Every year my friend Sarah and I take a girls trip. This year we took our girls getaway overseas to Poland in Eastern Europe. We decided to spend a week in Poland visiting three different cities; Warsaw, Gdansk, and Krakow. Below you will find our itinerary and how we spent 3 wonderful days in Warsaw!
St. John's Church
Free Walking Tour of Warsaw
Sarah and I arrived in Warsaw mid morning and dropped our luggage at our hotel before setting out to get a lay of the land. Our hotel was located less than a 10-minute walk to Old Town Warsaw.
The location is first and foremost in my quest for selecting a hotel when traveling. It helps to make most the time you have for your trip and usually places you in the heart of culture.
We were a quick 10-minute walk from all the sites of Old Town. We meandered through the old city streets, getting our bearings, before settling on a small outdoor cafe for lunch. Having our first real meal, aside from plane food in 15 hours was glorious. Once we were refueled we set out for the Royal Castle and St. John's Church.
iLater in the afternoon, we took a free walking tour through Orange Umbrella Walking Tours. Their tours meet at Sigismund's Column in Castle Square. The afternoon tour was called The Best of Warsaw. We originally thought we were taking the Old Town Tour but this ended up being even better! We learned about several places including; Holy Cross Church (where Chopin's heart rests), Warsaw University, Jewish Ghetto, and Palace of Culture and Science.
Part of the Jewish Ghetto still remains today. One of the buildings was recently renovated to house local offices and restaurants. A big question is whether or not it
"Should have been left alone and preserved?"
As I have said once before and I will say it again, I love free walking tours! If you have not taken one yet, try it! I personally love walking tours on my first day in a new location. I feel they provide you with a better sense of where you will be for your trip as well as it gives you time to speak with the local guide and get recommendations! We ended our day with a lovely dinner in the middle of Castle Square overlooking the palace soaking in the nighttime atmosphere.
WARSAW UPRISING MUSEUM
We woke relatively early and began our day walking 30 minutes to Lazienki Park. The largest park in Warsaw was serene and peaceful. The tree filled park with rivers and palaces was like something out of a movie. Walking along the shaded trails we covered half the park in about an hour seeing Palace on the Isle, Myslewicki Palace, the amphitheater, and riding stables.
We learned at this point that Uber's were extremely inexpensive and far more efficient than using the bus or metro.
We hailed an Uber to our next stop, Wilanow Palace, located a 10-minute drive south of Lazienki Park. This palatial palace reminded me of a small Versailles. The palace is open Wednesday - Monday 9:30a - 4:00 pm, Closed Tuesday. Entrance to the palace is 20 Zloty, an additional 5 Zloty to tour the park.
Our last stop of the day was the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Located just West of the Palace of Culture and Science this beautiful museum is filled with artifacts and videos from the period surrounding the uprising. We had 2 hours and could have easily taken 3! 2 hours is a minimum! Tickets are 20 Zloty per person. Admission is FREE on Sunday! The museum is open 8am-6pm Monday, Wednesday- Friday and 10am- 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
If you are not too tired at the end of the day and want to see the city at night either go to the 30th floor of Palace of Culture and Science or head next door to the Marriott hotel and go to their restaurant on the 40th floor and grab a cocktail for the same amount!
What better way to eat a Pierogi than taking a local cooking class and make your own using a recipe from generations past? We did just that. Polish Your Cooking offers cooking classes from 10:30a-2:30p for 199 Zloty per person. In four hours we made Polish pancakes and Pierogis as well as tasted traditional Polish appetizers. We not only stuffed ourselves full of local food we also interacted with people from all over the world! Learning about other cultures is one of the reasons we travel, right?
READ ABOUT OUR COOKING CLASS HERE!
After our cooking class, we took an Uber to the Warsaw Zoo located just across the river from Old Town. Typically I do not visit zoos when traveling however, I saw the movie The Zookeepers Wife and had to visit! If you have not seen the movie a movie, it tells the fascinating history of how the Żabińskis Villa, located in the Warsaw Zoo, served as a hiding place for several Jews during the war.
We were able to tour the home and see the tunnel first hand. Having recently seen the movie it was a chilling experience. What the family did was not only brave but admirable. Unlike the open basement portrayed in the movie, it was tight and choppy with several small rooms. The largest room in the back was home to the tunnel where the 300-400 individuals they helped were able to escape.
The villa portrayed in the movie was not the villa I experienced. The Villa was much more beautiful and exquisite. The baby grand piano that is both a symbol of peace and warning still remains. The framed bugs of the entomologist also hang in the study.
IT IS STORIES LIKE THESE THAT NEED TO BE HEARD AND IT IS WONDERFUL WHEN YOU CANNOT ONLY HEAR THEM BUT ALSO EXPERIENCE A TANGIBLE PART OF THEM.
The zoo is open from 9am-7pm daily and ranges from 15-26 Zloty per person. You are able to tour the villa at no additional cost once you are inside the zoo. The villa is open for tours Friday at 4pm and Sundays at 11a, 1pm, and 3pm.
Our final stop in Warsaw was the Chopin Museum. This new and modern museum was a disappointment. Most of the technical aspects were not functioning properly. If you are a fan of Chopin maybe you will get more out of it than I did. Having basic background knowledge of the famous musician I was expecting a museum that would provide a better balance of both his life and his work. The museum is open Tuesday- Sunday 11am- 4pm. Closed Monday. 22 Zloty Per Person. FREE Sundays.