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What to see and do in Warsaw – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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Thanks to a rich history and culture there are a host of sights and attractions to be explored in Poland’s capital. Take a stroll around the Old Town or head south to immerse yourself in palaces and gardens. Wander the art galleries in Praga or step back into the past at the Fotoplastikon before exploring Krakowskie Przedmiescie and soaking up the architecture.  For something a little more modern, get hands on in the Copernicus Science Museum. 

Pawel Sacha

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Warsaw

Old Town (Starowka)

 

Almost the entirety of Warsaw was flattened by the end of World War Two, including the historic Old Town. Thankfully this district - locally called ‘Starowka’ - was meticulously rebuilt after 1945, preserving its atmospheric alleys, grand houses and cobbled squares. The heart of the Old Town is the market place, with its charming Polish restaurants and open-air cafes; browse stalls selling handmade trinkets and souvenirs by day, and enjoy a quiet drink in the evening. You’ll also find the Royal Castle and the Historical Museum of Warsaw in Starowka.

 

Palaces and parks

 

Warsaw is a verdant city, with almost a quarter of its area beautified by greenery. There are a huge number of parks to choose from, but Lazienki Park has to be one of the most enchanting, with pecking peacocks, summer Chopin concerts and an elegant palace. Venture further south, and you’ll find Wilanow Palace, a Baroque royal residence set in glorious French-styled gardens. Palaces can also be found in the city center, with the iconic Soviet skyscraper the Palace of Culture & Science dominating Warsaw’s skyline.

 

Praga

 

If you fancy treading the less-populated path, head over the river to Praga, a neighborhood which has seen somewhat of a renaissance in recent years. Once a run-down district to avoid, Praga has fast become a Bohemian cultural hub - while still retaining its shabby chic and some of the oldest buildings in Warsaw. Explore the 19th century Old Town, check out several factories-turned-art galleries, plus keep your eyes peeled for vibrant street art and pre-war lampposts.

 

Warsaw Uprising Museum

 

Even from the outside this museum looks interesting, set in an old red-brick power station west of the city center. Inside, the museum documents the horrific events of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising; the brave yet fruitless struggle of resident Poles against the cruel German occupation. The Warsaw Uprising Museum recreates the feel of occupied Warsaw, with an interactive route through the building. Hear from surviving insurgents, discover moments frozen in illuminated photographs, and pore over old posters and newspapers.

 

Copernicus Science Center

 

Evolving from outdoor science events hosted by Polish Radio, the Copernicus Science Center was opened in 2010 when the fun, hands-on displays proved so popular that a permanent home was needed. Continuing to be incredibly popular, the science center is home to over 400 interactive exhibits that display the laws of science in a fun and engaging way. Converse with a robot, marvel at a real flying carpet, and solve a mysterious crime, among other intrigues.

 

Fotoplastikon

 

A little-known yet fascinating attraction, the Fotoplastikon is a vital piece of Warsaw’s past, and therefore a must visit for history fans. This drum-like viewing device dates back to the start of the 20th century, and is actually one of the few still working perfectly anywhere in the world. Incredibly popular for decades, the Fotoplastikon displayed 3D images from around the globe, before widespread photography and air travel revealed far-flung places. Visitors today can view photos including those of pre-war Warsaw.

 

Krakowskie Przedmiescie

 

A wide avenue and perhaps Warsaw’s most prestigious street, Krakowskie Przedmiescie is worth a visit for its elegance and notable history. The Royal Avenue here is the most northerly part of the famous ‘Royal Route’, linking the Old Town and the Royal Castle, while the street itself is lined with elegant buildings including the Presidential Palace, Staszic Palace and Warsaw University. Visit Krakowskie Przedmiescie for magnificent architecture, authentic eateries and a historic walk into the Old Town.