The exciting capital of Poland, Warsaw is a fascinating mixture of old and new. Soviet-era tower blocks contrast with the story-book charm of the Old Town, and you can stroll along the boulevards and beaches that stretch along the Vistula River, relax in arty cafés or the new breed of swanky restaurants and bars, and soak up the city’s upbeat energy. It’s a fantastic place for a city break, with plenty to see and do. Get the lowdown on all the best attractions with our local guide to what to do in 48 hours in Warsaw.
Day one: morning
Spend the morning in Warsaw’s Old Town, painstaking rebuilt after being completely destroyed during the Second World War, and now a gorgeous UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. You can admire the charming Market Square, home to the famous Mermaid statue (the city’s symbol) and visit the Royal Castle, which now contains a fine collection of paintings. Amble through narrow streets dotted with enticing shops and cafés, and you’re sure to find the perfect spot for a lazy lunch.
Day one: afternoon
Visit the powerful Warsaw Rising Museum, which commemorates the 1944 uprising and has excellent, interactive exhibits on the city’s history during the Second World War. Afterwards, stroll down Novy Swiat, home to swanky boutiques and restaurants, to reach the gorgeous, green expanse of Lazienki Park. The city’s largest and loveliest park, it spreads around a splendid Neo-classical villa, perfectly reflected in the lake.
Day two: morning
The biggest symbol of Warsaw’s more recent history is the Palace of Culture and Science, a huge tower that was gifted to the city by Stalin. It’s a spectacularly ugly building, but the views from the 30th-floor observation deck are amazing. Then you could head across the water to visit the up-and-coming (if still rather gritty) Praga district, which is full of alternative shops and artist studios. The Soho Factory is home to the quirky Neon Museum, full of Communist-era neon signs. You’ll find plenty of places to eat and drink along Zabkowska Street.
Day two: afternoon
Spend a lazy afternoon strolling along the banks of the Vistula River, which flows through the centre of Warsaw. The revamped Vistula Boulevards on the west bank of the river are perfect for cycling or roller-blading, or you could even take one of the boat tours to cruise along the river in style. In summer, you could hit the beach near the Poniatowski Bridge, the most popular of the city’s urban beaches, which has concerts, DJ sessions and beach parties on balmy nights.