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Unfortunately Warsaw is not the most popular or visited town in Poland, however one would miss out on a lot by not seeing this capital city. Two days should be enough to explore all of the major sights, weather permitting. And speaking of weather in Warsaw it is rather unpredictable – one moment it’s raining, the next the sun is shining, so pack an umbrella with you, just in case.
Below are the top 5 sights that are a must, and will leave you with a good grasp of what this city is all about.
1. Łazienski Palace
This magnificent ‘Palace on the Water’ is located in a gorgeous, large park area on just a 15 minute drive from the Warsaw’s city center. Inside the palace you will find some of the most beautiful interior decorations that can easily rival those of the Versailles palace in France. Besides the main palace you can also visit two other attractions: the Old Orangery and Myslewicki palace inside the park (tickets sold separately).
If you are coming in the right season you can also take a boat ride on the lake that is surrounding the palace, or simply enjoy the view on one of the many benches inside the park. Be prepared to spend at least 2-3 hours in this location as there’s much to see and explore!
2. Stare Miasto (The Old Town)
The Old Town in Warsaw has so many attractions that is it very difficult to cover them all in one sitting, and I won’t even try.
The first thing that you can obviously do is walk around this area and take in all the spectacular architecture, smells, and colorful souvenir shops that can be found in this place. I guarantee that by the time you are ready to leave this area you will have at least 200-300 new photos in your camera/phone. Once you recover from the initial sight overload, you can begin your exploration. Some of the many must-see attractions that can be found in this place include:
• Zamek Królewski (Royal Castle) – this beautiful, large palace is a must visit place in the Old Town. Filled with gorgeous decorations, paintings, and other relics from the ‘King’s times’, it also shows a bit of recent history. For example, you can now find and trace the destructive presence of the Nazis, when they tried to demolish this historical structure (thank God they did not succeed!).
• Adjacent to the Royal Castle, is another famous building called Pałac Pod Blacha (The Palace Under the Tin Roof). It became know for its roof (as you might guess from its name) – since it was the first house in Warsaw to have a tin, instead of a tiled roof cover. Inside the building you will find a nice collection of aristocratic furniture as well as some other temporary exhibition(s) depending on the date you come.
• The most famous square in the Old Town is called ‘Rynek Starego Miasta’ (or simply Old Town Square), and in the middle of the square you will find a statue of a mermaid (the symbol, and the “protector” of this area, according to an old local legend). Do not confuse it with another large square that is in the entrance to the Old Town, where the Royal Palace is located, if you don’t want to miss it of course.
• My favorite spot in the entire Old Town was the Taras Widokowy, or the Viewing Terrace – a tall, square building from where you can get the best observation views of the area. It is located in the main entrance to the Old Town, across the street from the Royal Palace’s main ticket office.
And finally, don’t miss the enchanting ‘Fortyfikacje Staromiejskie’ or “Castle City Walls” – they look like they just step out of a fairy-tale. Actually, it’s really hard to miss them, as all the streets in the Old Town lead straight to them.
Travel Tip: avoid taking a taxi from the taxi stand, near the large ‘main’ square with a Zygmunt’s column (where the Royal Palace is located) – as it seems that the taxi drivers there completely disobey the meter rule and tend to make up a price three times higher than the normal rate. Simply walk a little further to the main driving road, and catch one of the decent drivers there. Zygmunt would approve.
3. Observation Deck at the Pałac Kultury i Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science)
This gift from the USSR, modeled on the New York City’s Empire State Building (though of course much shorter in height) is a great place to see the city of Warsaw from the high above. The observation deck is located on the 30th floor and offers fantastic 360 degree views of the surrounding area.
4. Wilanów Palace
This yellow-bright, beautiful palace is located a bit far off from the main city center, but is accessible by a taxi (around 20-25 minute drive), or by a bus. The second you see the palace you will realize that the drive here is very much worth the effort. Inside the royal palace you will find all the glamorous things worthy of Kings. Adjacent to the palace is a nice park, where you can go for a stroll and enjoy the weather (depending on the season, of course).
5. Krakowskie Przedmieście – The Royal Route
No, I am not sending you to Krakow, yet, this long street is just named after that famous Polish city. This is one of the most beautiful streets in Warsaw. What will you find there? Gorgeous buildings and churches, various cafes, restaurants, and bars, Namiestnikowski Palace (currently serving as the residence to the president), University of Warsaw, and other many attractive sights. You can reach this street by walking away from the Royal Palace, passing the Viewing Terrace (Taras Widokowy) and heading straight (look it up on the Google map, in case you don’t find it).
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