Warsaw: Sights

Contrary to popular opinion (and despite what Krakowians would have you think) there are so many sights to explore in the capital. The never endless battle between Warsaw and Krakow isn't even a competition for me. Warsaw wins hands-down.

Yes, the city was completely totalled in WWII which means most of the buildings and palaces and pretty much everything you see has been rebuilt since then. But that also means the city is planned out a million times better  wide roads and alleys, bike lanes, no graffiti or buildings falling apart. Everything is postcard perfect. Get shutter happy.

Royal Route

Our flight arrived at 9:40 am, and we were determined not to waste the day. Our hotel was right beside Belweder, and although it's not the traditional start for the route, it's a pretty darn good one. Be prepared for a lot of walking (5.5 km of walking! wear comfy shoes!). There's a nice detailed guide to the route here, but my mom and I just yolo-ed it since according to momma, she knows Warsaw like the back of her hand.

Our hotel was right beside this place, which is traditionally where the president of Poland resides. We waved a few times but don't think he saw us. 

Royal Castle

Okay, so Warsaw's Royal Castle isn't as nice as Wawel in Krakow. I'll grant you that. But at least I could take photos inside this castle! As beautiful as Wawel was, I'll have no tangible memories from there thanks to the insane security.

Mom & I were super lucky to get in for free to the castle. It's free on Mondays and we were the last people admitted inside before closing.

It's remarkable how this palace was completely destroyed in WWII and then rebuilt over the next few decades. Off of Wikipedia:

A pile of rubble, surmounted by only two fragments of walls that somehow managed to survive, was all that was left of the six-hundred-year-old edifice.

Many historians sacrificed their lives to save important mantles, paintings, chandeliers, and anything they could from the castle.  Finally, in 1980, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Old Town Square

Two minutes away from the Royal Castle is the Square. Much smaller than the one in Krakow, but equally full of life and festivity. We happened upon a quartet of older gentlemen belting out tunes. There's also the iconic Warsaw mermaid you can snap a picture with.


The old town wall fortifications that surrounded Warsaw are still intact (at least a portion of them are). I highly recommend visiting at sunset to catch the light reflecting off the beautiful red stone.

New Town Square

Technically, because this square wasn't destroyed in WWII, it's older than the Old Town Square. It's interesting to compare the two and see the different architectural styles, colours, and mood.

Łazienki Palace + Gardens

Literally translating to "baths palace" (inspired by Bath in England I'm assuming), this sprawling park is the largest green space in the capital and is a wonderful place to take a stroll and spot some ginger squirrels. Entrance to the park is free, but it's worth peeking into the palaces as well at a fee.

I succumbed to the "headphones and handset" look while touring the palace because it was included in the student price. My mom and I were the youngest people inside (no, seriously, there were SO many seniors. Good on them for travelling at that age, but man do they move slow from room to room.)

If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the peacocks that live on the grounds.

Warsaw Uprising Museum

A fairly new museum, and therefore a fairly interesting one. The uses of media and technology contribute to experiencing the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. Beware of vivid and violent imagery. It's a sombre and sad place.

The basement of the museum contains replicas of the tunnels under Warsaw where the resistance lived and travelled through during much of the uprising. It's missing the dirt, the rats, and the dampness, but the claustrophobia itself was enough to imagine the horrors the citizens went through.

There's a beautiful peace garden outside with the names of everyone who passed away during the uprising written on a black stone wall nearby.

Palace of Culture and Science

A gift from the Soviet Union to Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland (and the eighth tallest in the EU). Poles have a love hate relationship with the structure, seeing it as a symbol of Soviet Domination. As communism fell and the Soviet Union fell apart, they eased up on their negative feelings.

A ride up to the top of the Palace offers a gorgeous view of the city (some Poles still joke that the nicest view of Warsaw is from the top of the Palace because the Palace itself can't be seen. Ha!).

Plac Zbawiciela

I'll talk more about this wonderful square (well, circle really) when I write about all of Warsaw's delicious food offerings. While researching Warsaw, I discovered this area was a little hipster/artist mecca with cute cafes, galleries, and this interesting rainbow installation in the centre.

Luckily (or sadly?) Mom and I were there the day before they took the rainbow down.

Apparently it was the source of a lot of controversy and many uncaring and unkind people would set the flower rainbow on fire.


This is a wonderful chance to take the ultra modern and drop dead gorgeous metro. Get off at the "Centrum Nauki Kopernik" station and wander around the "near-the-Vistula" neighbourhood.

Right outside the metro station, you can find another statue of the Warsaw Mermaid. This is a much better spot than the Old Town Square to take some photos with her.

 Before 1944, this neighbourhood didn't have the greatest of reputations. But after some reconstruction and gentrification, even the University of Warsaw has some buildings here. This building above is the library, which has a beautiful and massive botanical garden on the roof. Apparently it's one of the largest roof gardens in Europe, and admission is free!

 And look at the views !

In Conclusion...

Warsaw is one of my favourite cities of all time. The people, the modernity, new metro and buses (where you can pay just by tapping a visa!), the freshly renovated buildings, and of course, the food. But that's for the next post. Keep your eyes open for a detailed photoessay of all the yummy stuff we ate in Warsaw.