For first-timers, planning a stay in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is not an easy task. It is thanks to the infinite number of things to do in the city. The number of activities in Warsaw is overwhelming. It came as a big surprise to learn that many stay only a couple of days or skip it altogether. So, to try and get a proper taste of the city, and help you plan your ideal trip, we gave ourselves 7 days in Warsaw.
There are a few things that make Warsaw stand out: its perfect blend of old and new. The quirky details like Chopin musical benches, incredible green spaces, a rich culinary scene, and gripping history. While exploring Warsaw, you will inevitably sense the pride oozing from every pore, human, and brick. Because despite all of the struggles, Warsaw has managed to rebuild and reinvent itself, blending the old with the new. This, and so much more, is what makes Warsaw worth visiting. We hope we convince you to add it to your next trip to Europe. Use our recommendations to find the best activities in Warsaw.
Must Do Activities in Warsaw for First-Time Visitors
The Old Town
One of Warsaw’s most compelling layers is its remarkable history. The city has endured decades of turmoil, from the devastation of WWII to the challenging years of the communist regime. Today, Warsaw stands as a testament to the resilience and the indomitable spirit of its people. There are many sites, museums, and monuments throughout the city that you should visit to learn about the events.
Every Warsaw, Poland itinerary will start with the UNESCO World Heritage declared Old Town. And that’s because no place embodies the Polish spirit better than the Old Town streets. They were flattened to the ground, along with 85% of Warsaw, and rebuilt to look exactly the same. However, if you look closely enough, you can spot inserts of original buildings placed back into the renovated constructions, wearing bullet holes as scars from the war. The Warsaw Mermaid adorns the iconic Market Square, watching over the city that has risen from the ashes. According to the legend, she is the sister of the little mermaid in Copenhagen.
After touring Market Square, make sure to admire the breathtaking interiors of the Royal Castle and then climb the Taras Widokowy bell tower to marvel at Old Town’s red roofs from the top.
University of Warsaw Library
On our world tour, libraries have become some of our favorite city attractions to check out. The library at the University of Warsaw is so enchanting, it absolutely can’t be missed. Not only is it one of the most interesting buildings in Warsaw, but it is also surrounded by charming park grounds. Even the rooftop of the library hosts fairy-like gardens from where you can enjoy stunning city views. Inside, apart from books, you’ll also find shops, cafes, and the Polish Poster Gallery which features retro posters on the topics of war, politics, and entertainment. It is one of those places where you could spend an entire day hanging out.
Lazienki is the largest park in Warsaw, Poland offering respite for locals and visitors and taking a stroll there is a must. Rolling hills, lakes, historical buildings, gardens, and animals; it sure doesn’t feel like you are right in the middle of a capital city. Palace on the Island, the breathtaking building that sits on the lake in the park’s center is the most popular attraction. This former royal bathhouse dates back to 1683 and is spectacular inside and out. Wander around the park and if you are visiting in the summer, align your trip with the weekend live open-air Chopin piano concerts.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
No Warsaw itinerary is complete without a visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It is the most popular museum not only in Warsaw but in all of Poland. Dedicate enough time for your visit to learn about the events of the Polish resistance fighting against the German occupation in 1944. The story that received the proper recognition it deserves only after the fall of communism. We thoroughly enjoyed this museum as it tells the story of one of the most significant parts of Polish history. It is a moving exhibition that engages all senses.
Museum of Life Under Communism
Located in a venue that resembles a typical apartment during communist times, the museum is full to the brim with Soviet relics. From propaganda posters and tchotchkes, found in nearly every single household at the time, to hygiene products. It really feels like stepping back in time and the stories told here are eye-opening.
The Palace of Culture and Science
Dethroned from being the tallest building in Warsaw in 2022, the Palace of Culture and Science is very distinct and unmissable. It was a gift from Stalin during the communist regime and most Poles strongly dislike it. So much so that they refer to it as Stalin’s Penis. We saw a similar building in Riga, Latvia except there, it’s nicknamed Stalin’s Birthday Cake. It’s up to you to decide whether you like this style of architecture. You should take the elevator to the top, and enjoy some of the best views in Warsaw from the observation deck.
If you are an architecture fan, we recommend proceeding to Warsaw University of Technology, located in the area. It’s unassuming from the outside, but expect to be absolutely blown away by the glass roof and halls that wrap around the circumference. Do note that since this is not a tourist attraction you may not be permitted to take photos so be discrete.
This is easily one of the most unusual museums we have visited. It houses a collection of neon signs that used to adorn the streets of Poland between the 1950s and 1970s. These signs were part of the initial ingestion of Western influence after Stalin’s departure. Most of the signs don’t mention brand names but rather what could be found inside the stores. Seeing over 100 of them clustered in one place, they seemed familiar to us as a collective but, designed by the most revered Polish designers offering a different take on the classic, they are completely unique.
Polish Vodka Museum
Visit the former vodka factory in the up-and-coming Praga district that has been turned into an atmospheric industrial space filled with restaurants and boutique stores. It’s most lively on weekends and if you are lucky, your stroll will be accompanied by a live music performance. Have some lunch, bask in the sun in the cozy outdoor seating, enjoy the local craft beer scene, and visit the Polish Vodka Museum housed there. Yes, an entire museum dedicated to the national Polish drink. Here you get to learn about the history, and traditions related to consumption, preparation methods, and taste some as well. If you are not a fan of the hardcore stuff, stop by one of the bars in the complex and try in a cocktail form.
You can’t fully get to know a new destination without savoring the local cuisine. We recommend joining a food tour. This way you’ll get to try all of the essential Polish dishes, learn about their significance, and receive personalized suggestions of where to eat from a local guide. We also had some of the most amazing pierogis we’ve ever had a in a food court at the local mall, so it was a wonderful surprise!
To compensate for all of that walking, you’ll need carbs. Polish food is hearty and flavorful, with dishes like pierogi, which are dumplings with various fillings. There is kielbasa (sausage), bramborak (potato pancakes), and bigos (hunter’s stew) being local favorites. To experience a traditional Polish meal, visit a bar mleczny (milk bar) – a Soviet-era cafeteria-style eatery. You can’t go wrong eating there as they always serve Polish classics. For a quick bite on the go, look out for zapiekanka, which is essentially an open baguette sandwich topped with mushrooms, cheese, and sauce.
As for dessert, paczki, the famous Polish doughnuts will give you plenty to write home about. They are sold all over the city, but Cukiernia Pawlowicz is regarded as one of the best, serving up fluffy and moderately sweet clouds of joy since 1917. The fillings range from custard to different types of jams. Grab a bunch and have a taste test! And make sure one of them is the rose jam doughnut, it’s a crowd-pleaser.
So, have we convinced you to put Warsaw, Poland on your bucket list trip to Europe?
Best Time to Visit Warsaw, Poland
We have linked a great website to this button showing the weather for this location by the month. Click below to be taken to Weather-and-Climate.com.