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Introducing Warsaw

Kraków may have the beauty and Gdańsk the seashore, but Warsaw has the culture, energy and the action. Poland’s capital was flattened in WWII, and ever since, the city’s been racing to replace what was lost. After 1989, that pace accelerated, and central Warsaw today has so many booms, cranes and construction sites, you’d think you’d landed in Beijing.

That energy extends to the city’s thriving club and music scene. The annual calendar is filled with funky street fests, edgy art openings, and lots of highbrow, Chopin-inspired music festivals. The best museums are here too. The Warsaw Rising Museum set a standard for a new generation of engaging, interactive exhibitions. Two new museums, one on Chopin and the other on Jewish history, raise the bar even higher.

Sprawling Warsaw may be an acquired taste and your first impressions straight off the train may not be positive. But the vibe and drive of Poland’s capital are infectious if you give it time.

Warsaw in one day Start a tour of Warsaw at the Royal Castle, a former Mazovian stronghold. Spend the rest of the morning exploring the evocative back streets of the Old Town, then head to the New Town for lunch. Let the food digest while retracing your steps and wandering down ul Krakowskie Prezedmieście and ul Nowy Świat before crossing town to the Warsaw Rising Museum. Wait until late afternoon to take in the view from the top of the Palace of Culture & Science, then round the day off with dinner at one of many good restaurants south of Al Jerozolimskie.

Warsaw in two days Begin the day with one of the big museums. Depending on your interests, it could be the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Chopin Museum or the extensive collections of the National Museum. Head back toward ul Nowy Świat for lunch before embarking south of al Jerozolimskie to pass the early afternoon in beautiful Łazienki Park. With the rest of the afternoon, explore Warsaw’s markets or craft stores and end the two days with dinner and drinks, and perhaps a jazz concert at Tygmont or a pub crawl in Praga.