21st February 2017

How to spend two days in Warsaw, Poland

With a name that sounds a little… morbid in English, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Warsaw before our trip. Truth be told, I knew that Warsaw had seen the terrible events of World War Two and I imagined it to be a mundane, depressing city without much character.

I chose last-minute to go to Poland for a couple of days simply because the flights were cheap on Skyscanner. The reason I love Skyscanner so much is because you can select your departure airport (London Stansted or Luton are best for me) and then set your destination as ‘Everywhere’. So much choice!

With our flights booked, I began researching what to see and do. Part of me loves the feeling of travelling to a place you have no previous impressions of, as you are almost always pleasantly surprised! And where is the fun in having your entire trip planned out before you go? I much prefer to make it up as I go along.

So, with the help of some online blogs and my Lonely Planet Eastern Europe Guidebook, I tried to get an idea of what was to come. But during my research, I found that everybody seemed to say that Krakòw (the former capital) is in fact the place for history and charm and Warsaw is worth missing from your itinerary completely. Had we made a mistake in booking flights to the capital? Was Warsaw really not worth visiting? I was about to find out…

Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com


How to spend two days in Warsaw

If there is one thing I recommend you do before visiting Warsaw, it’s reading up a little on the history of the country. You don’t need to trawl through a whole book devoted to it, but perhaps just skim through a few pages on Wikipedia or at least read the history section in your guidebook. Knowing a little about Warsaw’s past before you visit will entirely change how you feel when you see the city for yourself.

Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com


Day 1 – Sightseeing in Warsaw

Weather-wise, I had one day of beautiful clear blue skies, and one of constant rain, which, although a bit annoying, meant I could plan my itinerary easily. On my first day in Warsaw, I made the most of being outside; although it was cold, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the city’s buildings and open spaces.

The Old Town

The Old Town (Stare Miasto) is a must for any visit to the Polish capital, as this area of the city holds a history more saddening than other parts of Warsaw. It was completely destroyed during the Second World War so many of the buildings that stand today are not the originals. In 1949, construction began to rebuild the capital to its former glory, keeping many of the historical styles and features as accurate to those lost in the war as possible. Most importantly, though, the Old Town has retained its charm.

Old Town, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Not to be confused with the Castle Square, which is aptly located right next to the Royal Castle, the Old Town Square (Rynek Stare Maisto) is a central hub of markets, cafes and souvenir shops. The buildings here are beautiful and, at first glance, it’s hard to believe that they aren’t originals – but if you look closely you’ll notice the paintwork is near perfect and the statues and murals are a little too well-preserved. Still, the Old Town Square is notably captivating, and do be sure to wander through the cobblestoned streets for some more renovated charm.

Cost: free | Address: Rynek Stare Maisto

Old Town Square, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

This age-old fortress is the second largest in Poland (the largest is in Krakòw) and is distinctive because of its red bricks. It was built in 1540 and used to completely encircle the city, but after being partially damaged in the war, it’s now more of a semi-circle with the main entrance on ulica Nowomiejska. You can see where the moat used to run around the walls too.

Cost: free | Address: ulica Nowomiejska

Barbican, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

The residence of the former Polish monarchs was completely destroyed during World War 2, and has been rebuilt as a complete replica of the original. Previously, the castle had stood proudly over the square (Plac Zamkowy) since the 14th century, although it was made of wood back then. Its golden era was the 1600s, when it was known as one of Europe’s most splendid residences. Today it’s used as a museum, containing artwork and furniture.

Cost: 22 zł per person | Address: Plac Zamkowy 4 | www.zamek-krolewski.pl

Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Deliveries to the Royal Castle

Overlooking the Castle Square, St Anne’s Church is arguably one of the most ornate and beautiful in the city; luckily it escaped with only minor damage in World War Two. You can climb the swirling staircase to a viewing platform at the top of the church, where you are rewarded with panoramas of the city and Old Town.

Cost: 5 zł | Address: ulica Krakowskie Przedmeście 68 

Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Castle Square, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com


Looking for somewhere to eat in Warsaw? Read this post!


Royal Way

Strolling from the Castle Square, the historical ‘Royal’ route follows ulica Krakowskie Przedmeście and ulica Nowy Świat to Al Jerozolimskie. En route, you’ll see many statues and beautiful buildings. There’s the Presidential Palace, the ornate gates of the University of Warsaw and a number of churches such as the Church of the Holy Cross, where there is a statue of Jesus hauling a giant cross up the stairs at the front, and where the ashes of the legendary musician Chopin are kept. This route leads to Łazienki Park, detailed below.

Cost: free | Addresses listed above 

Church of the Holy Cross, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Church of the Holy Cross

Łazienki Park

These huge gardens are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and are simply beautiful year-round. Once used as a hunting ground, the park is still home many animals and birds such as peacocks and deer. There is a palace, amphitheatre, and the famous statue of Chopin, the legendary musician. You can enjoy a free Chopin concert here on Sundays in summer.

Cost: free | Address: ulica Agrykola | www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl

Lazienki Park, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Lazienki Park, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Deer in Lazienki Park

The Palace of Culture and Science Viewing Platform

A “gift” from the Soviet Union in the early 1950s, at 231m high you cannot miss the Palace. It towers above the rest of the city, and you can whizz up to a viewing platform on the 30th floor in the elevator. I always think viewing platforms are best at sunset as the views of the city are best when the light changes. The view from St Peter’s Church in Riga at dusk was nothing short of magical! Warsaw is a much more industrial city that Riga, so it wasn’t as charming with its lack of tiny snow-capped pointy roofs, but this is still a must. With the sun setting in the distance and a light fog rolling in, I felt like we were in Dubai, not Poland!

Cost: 18 zł | Address: Plac Defilad 1 | www.pkin.pl

Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com


Day 2 – History

My second day in Warsaw was rainy, foggy, and very cold – miserable weather but a good excuse to stay indoors and explore some of the museums in the city. Be prepared to be on your feet for a long time and make sure you set aside at least a couple of hours for each museum listed below; they provide such a vast quantity of information and stories and are really worth every minute you spend there.

Street Art in Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Street Art

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

An absolute must, this museum does what it says on the tin. Learn about the history of Polish Jews since they first came to Poland as merchants way back in the 10th Century, their stories during the war (some of it is quite heart-wrenching; be prepared!) and the Jewish community in Poland today. You need to visit to understand the horror of WW2 for Jewish people. With interactive exhibits and themed areas, this museum is one of the best I’ve been to.

Cost: 25 zł | Address: ulica Mordechaja Anielewicza 6 | www.polin.pl

POLIN Museum, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

POLIN Museum, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

The POLIN Museum building is actually located on the site on an old ghetto

Warsaw Rising Museum

One of the best museums in Warsaw and recommended by Lonely Planet, this is one you cannot miss. I got an audioguide but I don’t feel they are necessary as the exhibits are very informative. The Warsaw Rising Museum will teach you all about the rise of the Polish against the Germans invading their city in 1944, and how it failed. Polish Jews were forced into tiny, unsanitary parts of the city cordoned by 10 foot high walls, whilst their non-Jewish neighbours went about their ‘everyday’ lives dealing with the more common horrors of the war such as rationing. These walled areas became known as the ‘ghettos’, from which there were weekly “excursions” to the gas chambers.

Cost: 20 zł | Address: ulica Grzybowska 79 | www.1944.pl

Warsaw Rising Museum, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Biobazar Weekend Market

Technically I went to the market on our third day in Warsaw, but I’ll include it in this section as you should have time to visit the market and aforementioned museums in one day. Weekend markets are very popular in the capital, and you can easily see that, as well as being the local place to buy your weekly fruit and veggies, they’re also a great spot for locals to catch up with friends for a chat. I loved going to the market every weekend in Wellington so I made sure to visit at least one in Warsaw before heading to the airport on Saturday afternoon.

The Biobazar Market sells just about everything: fruits and vegetables, cakes, meats and fish, honey, cosmetics, bread – there are even some vegan stands! There are different halls for different products and you can see the metal tracks on the ground from where the buildings were originally used as a factory. We had a look around the stalls and got a delicious vegan oat & berry slice from a stand called ‘Vege Kiosk’.

Cost: free to enter | Address: Wołoska 3 | https://biobazar.org.pl/ 

Biobazar Market, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

BioBazar Market, Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com


Tips for your trip to Warsaw

Essential Know Before You Go
Where to stay in Warsaw

I stayed in a fully furnished apartment in Wola, a suburb close to the city centre. It was only a 5 minute walk to the Warsaw Rising Museum and the closest tram stop; the tram to the city took around 20 minutes. This was a real gem of a find as it is a private apartment rented out by the owner. I would highly recommend it and would stay here again.

Alternatively, you can search for hostels or hotels using sites like booking.com or hotelscombined.comOki Doki Hostel and The Castle Inn are recommended by Lonely Planet.

If you’re staying a little longer, consider renting an AirBnB apartment; often they are reasonably priced and in a good location. Click here to get £30 off your first booking!



Booking.com

How to get to Warsaw

Buses run regularly to other big cities within Poland and further afield; the Polski Bus is a cheap and popular means of transport. Domestic and international trains depart regularly from numerous stations in Warsaw, most depart from the central station (Warszawa Centralna, Al Jerozolmskie 54). There are two airports in Warsaw: Chopin, the larger of the two, and Modlin which is 35km north of the city. Modlin is only serviced by Ryanair.

How to get from the airport to the city

From Chopin Airport, take commuter SKM rail service train 53 to Warsaw Central Railway Station (cost: 4.40 zł). Bus number 175 terminates near the Old Town and costs 4.40 zł. A taxi should cost around 50 zł.

From Modlin Airport, you can either: take the Modlin bus (33 zł), take the train (the shuttle bus to the station takes 10 mins, departs just outside the airport exit, and is included in the price) to Warsaw Central Railway Station (19 zł), or take a taxi (we were quoted 150 zł).

How to get around in Warsaw

Warsaw has a great network of buses, trams and the metro, so you can get from A to B very easily. Our accommodation was in Wola, which is around 45-60 mins walk to the centre, so we used the tram a lot. You can buy a 24 hour ticket for unlimited travel on the buses, trams and the metro for just 15 zł (equivalent to around £3) within zone 1 (and zone 1 is massive; unless you book accommodation really far away you’ll only need this ticket.)

I use always use our offline GPS map when we’re in a new city. Here We Go is an app by Nokia which allows you to download maps of certain cities/ countries when connected to wifi which you can then use without data or a mobile network. You can type in your destination and it will bring up a list of options on public transport, by car or by foot, to get there. I just typed in where I wanted to go and then took the trams that the app advised – easy! It works on iOS and Android and has got us out of sticky situations numerous times – I even travelled the whole of New Zealand using it!

Here are some useful links:

Want a tour?

I’m a big fan of walking tours when I visit a new city and with Get Your Guide, you can experience the best of Warsaw in the company of a knowledgeable guide, either in a group or privately!


I’m glad I came to Warsaw with no expectations or knowledge of the city beforehand, and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m a romantic: I love narrow, cobble-stoned streets filled with stories, small, quaint towns with hidden cafés and family-run businesses. So Warsaw’s combination of modern, high-rise skyscrapers and bleak, Soviet-style apartment blocks isn’t what I normally fall in love with upon first glance. In fact, I would even go as far to say that it’s a little depressing – particularly if the weather isn’t at its best.

But I’m not one to judge a book by its cover. Warsaw is an industrial hub, laced with remnants of the country’s past – but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a thriving art and food scene, quirky neighbourhoods and nightlife that apparently rivals that of Berlin (apparently). It seems to be constantly changing and I’d love to visit again in a few years. I wish I’d had a little longer in Warsaw to discover further hidden gems, but two days was enough to see the major attractions.

And as for the question of whether Krakòw is better than Warsaw, I have no idea, as I’ve only visited the latter – but I can say that I definitely recommend a trip to the capital!

How to spend two days in Warsaw, Poland - spinthewindrose.com

Would you like to visit Warsaw? If you have already been, did you love it or hate it? How do you think it compares to Krakòw?

Thanks for reading & happy travels

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something from the linked site, I’ll earn a tiny (and I mean tiny!) commission at no extra cost to you, which contributes to running this blog. 


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51 responses to “How to spend two days in Warsaw, Poland”

  1. Sheena says:

    That’s a well written article ?

  2. I hadn’t really considered Warsaw a destination I’d like to visit before, but now I’m definitely thinking about it! I don’t even consider myself a history buff or anything of the sort, but it sounds incredible. Thank you for the super informative post, I’ll definitely be referring back to it should I ever find myself on a trip to Warsaw!

  3. Aysha says:

    Warsaw is somewhere I’ve visit for a long time but never gotten around to. Great post!

  4. This is an absolutely thorough city guide about Warsaw!

  5. I’ve never been to Warsaw but that sounds like a wonderful weekend away. It kind of sucked about the weather on the second day but love a museum day and those ones sounded interesting, if saddening. Thanks for the very informative post!

  6. Anisa says:

    I would love to visit Warsaw. I love the architecture and would love to learn more about the history. Glad to hear you enjoyed your visit.

  7. I’ve been wanting to visit Warsaw! The buildings look so beautiful; I love all the colors. Your photos make me want to go there even more!

  8. This is such a useful post! I’ve visited Krakow and Poznań and loved both, so Warsaw and Gdansk are next on the list. Definitely bookmarking this for future reference 🙂

  9. My grandmothers side of the family is all from Poland, but I don’t know much about the Country. She herself has never been.
    I admit, Warsaw has never been at the top of my travel list, but if I found a cheap flight like you did I would hop on it!
    Looks like you had an awesome few days!

  10. Penny says:

    Honestly I have never considered Warsaw as a destination. It does seem lovely. There are so many hidden jewels in the world to visit but unfortunately there is never enough opportunity and time!

  11. Haven’t been to Warsaw or Krakow, but you convinced me to visit Warsaw for sure! It reminds me of Timisoara, Romania in a way. Loving the colourful houses, I want to live in one too! I’m always thinking people living in colourful houses are happier. :p

  12. Cali says:

    Awesome! I only visited Krakow when I was in Poland and I would definitely love to get back and check out Warsaw. Pinning this for when the time comes 🙂

  13. Karen says:

    Warsaw looks SO pretty. I really want to visit Poland, especially the Eastern bit!

  14. Sammy says:

    We’re off to Warsaw in a couple of weeks, so this post is super handy! I’ve heard mixed things so excited to go for myself!

    Sammy x | http://www.cityofsimplicity.co.uk

  15. Nina says:

    Great post Abbi! As I mentioned in your other post, I’m planning to visit Warsaw this year. I’m thinkining of going in the late summer with the hopes of encountering better weather there. Your tips will come in really, really handy, thank you!

  16. Laura says:

    Amazing guide, I will definitely use it for my next trip to Poland! I really love Poland in general, but especially Warsaw. I always stay there during my trip. And I even have my favourite places already:) One of them, and probably my favourite, is the bar called Bubbles. It is quite unusual because they serve champagnes and wines alongside delicious simple meals.

  17. Allie says:

    Warsaw is a great city! I was there few weeks ago for the first time and I was really impressed. I didn’t know much about it, so during my trip I used some recommendations taken from the internet. I found a great website – http://bestplaceswarsaw.com/. I went to the places from their lists and they were are really amazing. It made my trip much easier!

  18. Johnny says:

    Thanks for great recommendations! I have actually been to Warsaw few weeks ago and I really enjoyed my trip. I didn’t know that Warsaw is such a beautiful and interesting city! I stayed at my friends in a Mokotow district, and I really liked this area. beautiful, quite peaceful and not overcrowded with tourists. And there is one particular place there worth visiting – the Akademia Restaurant. It is a very nice, elegant restaurant with incredibly delicious Polish food. I fell in love with their dishes, especially pierogi that were out of this world!

  19. Raphaela Tafuri says:

    Nice article, Abbi. Very accurate. I have been living in Warsaw for over a year, but it’s always good to “remember” some places to go whenever I have family visiting over. Thank you for that!

    Just one thing: in the Holy Cross church, it was Chopin’s heart that they put there, not his ashes, as the rest of his body is buried in Paris, at Père Lachaise cemetery 🙂

  20. sam the eagle says:

    II was in warsaw in october for 3 days, weather was drizzly and dull and quite cold but it only added to the atmosphere. Yes warsaw can look and feel depressive but if you look around and do research it is a very interesting place to visit, its low on tourists, rich on bars and food, some great museums, fantastic for photography and if you learn its history makes the trip all the better. I hope to go back next summer, warmer days and nights, i now know where most things are that i want to visit, and will venture into different districts like mokotow and praga to sample the real warsaw atmosphere.

  21. Sashka says:

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written article! I appreciate the depth you went into SO much.

    It has really helped my sister and I, English born but Polish origin, explore the country our ancestors grew up in.

    We’re so excited to go!! Thanks, again! Xo

  22. ptwtravelblog says:

    We are visiting Warsaw next week and your post was incredibly helpful! I have a travel blog too! would love it if you check it out and give some feedback!

    Best regards Abbi,
    Alejandra – Patching the World
    http://www.patchingtheworld.com

  23. Great guide to Warsaw! I just booked flights for a long weekend in Warsaw and Gdansk, and I can’t wait to see the city and of course check out the food scene, which looks awesome.

  24. Jacob says:

    I like to travel and to have a good time. My recent destination was Warsaw. I heard from my friends that they have great clubs and the prettiest girls, so I decided to see for myself. I visited the New Orleans club. Amazing place with unique atmosphere. That was an evening well spent. Unique memories.

  25. Patrick says:

    The night life in Poland is a reason to take a separate trip for this exact purpose. There aren’t many nations that can party like Poles. The best thing I remember from my trip to this country is the New Orleans club in Warsaw. Beautiful women, very good choice of alcohols and a chance to eat awesome food are among just few of the advantages of that place. For my vacation I’m going there again.

  26. jimpres says:

    What is the address of the biobazar?

  27. Mike says:

    Very good list. I wish I had gotten here earlier, because I was on a trip to Poland two weeks ago. I did visit some of those places and it really was worth it. On my part, I would also add the New Orleans club that I visited during my friend’s bachelor party. The prettiest dancers and a great selection of alcohols.

  28. Jack says:

    I like traveling and having fun with my friends. We have recently set Warsaw as a goal. We’ve heard that they have great clubs and the most beautiful girls there, so we decided to check it ourselves. We chose the New Orleans Club and openly we can say that this is an amazing place … There really is a unique atmosphere. A great evening with unique memories. I will never forget it, it’s really worth it!

  29. Nathaniel says:

    I do not like places where there are a lot of people. I appreciate the peace and high level of the premises, which is why the ideal place for me is the New Orleans club in Warsaw. It is a pity that in my city there isn’t a similar place, because this is really special … It delights literally in every respect and I think it is suitable for every party. We think with my buddies to organize a bachelor party there. I recommend this place!

  30. Magda says:

    2 days and all that? I wish I had so much energy in me! 🙂

  31. Colin says:

    You don’t need to have much money to visit Europe, I spent 7 days in Poland spending 400 euros. Not difficult for one who wants it. It’s enough to visit couple websites, not to eat at the most expensive restaurants, here I recommend Akademia, an amazing restaurant and also don’t sleep in expensive hotels, but choose room on Airbnb for 15 euros.

  32. Colin says:

    We invite you to the Akademia restaurant for a wonderful lunch. Every day you can taste different dishes, enjoy the good cuisine in a nice atmosphere

  33. Peter says:

    A trip around Poland? Food, Akademia in Warsaw, accommodation, European hotel, trains, communication, girls, all.

  34. Bill says:

    Definitely, the best restaurant in Warsaw, which we visited, is Bubbles. The dishes served there are insanely delicious. It is also a cheap and atmospheric place. It’s worth visiting by tourists and locals.

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