This Christmas, Keri and I took a break to Poland’s capital, Warsaw. We agreed that it was a charming city and the Christmas festivities heightened this charm even more!
Krakow is perhaps better known as the city to visit in Poland however, we would definitely recommend a trip to Warsaw for the following reasons:
1. It is Charmingly Understated
Because Warsaw is less of a tourist ‘hot-spot’ and perhaps more residential than many other European cites, it has a nice, understated feel about it. Although we visited at Christmastime, a typically busy time of year, Warsaw didn’t feel overwhelmingly commercial or touristy. It was easy-going but still vibrant and lively.
2. It is Affordable
Prices are generally affordable in Warsaw compared to other European cities. For example, we paid around £4.00 for the two of us to ice skate in the Old Town for 2 hours.* (It would have been free if we had our own ice-skates!)
3. It has an Important History
Warsaw was almost entirely destroyed during World War 2 and so much of what you see in the ‘Old Town’ today is not actually very old at all- most of it was rebuilt after 1945. It is a painful history but Museums across Warsaw seem to retell these events sensitively and informatively. One we had the chance to visit was the ‘Warsaw Uprising Museum’- all about the Polish efforts to suppress the German invasion. This was engaging and successfully recounted the timeline of the Uprising through interactive exhibitions.
4. It features Mermaids
We were surprised to discover that the symbol of Warsaw is a mermaid! There are varying legends as to how this unique symbol came about but it was quite nice to spot the mermaids all across the city- from a mermaid statue in the Old Town square to mermaid paintings on buildings and even mermaid-shaped Christmas lights.
Polish cuisine has been widely influenced by a number of Central European cuisines and we found it to be well-priced and hearty. The most famous dish of the country is probably ‘Pierogi’. These are tasty dumplings filled with a variety of fillings such as spinach, mushrooms, cheese or meat. Lots of eating places in Warsaw served them and I would say they are definitely worth a try.
We knew very little about Warsaw before visiting and in honesty, were not too sure what to expect. However, we were very pleasantly surprised and were quickly won over by the city’s understated charm. I would definitely consider Warsaw if you’re looking for a less obvious place to visit on a budget.
*The Old Town ice rink is only up for the Christmas period: 07 December until the end of February.