20 Top Things to Do in Warsaw Old Town & What to See in One Day
I had one day in Warsaw because I had chosen a 10-hours stopover at Warsaw Chopin Airport so that I could visit Old Town Warsaw for the second time. I took a 20 minutes bus ride from Warsaw Chopin Airport to Old Town after exchanging some Euro to zloty from Airport Kantor Exchange with a bad forex rate. There is also other transportation from Warsaw Airport like train, taxi and Uber where you can get to the Old Town or other parts of the city centre.
Warsaw Old Town was my chosen destination, as I knew there were many Warsaw attractions for me to see. A few hours in Warsaw would complete the walking tour around the vicinity of Warsaw Old Town. As I took a bus and alight at the last stop of bus 175 – Plac Piłsudskiego, I began my Warsaw sightseeing from there.
Here are some quick facts about Warsaw: –
Although what you see in Warsaw today were mostly buildings reconstructed after the post-war period, many of them were rebuilt according to ancient drawings and illustrations from painters so that the new structure and style could look as similar as possible to the pre-war designs.
You can refer and save the walking guide from the customised Google Maps below on things to do in Old Town. Alternatively, you can choose to follow my Warsaw List on Google Maps. Whichever method used will enable you to see the same points of interests on your Google Maps.
The beauty of Adam Mickiewicz Square greeted me as I began my Warsaw sightseeing walking tour towards Warsaw Old Town. There was a monument in the middle of the park dedicated to Adam Bernard Mickiewicz. He was a Polish poet and a political activist, regarded as Poland’s greatest poet and national pride who inspired romanticism. The monument construction was from 1897 to 1898.
Carmelite Church built from 1761 – 1783 has a neoclassical-style facade which is most prominent in Warsaw. The Carmelite Church was reputably a place where Frédéric Chopin was invited to give a recital on the church’s organ for his first job. The Carmelite Church was one of the rare relics of World War II as it suffered only minor damage, retaining its originality since its construction.
Towards the walk on the right, you will notice a stately building at a distance guided by security guards at the front preceded by two pairs of stone lions at the side and inaccessible to the public. That is the Presidential Palace. At the front was a monument of a knight on a horse who is Józefa Poniatowskiego. He was a Polish general, minister of war and army chief, who became a Marshal of the French Empire. The Presidential Palace used to be the private properties for the nobles for 175 years after its construction in 1643. Since 1994, it belongs to the President of the Republic in Poland.
Miniature Park is not just for kids. It offers an opportunity to visualise several building structures from the Mazovia area before its destruction during World War II. Through the miniature monument storytelling, one can recapture the historical moment through symbolic reconstruction. The Miniature Park is open to visitors daily from July 5 to October 31 from 10 am to 7 pm. The regular ticket price is PLN14 (€3.25 | US$3.65) for adults, PLN12 (€2.80 | US$3.15) for children and free for those under 5 years old.
St. Anne’s Church is one of the oldest buildings in Warsaw with a neoclassical facade. It is the main parish church of the academic community in Warsaw today that had undergone several reconstructions in the past until 1788. In 1794, a traitor was executed outside St Anne’s Church to the rejoicing of the people. St. Anne’s Church is not only impressive from the outside, but the church interior is also similarly captivating and majestic. I was utterly bewitched by the high-baroque style and imposing lavish chandelier when I stepped in. It is a must-visit Warsaw attraction for witnessing its glamour.
Trzecia Brama is supposed to be a restaurant and cafe. When I travelled to Warsaw Old Town that day, the entrance leading to the establishment had turned into a mini-fair inside. A banner hung on the top stating “Zaprasza Regionalia”. There was a display of local products, such as souvenirs and ornaments. Even though the fair was small, the interior was cosy and lovely. Perhaps, you would be able to catch the same event the next time you go for Warsaw sightseeing.
The Viewing Terrace provides the best breathtaking panorama scenery of Warsaw Old Town if you are willing to climb up 150 stone steps to the vantage point. The ticket price is PLN6.00 (€1.40 | US$1.55), and children under 4 years old are free. The admission tickets are sold at the entrance of the observation deck, and no reservation is allowed. Smoking and alcoholic beverages consumption are also prohibited. It would be one of the coolest things to do in Old Town to be up there. There is also another Warsaw attraction that is the observation deck at the Palace of Culture and Science which may interest you too.
The Royal Castle in Warsaw was once the royal residence of the Polish monarch for centuries. It also marked the entrance of Warsaw Old Town. Visitors can go to the Royal Castle for exhibitions, lectures, film screening and concerts. The adult ticket price is PLN30.00 (€7.00 | US$7.85) and children up to 16 years of age is PLN1.00 (€0.20 | US$0.25). Go on a Wednesday for free entry. The operating hours start from 10 am daily, and 11 am on Sundays. It closes from 5 to 7 pm, depending on the months of visit. The Royal Castle museum is closed on Monday.
If you want to have an attractive exchange rate of zloty and do not want to feel ripped off, the Currency Exchange Office (known as Kantor Exchange locally) is one of the best places to exchange money. At Warsaw Airport, the online rate was €1 to PLN 4.30. The forex counters at the airport will never match up to such a desirable rate. This Kantor Exchange facing Royal Castle had the same forex rate as what I checked online. Exchange your currency here if you want to get a high buying rate for zloty.
The Jarmark Zygmuntowski fair is seasonal and situated along the street of Miedzymurza Piotra Bieganskiego. In 2019, it ran for one month from 26 April to 26 May promoting products like souvenirs and food mainly from different parts of the country. The flagship event in high anticipation is Jarmark Bożonarodzeniowy, which means ‘Christmas Market’. The scheduled date is on 23 November 2019 to 6 January 2020. The event entrance located near to a florist shop – Kwiaciarnia Zamkowa had a staggered wall which was worth my second look.
Zapiecek Restaurant was where I had my lunch. It served traditional Polish food and delicious Pierogi (Polish Dumplings). Expect to pay around €10 – €15 on average. Zapiecek Restaurant also has several chains of restaurants in Warsaw. The tables are always taken up quickly as they are well-known restaurants in Warsaw. One of the top things to do in Old Town Warsaw is to try the delicious Polish food at any of the local restaurants. Pierogi is a must-try cuisine which has a variety of filling inside.
Shrine of Our Lady of Grace suffered the same ill fate as its adjacent counterpart. It had undergone a phase of construction between the 1950s to 1973 after WWII when German razed it to the ground. Now, it has a more simplified architectural style with a contemporary church hall as it had lost many of its furnishings after the catastrophic destruction. Following the visit to St. John Archcathedral, this church hall paled of in comparison with its simplicity. Take a look at these two Warsaw attractions.
Beside Shrine of Our Lady of Grace Church, you will see St. John’s Archcathedral. It is a Roman Catholic Church in Warsaw Old Town and has a prominent arch, originated from the 14th century. During WWII, a significant area of the church was destroyed by explosives intentionally placed inside the drilled wall by the Germans. Later, the exterior was remodelled according to the original perception inferred from drawings and illustrations. One wall withstood the dynamiting from the deliberate plan to destruct Warsaw.
Warsaw’s Old Town Market Square is a place where you can sit in a cafe and bask in the sun when the weather is good. The architectures around Old Town Market Square had undergone restoration and characterised by colourful buildings. It remains as one of the most conspicuous places for tourist’ attraction or a meetup and relaxation in one of the restaurants and cafes. During the day, there are temporary stalls set up to sell items like souvenirs, painting and handicraft in Old Town Market Square and watch street performers. You can also take carriages there. A Warsaw Mermaid monument stands in the heart of the square and is a symbolic icon of the old city.
The Museum of Warsaw has 21 rooms with different themes, comprising of three parts of segments from the city’s history to its present events. There are 300,000 collections with a selection of more than 7,000 exclusively for the exhibition. All of the displays are original. The operating hours are from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 7 pm and close on Monday. The standard ticket price is PLN20 (€4.65 | US$5.20) and PLN10.00 for the temporary exhibitions.
The Warsaw Barbican fortification is a popular tourist attraction erected in 1540 and one of the last fortifications remaining. It once defended against the Swedish invasion in 1656. The Barbican was later demolished partially in the 18th century as the regard to the wall defensive worth was not high. A bigger gate that facilitated the daily movement of people and goods was deemed as more beneficial. During WWII, most of the Barbican walls were in the wreckage. After WWII, it was rebuilt as a tourist attraction to reduce cost instead of structural reinforcement.
People who are interested in Warsaw’s devastating past can visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum to commemorate the heroes who fought and sacrificed themselves to liberate Poland from the war-torn battle. The monuments of soldiers standing outside the museum served as a reminder of their priceless sacrifices. The Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego) is approximately 3.3 km away from here if you want to understand more. A regular ticket costs PLN25 (€5.80 | US$6.50) per person. You can buy tickets online too. The visiting hours start as early as 8 am. However, it is better to check the website as they are not the same daily.
A peculiar cathedral name befitted with striking twin spires and a Polish national flag flying at the top of the religious edifice makes one connote to the military instantaneously. Once used as a garrison and a hospital for the insurgents during World War II, it was later destroyed in 1944. Its former glory was resurrected decades later. Today, It is the central church of the Polish Armed Forces and a significant place where the military army holds its religious feasts.
The Polish also refer the Monument to the Heroes of Warsaw as the Warsaw Nike. Nike was a goddess who represented victory in ancient Greek religion. The monument erected in 1956 was to commemorate those who died in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Warsaw Uprising along with the inscription: Heroes of Warsaw from 1939 to 1945. I saw the enthralling 10-ton sculpture from afar.
The erection of this 18th-century palace for the Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was not spared from dire destructions. Before WWII, the Jabłonowski Palace functioned as the City Hall with the demolishing of the former one. An arson in 1863 Uprising gave birth to the Neo-Renaissance style under the new remodelling, along with the installation of a distinctive tower. The demolition in WWII led to another restoration with the shape assimilating pre-war style before 1936. Some parts of the designs were contemporary nonetheless.
I ended my 5 hours of Warsaw sightseeing by taking a bus back to the Warsaw Airport from Plac Teatralny bus stop. The scenery in Warsaw Old Town is beautiful and calm. It has lesser tourists if you arrive early in the morning. In the afternoon, the crowd builds up. The food in Warsaw is also considered inexpensive as compared to many other European cities. It would be a good idea to take your breakfast or lunch there. My recommendation is to try the Polish Dumplings, also known as Pierogi, the Polish soup, and their tea brewed from fruits. A truly refreshing experience! I am feeling glad to be able to see Warsaw Old Town again!
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