Warsaw was a happy addition to my recent trip to Europe, but a short one. Thankfully its compact size and ease of getting around made its highlights accessible. With only 24 hours in Warsaw to spend, I looked to cover as much ground as possible. Here’s how it went:
See – The Palace of Culture and Science
My 24 hours in Warsaw began at the city’s most dominating feature, the Palace of Culture and Science. This massive Soviet-era tower was once the tallest building in Europe, all because Stalin wanted it to be. The iconic building once held theatres, universities, a Rolling Stones concert (the first behind the Iron Curtain by a western band) and rodent patrolling cats. Beyond that and since the day it was built, much of the building remains vacant.
Tours are available which brings you through the grand hallways and inside the Congress Hall. Visitors can take in amazing views from the observation deck which was a highlight from my 24 hours in Warsaw. Oh, and if you visit in the summertime you just might get a glimpse of one of the oldest residents. Much like the 6-toed cats of the Hemingway House in Key West, the descendants of those Polish felines are still around today.
Do – Hop on (and off)
With only 24 hours in Warsaw, we opted to cover as much of it as possible with the help of the local hop on/hop-off bus. The route took us past many of Warsaw’s highlights such as Bank Square, The Royal Castle, and the University of Warsaw. We hopped off at Łazienki Park for a cool yet colourful fall walk.
Eat – Milk Bar
Tucked around the corner from the Łazienki park you will find one of Warsaw’s many milk bars – Prasowy…and it’s amazing! Originally set up as a cheap place to get a meal, Milk Bars became very important during communist time. They utilize simple ingredients to keep costs down which, to this day, results in the most amazing home-cooked meal for ridiculously cheap. It was as if my grandmother was in the kitchen cooking for hundreds of students and businessmen on their lunch breaks.
Stroll – Old Town at Dusk
As the sun was setting on our 24 hours in Warsaw we made our way through the old town…which turns out to be not that old. This area suffered heavy damage during World War II and was subsequently rebuilt to its original form. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as “an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.” Highlights include Zygmunt’s Column, Castle Square, St. John’s Cathedral and Poland’s first escalator. Yup.
Drink – Grzane Piwo and Vodka
Taking said escalator, we made our way to the neighbourhood of Praga for some Polish nightlife. Łukasz, our Warsaw Tourism host, was kind enough to show us around his part of the city. Praga survived the war and therefore many of its old buildings remain. This made for the perfect backdrop to Roman Polanski’s 2002 “The Pianist.” Once the poorest and oldest area in town, today it is home young artists, designers, and great pubs and clubs.
We toured this up-and-coming neighbourhood while barhopping. We started with Grzane Piwo, a tasty mix of spices and warm beer. Yup, that’s a thing and it’s delicious. The night turned to Polish vodka which is amazing and made for a fun way to cap off my 24 hours in Warsaw…even with a flight at 7 AM.
Not surprisingly, Warsaw is a great party town. There are plenty of clubs and bars within and beyond the Praga neighbourhood making it one of the best party cities in eastern Europe. With affordable food, drinks, and flight options, Warsaw is also a great choice for a weekend getaway or those travelling on a stag or bachelorette party.
Sleep – 24 Hours in Warsaw Just isn’t Enough
Of course, our H15 Boutique Hotel made for the perfect place to sleep off the vodka, no matter how short that sleep was. I left the next morning feeling surprisingly great. My 24 hours in Warsaw was full of awesome highlights and even better vodka. From historic towers to colourful parks, Warsaw has it. That said, although I covered a lot, there is still much to see.
Warsaw, I will be back.
What say you?
Thoughts on my 24 hours in Warsaw?
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Although I was provided a complimentary stay thanks to Warsaw Tourism,
the experience, opinions, and vodka tasting was my own.