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10 must-see things in Warsaw

Posted by Damian Novitzky on 05/06/2019
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Warsaw is not only the pulsating heart of Poland. It’s a fantastic spot with a great history in the background. Warsaw was the last residence of the Polish royalty, the European capital of XIX-century art and culture and also a core of tragic events during the SWW. The city survived the Uprising in 1944 and almost being annihilated afterwords. Today Warsaw is an intellectual centre of Poland, as well as an eclectic cultural space, attracting new business while clinging to its remarkable past. It doesn’t really matter if you’re history buff, a sucker for classical music, contemporary art, or a fitness and nature freak. Warsaw will offer you something you gonna enjoy!

Vistula River Bank (Plaża nad Wisłą)

Thanks to the length of the Vistula River, Warsaw has few beach-alike spots in its bank. In recent years, those places have become more and more trendy, for meetings and socializing. In a short time, Vistula river bank become a proper-size beach with bars and cafés, with a cultural addition to it. People can forget about the fast-paced and noisy big city life, enjoy life, friendship, nature and good weather… in the middle of the city!  Those beach bars are the human magnet to spend afternoons there. Except for drinks, food and live music, parties, there is also an outdoor theater and cinema, a swimming pool for children and a renting point for sport and beach accessories. Places like La Playa, Temat Rzeka and Plażowa are just waiting for great weather to amuse you and your friends! Absolutely must visit on the list.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN (Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich)

POLIN It is a newly opened, fully interactive and vibrant museum that is also a cultural centre. The place is known for organizing various workshops, lectures, debates and other social events. The leading exhibition is highly engaging and depicts the thousand-year-old history of the Jews in Poland. The location of POLIN also has a robust and symbolic meaning. The building stands in the centre of the former Jewish ghetto of World War II. POLIN is worth-seeing not only because of its essential purposes but also for social relevance. It’s a thriving and energizing spot, where history, culture and art meet together. The best example of it is the fact that in 2016, POLIN Museum won the European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA 2016).

Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury I Nauki)

A must-see building in Warsaw is the iconic Palace of Culture and Science. Constructed in 1955 is a living memory of the Communist era in Poland. Inspired by Polish historical architecture and American art deco high-rise buildings, PKiN is the 6th-tallest building in the European Union (237 metres). The terrace on the 30th floor, has a viewing platform which also is a well-known tourist attraction with a sublime panoramic view of the city. The building itself is currently serving as an exhibition centre and office complex. The Palace contains a multiplex cinema, four theaters, two museums, offices, bookshops, a large swimming pool, an auditorium hall for 3,000 people called Congress Hall. Fun fact: in 1967 Palace hosted the concert of The Rolling Stones, and it was the first major western rock group behind the Iron Curtain.

The Copernicus Science Centre (Centrum Kopernika)

The largest Science Museum in Poland is also in Warsaw! It owes its name to the most famous Polish astronomer of all, obviously Nicolaus Copernicus. Since 2016, when the institute was granted the status of a research unit, over a thousand people use their exhibits every day, to discover the world in different ways. They also provide such activities as 20-minute workshops that focus on everything, from building a fire without equipment to writing hieroglyphs. Except for activities that impress both adults and children, Copernicus Science Centre has regular events, workshops and annual exhibitions. Copernicus Science Centre also features a rooftop garden, a theater, a planetarium and a park with additional interactive exhibits. It’s also a smart building with fantastic architecture.

Tibetan Gallery (Galeria Tybetańska)

In 2009, the Warsaw City Council established the” Tibet Roundabout” and awarded  Dalai Lama with honorary citizenship. That sparked an idea of creating an open-air street art gallery showing Tibetan culture, history and the atrocities happening today in Tibet. Since then the Gallery has been continually developing, presenting new works, and ending every season with a vernissage including music concerts and film shows. First, graffiti works were prepared by professional artists as well as citizens of Warsaw participating in workshops. From year to year, this place is becoming more recognizable in Warsaw as well as in Poland. The Tibetan Gallery located in Wola District, and it’s the first of its kind in the world. It’s an engaging entertainment with a meaningful, social and multi-cultural message. You should try without hesitation.

Hala Koszyki (Koszyki Hall)

Hala Koszyki is a super trendy food court, inspired by the “Foodhallen” in Amsterdam or the “Mathallen” in Oslo. Koszyki is an excellent example of the fusion of traditional, polish cuisine with all kinds of exotic and international food. Under one roof you will find numerous dining options: Italian, Polish, Thai, vegan, meaty – Hala Koszyki has it all. All of those smells and looks will torture your appetite. Instead of enjoying a variety of tastes, you will probably “enjoy” heartburn because of overeating!

“Vegan heaven”

There’s a popular misconception that Polish cuisine is known for being rich in meat. Well, historically maybe, more than a century ago, Poles indeed ate a lot of meat and fruits and veggies only from time to time. However, in the last decade, Warsaw experienced a real explosion of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Almost on every street, not only in the city centre, you can find literally dozens of restaurant full of greens including vegan pizzas, vegan sushi or even vegan Indian. Varsovians really jumped on the Vegetarian/Vegan trends, making Warsaw almost a vegan heaven! The irony is that in the capital of the country, known of its meaty cuisine, countless meatless restaurants are popping up everywhere. In some areas, it is even painful to find a traditional cake made with milk, eggs and flour (which of course contains gluten)! Some of the Vegan restaurants worth mentioning, and my personal favourite are:
– Chwast Food (Waryńskiego 9)
– Tel-Aviv Food & Wine (ul. Poznańska 11)
– Krowarzywa Vegan Burger (Marszałkowska 27/35 )

The Royal Route (Trakt Królewski)

If you are a fan of late works of Woody Allen, especially in Europe, we have something special for you. The Royal Route is probably the most beautiful part of the city. It’s connecting five streets on which many culturally significant buildings and monuments are situated. Starting on the edge of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, it’s going for over a mile. After route head along Krakowskie Przedmieście street, you will find Warsaw’s University campus, Church of St Anne, Nicolaus Copernicus’ monument, and the Polish Academy of Sciences. Later onto the thriving Nowy Świat street, full of great bars and cafés. Last two stops are Aleje Ujazdowskie with the Three Crosses Square and St. Alexander’s Church, and at the very end, famous Royal Łazienki Park. Quick note: prepare yourself for some instantly severe work.

Royal Łazienki Park (Łazienki Królewskie)

Once the Royal Route is over, you will find yourself in the most significant (188-acre) and most beautiful park in the whole of Warsaw. Royal Łazienki Park was designed in the 17th century in the Baroque style. It’s a home of a neoclassical amphitheatre, orangeries and the most iconic one, Palace on the Water. Often in summer, there are meditation classes and free yoga lessons in the park. You can also go for a leisurely stroll through gardens, admire numerous works of art or even pop into a free piano concert, by the Frédéric Chopin monument. You’ll also find amenities like a restaurant and gift shops.

Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów (Muzeum Pałacu Króla Jana III w Wilanowie)

Warsaw has many historic buildings and structures, but only a few of them survived as they were before World War II, and Palace at Wilanów is one of them. A baroque-style property built in 1677 is the former Palace of King John Sobieski III. Nowadays it welcomes visitors to explore royal apartments, chapel, library and galleries. And of course, gardens. There is no royal palace without astonishing gardens surrounding the building. Gardens at Wilanów are filled with lemon trees, rose bushes, tulip bulbs and many other colourful plants. If you are historic buff or “just” nature beauty enthusiasts, you should think about a visit in the springtime, when the museum’s flowers are in full bloom.

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