A phoenix arisen from the ashes, Poland's capital impresses with its resilience, respect for history, contemporary style and sheer joie de vivre.
Rather than being centred on an old market square, modern-day Warsaw is spread across a broad area and includes an eye-catching range of architecture: restored baroque, Gothic, neoclassical and Renaissance in the Old and New Towns; gems of the post-WWII socialist realist period, such as the Palace of Culture & Science and the Marszałkowska Residential District (MDM); and contemporary beauties like the Copernicus Science Centre and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This jumble reflects the city’s tumultuous past and makes for a fascinating collection of neighbourhoods and landmarks.
Beautiful Outdoor Spaces
As the royal capital for several centuries, Warsaw is blessed with the beautiful palace and parklands at Wilanów, aptly described as Poland's Versailles, and the park and serene Palace on the Isle of Łazienki. Greenery also abounds at the central Saxon Garden, Krasiński Garden and the rooftop garden of the University Library. Not to be missed is a stroll beside the Vistula River: on the west bank runs the Vistulan Boulevard, a contemporary promenade dotted with waterside bars and cafes, while on the eastern Praga side nature holds sway with meandering, wooded pathways leading to sandy beaches.
Warsaw has endured the worst history could throw at it, including near destruction at the end of WWII. Much has been rebuilt and the fragments that survived are now preserved in a superb selection of museums and cultural storehouses. The exhibitions at the Warsaw Rising Museum and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews leave practically no stone unturned on their respective subjects, while the National Museum will astound you with its art and design collection. Then there is Chopin, Warsaw's favourite son, who has his own museum and whose romantic and dramatic music is played at nightly recitals.
Eat, Drink, Be Merry
If the city's architectural flourishes, lush outdoor spaces and cultural treasures haven't already seduced you, expect all resistance to fall at its superb selection of dining spots. Home to everything from bargain-priced, retro-trendy milk bars to chic restaurants serving cutting-edge molecular gastronomy, Warsaw is a culinary delight. There's also no shortage of cool cafes or bars for creative cocktails, craft beers and vodka shots. This is a city that knows how to have fun, whether it be glamming up for the opera or a symphony performance or clubbing it through the night.