The Polish capital is a perfect destination for a weekend city break. From inspiring museums and historical landmarks to trendy cafes and traditional Polish restaurants, here are the best things to do if you’ve only got 48 hours in Warsaw.
Tour around Warsaw’s Old Town
Start your day exploring Old Town from beautiful Krakowskie Przedmieście Street towards the Royal Castle. Admire the city’s most significant architectural gems–notably the main campus of the University of Warsaw and the neoclassical Presidential Palace.
Further down, you’ll find one of the oldest hotels of the city Hotel Bristol, standing at the very center for over 100 years and hosting many famous guests, including Martin Scorsese, Pablo Picasso, and Marlene Dietrich.
Afterward, climb to the viewing platform of St. Anne’s Church for sweeping views of Royal Castle Square and Sigismund Column before continuing walking through lovely cobblestone streets of the historical part of Warsaw.
Explore Warsaw’s Alternative District
Praga, nestled on the eastern side of the city on the right bank of the Vistula River, has been home to diverse ethnicity, culture, and religion for centuries. Unlike the historical part of Warsaw, Praga wasn’t destroyed during the Second World War, making it the most authentic neighborhood to visit.
Start your exploration by visiting the Praga Museum of Warsaw to learn more about the area’s history before strolling down the streets, admiring various religious temples, and countless fascinating murals.
See the neon signs of the Cold War era
Once in Praga, make sure to visit the Neon Museum located in an old warehouse to appreciate more than 60 colorful neon lights that once beautified the brutal architecture of Warsaw during the Cold War era. This small, quirky museum tells how Warsaw used neon signs as a cultural and political art.
Have Lunch at Praga Koneser Center
Praga Koneser Center complex encompasses restaurants, offices, residential areas, and a former Warsaw Vodka Factory (now a vodka museum).
Come here to look around and have lunch at Ferment Praski, which reinvents traditional Polish meals into modern cuisine by combining cooking techniques and flavors from around the world.
And if you want to learn more about Polish Vodka, book a guided tour at Polish Vodka Museum, which lasts for 70 minutes and includes a tasting at the end.
Learn More About Polish Jews
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews located in the former Warsaw Ghetto chronologically showcases the 1,000 year-history of Polish Jews from the 10th century to present day.
The winner of the European Museum of the Year in 2016 has eight immersive galleries featuring interactive displays where you can play and learn more about each topic.
The reconstructed historic synagogue and an interactive model of Kraków and its Jewish quarter are among its mesmerizing displays.
Close to the museum, you can also see the Warsaw Ghetto boundary and an exact spot (Umschlagplatz) from where Nazis deported Jewish Poles to various concentration camps.
Devour Polish Dumplings for Dinner
Pierogi are traditional Polish dumplings that come with different stuffings. They can be savory or sweet, depending on the filling.
The most traditional and popular one is called Ruskie (Russian) and has potato, cottage cheese, and onion inside the dough. Other types also have mushrooms, pickled cabbage, cheese, meat, strawberries, and plums, to name a few.
One of the best places to try Pierogi in Warsaw is Gościniec Polskie Pierogi, right at the entrance of the Old Town, or Zapiecek chain scattered across the city.
See the Gigantic Soviet Palace
Palace of Culture and Science is a ‘gift of the Soviet people for the Poles’ constructed in 1955 by an initiative of Joseph Stalin. This 237 meters high Palace with 30 floors is one of the iconic and tallest buildings in Warsaw’s center.
Even today, the Palace houses various cultural institutions such as cinemas, theaters, sports clubs, and the Polish Academy of Sciences management, to name a few. There is an observation deck on the last floor with a view of Warsaw’s modern skyline.
Enjoy an Early Afternoon Walk at Łazienki Park
Lazienki Park is probably one of the most beautiful recreation areas of Warsaw, nestled in the city center.
Initially created as a baths park for a nobleman Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski in the 17th century, Poland’s last monarch, Stanislaus II Augustus, later transformed it into a palace complex and a summer residence.
The park, occupying 76 hectares of land, is home to red squirrels, swans, ducks, colorful peacocks, along with stunning Baroque palaces and monuments. During summer, live piano concerts occur every Sunday at Chopin’s Statue.
Have Lunch at the Oldest Milk Bar
Milk Bar (Bar Mleczny) is a Polish cafeteria that emerged during the Soviet times and served locals with stated-financed local meals at the lowest cost. The establishments’ name comes from serving dairy-based meals when meat was a rare product back in the day.
Prasowy, established in 1954, is the oldest milk bar in Warsaw, still serving traditional Polish comfort meals at the lowest prices. Here you can try pancakes, pierogi, soups, and desserts. You can also try their set Lunch Menu, which includes the main course (meat and a side dish), a soup, a small salad, and a soft drink.
Visit Warsaw’s Most Iconic Museums
The city has plenty of museums for history and culture lovers. However, a few iconic ones should be on anyone’s two-day Warsaw itinerary.
One of them is the Warsaw Rising Museum, devoted to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. With its interactive displays, the museum is profoundly moving and, at some parts, quite hard to stomach with graphic films and courageous photographs documenting starvation and the eventual death of many Warsaw inhabitants.
For those interested in how Poles lived under the Communist regime, the Museum of Life Under Communism is a great choice. Wander through this small museum showcasing various everyday household items such as hairdryers, grocery packages, gym equipment, family photos, and fashion magazines, to name just a few. Apart from this, the museum has showrooms of a typical Soviet apartment, a kindergarten, and a functioning cafe where you can sit and sip a coffee.
Dine at the Oldest Restaurant
Nestled in the former wine cellar in old town, U Fukiera is the city’s oldest and most beloved restaurant, not to mention Michelin starred.
Throughout its history, British Princess Anne Mountbatten-Windsor, the Queen of Denmark Margrethe II, Roman Polanski, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, and Sophia Queen of Spain, and many others, dined at its tables.
With its unique mix of the old aristocracy and medieval design, the menu offers splendid traditional Polish meals in its candlelit atmosphere that transports you to a different time.
Looking to explore beyond Warsaw? Do it by rail via Poland From a Passenger Car: the Country by Train