Unlike certain other popular cities in Central and Eastern Europe – places like chocolate box-pretty Prague and Kraków – the Polish capital of Warsaw is defined more by its energy and development than its medieval looks. This is largely because so much of the city has had to be rebuilt post-war, of course, but its dynamic character and packed events scene continues to make it one of Europe’s most underrated urban centres – something easily ascertained on a city break to Warsaw from Glasgow Airport.
Warsaw’s Old Town was reduced to rubble in the war years, so what you see today is a painstaking reconstruction that took almost a decade and a half to complete. The Historical Museum of Warsaw (Rynek Starego Miasta 28-42) gives a full overview of the area’s phoenix-like rebirth, while another key attraction is the Royal Castle (Plac Zamkowy 4), which has some excellent artworks on display to match its extravagant interiors.
Warsaw’s history stretches back more than 1,400 years, but in many ways it’s the 20th century that remains its most fascinating period. The Palace of Culture & Science (Plac Defilad 1) is a soaring Stalin-era tower that remains the tallest in the country, granting wide city views, but it’s the Warsaw Uprising Museum (Grzybowska 79) that provides the most interesting insight into the mid-1900s. It details the work of the resistance movement in liberating the city from Nazi Germany.
This isn’t a city that rests at sundown. Warsaw’s legions of pubs and bars have quite a reputation these days, and if you’re in search of a drinking experience worth the name then you’re unlikely to leave disappointed. Try bars like Meta (Foksal 21) and Kawowy Piotrus (Nowy Świat 18) for a beer with atmosphere, or sample the microbrews at BrowArmia (Królewska 1).