Due to Warsaw’s turbulent past, which stripped away layers of its historical tissue, one of the best ways to visit the city is through the pages of novels and reportages. Writings from different time periods and by authors of different backgrounds reveal not only unique facets of the Polish capital, but also the context in which those should be positioned. With our selection of both fiction and non-fiction titles, you will be able to see the city in a different light and get to better understand its inhabitants.
The Doll by Bolasław Prus
Set in 19th-century Warsaw, this classic Polish realist novel centres around a story of obsessive love between aspiring arriviste Stanisław Wokulski and highborn Izabella Łęcka. Apart from providing a masterclass on storytelling, Prus paints a detailed and nuanced portrait of Polish society at the time, including not only the aristocracy and the proletariat, but also ethnic and national minorities. If you have devoured Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, definitely don’t hesitate to pick The Doll from the shelf.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Shosha by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Originally written in Yiddish by the Nobel Prize-winning Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shosha tells a story of an aspiring author Aaron Greidinger who lives in the Hasidic neighbourhood in Warsaw during the 1930s. With Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and the approaching threat of Holocaust, Aaron is offered a chance to emigrate to the U.S. However, as he is considering an escape, he finds Shosha, his childhood sweetheart, who is suffering from a disease and has become mentally disabled. Despite the danger, he chooses to stay in Poland. The most personal of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novels, Shosha chronicles the literary and political life of the Jewish intelligentsia in the ’30s.
Shielding the Flame by Hanna Krall
In Shielding the Flame, the undisputed master of the reportage, Hanna Krall, gives us an intimate and deeply philosophical account of her conversations with Marek Edelman, the last leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Known for being a difficult interviewee, Edelman opens up to Krall and sheds light on life in the Warsaw Ghetto, the insurgence and the longing for a heroic death, which lead many of the young Jewish men to participate in the Uprising. Reading Shielding the Flame is a sobering experience, reminding us about the horrific crimes humankind is capable of committing.
A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising by Miron Białoszewski
A detailed, vivid and most notably antiheroic account of the 63 days of the Warsaw Uprising, A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising shows a destruction and disintegration of a city through the eyes of its ordinary citizens. Written using fragmented and ruptured prose which often slips into strange poetry, the memoir depicts the horrors of war without providing a relief in the form of grandiose gestures and patriotic heroism. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the ashes from which modern Warsaw was born.
Diary 1954 by Leopold Tyrmand
If you want to know about life under Communism, especially the life of Polish intelligentsia, definitely pick a copy of Leopold Tyrmand’s Diary 1954. Both witty and insightful, Diary 1954 exposes the absurdities of the political regime, but instead of attacking it on ideological or political grounds, Tyrmand focuses on aesthetics and morality. The diary is also filled with anecdotes from his love life as well as criticism of public figures active at that time. On the subliminal level, the works is also an exploration of the construction of masculinity in the Polish society.
Nine by Andrzej Stasiuk
Capturing life in Warsaw in the early ’90s, Nine is an ‘existential crime novel’, as we can read on the book’s jacket. Pawel, a young entrepreneur finds his apartment completely wrecked by loansharks to whom he owes money. Unable to pay back the debt, he turns to his friends – Bolek, a drug dealer, and Jacek, a drug addict – for help. Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting wrote in the New York Times Book Review: ‘Nine feels like a major work of modern fiction, a portrait of an uprooted and restless generation of Eastern Europeans and of a city resigned to the fact that post-Communism is not quite as advertised.’ Stasiuk’s Warsaw may no longer exist, but the novel remains an intriguing portrait of times that so heavily influence the reality of its inhabitants right now.
Entanglement by Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Great example of genre writing in translation, Zygmunt Miłoszewski’s Entanglement is the first instalment of a crime trilogy that follows prosecutor Teodor Szacki. While telling a story of the murder investigation taking place in 2005, the novel offers an intriguing glimpse into the process of de-communisation of Poland. The suspense-filled storyline discovers links to criminal activities of a special unit of the Communist-era secret police dating back to 1978, giving the readers a chance to witness the underlying currents in recent Polish collective memory.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.