The city on the UNESCO World Heritage list
& The city with an alternative vibe.
Warsaw was for me a city that surprised me. And if I say that I mean that in a very good way. I’ve been to this city with my dad (we created a little tradition to do city trips to cities in Eastern Europe together) and when we booked this trip I had the feeling that Warsaw would be very old-fashioned. I was wrong! Warsaw is actually a great student city with a very alternative vibe. I love the differences you will find in this city. For example the differences between the city centre and the areas around it.
The city centre was almost completely bombed during World War II (85% was vanished) and after the war they decided to restore this city centre to how it looked like back in the 18th century. Poland did this rebuilding so well that the whole city centre is now included on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage. The buildings you will see in the city centre are so beautiful and colourful.
When you step out of the old city centre you will feel the more alternative vibe of Warsaw. You will find a lot of (massive!) street art and hippie vibe cafes (lots of vegetarian and vegan restaurants which I really liked). When we were in Warsaw we chose to do a free walking tour. A local guide showed us a little piece of Warsaw and it’s history and I thought it was really interesting! A lot has happened in this amazing town, especially during World War II and with this tour you will learn more about this history which will increase your love for Warsaw (At least it did for me). The tour also takes you to the Uprising Monument dedicated to the uprising in Warsaw in 1944 and the Warsaw Ghetto which was the largest Jewish ghetto during World War II (there were over 400.000(!) Jews at an area of only 3,4 km2 imprisoned here. Most of these people didn’t make it due the concentration camps or killed by the Germans or by hunger while in the Ghetto. It’s a hard but important realisation how incredible unfair the world has been only 70 years ago.
Another place I really loved in Warsaw was the Łazienki Królewskie Park (in English Baths Park or Royal Baths), which was designed in the 17th century. It’s quite a walk if you’re near the city centre (we walked 30.000 steps that day) but I assure you it’s worth it! And of course if you don’t feel like walking you can take a bus or a taxi (they are very cheap in Warsaw). It’s the largest park of Warsaw (76 hectares) and it’s full of curious little squirrels who are waiting to be photographed. There are two palaces: North of the park you’ll find Ujazdów Castle and South you’ll find the Palace on the Isle (Pałac na Wodzie) which its beautiful pond around it. We had a coffee in a vintage looking cafe near the park which was fun because it felt like we were back in the 19th century.
Another fun thing to do is to go to the zoo: the Warsaw Zoological Garden, which you’ll find close to the Vistula River. We paid only a couple euros entrance and the zoo was enormous: it has more than 500 species and over 4.200 animals. We were in Warsaw in February which resulted that most animals were inside and the zoo had almost no visitors. I actually really liked this because it gave us the chance too watch the animals very closeby. Did you know that the zoo was a hiding place for Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II which resulted in saving hundreds of lives?
After your visit to the zoo don’t forget to explore a bit and check the area around the zoo. For me it felt like the ‘real’ untouched part of Warsaw and I loved the architecture of the buildings here.
A place you can’t really ignore is the Palace of Culture and Science. It’s the highest building (237 metres) in Warsaw, built in 1952-1955, which was gifted by Joseph Stalin. You will see that the architecture of this building is completely different than other buildings in Warsaw because of the Russian influence in this building. You actually can enter this building and buy a ticket which will allow you to go to the highest floor. I really loved this because you will have the most amazing view all over the city.
And then of course: the food! The first night we had a really traditional dinner in a beer garden, including big beers (1 litre!) and a lot of meat. I actually really like to eat healthy and eat not too much meat and if you like that too I would really recommend the restaurant Veg deli. Everything is vegetarian or vegan and it’s so affordable! We had amazing dishes, our mains were a yummy quinoa burger and ravioli. Don’t forget to order pie to finish your dinner!
Fun fact: Did you know? Warsaw is the birthplace of the famous Frédéric Chopin and Marie Curie. We’ve been to Chopin’s museum which was really interesting if you love music and composing and the history of these two. When we were in Warsaw Madame Curie’s museum was closed because of renovation, but I would love to go back to Warsaw one day and see this one!