According to the good folk at TripAdvisor, these are the top five things to do in Warsaw. Far from us to argue with the will of the people, but if you are looking to avoid the crowds and see something a bit different, we have put together a Warsaw alternative top five for you to enjoy.
#1 Trip Advisor – Łazienki Park
Our Alternative: Pole Mokotowskie Park
Ok, so it’s got some nice lakes, a crazy statue of Chopin and even a Palace, but you’ll be sharing the park with half of Poland and you’re not even allowed to ride your bike here. Forget that foolishness and head over to a real park. We give you Pole Mokotowskie.
Pole Mokotowskie used to house Warsaw’s Airport and is now a grand mix of open fields, water and parkland. Hidden amongst the pathways are a selection of bars and restaurants specialising in grilled meat, ice cold beer, and at the weekends, thumping loud Disko Polo. The park centres on the lake and on a summers evening this is a great place to have a discreet drink while the sun sets.
Search hard enough and you will find an abandoned swimming pool, more recently used as a clandestine nightclub, which lends itself to some sneaky urban exploring.
#2 Trip Advisor – Old Town
Our Alternative: Praga District
Warsaw’s Old Town is not all it appears, have a read of this if you want to find out just how ‘old’ it is exactly. Give the reconstruction a miss, cross the river and see some real old buildings on an urban safari in Praga.
For a long time Praga was a separate town to Warsaw and survived the Second World War intact thanks to the Red Army who waited here while the Uprising was taking place across the Vistula. Unlike the west side of the river, Praga is made up of old buildings, many of which bear the scars of war in the bullet holes and shell marks on the walls.
Predominantly a working district, the area is now gradually being redeveloped as the hip young things move in. This is where you will find some of Warsaw’s best clubs and bars, but by day the best thing to do is wander around the crumbling tenement buildings, many of which are comprised of a central courtyard with a candle-lit shrine to the Virgin Mary.
Confused as to where to start? Take the tram to ‘Wiatraczna’ and start exploring from there.
#3 Trip Advisor – Warsaw Uprising Museum
Our Alternative: Uprising Memorials and Shrines.
The crowds on TripAdvisor may have a point here, the Warsaw Uprising Museum is excellent, especially if you visit on a Sunday when entry is free.
If you want to have a more personal experience of the Uprising, track down some of the numerous memorials around the city that mark key battles and skirmishes that took place in 1944.
Shires and monument to the Warsaw Uprising are located across the city and can be recognised by the distinctive PW symbol that has come to represent the event (Polska Walcząca – fighting Poland). These monuments can vary from elaborate memorials to a hand-painted PW with flowers and candles underneath.
#4 Trip Advisor – POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Our alternative: Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery
Not every museum wins European Museum of the Year. This one did. And they also sell a joint ticket that allows you access to all the museum exhibitions as well as the haunting Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery.
The cemetery contains an estimated 250,000 individual graves plus mass graves from the Second World War. Although reopened after the war, it had become overgrown and neglected, and renovation started in the 1990s.
Today the area is dense woodland, with crypts and headstones amongst the trees and undergrowth; a striking reminder of how big Warsaw’s pre-war Jewish population was. An interpretation board gives details of notable people buried here and features information on their contribution to Warsaw life.
Read more about visiting Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery here.
#5 Trip Advisor – Old Town Market Square
Our alternative: Plac Zbawicela
The Market Square in the heart of the Old Town boasts a wide selection of restaurants whose customers are mostly tourists happy to pay tourist prices. To experience a more authentic slice of Warsaw life, swap the Old Town Square with Plac Zbawiciela, better known as Plac Hipster and ground zero for Warsaw’s bearded skinny jean wearing French Bulldog owners.
A great selection of bars and restaurants can be found around the square, and no visit is complete without a drink in Plan B, the granddaddy of the ‘new Warsaw’ scene. In the summer the party spills out onto the pavement tables and beyond, making Plac Zbawicela the perfect place to meet like-minded people, drink beer and twizzle your moustache.
Tram Stop ‘Plac Zbawicela’
What’s your Warsaw Alternative Top Five? Let us know using the comments below.