Warsaw: the glossy capital of culture and wild forests

Poland’s capital encapsulates a lot of what makes the country so fascinating. A city reborn, it has emerged from war and freedom struggle to become a thoroughly modern and culturally-rich destination, one which celebrates all things Polish whilst also taking the utmost respect to preserve its history. This is easily seen in the network of incredible museums and historical sites, and the faithful recreation of its old town. There’s a reason the city has just won the title of Europe’s Best Destination for 2023. 

For a true flavour of Warsaw and its people, head to the numerous open spaces, the grand old cafes, buzzing bars, eclectic restaurants, and embrace the culture at its most heartening.  

Old Town Square

Head for the heart of the city to get your bearings and marvel at the unique architectural history of the Polish capital. This is the oldest town square in the country, with roots stretching back to the 13th century. Grand baroque, renaissance, gothic and neo-classical facades fringe the edges, each meticulously rebuilt following WWII. In summer, the square is a hive of activity, with trinket stalls and food vendors, whilst in winter the square fills with ice skaters.

Royal Castle

Once the most-talked about palaces of 17th-century Europe, Warsaw’s castle has roots stretching back to the 14th century. The current castle is a faithful recreation, after it was all but flattened during the Second World War. Head inside and discover palatial grandeur, stretching from the Great Apartments to the lavish Throne Room. There’s also an incredible collection of art, including no less than 22 Bernardo Bellotto paintings and two Rembrandts. For a glimpse at regal Polish history, don’t miss this landmark palace. 

Warsaw Rising Museum

A magnificent testament to the strong will of the Polish resistance, the Warsaw Rising Museum offers a dynamic and interactive look at the 1944 resistance movement in the city. Interactive displays, film archives, photographs and oral histories stretch across five immersive levels, charting the heroic and tragic struggle for freedom. It is, in its entirety, a moving, evocative and overwhelming experience; take some time in the nearby Freedom Park for reflection. 


This award-winning museum traces 1000 years of Jewish history in Poland. Discover the story of the Jewish Diaspora in Poland, from its beginnings in the Middle Ages, through migrations and pogroms, and the reconciliation of its future in Poland. Poland was once home to the largest Jewish community in the world; the museum charts this history through incredible exhibitions and a fascinating collection, including a reconstruction of the intricate polychromatic painted ceiling and bimah that once stood in the Gwoździec wooden synagogue. Migration stories, progress, pogroms, and the ultimate destruction of Europe’s thriving Jewish community are laid out across intelligent, thought-provoking and emotive interactive exhibitions. 

Neon Museum

Warsaw is a city of renowned museums and galleries, a fact which leaves plenty of room for the more out-there institutions. The Warsaw Neon Museum is one such spot, an industrial temple to all things electric. Housed in the old Soho Factory complex, it’s an illuminating collection of pre and post war signage from Warsaw, with iconic businesses of old remembered. Neon was very voguish in the city, hence the sheer scale of the collection. It’s definitely an unusual way of tracing Warsaw’s 20th-century history. 

Foodie markets all day long…

Warsaw loves a good food market. Infact, the city is seemingly so taken by cooking up all manner of worldly treats out in fresh air that at any given time, there’s a stall out there waiting for you. Particularly at weekends, you can start your day at a breakfast market, the prettiest being on the Oder in the Powiśle quarter. After filling up on pastries, grilled meats and more, walk it off, as there’s more coming. Art-nouveau Hala Koszyki is a recently re-done food hall and cultural centre, all sleek and modern inside, and Hala Gwardii is a bit more industrial chic – but both offer an array of artisanal traders from Warsaw and beyond, perfect for lunch or dinner. Finally, as the sun sinks away, don’t miss Warsaw’s famous night market just outside the main train station. It’s perfect for a late-night bite, accompanied by the atmospheric throng of hungry night owls. 

Chopin Museum 

Head to the marvellously baroque Ostrogski Palace to get a whistlestop induction into Poland’s favourite composer. The house offers an insightful, multi-level exhibition that tells of the musical journey of Chopin. With artefacts and interactive elements, plus listening booths on the lower floors, this is the best way to get close to the illustrious composer. Between January and June, free piano concerts by young local musicians happen most Thursdays at 6pm. You can book a free place at the ticket counter. 

Outside the city: Kampinos National Park

One of the largest national parks in Poland is a stone’s throw from the metropol Warsaw. Easily reachable with the city’s public transport network, the park is the perfect antidote to urban exploring. Take to the trails and wander through thick forests, spying all manner of bird life and forest creatures as you go. The trails are solid enough to make them perfect for cycling, allowing you to head deeper into the thicket. There are also campsites available for overnight stays in the heart of the wilderness. 

In partnership with the Polish Tourism Organisation 


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