Every year, my mother and I travel together and try to do something special together. We try to visit a new place (usually with a religious twist) and explore it. Last year, because I wasn’t able to come back and stay with her, we weren’t able to go.
She didn’t have to worry though because all that meant was that this year, we were going to have to step it up a notch and visit not one, but three countries! That’s right, three!
Our first stop was to visit Warsaw, the capital of Poland and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Located pretty much on the other side of Poland from my hometown (a cute little place called Żagań) it wasn’t too big of a distance for us. Moreover, we actually started in Gdańsk, so it didn’t take us too long to get there. The ride through the polish countryside was lovely; we both completely recommend it. We took Polski Bus for just 10 zł each.
Once we arrived, we thought it was time to explore the city properly and grab ourselves a nice cup of coffee (keep reading to find out more about this).
Where to Stay
We stayed at the GreenWood Hostel Airport at Lechnicka 23. The place was really nice and definitely worth the money. I had access to Wi-Fi for my work and my mom felt more than comfortable to relax in the place. We definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a cost-efficient place to stay in the city.
We met two people; one Polish and one Australian. We exchanged some travel notes and stories, whilst the Australian guy did a little (read: a lot) of complaining about Polish coffee. Poor Polish Coffee.
Getting our Coffee Kick
Before we get into the juicy bits of where to go when you visit Warsaw and what to see, we want to first tell you about the coffee theme we’ve tied into this trip. We’re not caffeine addicts (well, maybe I am a little), but we thought we would inject a bit of momentum into our trip by checking out coffee in each of the places we visit.
For Warsaw, we thought it would be nice to visit WakeUp Coffee. I tried an Americano with whipped cream, whilst my mom went with a somewhat exotic Coconut latte with whipped cream and coconut flakes. I have to say, I wasn’t too impressed (maybe the Australian guy was a little right).
My mom though… She gave her coconut wonder a 4/5, saying that it was a lovely afternoon drink, but maybe not a rise and shiner.
After coffee, it was time to head out in search of what Warsaw had to offer. The first item on our list was the Royal Castle. First thoughts, it’s massive… and red. Yup, the whole place is made of bricks (well obviously not everything, but there’s a lot of red here).
During the 17th century, it was said to have been one of the most opulent and luxurious residences in the whole of Europe, and it kind of shows. Most of the place has had 18th century period décor installed to make it look more historical.
Just check out the Great Assembly Hall or the Great Apartment, both of which are prime examples of this.
You’ve visited the castle, now it’s time to visit the palace. Dating back to 1677, Wilanów Palace is just a little bit older than the Royal Castle. We also thought that it looked a bit more ornate from the outside. Just like the Royal Castle, Wilanów Palace is home to an incredible entrance hall, whose original fittings were reinstalled after World War 2.
Palace of Culture & Science
For some, this building is incredible. Looking at it from the outside, it seems akin to a monolith looking over the city and keeping watch.
Having originally been ‘gift of friendship’ from the Soviet Union in the 1950s, the 231m tall building is home to multiple museums, a congress hall, and a cinema. If you’re interested in seeing the Polish capital from a high vantage point, then why not head to the top of the building and look out over it from the 30th-floor Observation terrace?
Locals aren’t really very fond of the building and think it’s somewhat garish due to the huge number of sculptures along its parapets. Because of this, it has been dubbed the ‘Elephant in Lacy Underwear’.
Once we finished with the Royal Castle, we headed over to visit the Warszawa Wschodnia. This huge, modern restaurant complex is one of the things about Warsaw which shows how far it has come from the Royal Castle décor of the 18th century. The place is fantastic, with its name actually coming from a neon sign found at the nearby train station. Head here if you’re hungry, or just looking for a look at modern Poland. Overall, a must if you visit Warsaw.
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square is beautiful. Lined with historic buildings and incredible architecture. It was a great place to relax for a whole.
We did think that it was a little busy, though. You’ll find Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic and Neoclassical architecture here. Make sure that you don’t miss it!
A Quick but Lovely Stay
It was great to visit Warsaw for the short time that we did. Whilst the old town area was pretty busy and packed with people when we headed out of that area it seemed like everyone had disappeared. It was almost like we were in a different city. If you’re going to leave the old town and go large distances, we recommend moving around the city by taking an Uber as it’s cheaper than the local metro system. This is especially true if you’re going to head over to Wilanów Palace.
Another thing we noticed was that photography wasn’t particularly liked in the city. A lot of people got a little annoyed when we tried to take pictures. If you’re going to do it, make sure to ask before you pull your camera (or your phone) out of your bag.