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Things to see in Warsaw

Tourist Offices

Centrum Informacji Turystycznej (Tourist Information Centre)

Address: , Palace of Culture and Science, pl. Defilad 1, Warsaw, 00 901
Telephone: +48 22 19 431.
Opening times:

Mon to Fri 0800-1600

Website: http://www.warsawtour.pl

There are other tourist information points in Warsaw: at the airport arrivals hall (Terminal A) and the Old Town market square.

Tourist passes

The Warsaw Tourist Card (www.warsawcard.com) is available via a one-off payment and is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It allows access into the city's top ten tourist sites and the hop on/hop off bus service, as well as discounts to selected tours and restaurants. 

Attractions

Getto Żydowskie (Jewish Ghetto)

What is markedly absent from Warsaw contributes as much to its history as anything that has been preserved or reconstructed. Pre-war Warsaw had a Jewish population second only to New York. After the Nazi invasion, some 450,000 Jews were rounded up and forced into the city's so-called ghetto. A 3m (10ft) wall encircled the area, from the Palace of Culture and Science to the Umschlagplatz monument, at the corner of Ulica Stawki and Ulica Dzika. This stark monument marks the place from where Jews were despatched by train to the Treblinka concentration camp, following the Ghetto Uprising of 19 April 1943. Only three sections of the actual wall remain.

Address: , Jewish Ghetto, Warsaw, Warsaw, 00-001
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Zamek Królewski (Royal Castle)

Walking through the Royal Castle, you have to remind yourself constantly that most of it was reconstructed between 1971 and 1984, although the darker elements of the décor were salvaged from the ruins. The castle, located on a plateau overlooking the Vistula River, was built for the Dukes of Mazovia and expanded when King Zygmunt III Vasa (Waza) moved the capital to Warsaw. From the early 17th until the late 18th century, this was the seat of the Polish kings. It subsequently housed the parliament and is now a museum displaying tapestries, period furniture, funerary portraits and collections of porcelain and other decorative arts.

Address: , Plac Zamkovy 4, Warsaw, Warsaw, 00-277
Telephone: +48 22 355 5338.
Opening times:

Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 1000-1800, Thu 1000-2000, Sun 1100-1800 (May-Sep); Tues-Sat 1000-1600, Sun 1100-1600 (Oct-Apr).

Website: http://www.zamek-krolewski.pl
Admission Fees:

Yes (free on Sun)

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Pałac Kultury I Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science)

Varsovians are divided over this prime example of Socialist Realism. For decades it has been, at 231m (758ft), the tallest building in Poland and a reminder of Stalin's bravura - it was a gift from him to the city, built between 1952 and 1955. Detractors still reckon that the best views of the city are from the top of the structure since it is the only place in Warsaw where you cannot see the Palace of Culture and Science. The viewing platform on the 30th floor at 115m (377ft) does indeed give a terrific view over Warsaw. Besides offices, the building houses a concert hall, a multiscreen cinema, three theatres and two museums.

 

Address: , Plac Defilad 1, Warsaw, 00-901
Telephone: +48 22 656 7136.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-2000 (to 2330 on Fri & Sat from 1 May-30 Sep).

Website: http://www.pkin.pl
Admission Fees:

No (charge for the observation deck)

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego (Warsaw Uprising Museum)

The Warsaw Rising Museum is a must-see for those with any interest in history and tales of bravery and self-sacrifice. In order to get a taste of what life in Warsaw must have been like for Varsovians during WWII, this thoroughly comprehensive museum shows examples of how residents resisted the German forces through film footage, photographs, recorded interviews, life-size dioramas, soundscapes and informative plaques, written in both Polish and English. Cityscape pictures pinpointing the handful of buildings that survived WWII are located on the museum's elevated viewing platform; they are a grim reminder of the destruction wrought by the Nazis on Warsaw.

Address: , Ulica Grzybowska 79, Warsaw, 00-844
Telephone: +48 22 539 7905.
Opening times:

Mon, Wed and Fri 0800-1800, Thurs 0800-2000, Sat-Sun 1000-1800.

Website: http://www.1944.pl/en
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Synagoga Nożyków (Nożyk Synagogue)

This synagogue dating from 1902 is the only Jewish house of worship in Warsaw to have survived the war as it was used as a Nazi warehouse. Other places of interest that connect Warsaw to Jewish history include the Jewish Historical Institute, the Jewish Cemetery and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. In a shady park just opposite the museum is the rather stern Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, which is on Ulica Ludwika Zamenhofa, in the centre of the ghetto. It was erected on a heap of wartime ruins in 1948.

Address: , Ulica Twarda 6, Warsaw, 00-001
Telephone: +48 22 620 4324.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0900-1900, Sun 1100-1900.

Website: http://www.warszawa.jewish.org.pl
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Muzeum Więzienia Pawiak (Pawiak Prison Museum)

This eerie old prison symbolises the oppression that has dogged Warsaw over the last two centuries. Originally built in 1839 at the order of the czar, the prison counted among its inmates many victims of the Nazi reign of terror from 1939 to1944, when it served as the largest political prison in Poland. A third of the estimated 100,000 detainees never made it out alive. The Nazis tried to dynamite the evidence of their crimes as they fled but Pawiak and its exhibits stand as a testament to Warsaw's seemingly endless ability to suffer and survive.

Address: , Ulica Dzielna 24/26, Warsaw, 00-001
Telephone: +48 22 831 1317.
Opening times:

Wed-Sun 1000-1700.

Website: http://museumofpawiakprison.tumblr.com
Admission Fees:

Yes (free on Thu)

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Pałac w Wilanowie (Wilanów Palace)

In the mid-1600s, King Jan III Sobieski commissioned Augustyn Locci to build the baroque palace and garden of Wilanów for his summer residence. Construction continued from 1677 until the king's death in 1696. Called Vila Nova in Italian (from which the Polish name is derived), it remained popular with subsequent monarchs. Visitors can tour the interior and the gallery, which features portraits of famous Poles. Artistic handicrafts are on display in the Orangerie. Also here is the Muzeum Plakatu (Poster Museum), the first of its kind in the world. Poles have excelled in the poster arts since at least the end of WWII.

Address: , ul. Stanislawa Kostki Potockiego 10/16, Warsaw, 02 958
Telephone: +48 22 544 2700.
Opening times:

Mon, Wed, Sat, Sun 0930-1800, Tues, Thurs and Fri 0930-1600

Website: http://www.wilanow-palac.art.pl
Admission Fees:

Yes (free admission Thurs)

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Muzeum Pawilon-X (Block 10 Museum)

Housed in the Citadel, a solid 19th-century fortress northwest of the Old Town and overlooking the Vistula, this Warsaw museum was once used as a prison for political enemies of the Russian czars. The lucky inmates were shipped to labour camps in Siberia; the less fortunate were executed at Brama Straceń (Gate of Execution) on the prison grounds. The original cells are still standing and labelled with some of the prison's more famous residents, and paintings by Alexander Sochaczewski, a former inmate transported to Siberia with 20,000 other anti-Russian insurgents in the mid-19th century, adorn the walls.

Address: Wybrzeże Gdańskie, Ulica Skazańców 25, Warsaw, 01-532
Telephone: +48 22 839 12 68.
Opening times:

Wed-Sun 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.muzeum-niepodleglosci.pl
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Katedra Św Jana (St John's Cathedral)

St John's is thought to be the oldest church in Warsaw. Originally built in the Mazovian gothic style in the 15th century, St John's has been remodelled many times over the centuries. It was only upgraded from a parish church to a cathedral in 1798. Destroyed during WWII, the cathedral has been reconstructed in its original style and features major gothic art works by Wit Stwosz. The cathedral was used in 1764 for the coronation of the last Polish king (Stanislaw II) and for the swearing in of the Sejm (Polish parliament) after the constitution of 1791.

Address: , Kanonia 6, Warsaw, 00-278
Telephone: +48 22 831 0289.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 1000-1700, Sun 1500-1700.

Website: http://www.katedra.mkw.pl
Admission Fees:

No (charge for the crypt)

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie (National Museum in Warsaw)

The National Museum's impressive collection of artworks and other items dates from ancient times to the present day and total some 800,000 pieces. Highlights include Jan Matejko's monumental Battle of Grunwald (1878), which celebrates the Polish victory over the Teutonic Knights in 1410, and the Faras Collection of early Christian and Egyptian art, which is unique in Europe. The collection of medieval art is also remarkable – if somewhat gruesome in parts. Unusually, there are also galleries of Polish and European decorative arts. Frequent temporary exhibitions bring prized international works (from Andy Warhol to Caravaggio) to Warsaw.

Address: , Aleje Jerozolimskie 3, Warsaw, 00-495
Telephone: +48 2 2621 1031.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1000-1800, Thu 1000-2100.

Website: http://www.mnw.art.pl
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Park Łazienkowski (Łazienki Park)

This splendid park contains a number of palaces as well as the Chopin Monument, where the annual Chopin Festival is held each summer, with free concert recitals in the park twice on Sunday afternoon from mid-May to September) set within extensive 18th-century gardens. Pałac na Wyspie (Palace on the Water) is best viewed from near the monument to Jan Sobiewski, on the bridge where Ulica Agrykola crosses the water. Dating from 1624, Zamek Ujazdowski (Ujazdowski Castle) now houses the Centre for Contemporary Art. The 1764 Pałac Belweder (Belvedere Palace) was of the residence of Poland's presidents until 1994.

Address: , Ulica Agrykola 1, Warsaw, 01-999
Telephone: +48 22 50 60 024.
Opening times:

Most museums are open Tues-Sun 0900-1600; park open daily from 0800 until sunset.

Website: http://www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl
Admission Fees:

No (charge for Palace on the Water and Centre for Contemporary Art).

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

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Premiere Classe Varsovie

It lives up to its name in cleanliness and prime location (very close to Warsaw's main train station) but this is a straightforward 'tourist class/budget' hotel with few frills beyond rather cramped en-suite facilities and a colour TV with a satellite connection. Wi-Fi access is available. What you lose in character, you'll gain in saving zloty for more interesting pursuits.

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.