Poland’s history wasn’t, as we already know, the most merciful of all. Smashed under the Nazis during the World War II, it was rebuilt in a Soviet style under the communists, following their so called realism, as lacking in emotions as the limpness of their broken spirit. After joining the European Union in 2004, things have started to change and their capital city now looks completely different. There are many things to see and to in Warsaw, among which some of the attractions you just can’t afford missing, great examples that their dramatic history has only motivated them to evolve.
1. The Royal Route
These probably are the most beautiful eleven kilometers you’ve walked in the past time and even if we presume that you’re not a budget traveler, but a famous rich person who would afford anything, and it’s still worth spending an entire day doing this.
Your start point is going to be the Old Town, this breathing, vibrant cultural salon of the country (almost as important as Krakow’s Old Town). It’s impossible not to love it thanks to the massive restorations that took place after the damage made by the World War II, when over 90 per cent of its surface was affected. Today it boosts with energy and historical air making it look like a precious cultural mark. Multimedia Fountain Park is not to be missed, especially on weekends, if you’d like to enjoy a laser night and music shows for free. At the end of this popular tour you’ll find yourself admiring the grandiose Baroque royal mansion of Wilanow.
On your way, one of your most important sights is Charles de Gaulle roundabout and the impressive building of financial offices that once ironically was the headquarters of the communists. Along your way you can’t miss the Warsaw University and library roof is one of the best visiting tips you could get – you’ll have the greatest riverscape at your feet. Don’t miss the baroque churches either, especially if you’re interested in architecture or history.
What you should always keep in mind is that the Polish are very aware of their cultural potential and the landmarks that make them universally known and appreciated. This explains the magnificent monuments of Nicolas Copernicus and Adam Mickiewicz, whose importance in astronomy / literature makes even the locals stop from time to time, just as a sign of appreciation. Because if you’ve asked yourself how did Poland manage to reappear on the world map (not once, but twice) one of the answers is their great respect for sacrifice.
And as you’re roaming around, you can also enjoy walking on the small streets and live it like a traveler – explore the town immersing into its history (the buildings, cafés and all kinds of modern arrangements are of great help on this concern).
2. Vistula River Beaches
Another thing making Warsaw such a pleasant, distinct place to visit are the natural river banks as well as its beaches on the right side of the water. You can get on the three beaches from different sides of the city: there’s one close to the Warsaw Zoo and if you’re nearby you shouldn’t hesitate to see both the attractions and the other ones are the two bridges Poniatowskiego and Lazienkowski. The three beaches are linked by a path which you’ll find useful especially if you’re into jogging or cycling.
3. Follow the beaten path – go to the museum
National Museum. If you’re not into culture generally speaking, you should perhaps skip this one. Otherwise, you’ll find the experience quite unique. The symmetry of the building’s going to impress you and it gives the exhibits linearity, it makes them look perfectly arranged. The variety and quality of the paintings displayed says about their execution as much as it does about the quality of the museum. The 20th century section is going to be the mysterious one, because of the highly symbolic works and the galleries cover the most significant moments in the national and international culture from old masters to modern art.
Rising Museum. The project is a cultural form of honoring Warsaw Uprising as the Polish Resistance Movement was called during the Nazi occupation. If there’s only one attraction you could ever visit in Warsaw we’d strongly recommend you this one because of its major historic and cultural relevance. From letters to weapons, all the remaining artifacts of the named period have been kept to teach the world a dramatic history lesson. The armbands that once belonged to the insurgents are part of the museum too, along with many other exhibits to make the entire experience as realistic and harsh as it should be. The museum is very proficiently realized and all the aspects were taken care of, including the architecture and the disposal of exhibits, imitating the style of that somber period.
Polish Army Museum. Gloomy rooms, perfectly arranged to highlight the elements either by contrast or proper framing, while its most interesting part has free access, this being the 20th century weaponry collection. From tanks to missiles, aircraft to rocket launchers it’s practically impossible not to be interested in the general display, especially if you’re a guy or just a traveler whose interests cover history as well. The entire museum access is free on Sundays, when it’s the best day to visit if you’re a budget traveler and you don’t mind other people standing behind you while you’re introspecting.
4. Have some fun in the new town
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are meant to be spent having fun, in Warsaw. Join a concert in the cellar of U Pana Michala Restaurant and you’ll find that not only the history of the place is worth spending some time getting to know. Amazing performances of local musicians are held here and because they’re so popular, you’ll probably have to make a reservation beforehand. It’s also the kind of place where it’s not only possible but very easy to make friends – people are having fun, they’ll be more than glad to spend their time in the company of travelers and even happier to share a bottle of beer or a glass of wine.