48 Hours In: Warsaw

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Polish capital, fresh with exciting new openings, looks best in the golden glow of autumn

Travel Essentials

Why go now?

"Golden Autumn" brings respite from the stormy heat of summer, turning Warsaw's many parks and tree-lined avenues into every tone of orange, and offers mild days before the inevitable winter whiteness.

The Polish capital is also looking better than ever. The flourishing economy has helped create designer shops, new restaurants, a plethora of recent museum openings and striking modern architecture – Daniel Libeskind's newly finished, eye-catching Zlota 44 (1) is the city's tallest residential building.

Touch down

Warsaw's main airport, Frederic Chopin, is 10km south of the centre. British Airways (0870 850 9850; ba.com) and Lot Polish Airlines (0845 601 0949; lot.com) fly from Heathrow, while Wizz Air (0906 9595 0002; wizzair.com) flies from Doncaster, Glasgow, Liverpool and Luton.

Bus 175 takes around 45 minutes to reach Central Railway station (2), leaving every 15 minutes between 5am and 11pm. A night bus, N32, also runs. Tickets (4.40 zloty, written 4.40 PLN/90p) are available from kiosks with the RUCH logo; validate your ticket in the machine as you enter. Taxis take around 20 minutes and cost 35 to 40 PLN (£7-8); choose registered taxis such as Super Taxi, Sawa Taxi or Ele. Trains also run into the city centre every 15 minutes, taking around 20 minutes to Central station (2) (bit.ly/WarsawTrains, singles 4.40PLN (90p).

Some no-frills flights serve Modlin, 35km north-west. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) flies from Stansted, Manchester, Glasgow Prestwick, Bristol, East Midlands and Liverpool. The Modlin Bus (00 48 801 801 081; see modlinbus.com for timetables) takes anything from an hour to an hour and-a-half to reach the Palace of Culture and Science (3); one-way fares start at 9 PLN (£1.80).

Get your bearings

The Soviets' present to the Poles, the hideous and dominating Palace of Culture and Science (3) is the inevitable landmark in Central Warsaw, standing near Central station (2) and between several main arteries. It houses the Tourist Office (00 48 22 194 31; warsawtour.pl; 8am to 6pm daily, until 8pm from April to September).

Warsaw is easy to navigate, with an excellent system of trams, metro and buses. Most of the historic sites lie along the Royal Route, which leads from the Royal Castle (4) in the old Town – the whole of which was beautifully rebuilt in the decades after its destruction in the Second World War – south to Wilanow Palace (5), and runs parallel, but on higher ground, to the Vistula river. Commercial and Business districts spread out west of the Royal Route with the leafy residential district of Zoliborz marking Warsaw's north.

Check in

The deluxe Hotel Bristol (6), a recent addition to Starwood's Luxury Collection, brims with history, with Art Deco interiors and the best location in town on the Royal Route at 42/44 Krakowskie Przedmiescie (00 48 22 55 11 00; luxurycollection.com/bristolwarsaw). Doubles start at 439 PLN (£89) room only.

Newly renovated and nicely central, the comfortable four-star Hotel Mercure Warszawa Grand (7) offers value at 28 Krucza Street (00 48 22 583 2100; mercure.com). Doubles start at 217 PLN (£43) room only.

With a reputation as Warsaw's best budget option, the Hotel Campanile (8) has free Wi-Fi, a good buffet breakfast and a relatively central location at 2 Towarowa (00 48 22 582 7200; campanile.com). Doubles from 153 PLN (£30) room only.

Day One

Take a view

Warsaw wags claim the city's best view is from the top of the 230-metre high Palace of Culture & Science (3) because you can't see it. It does, however, give you an overview of the city. Open 9am to 6pm; tickets 20 PLN/£4 (00 48 22 656 76 00).

Take a hike

Start in the old town market square (9) and walk along the cobbled streets, dipping in and out of the amber shops until you reach the Royal Castle (4).

From here, head down the main thoroughfare of Krakowskie Przedmiescie, past the Neoclassical Presidential Palace (10) and swerving off to the right for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (11) where an eternal flame burns, soldiers stand guard and dignitaries come to lay wreaths.

As you continue along Krakowskie Przedmiescie, stop at the Holy Cross Church (12) to see where Frédéric Chopin's heart is buried. Continue on to the beautiful Plac Trzech Krzyzy (13) with its neoclassical Saint Aleksander's Church (14). Go beyond to Aleje Ujazdowskie, where the wide avenue is lined on one side by embassies and on the other by a Park Ujazdowskie (15). Finish at Belvedere Palace (16), whose image is etched on vodka bottles and where President Komorowski resides.

Lunch on the run

Grab some potato pancakes or pierogi (dumplings with a variety of stuffings). Most Polish restaurants will have a variation on the theme but the new Dawne Smaki (17) at 49 Nowy Swiat (00 48 22 465 83 20; dawnesmaki.pl) specialises in these delicious traditional dishes – quick, filling and cheap, from 19 PLN (£3.80).

Window shopping

Mokotowksa Street (18) jostles with Polish designers' ateliers, such as Ania Kuczynska (00 48 22 622 0276; aniakuczynska.com) at No 61, jewellery opposite at Lilou (No 63; 00 48 22 403 19 19; lilou.pl) and fashion and homeware at Maciej Zien (00 48 519 000 049; zien.pl) at No 57. For homespun goods, try Cepelia handicraft store (00 48 22 621 26 18; cepelia.pl) at Plac Konstytucji 5 (19) where traditional cribs mix with painted wooden birds, hand embroidered linen and bold woven rugs.

An aperitif

The new Advinture Wine Bar (00 48 22 55 11 00; luxurycollection.com/bristolwarsaw) at the Hotel Bristol (6) is a must. Pavement tables allow you to watch the world go by in elegant surroundings; wine by the glass starts at 18 PLN (£3.50). For a more informal feel head to Beirut Hummus & Music Bar (20) at Poznanska 12. It's a humming, happening place where you can try a few Polish beers or vodkas along with the speciality olive oil-soaked hummus.

Dining with the locals

For a more traditional setting, try U Kucharzy (21) at Ujazdowskie 8 (00 48 22 826 79 36; gessler.pl) for the sour rye soup, chanterelle mushrooms in cream, or roast duck stuffed with apple; main dishes around 50 PLN (£10). A favourite with the "in crowd" is Zushi Sushi (22) at Zurawia 6/12 (00 48 22 420 33 73 74) which has an impressive range of sashimi, sushi, nigiri, maki (items from 20 PLN /£4) and sake.

Day Two

Sunday morning: Go to church

Churches abound in this Catholic country and there are many masses throughout the morning. The Church of the Nuns of the Visitation (23) at Krakowskie Przedmiescie 34 is a little Baroque jewel where young Chopin often came to play the organ. There are six masses from 7.30am to 5pm, otherwise opening hours on Sunday are from 1pm to 4.30pm, weekdays from 9.30am, Saturday 9am to 2pm (00 48 22 826 65 85; wizytki.waw.pl).

Out to brunch

Try the newly opened Brasserie Warszawska (24) on a quiet side street, 24 Górnoslaska Street, near the Parliament (00 48 22 628 94 23; brasseriewarszaw ska.pl). It has a Sunday menu of fresh oysters, beef tartare and wild Baltic salmon; dishes from 25 PLN (£5).

A walk in the park

Adjacent is the leafy Ujazdowskie Park (15) which was first Laid out in 1896, the wide avenues lead to a lake, waterfall and bridges, delivering serenity in the heart of the city.

Cultural afternoon

You can't come to Warsaw and escape its brutal Second World War history in which the city rose up as the Red Army neared and was then razed by the Nazis. The Museum of the Warsaw Uprising (25) at Ulica Grzybowska 79 (00 48 22 539 79 05; 1944.pl), which opened in 2004, uses video footage, photographs and various exhibits to explain how the tragic events of 1944 unfolded. It is open 10am to 6pm daily, until 8pm on Thursday and closed Tuesdays. Free entry on Sundays, otherwise 14 PLN (£2.80).

The icing on the cake

Take bus No 105 from outside the Museum (25) to Foksal and change on to the E-2 bus to head out to the magnificent Baroque palace and park of Wilanow (5) often called the Polish Versailles, about 10km south of the city centre. It opens 10.30am to 4pm Sunday, from 9.30am Wednesday to Saturday; closed Tuesdays; admission costs 20 PLN (£4).

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

    £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - major leisure brand

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Partner

    £25000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Partner is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn