How do I have the expertise to write a local’s guide to Warsaw? Well many of you may not know that my family is Polish, and that I’m actually the first generation Australian out of hundreds of years of family history. Since I grew up in Australia and am a very proud Aussie, people often think I’m joking when I tell them I’m bilingual… until they hear me on the phone to my mum!
My parents made it very important for me to be brought up speaking the language and being immersed in the Polish culture. I used to hate being different from all the kids at school but now that I’m older I’ve become a lot more interested in learning about my roots. All the years of weekly polish lessons (oh the torture!) has paid off and it’s now very convenient to be able to travel to Poland and fluently communicate with locals without any problems.
I recently took a trip to Warsaw, the capital of Poland, to stay with my aunty and catch up with my dad who was there on holidays. My aunty grew up in Warsaw and has lived there for 60+ years so she showed me all around her beloved city.
Here are my top places to visit and tips for travelling in Warsaw…
To get around Warsaw I recommend getting a day trip ticket for public transport which you can get from the many kiosks scattered all around Warsaw. Adult priced tickets are around 15 złoty ($5AUD) and last for 24 hours from validation. Alternatively taxis around town are affordable averaging around $5AUD for a 5-10 minute trip.
Pałac Kultury, the ‘Palace of Culture and Science’ is that huge building right in the centre of Warsaw. There is always something going on in there and this summer it was the Titanic Exhibition. It was so awesome to see, especially since taking a cruise on Titanic II has always been a top bucket list item of mine.
Stare Miasto (Old Town)
Stare Miasto is the ‘Old Town’ of Warsaw and probably the most touristy part. You can’t come to Warsaw and skip Stare Miasto. It’s a great place to wander around and have a drink at one of the restaurants, whilst observing the thousands of years of history on every corner.
Krakowskie Przedmieście & Nowy Świat
If you want to see more of the local vibes visit the well known historic suburb of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście. Continue strolling and you will eventually get to Nowy Świat ‘New World Street’ known for it’s fine dining restaurants and shops.
Łazienki Park & Wilanów
For down time hang out at Łazienki – Warsaw’s largest (76 hectare) park in the city. It’s very beautiful to walk through and completely different depending on the seasons.
If you have the time, another beautiful park to visit is Wilanów a little bit out of the city centre. There you’ll find the Wilanów Palace which is also known as the ‘Polish Versailles.’
There is a huge fountain next to Warsaw’s River Wisła that’s a great place to relax and have a picnic. If you’re visiting in Summer go there on a Friday or Saturday night for the incredible live Multimedia Fountain shows after sunset (all for free).
For shopping, the biggest and best local place is the modern Arkadia Shopping Centre, where you’ll find all kinds of international brands.
Eat at Amrit Kekabs
Theres nothing like real home-made polish food so I don’t actually have any recommendations for polish restaurants other than try and stay with a polish family through Workaway, Homestay or AirBnB. However, I did have an amazing experience at a Turkish restaurant in Wilson Square called Amrit Kebabs. We got soooo much food and the customer service was the best I’ve ever had (honestly)!
These are the main things you’d want to know when travelling to Warsaw, but if you’re into your history then there is so much more to Poland than you think. You can learn about Polish (and Eastern European) history in the many museums around the city.
Millions of innocent Polish people died during the World Wars, and those who actually survived went through a lot of crap. The now considered ‘rich’ countries stole all of Poland’s resources and land, forcing Poland to completely disappear off the World Map (3 times!) The Polish literally had to start their country from scratch and over the past 20 years or so have miraculously bounced back.
Poland’s economy is getting better every year, however experiencing the average lifestyle through my family first-hand makes me grateful to call Australia home. I totally understand why so many Polish people leave their country for a ‘better life’ abroad.
Living in Poland may not be for me, but travelling as a tourist is amazing, so please support the Polish economy and take a trip to Warsaw, you’ll love it! And if you’d like a local guide to take you on a private tour of Warsaw, you can book them here.
And don’t forget to also visit the historic city of Kraków while you’re there 🙂
Do you have any questions about Warsaw or Poland? I will happily give you an answer from a local’s perspective, just leave a comment below…
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