Having risen from near complete destruction during the Second World War, Warsaw is now one of Europe’s most thriving cities. This overview tells the first-time visitor where to stay, what to see, and what to expect.
View of Castle Square from St. Anne’s
Although Warsaw has a pretty Old Town, the majority of the city was actually built after 1945 into a patchwork of different districts and monuments. Mostly modern and Modernist, it is almost the antithesis of photogenic Kraków.
There are excellent museums and an abundance of places to eat and party. Warsaw has shrugged off its history and feels very focused on the future.
Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw
What Should I See In Warsaw? What Are Warsaw’s Must-See Attractions?
As Poland’s capital and the 6th most-populous in the EU, Warsaw is a large city with a skyscraper skyline. If you’re in town for the weekend, it’s best to focus on one or two key areas, such as the Old Town and Royal Castle. A guided tour is a good way to avoid all the stress and there really is no faster way of getting to know somewhere new. Get Your Guide offers a great range of options, and real customer feedback means you’ll know what to expect.
Here are some of the key central attractions for a first-time visit to Warsaw:
- More modest than Kraków’s Old Town, the Warsaw equivalent is very handsome for a stroll and atmospheric restaurants. Though much of it was rebuilt after the destruction of WWII, that doesn’t detract from the fine mix of architectural styles. The Royal Castle is also a reconstruction, but has an interesting museum and gallery. Entry is free on Wednesdays.
- No trip to Warsaw is complete without a visit to the observation terrace of the Soviet-era Palace of Culture and Science. This imposing tower is easy to find, as it can be seen from everywhere!
- The 1944 Warsaw Rising Museum is an essential experience if you want to understand the Polish experience in the modern era.
- One of the city’s most recent highlights is the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, which documents 1000 years of history in an engaging and imaginative manner.
- Poland is very proud of native son and composer Frédéric Chopin. Here, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is another state-of-the-art exhibition. Admission is limited, so book in advance. You can also see the Church of the Holy Cross where Chopin’s heart is contained in an urn.
- The Nazi extermination camp at Treblinka makes for a grim but necessary day trip, some 90 minute’s away from Warsaw. This is scattered across various sites, so a tour with transport and pickup really makes a lot of sense.
Where Should I Stay In Warsaw?
As always, the cost of hotels always depends on location, budget, and time of year. You can find a good 3-star room in Warsaw for less than 380zł per night (85€), but expect to pay 530-980zł (120-220€) during the peak summer months.
Use Booking.com to get a detailed breakdown of each property and genuine guest reviews. You can reserve online with no upfront fee and pay when you check out. Free cancellations are also available.
Here is our selection to get your started:
- Best Warsaw Luxury Hotel: InterContinental Warszawa
- Best Warsaw Boutique Hotel: Mamaison Le Regina Boutique Hotel
- Best Warsaw Family Accommodation: Movo Old Town Apartments
- Best Warsaw Mid-Range Hotel: Motel One Warsaw-Chopin
- Best Warsaw Business Hotel: Mercure Warszawa Centrum
- Best Warsaw Budget Hotel: Hotel Mokotów
Warsaw Chopin Airport
How To Get To Warsaw
Warsaw Chopin is an global airport, well-served by both European local budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, as well as Poland’s own LOT and international carriers, like Qatar, Lufthansa, and British Airways. This makes it the direct point of arrival for many flights from around the world, including from New York and Chicago, in the US, and Doha, Beijing, Dehli, and many others.
It is also a domestic airport, with connecting flights to other parts of Poland.
You can see a a real-time list of departures and arrivals on the airport website.
You can find the cheapest flights to Warsaw with 12go. A single search will show you all available prices and times for your dates. Change the search options as required
You can pre-book a private airport transfer to your hotel. Somebody will be waiting in Arrivals to take you directly to your accommodation.
How To Get A SIM Card In Warsaw
You should automatically be able to use your existing phone plan in Poland, if you have a contract registered in any EU country, at no extra charge – but check with your provider before you travel.
If your contract is UK-based, you should still be able to use your existing plan in Poland, but there will most likely be an extra usage fee. Again, check with your provider for the latest prices before you travel.
If you are travelling from outside of the EU, you have a number of possible options. If you have already bought a SIM in another EU country, this should also work in Poland. Otherwise, you could buy an eSIM online or a pre-paid SIM via Amazon before you arrive. But, as you cannot test these in advance, you may end up wasting your money.
Instead, we recommend you get a Polish SIM card directly from a branch of Orange, Plus, or T-Mobile. They can talk you through the best deals and make sure everything is working properly. Most young Poles speak excellent English and customer service is usually very good.
It means you will have to travel from the airport to the city centre without a connection, but you are bound to save money if you do.
You’ll need your passport to buy a SIM. Also, make sure your phone is unlocked before you travel.
There are branches of Plus, Orange, and T-Mobile stores in the Złote Tarasy shopping mall, next to the Palace of Culture and Science, so you can compare deals. See the map below.
If you are travelling on from Poland, be aware that you may not be able to take your minutes and data with you, due to a local exemption from normal EU practice. So check this with staff before agreeing to purchase.
See our How To Get A SIM Card In Warsaw page for more information.
Travel Insurance For Warsaw
Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
See our Travel Insurance For Warsaw page for more information and advice.
Other Polish Cities You Can Visit From Warsaw
Due to its location, roughly at the centre of Poland, and its excellent transport links, Warsaw makes a great hub for further exploration of the country. You could fly in for the weekend, before moving off to two or three other cities. Then return to Warsaw, before flying home again.
Most cities can be reached via public transport in a matter of hours.
- Gdańsk: On the Baltic coast, historic Gdańsk is one of Poland’s most popular destinations. You can read more about Kraków on our sister site GdanskVisit.com.
- Kraków: Beautiful and historic, stunning Kraków should be on everybody’s wishlist during a visit to Poland. You can read more about Kraków on our sister site VisitKrakow.com.
- Łódź: Set in the very heart of Poland, Łódź is coming into its own as a creative city. The city is alive with murals and street art. There’s a great food scene and a nice mix of architectural styles. Right now, Łódź has that exciting feel of the future.
- Toruń: Mostly untouched by the Second World War, Toruń is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Vistula River. Dominated by the huge Gothic cathedral, the city feels less hectic than more famous tourist destinations.
- Wrocław: Wrocław is a charming city to the west of Poland, with islands and bridges criss-crossing the water and a strong Gothic flavour to the architecture. Built out from the 10th century Ostrów Tumski, Wrocław has a stunning UNESCO-listed market square.
- Zakopane: Poland’s outdoor capital and winter resort, Zakopane is gateway to the Tatra mountains. The area is excellent for hiking, skiing, and a range of other activities. However, there is also unique folk architecture and plenty of more spectacular attractions. You can read more about Zakopane on our sister site VisitKrakow.com.
See Other Polish Cities You Can Visit From Warsaw for more details and further suggestions.
Plan your Warsaw visit with Warsaw map of Warsaw’s attractions, restaurants, sightseeing and hotels.
Each type of landmark has a different colour marker on the map:
- YELLOW: Warsaw Sightseeing
- BLUE: Warsaw Hotels
- RED: Warsaw Places To Eat – Michelin restaurants are DARK RED
- ORANGE: Warsaw Nightlife
- PURPLE: Shopping In Warsaw
- GREEN: Warsaw Transportation
Click on a marker and it will give you the name of the landmark, with a brief description and links for more information and directions. You can pan, scroll, and zoom around the map, or use the + or – buttons in the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out.
Click on the icon in the top left corner for an index of every location, sorted by category. Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want. Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
Each category is on a different layer, which can be switched on and off. So you can just see the Hotel or Restaurant pins, for example.
If you are using the map on your phone, open the Visit Warsaw map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.