My laptop wallpaper is a panoramic photograph of the Złote Tarasy and the Palace of Culture and Science from the window of the Marriott hotel room I stayed in when I visited Warsaw for the second time. Incidentally, my phone wallpaper and lock screen are also broad outlooks of the city, whilst the walls of my University room are plastered with various posters of Warsaw. Perhaps I am a little obsessed – but, if I am honest, I have never fallen so deeply in love with any place before like this.
I don’t come from Warsaw; my only slight claim to some connection to the city is having Polish grandparents on one side of my family. But I’ve loved the winding streets; the sounds of trams; the music and the vibrancy and the light of the city for seven years now. It seemed only right, therefore, to compile a list of the places in Warsaw that epitomise the city for me – visions of the capital from the traditional to the modern, and beyond – in the hope that you, too, will fall in love with it as deeply as I have.
St Anne’s Church
Address: Krakowskie Przedmieście 68
There has been much said in the past of the sun-drenched pastel of Nowy Świat and Krakowskie Przedmieście in the summer sun; the blurred spectrum of tourists congregating past the Castle; and the twinkling glass of the city’s skyscrapers in the distance – but I think you can have no better view of such wonders than from the top of St Anne’s Church. The climb up 100 steps is arduous – but the fresh air above is so sweet, and the sweeping vision of Warsaw a just reward. And in the summer sun? The view is spectacular.
Cost: 6 PLN
Best time to visit: Late at night, just before the gates are locked – if you’re lucky, you’ll get the whole roof to yourself, and have a perfect vision of the streaming revellers heading home down Nowy Świat, and the flitting colours lighting up the presiding behemoth of the Palace of Culture and Science.
Museum of Warsaw
Address: Rynek Starego Miasta 28-42
Obviously, the museum itself is worth a visit for all things Warsaw-based: it resides in a building steeped in history itself; a perfect home for the comprehensive records of the city’s past. But the gem of the attraction, I would argue, is the increasingly extensive views of the capital you get as you climb higher and higher up the winding staircase: the wide plaza of the Old Town square opens up as you reach the very top of the building, the culmination being a vision of Warsaw, old and new, traditional and modern; as the warm oranges and peaches of the houses in the marketplace fall back to the cool steel of the imposing skyscrapers behind. I, in fact, would argue that this museum, with such a view, holds Warsaw’s rival to the Mona Lisa.
Cost: 20 PLN
Best time to visit: In the morning: it’s less busy and the views of the empty square are to die for.
Panorama Sky Bar: Marriott Hotel
Address: Aleje Jerozolimskie 65/79
The Marriott Hotel is a high-class institution, and the Panorama Bar in Warsaw’s own is no exception. Here, you can literally reach the heights of luxury; gazing down on the sparkling turquoise metropolis with a Warsaw-themed cocktail in hand from the most elevated hotel bar in the whole of Poland.
Cost: Around 40 PLN for a cocktail
Best time to visit: At night: when the stars above are reflected in the glittering windows of the cities buildings; and the crisscrossing maze of car headlights and brake-lights swarm at your feet.
Palace of Culture and Science
Address: Plac Defilad 1
This wouldn’t be a comprehensive list of Warsaw’s greatest viewing spots without a mention of the city’s current tallest structure, the Palace of Culture and Science. Whilst some will argue the view from the XXXth floor is in fact the best in the city because it is the only place from which ‘Stalin’s Gift’ cannot be seen; the Palace is still an impressive vantage point: it boasts a panorama across the capital from its centre, meaning hours can be spent watching the city evolve from the terrace.
Best time to visit: In the afternoon, to get the best views (and photographs) across the whole cityscape!
Most Poniatowskiego (Poniatowski Bridge)
One of my favorite memories of Warsaw was traipsing back in late autumn from Plaża Poniatówka (one of Warsaw’s best beaches!) with my family across Most Poniatowskiego as the sun set. The spectrum of burning color across the metropolis was awe-inspiring – and really has to be seen to be believed. A paradisiacal vista of the Vistula. What’s better?
Best time to visit: At sunset.
Roof Garden of Warsaw University Library
Address: Dobra 56/66
The library building is a marvel – but I think the immaculate roof garden is what makes it special: the view of Warsaw across both sides of the river over sculpted shrubbery and eccentric garden features is perfect – you can bring a blanket or just relax with a book on a bench.
Best time to visit: Spring and Summer (the upper garden is closed in Winter).
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