Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland, and also the epicentre of the country’s economy, politics, and culture. With more than 500 years of history blending in with modern urban lifestyle, the city is a top destination that draws many visitors to its ground. Its rebirth from the shadows of World War II marked a new era for the country, with Warsaw leading at the front of recovery. Many recognise its seal, which distinctly features the city’s affectionate symbol, a Mermaid. This exciting destination is a Pandora’s Box of surprises, with many new discoveries to be made at every turn.
What to do and see
A UNESCO World Heritage site that sparked the revival of Warsaw back in 1980, the Old Town is the oldest existing part of the city. Founded in the 13th Century as the Prince’s castle, it was almost completely decimated during World War II.
Now, it is the crowded heart of Warsaw bursting with galleries, cafes, and restaurants. If you’re here in the summer, you’re in for a big treat to theatre performances and open-air art exhibitions throughout the alleys and plazas. Don’t miss the famous works of Rembrandt and Canaletto housed in the Royal Castle fronting the Old Town.
The Cathedral Basilica of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist gives visitors a more solemn look into the religious history of Warsaw. Rising up from among a row of buildings, this remarkable cathedral was constructed in the 14th Century as a parish church and gradually became the most important church in Poland. Visit the tombs of many notable Polish figures here, including the last Polish King Stanisław August Poniatowski and Nobel writer Henryk Sienkiewicz. The Cathedral has organ concerts in the summer.
For the music lover, it will also be interesting to learn that Warsaw was the hometown of celebrated composer Fryderyk Chopin. Retrace his steps along the Royal Route, where numerous buildings share a history with this legend. The Holy Cross Church is where his heart is interred, while recitals of Chopin’s music are held seasonally in Lazienki Park. Other notable landmarks of Chopin’s life include Saski Palace and Kazimierzowski Palace where he used to live, and Kazimierzowski Park, where he strolled and played in his early years.
Getting a taxi in Warsaw is fairly simple, as long as you only get on clearly-marked cabs. Rides can be interesting if you’re conversant with the driver – don’t be surprised if you land a chatty journey! If in doubt, contact the Warsaw taxi and transfer service to help you arrange your ride. Car rentals are also available, although discouraged for visitors within the city due to streets being crammed with boggling signs and one-way trams.
Public transportation here is every commuter’s dream: safe, efficient, and affordable. Warsaw’s underground metro has one line traversing the city, terminating at the main station, Warszawa Centralna. Be wary of your belongings when navigating this station and its tunnels. The buses and trams travelling on the roads also use the same ticketing system – simply punch in your ticket at the small orange box when you board the vehicle.
Getting to Warsaw
Warsaw’s international and domestic flights are processed by Warsaw Chopin Airport, located 10km from the city centre. Many major airlines fly here, among the ranks of Emirates, Air France, KLM, and British Airways. The city can be reached by a 25-minute bus ride, which would cost about NZD1. Taxis can also be flagged at the Airport, but the ranks inside the terminal tend to overcharge – so hail one from the ranks outside.
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Airports near Warsaw
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