Warsaw is where old meets new – a city of contrasts. One second you’re walking through the Old Town, listed in the UNESCO World Heritage, next thing you know, you’re surrounded by contemporary architecture and skyscrapers. A modern metropolis and a fast-paced way of living is one way to describe the city and its habitants. But the people of Warsaw hold the history of the place in high regard, so it can co-exist and enrich ‘the new’. In fact, those seemingly opposite ideas appear to feed off each other giving the impression of harmony. To me there is no ‘best way to see Warsaw’ as there are so many places to visit and things to experience. Luckily, because of that it’s quite hard to run out of things to do in the Capital City of Poland, so no matter the season you are guaranteed to do and see something cool (which is indeed cool).
Warsaw in the winter
In the winter, it goes down to about -10 degrees Celsius, so not exactly the tropics, but long gone are the days where it would drop down to around -20 or even -30 degrees Celsius, and I consider that to be a huge plus 😉. The weather can be full of mischief as we all know, therefore it’s probably a good idea to pack something apt just in case.
Winter in general is a special time in Poland and the Capital is no exception. Shiny and colorful Christmas knickknacks, ornaments, and lights decorate the whole city, but arguably the most striking display of these wonders is the Royal Route, which encompasses places like the Royal Castle where the giant Christmas Tree is put up on Castle Square.
How about some ice rinks? It doesn’t get any more festive and wintery than that. They’re super fun and you’ll find them all over the place. Not enough revelry for you? Some Christmas shopping is a must then, specifically at a fair where the list of Christmassy stuff to get is virtually endless. I would search for those near the Old Town.
And then there is New Year’s Eve. You shouldn’t be asking yourself: “What’s there to do?”, but “What do I want to do” instead. Possibilities for a spectacular New Year’s Eve are many, to put it mildly. Warsaw’s famous nightlife experience would be an obvious choice, and a good one at that – nightclubs of substantial varieties, private night rides. However wise to check in advance given the pandemic, it seems nothing can squelch the Capital’s party spirit.
Warsaw in the spring
Being the time of change and rebirth, Spring means the weather’s going to be tricky. March – definitely the coldest just because we have barely come out of winter. The temperatures will range from as low as 0 degrees Celsius to maybe +30 (sounds optimistic, I know) as we approach the summer. As for the Warsaw travel tips during the spring, I have to recommend places of greenery.
The prime example of that is the Royal Łazienki Park. The locals choose the palace area (also, the summer residence of Stanisław Poniatowski – the last king of Poland) for long romantic walks, all the while taking in the beautiful scenery composed of plants and animals: the usual suspects such as swans, mallards, or squirrels, but also breathtaking peacocks, free standing statues, a vast array of flowers and other attractions (like museums and an amphitheater).
Visit the Vistula banks or take a boat ride to see the city rejuvenate before your eyes. The old river has much more in store for you, like the Copernicus Science Center (you can spend an entire day in this place alone) and the Multimedia Fountain Park. The Museum of Modern Art, also by the river – a seesight extraordinaire.
Warsaw in the summer
Summer weather in Poland is great if I may say so myself – plenty hot, the humidity not on the obnoxious side. Summer is THE season to travel, so every place reliant on tourism provides summer-specific attractions to some extent . The City of Warsaw, while not an obvious choice, gives potential tourists everything they would possibly need or want. The cuisine part offers a wide selection of dishes prepared from local products.
Check out the three types of food markets:
- Breakfast markets
- The slow market
- The night market
Each with a different spin on both traditional Polish cuisine and exotic, multicultural ones. Some good news for the vegetarians and vegans out there – turns out Warsaw is super vegan friendly.
Say time is in short supply and you want to get the most out of what you’ve got. Ok, this is the correct time to mention the historic monuments of Warsaw – a must see really. First off all, take the Royal Route, aka the best Warsaw sightseeing path out there, (it’s not only worth it in the winter). It will lead you to the Presidential Palace with some other great monuments along the way, ending at the former royal palace – Wilanów. One of the most important things to see: Palace of Culture and Science, a relic of Soviet oppression and maybe the most recognizable building in all of Warsaw. You must see it. There’s a vantage point on the 30th floor, totally worth it.
The Vistula beachline is a summer’s staple. Unsurprisingly really, since it actually gives off this holiday resort vibe, or a completely wild, in-touch-with-nature feeling, depending on which side of the Vistula River you happen to find yourself on. Summer sports, evening parties or concerts even, all on riverbanks in the middle of the city.
Music enthusiasts – rejoice! Melody festival season is upon us. Jazz at the Old town and Music Gardens attract loads of Varsovians every year. Chopin fans are in luck. The great composer spent most of his early days in Warsaw. The Fryderyk Chopin Monument in the Royal Łazienki Park, arguably the most recognizable Polish sculpture, erected to commemorate the artist, is awe inspiring and thought provoking. Add it to your bucket list on your next Warsaw vacation.
Warsaw in the fall (autumn)
Some say it’s a gloomy season, but I happen to like the rain and the general mood it brings. The soaked shoes situation is the only drawback as far as I’m concerned. Yes, the temperatures dip significantly after the summer, though it rarely goes below 0 degrees Celsius, I think. Still, it’s the season when you pull out that sweater and tuck away the shorts.
Chess tournaments and yoga classes on the Vistula River, picnics, and piano recitals. Those are some of the things to do in Warsaw when September hits. When it ends, the mood changes in early November to this rather eerie, but still beautiful atmosphere. Thousands of candles begin to glow in cemeteries as Poles express their love and memory for the lost loved ones.
Try the invigorating seasonal cuisine. A hearty bowl of soup, tripe, and a variety of dumplings are the things you’ll need to get over the end of the summer, and transition smoothly into the brisker end of the year. The more adventurous souls will appreciate the Praga district with Francuska street in the center of Saska Kępa – a truly wonderful place to explore and maybe take some Instagram pictures as well. Foodies are also welcome.
Visas to Poland
Citizens of some countries may require a Schengen Visa C-type to enter Poland (or D if they plan to stay longer than ninety days, with day one counted upon arrival). To obtain the C-type Schengen Visa you’ll need a Biometric photo.
Warsaw, the city of duality, not an obvious choice for a visit or vacation, but definitely a fantastic one, so don’t sleep on it. Full of surprises, great food, activities, and events all year round – in a place like this it’s impossible to be bored. While planning your next vacation destination, consider Warsaw, where old meets new. Visit Passport Photo Online to get the perfect visa and passport photo and enjoy your holiday!
What to do in Warsaw in 3 days?
Follow the Royal Route to experience a must-see of Warsaw. Historical architecture and monuments and the modern part of the city. Old Town and Royal Castle as well as the Warsaw Rising Museum are recommended. The Palace of Culture and Science, a Soviet relic, and the most recognizable building in all of Warsaw.
What to do in Warsaw in 2 days?
Royal Łazenki Museum, Vistula River, Old Town, and Royal Castle. The staples. If you have time, please visit the Palace of Culture and Science, because the 30th floor provides a great vantage point.
How many days do I need to stay in Warsaw?
The more the better, but no matter what time reserve you have there’s always a thing or two to see, so don’t stress. The city is constantly evolving, providing its residents and tourists with seemingly endless attractions. Apart from the usual suspects there is a neon museum in the Praga district that retro fans will appreciate. Fotoplastikon Warszawski is a 3D photo display of some historic pictures of Warsaw’s old days and more modern work of contemporary artists.
What is the best way to see Warsaw?
There isn’t any in my opinion, as the city provides attractions to people of all tastes and likings. A more traditional trip would generally consist of visiting the Palace of Culture and Science, Old Town, and Royal Castle, following the Royal Route, Warsaw Rising Museum and Vistula riverbanks. Can’t go wrong with Royal Łazienki Park and Museum.
Michal Jonca is a travel, food, and trail running passionate who visited 40+ countries on four continents. He is a Travel Leader for the adventurous travel company Solisci and the Community Manager at Students Guide.
Only this year, he enjoyed his workation in Thailand, Turkey, and the Caucasus mountains.