I always get the impression that Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is not at the top of the list for people to travel or visit when they consider places to go on holiday. Perhaps it’s a belief that the city is in some long-standing destruction, or that it’s a depressing country, but as someone who grew up with one foot in this city, I can assure you it’s the furthest from the truth.
1. It’s nicknamed “Phoenix City” and for good reason.
We all know that Warsaw was completely leveled during World War II (I will point out that it’s historically inaccurate, only because I’m a history geek). No, it’s not war-torn, or in shambles, and despite what some people may believe, there are no wild bears running around the city (yep, I’ve heard that one too).
In fact, through the tenacity of its inhabitants, the city rebuilt itself and had a golden era in the 20th century after World War II. Today, the city continues to rebuild itself, tearing down the old, and bringing in the new. What once used to be neighborhoods of warehouses, now become neighborhoods of high-rise and new buildings that include offices, and apartments alike. The city is modernizing and just opened a second metro line in 2015 (although, secretly, between me, and you, I like the trams better). The destruction has allowed the city to build in unique ways, such as underground pathways that sometimes become a mini-city in and of themselves.
2. It has so many museums, exhibitions, palaces, and events to see and experience
There’s the POLIN, the Copernicus Science Center, the Warsaw Museum, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the National Museum, the Train Museum, the Military Museum, the National History Museum, Frederic Chopin Museum, Marie Curie-Sklodowska Museum, Polish Bank Museum. And the list goes on and on (for a semi-full one see this list).
Do you want to experience what it’s like to be blind? We’ve got an exhibition on that for you. Want to see neon lights? There’s an exhibition for that.
And let’s not forget the Royal Castles, the Villas, and the Royal Baths Park (Łazienki Królewskie). All of these are places you can visit, and in the Royal Baths Park, they even hold events or have exhibitions.
Anything that you’re interested in, I bet you can find a museum, place, or event for.
3. It’s rich in history.
If you can’t tell already, it’s very rich in history. It’s not the first or second capital of Poland, but it was considered the Paris of the North until World War II because it was one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Supposedly. But knowing Polish people, and Polish culture, it’s not hard to believe that, either.
What fascinates me, and gives me so much pride, is the fact that Warsaw’s Old Town is not original. It was destroyed in WWII, but it was rebuilt by its inhabitants from pictures and memories. And it is so well done that UNESCO has dedicated it a World Heritage Site, even though typically the group doesn’t dedicate replicas as such sites. That’s gotta be saying something, right?
4. There’s so much green and nature, that sometimes it doesn’t feel like a city.
It’s one of the greenest cities in Europe, with a park on every so many corners in the city. But surrounding Warsaw, there are natural forests, and woods that you can take a hike around, and before you know it, you’re not even in the city, but rather enveloped in nature. There are bike paths around the city, and the woods, so you can get your fill of both the city craze and the quiet of nature all in one place.
On top of that, north of the city, you can find Zegrzynski Lake, where families go to do water sports during the summer. As a result, you can escape the city completely and opt-out to be in nature all weekend if that’s your fancy. And it’s not that far either. If you really don’t want to make the trek to the lake, well, there’s always the beach and boardwalk by the river, where the whole city migrates during warm summer days.
5. It has a warm vibe.
There’s something about this city, that despite being so far north, and often cold during most of the year, it gives off a warm and home-like vibe. It makes you want to go out even on days when you would like to cuddle at home under blankets. At the same time, it takes your breath away with its beauty, and in surprise at what it has to offer, because every time you visit, you will find something new. And most of all, it has plenty of accessibility features that let Hard of Hearing and Deaf people get around and find the information they need. In addition, most people are easily receptive to non-verbal communication, so there is no need to be anxious about not being able to communicate.
All of these things make Warsaw a city that I love, and you should too!