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Warsaw Travel Guide

About Warsaw

Poland’s capital Warsaw is a city of unshakeable stamina, a modern metropolis charged with history. The national beauty sweepstakes may have been won by Cracow years ago, and Gdańsk still claims the endless Baltic Sea, but neither matches Warsaw for its culture, verve and variety. Take note, too, that it has been earmarked as one of Europe’s cheapest cities for culture.

This is a large and sprawling metropolis of more than 1.7 million people, split into somewhat uneven halves by the Vistula River. Almost everything of interest to visitors is on the western side of its waters. Dominating the skyline here is the landmark Palace of Culture and Science, a “gift” from Stalin’s USSR in the 1950s. At 237m-high (778 ft), it’s still the tallest building in Poland for now.

It’s the distant past that gives Warsaw its main sights. The so-called Royal Route (Trakt Królewski), which runs south from the city’s Old Town, passes a number of historical landmarks, including the royal gardens of Łazienki Park and the 17th-century Wilanów Palace.

The Old Town itself, however, is the chief set-piece attraction. “Old” is something of a misnomer – badly damaged by WWII bombing, the area was painstakingly rebuilt with such success that it was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1980. Sights in and around the Old Town include the Royal Castle, St John’s Cathedral and the Citadel. Further afield, visit Warsaw Rising Museum for the story of the courageous men and women who rose up against their occupiers in WWII.

Not surprisingly for a city that was essentially rebuilt from the ground up, Warsaw offers an inordinate amount of green space. When it’s sunny, leafy parks, rowing lakes, outdoor cafés and al fresco concerts create a mood far removed from the dull, Communist-era images of Warsaw.

The nightlife, meanwhile, is some of the best in Eastern Europe, with a multitude of bars and clubs scattered across the city as well as more highbrow entertainment such as classical music concerts and opera.

Key facts

Population:
1750000
Latitude:
52.252573
Longitude:
21.007136
A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Castle Inn

Castle Inn Oki Doki has plenty going for it. It's the only hotel within the limits of Warsaw's Old Town, is stumbling distance from the Royal Castle, and is housed in a 17th-century tenement house that miraculously survived WWII. Rooms (most of which are 3-star, a handful 4) are colourful ensembles, each sporting a unique and playful theme, such as 'Alice in Wonderland' or 'Oriental Express'. 'Viktor’ is named after a reclusive street artist, complete with artsy graffiti.

Harenda Hotel

A well-priced accommodation in the heart of Warsaw, Harenda offers simple rooms equipped with a TV and safe. The lobby is welcoming and once you’ve checked in, you can climb the large wide staircase to find your room. Note that some of the rooms/suites have been rented out for business purposes (eg doctors' offices) and that some singles are on the small size. The hotel entrance is off Krakowskie-Przedmiescie to the left; you’re really paying for the location here.

Dom Literatury

A bargain for what it offers and the location, the 'House of Literature’ is – appropriately enough - the headquarters of the Polish PEN Club, an international association of writers. It’s on the third floor with no lift but the climb up several flights of steps is worth it for the wonderful views over the Old Town. The rooms are quite formal, with comfortable but old-fashion sofas and beamed ceilings.

Hotel Hit

It’s nothing to write home about but this budget hotel’s location near the bars and other nightlife venues of Praga make it a, well, hit with those coming to Warsaw to party. The clean, rather cosy, modern rooms are bland but perfectly functional and represent excellent value for money. Look on the website for weekend and other specials.

Maria Hotel

Away from the city centre, but handy to the city's Jewish sights and just a few tram stops from the Old Town, Maria Hotel is a small, family-run and family-friendly hotel with modern amenities and a decent restaurant on the premises. Rooms are generally big, bright, and airy, and all are en suite. It’s in a rambling old house with rooms set over three floors (no lift) with atmosphere in spades and a friendly, welcoming staff.

H15 Boutique

 Don't be fooled by the H15 Boutique’s 19th century plane exterior the interior is the complete opposite, high quality modern furnishings and colourful yet cosy rooms. The hotel also offers conference rooms, a restaurant and beauty salon.