Warsaw is a collage of architectural beauties—including skyscrapers, with the 1955-era Palace of Culture and Science still reigning supreme as the tallest building in the city (don’t miss the observation terrace for a bird’s-eye view of the city); there’s a young energy that seeps through the city, with its lively river promenade and cool hidden gems; and it’s brimming with so much history it’s sometimes difficult to decide what to see next—step back in time to pre-World War 2 or explore the city’s Communist history? And this is all complemented by 96 parks—yes, Warsaw is very green (surprised?). Here’s a taste of recommendations so your clients can start planning once you’ve booked their trip to Poland.
Yes, we’re skipping right into the night because who doesn’t want to find a cool spot in this capital of Poland to dine on an array of cuisines—from Hungarian to Mexican. At the platforms of the closed Warszawa Glowna railway station, after strolling past a few street art pieces, your clients will step into a rainbow of colors, spilling over with hipsters, DJ sounds, and a hodgepodge of scents emanating from an array of food stalls selling all manner of culinary delicacies. Some Asian dumplings? Why not? A taco? Why, of course. And in case your clients missed their appointment with their barber or tattoo artist, no problem, as they can get inked and shaved right after sipping a cool local craft beer.
Chopin in the Park
Summertime—May to October—brings Chopin melodies to the city’s famed Royal Lazienki Park. Visitors to Poland’s capital city can head to Warsaw’s largest park and palace complex for an open-air concert of Chopin music by famous Polish pianists—played under the watchful eye of Chopin himself (or at least a grand statue of him). Here, locals, both young and old, mingle with tourists who come to hear the sounds of this great Polish composer, while stretched out on the grass or sitting on one of the many benches.
The Vistula River
The city’s lively riverfront is not to be missed for those who want to take in the city’s great ambiance and sparkling nightlife. Hop on one of the riverboats that take passengers along the Vistula River and under the city’s bridges (look for the neon signs). As visitors look to the left bank—where they’ll hop on one of the boats—they’ll see restaurants, and people strolling or people-watching, but a quick turn to the “wild” side of the river, and they’ll notice an unspoiled, natural habitat home to beavers, terns and even elk. The “wild” side is home to beaches and a fitness trail, while the right bank, with its recently modernized boulevards, is home to restaurants and the temporary exhibition space of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
A Stroll Through the Old Town
It’s no surprise that the Warsaw Uprising of the summer of 1944 led to the razing of Warsaw by the Nazis, but look around the city’s Old Town today (the world’s youngest Old Town) and it takes your breath away to see how the city rose again. It’s mind-blowing—simply put. In fact, it was so faithfully reconstructed that it’s included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. While strolling the Old Town’s market square, step into the Museum of Warsaw, located within reconstructed buildings and comprised of 21 thematic rooms that put a spotlight on the town’s history. There’s even a room dedicated to the city’s symbol—the sword-bearing mermaid.
It’s not an easy place to visit, but the former Gestapo HQ, which during the Nazi control of the city operated as a brutal interrogation center, is a compelling part of the city’s World War 2 history. On view at this Mausoleum of Struggle and Martyrdom, which is located on Szucha Avenue, are cells that although cordoned off have been left largely untouched; some of the cells, known as trams, show the wooden benches where prisoners sat facing the wall, and with the English-language tape, visitors will be able to paint a picture in their mind of what occurred within the bowels of this building. It will rattle the mind long after the visit.