Once known as the “Paris of the East”, Warsaw was known as one of European’s most beautiful cities until World War II left it in rubble. Since the end of the war, Warsaw has rebuilt itself and is again emerging as a fascinating place for travellers to visit.
If you are flying Polish Airlines LOT, it’s likely you’ll fly through Warsaw; and for budget-savvy travellers, Polish Airlines LOT also provides one of the cheapest flight options for travellers flying from Eastern Europe to the USA! Add on a stopover to your journey, even just a night or two, to get a taste of this beautiful country.
Read on to discover some of the best things to do in Warsaw on a stopover!
What to do with 48-Hours in Warsaw, Poland:
1. Old Town
Warsaw’s architecture is eclectic and diverse in style; the New City (Nowe Miasto) co-exists with the old city (Stare Miastro).
No trip to Warsaw is complete without a visit to the old town district. Walking through this district is a real journey through time: everything seems preserved from time, and the city looks like it could be in the past. this district offers a charm of yesteryear. Completely destroyed during the Warsaw uprising in 1944, the old town was rebuilt thanks to a significant national mobilization effort identically.
Warsaw’s most colourful and photogenic spot is the Old Town Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta). Wander the narrow streets, go shopping, or spend some time in a cafe people watching. You can also see the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and say hello to the Statue of the Little Insurgent (Maly Powstaniec).
2. Walk along the Royal Way
The Royal Way is one of Warsaw’s most famous streets. This avenue heads north past some of Warsaw’s most important sights, starting at the Palm Tree in the south and ending at the Old Town. It is roughly 2 km long and it takes 30 minutes to walk the entire Royal Way, but be sure to stop at some of the key sights along the way.
- A Blikle – this famous Warsaw restaurant is where you should go to satisfy your sweet tooth with Polish cookies, pastries, and coffee!
- Bar Mleczny Familijny – If you want to taste traditional Polish food, Bar Mleczny is a cafeteria where you can find a cheap meal!
- Church of the Holy Cross – The composer Chopin was born in 1810 near Warsaw but has always been a strong symbol for the locals. This stunning church is known as the place where the heart of Fryderyk Chopin lies safely hidden away in one of the pillars of the church. See if you can spot the plaque marking the pillar.
- Chopin Benches – Along the Royal Way are black marble benches. Each bench plays music by Chopin, just look for the button and listen closely…it can be a bit difficult to hear the music if it is noisy nearby.
- Pilsudski Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – Pilsudski Square is a large open square located just next to the Royal Way. There’s also a large plaque there which commemorates Pope John Paul II’s visit here in 1979. If you take a very quick detour off the Royal Way, you can also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This memorializes the Polish soldiers who fought and died in World War I.
- Presidential Palace – This is the site of the signing of the Warsaw Pact in 1955. This pact united the Soviet satellite states (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union) against NATO.
3. Łazienki Park
Located near Stare Miasto (old town), Łazienki Park is known as “little Prague”: a large park where you can relax a stone’s throw from a major thoroughfare. Ideal for resting for a few hours, for lunch, to forget the hustle and bustle of city life. Statues, monuments, fauna, and flora punctuate your walk.
If you visit during the summer months, be sure to time your visit with one of the Chopin concerts held inside the park. Last summer, they were held on Sundays between May and September. Entrance to these concerts is free.
4. Old Town Observation Tower (Taras Widokowy)
Looking for the best view in Warsaw? Look no further!
Located next to St. Anne’s church in Old Town, climb the 150 steps up to the observation tower for an incredible view down the Royal Way and overlook Castle Square and the Old Town!
Cost: 6 PLN (regular), 5 PLN (children over 4-years-old, students, seniors), free for children under 4-years. Cash only, no cards.
Hours: hours vary during the summer and winter.
May – October: Weekdays: 10 am – 9 pm, weekends: 11 am – 10 pm.
October – May: Weekdays: 10 am – 6 pm Weekends: 11 am – 6 pm
5. Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) and the Royal Castle
This large, open square is surrounded by some of the cities beautiful colourful buildings, cafes, and the Royal Castle. In the centre, standing on top of the column is Sigismund III. Sigismund III was the Polish King who moved the seat of government from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596.
The large, reddish-pink building the dominates Castle Square is the Royal Castle, the former home of the kings of Poland. It looks rather plain on the outside but it is very opulent on the inside. If you enjoy touring royal residences and exquisitely decorated rooms, consider taking a tour of the castle for a small entrance fee.
Cost: 30 PLN, free on Wednesdays
Hours: hours vary; during the summer months, on most days the castle is open from 10 am – 6 pm; closed Mondays; check the website for updated hours and pricing
6. Warsaw’s Museums and Monuments
Warsaw is a city with a very tumultuous history. Once called “Paris of the East,” this was one of Europe’s most beautiful cities until it was flattened in World War II. Over the past decades, Warsaw has rebuilt itself, rising up from the ashes and emerging once again as one of Europe’s great cities.
There are some great museums and monuments to the cities struggles located around the city, three of them include:
- Warsaw Uprising Museum – This is one of the cities best museums! Learn more about the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and is a tribute to the cities residents who fought and died for an independent Poland.
This museum has a lot of information and can be quite heavy. Don’t miss the short, 3D film “City of Ruins” which shows aerial clips of the devastation the city experienced at the hands of the Nazi’s. Cost: 25 PLN; free on Sundays
- Jewish Ghetto Memorial (Pomnik Bohaterow Getta) – This large monument commemorates those who fought and died during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. This monument and the Polin Museum sit in the heart of what once was the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto.
- Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews – Another must-see in Warsaw. This museum tells the story of Jews in Poland from the middle ages to present time. It is a great history lesson in very modern museum.
Cost: 27 PLN; Free on Thursday / Audioguide 10PLN
Where to stay on a Warsaw Stopover
With so much to see and do, you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing where you book your stay in Warsaw!
The best hotel near Warsaw Chopin Airport… Renaissance Warsaw Airport Hotel
The closest hotel to Warsaw Chopin Airport, the modern and stylish Rennaisance Warsaw Airport Hotel offers comfortable accommodation for guests on layovers in Poland.
All guest rooms in the Renaissance Warsaw Airport Hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. Free WiFi is available for guests, as is access to the hotel swimming pool and gym.
The hotel pays a subtle nod to 60s Americana with Elvis Presley graffiti-style stencil stickers and plush blue carpets. It’s quirky and fun and gives an otherwise bland airport hotel life and personality.
This is where I stayed on my latest stopover in Warsaw and cannot recommend it more!
The best Warsaw Hotel near Old Town… PURO Warswaza Centrum
Be located in the heart of the action when you book a stay at PURO Warswaza Centrum! The plush but modern rooms offer elegance and comfort. Be sure to ask for an upgraded room to experience city views!
Located close to shops, eateries and the historic Old Town, this chic hotel is a 3-minute walk from Centrum metro station and within walking distance of the bustling nightlife of Zbawiciela Square.
The best budget Warsaw hotel… Moxy Warsaw Praga
The Moxy Warsaw Praga is easily one of the best budget hotels in Warsaw. This edgy hotel, set in a former Polish Vodka Distillery, is located in the buzzing Zabkowska street of the Old Praga district.
Each of the spacious guest room-types is equipped with flat-screen televisions, build in USB ports and free Wifi. The bright and spacious rooms overlooking 4 directions of the dynamic city makes you feel the spirit of the buzzing capital making it the perfect place to rest your head on your Warsaw layover!
How to get from Warsaw Airport to the City Centre
There are a number of ways to get from Warsaw Chopin Airport (Lotnisko Chopina) to Warsaw City Centre (Centrum Miasta). By far the most convenient is travelling by train.
Chopin Airport has a train station across from the main building making it easy for travellers to get from the airport to Warsaw.
The train from Warsaw Airport to the city centre takes just 20 minutes and runs from 4:30 am until; 11:30 pm daily.
Tickets begin at PLN 3.40 (one-way) or PLN 15 for a one-day unlimited journey ticket.
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