The University of Warsaw’s library and the gardens on its roof are an expert blend between the traditional and the modern. Metal staircases and sleek glass skylights looking down into the library below sit alongside greenery and water features in these largely unknown gardens. The rooftop location gives a feeling of space and openness, and allows for a panoramic view of the city.
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Krakowskie Przedmieście is arguably Warsaw’s most delightful street to walk along. Linking the historic Castle Square in the Old Town with Warsaw’s modern urban center, Krakowskie Przedmieście has a cosmopolitan, Parisian air, thanks to its wide pavements, manicured flower beds and Renaissance architecture.
Stand on the east bank of the Vistula at sunset, and you’ll be able to look across to the bright lights of Warsaw’s city center. Stand on the west bank looking to the east, and you’ll see a wild, untamed beach and thick vegetation. A recently opened walkway along the western side of the river is a lovely place to stroll and a raised platform is the perfect spot for taking panoramic shots of this dynamic capital city.
Park Ujazdowski is smaller and less well-known than the Łazienki Królewskie, but is arguably just as beautiful. Secluded corners, hidden benches and fairytale bridges make up much of this little park, while a small lake and open green spaces constitute the remainder of it. Ujazdowski boasts an air of charm and coziness, and provides a space for relaxation and quiet.
Quieter and more understated than the splendid grandeur of its rival in the Old Town, the New Town Market Square is nevertheless a charming space for getting away from it all. The square comes alive in the warmer months, lined with leafy green trees and the al fresco dining spaces of coffee shops; the perfect place to try a Polish cream cake.
The Barbican was once the defensive wall of Warsaw, encompassing the entire city inside it. Visitors can wander along the walls themselves or along the grassy slope beside it, at the spot where the Old and New Towns meet one another. In the summer, the Barbican archway is a busy thoroughfare, linking some of the prettiest streets in the city together.
The Multimedia Fountain Park has been a popular sight for visitors and locals since its opening several years ago. The display comes to life throughout the summer months, providing a cooling, open space to sit during the daytime. Summer evenings are when the display comes into its prime, the fountains are lit up in an enticing display of colors and lights for an audience that comes from across the city to watch.
Belonging to the University of Warsaw, the Botanical Gardens are another of Warsaw’s underrated and unknown, but surprisingly pretty, attractions. The park offers an intriguing maze of secluded walkways, quiet corners and unique things to discover around every turn; statues, fountains and all manner of beautiful flowers.