To write about cool things to do in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, on a blog post which should ideally not exceed 2000 words is like having a choice of 100 flights to all amazing places in the world and having to use only one. It’s close to impossible since Warsaw is such a vibrant, quirky, huge, and interesting city that even though I’ve been there a few times already, I still feel I don’t know enough of it. In this post, I will tell you about those cool places and things to do in Warsaw that I particularly liked.
City break in Warsaw with my little sister
It has already become a tradition that each summer, my sister and I travel to some cities either in Poland or abroad. It has also become a tradition that we walk a lot, eat a lot, and don’t pay attention to details such as transport which sometimes puts us into troubles.
This year we decided to visit Warsaw for the second time. Three years ago we sight-saw all the “important” places such as the Science and Culture Palace, some museums, etc. This year, we just wanted to have fun. Therefore, what you will find in this post is a more “alternative” type of places to visit in Warsaw.
Holidays with my sister are always and adventure. We have a lot things in common. We both prefer to do dead-lifts rather than cardio. We both love reading books. We both sometimes make totally silly things. What astonishes me, however, how mature and clever my sister already is. When I was her age, I seemed to be way more stupid.
The coolest place to visit in Warsaw – rooftop garden of the University Library, 55/56 Dobra Street (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka)
This place is insanely amazing! It’s really one of the best places to visit in Warsaw, especially in the summer. I must admit that I have always loved libraries, bookshops, and reading books in general. This palce, however, is not as much about the books as it is about a garden rooftop from where you can admire bot the panorama of Warsaw and the Vistula river. When my sister Weronika and I went there, the sun was slowly setting and the whole place was bathed in golden sunlight. It was incredibly beautiful.
Long summer nights by the Vistula River in Warsaw
This year, the left bank of the Vistula River was kind of renovated. Instead of ugly ground, it now features a beach, concrete stairs and alleys where you can cycle or skate. It’s a perfect spot to hang out with friends, go out for drinks, read a book, sunbathe, or do whatever you want to. In the evening, you can watch amazing sunsets over the Vistula River from there or take a boat and have a cruise down the river. There is always some music, sometimes there are even live concerts played there. With Weronika, we spent each evening there, it was a really cool place to spend time in.
Hanging out in Szmulki, Ząbkowska Street and Praga Północ in Warsaw
OK, this point of cool things to do in Warsaw is dedicated to those of you who see beauty in places which at first glance are not too glamorous. Szmulki, part of the Praga Północ district in Warsaw, is a residential district which used to be a “no-go” place in the past, but is now becoming a place with quite a hipster vibe. It is nothing like Warsaw on the other bank of the Vistula River.
It starts with the Ząbkowska street, a colourful place with a lot of cafes and … St Mary’s altars hidden in gloomy gates or standing on the street corners. It also has its history. Back in the days of the II World War, the altars were built to make it possible for people to have some prayer places without endangering themselves while going out to churches, which could be located some longer distance away from their homes.
If you navigate into Brzeska Street, you will experience a taste of Łódź, a post-industrial city in Poland, very unique in terms of its looks and history. If you go to Kawęczyńska 11, you will see probably the longest block of flats in Warsaw. It is said to be longer than 1km!
This whole district is not a place you would normally sight see. It’s not a museum, it’s not a “tourist attraction”. It’s a place where people live and they have varying social statuses so if you want to take pictures, please make sure not to offend anyone.
Neon Museum in Soho Factory, 25 Mińska Street, Warsaw
If you think that museums suck, visit the Neon Museum in Warsaw and you’ll change your mind. It’s one of the coolest places in Warsaw despite being a museum. Basically, it’s a place where “rescued” neon signs are kept. Before you enter the main room with all the neon signs, you can read a history of neon signs and of Poland. It’s just long and interesting enough to give you an oversight without boring you to death.
What is more, this place is insanely photogenic.
Another thing interesting about Neon Museum, is its’ location. Despite being located in Praga in Warsaw, the district which is famous for being a rather poor one, the museum is in some kind of an “enclave” called Soho Factory. It’s a large area with luxurious and modern flats and expensive restaurants. As much as I am not the greatest fan of the last ones, it’s interesting to see so much wealth in the middle of run-down tenement houses and communist, grey, huge, unimaginative blocks of flats.
Łazienki Park (Park Łazienkowski) – crowded but still a cool place to visit in Warsaw
My sister and I booked Airbnb in Stary Mokotów, a neighbourhood located very close to the Łazienki Park in Warsaw. The last time we visiting Warsaw and the Łazienki Park, it was raining, it was cold, and I couldn’t make sense of any directions and we got terribly lost. I wanted to confront the bad memories and see the Łazienki Park in some more favourable weather conditions.
We entered the park early in the morning and it was already quite crowded with all sorts of tourists and locals doing sports. Still, I didn’t mind as this park is large enough for people to keep their distance. We visited the popular spots, such as the neoclassical Belweder Palace and the Palace on the Isle.
Summer in Warsaw – what’s worth the time, what’s not
This year, we visited two important and well-known museums: the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN. Both turned out to be a disappointment. I wouldn’t say they were cool things to do in Warsaw.
In the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, my sister and I were confused as to the direction of sightseeing and we paid way more attention not to get lost in the huge and noisy crowd of other people.What is more, scraps of histories were scattered everywhere and it was really difficult to get a whole picture not to mention some emotional attachment to those who died at the uprising.
When it comes to the other museum – dedicated to the history of Polish Jews POLIN, I have one major objective. It calls itself “interactive” while it has nothing to do with being interactive. It’s again a chain of unattached stories written on all sorts of different surfaces. Having to read all the time is not “inter-activeness”. I have been to some interactive museums in my life, a good example being the Brama Poznania ICHOT in Poznań where you learn about the beginnings of the country even when walking on the floor which changes pictures once you step on it. Basically, when I left the POLIN museum, I still felt I knew nothing about the lives of Jews in Poland.
Summer in Warsaw – all the cool things to do in the capital of Poland
Summing up, summer in the city, even such a big one as Warsaw, can be fun. Summer in Warsaw means countless possibilities of spending free time, both indoor and outdoor. There are WAY more cool things to do in Warsaw and those I listed here are just a drop in the ocean. If you like having “educational fun” I can highly recommend visiting the Centrum Nauki Kopernik. I went there with my sister two years ago and we spend a whole 8 hours there. Also, there are people who say the old town of Warsaw is “touristy” and fake, but I still like it. It has a vibe of the pat mixing with the present. You can eat some typical food there if you like (pizza), but I would recommend avoiding things like ice cream. There are places elsewhere in Warsaw where you can eat delicious ice cream (look for e.g. Vege Stacja). All in all, if you are considering visiting Warsaw, I would say – go and check it out. You won’t get bored.