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Visit Warsaw or not? Updated

I'm thinking of going to Poland to visit Krakow.
Do you recommend visiting Warsaw.
I don't know if there is enough there to merit the visit.
I'm not interested in visiting 4-5 churches or religious sites.
I will be in Europe for 10 nights (after I land) in early October.
Trying to decide if it would be better to visit just 2 or 3 cities.
If I don't go to Warsaw I would go to either Berlin (been there already) or Prague (was there only 2 days).

UPDATE: I would probably land in Krakow or Warsaw and return from either Berlin or Prague.

Posted by
4700 posts

Where are you landing and departing for your ten nights? There are plenty of other cities to visit in Europe besides Warsaw, Berlin, and Prague.

On my trip to Poland a few years ago, I skipped Warsaw - instead I visited Gdansk, Torun, Wroclaw, and Krakow. I do hope to see it someday, but it wasn't high on my list then because, as I understood, the old city was basically destroyed during the war and the new one is a replacement. If I were going back now, I'd probably push to go to L'viv in western Ukraine after Krakow.

Posted by
6697 posts

It's the country's capital - of course there is more to it than 4-5 churches and religious sites (it's much bigger, more cosmopolitan and spread out that Krakow and yet it's not overwhelming either, which is a plus). I would recommend doing some research and see what interests you, and let that drive your decision (otherwise, it definitely won't win the most popular contest). Check this website (https://warsawtour.pl/en/main-page/) and In Your Pocket Guide for Warsaw. If you are making an effort to go to Poland, then check it out. It has a lovely Old Town (worth seeing precisely because it was razed to the ground and replaced so beautifully and carefully) and at least two excellent museums - The Rising Museum and the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

I'm not going to compare it to Berlin or Prague since each city is very different (Berlin is of a different scale altogether). All three are worth seeing and have their own unique features.

Posted by
18736 posts

I liked Warsaw a lot. It has many worthwhile museums and WWII / Cold War historical sites. I kept extending my time there and stayed longer in Warsaw than in Krakow or Gdansk. I agree that a look at In Your Pocket would give you a good idea about how the city's sights align with your personal interests.

Posted by
12248 posts

Hi,

I myself would choose to go to Warsaw on a first trip to Poland...normally.

Aside from other museums suggested already, there is the esoteric Polish Army/Military Museum. You might find that of interest if you're interested in warfare history.

Posted by
2169 posts

Warsaw is great, even though the old town was reconstructed after WWII (which Central European city wasn't!), it still has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. For me the charm of Warsaw is that it's a modern, youthful, energetic city with great food, museums and culture - you can get your dose of old medieval stuff in Krakow. That's why Warsaw makes such a great complement to Krakow, you get to taste both the old and new Poland.

BTW, here's a great article on Warsaw by Rick Steves' co-author Cameron Hewitt: https://blog.ricksteves.com/cameron/2018/09/warsaw-reasons/

Posted by
267 posts

Warsaw is a beautiful city with so much history. It's true that the city was completely destroyed during the Second World War, but the Old Town has been painstakingly reconstructed to appear as it did before the destruction. It meant so much to me personally to see this city partially due to it being the home of my ancestors, but even more than that, the history of Warsaw and its people is fascinating! As mentioned, the Uprising Museum alone is worth a visit and for me a sense of pride. The music of Chopin is another point of interest. While in Warsaw we stayed at the Chopin B&B and were treated to a piano recital during our stay there. It was preformed by a student of the Chopin school of music and made for a wonderful evening. Everywhere we went the people were so warm and welcoming. All and all, I definitely think that Warsaw is worth the time! Just peruse the guide books and you will find what is of interest to you.

Posted by
12248 posts

What Krakpw and Prague have in common relative to the war is that they both survived it intact and undamaged.

Carlos makes a good point in contrasting Warsaw and Krakow, ie the new and old Poland.

Krakow comes through the war undamaged, whereas Warsaw its bombing in 1939 designed to produce its surrender, the horrific fight in the Ghetto Uprising in 1943, and the Warsaw Uprising in Aug 1944, was systematically leveled and obliterated in the Old Town. By then it was no longer damage caused by military action but by systematic destruction designed to level parts of the city.and reduce them to rubble.

Posted by
14267 posts

If that means cutting short your time in Berlin, it depends on how much you want to see there. For me, there wouldn't be enough in Prague for a second visit. You'll have to fly from Krakow to either Prague or Berlin. It's a 2.5 hour train ride to Warsaw.

I went to Gdansk, Krakow and Warsaw. Gdansk was my favorite, Warsaw was more of "glad I saw it as long as I was in Poland anyway."

Posted by
4861 posts

We went to Warsaw, Lodz, Wroclaw, and Krakow. I rate Krakow #1 and Warsaw #2. I also rate Prague very highly and worth more than two days. We had 3 nights in Warsaw and 4 nights in Krakow, which was good. Note that most visitors to Krakow take a full day trip to Auschwitz/Birkenau. Many visitors to Prague take a full day trip either to the Danube bend or to Cesky Krumlov. Berlin is certainly worth five or six nights, especially in opera/theater season.

Posted by
2169 posts

For me, in terms of Polish cities I enjoyed, #1 Wroclaw, #2 Warsaw, #3 Torun, #4 Krakow, #5 Gdansk, though my appreciation is a bit unorthodox, as many people would put Krakow and Gdansk as their top Polish cities.

Posted by
477 posts

Thanks acraven, Andrew, Agnes, Fred, Carlos, Pat, Chani and Tim

Posted by
14267 posts

Gdansk was a surprise, probably because I hadn't done much homework. It was a Hanseatic League member and the history and architecture reflect that. It's small and walkable. I stayed near the train station and never used public transportation. I loved wandering the streets. The Solidarity Museum is one of the best museums I've been to (and I love museums). I didn't get to the WWII Museum, but I believe it is also excellent. Confession: I do not like Polish food. In Gdansk I ate great Thai, Tex-Mex and Italian dinners.

Posted by
477 posts

Thanks Chani. It might be a bit to far away for the amount of time I will be in Europe. But I'll keep it in mind for the next trip.

Posted by
24 posts

I agree with Chani. We just got back, and of Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow and Prague, Gdansk was our favorite. Krakow and Prague were so clogged with tourists it was hard to enjoy ourselves. Gdansk was just so enjoyable and relaxing, and many outstanding museums as well.

I liked Warsaw better than expected, but two full days was enough to see what we wanted.

The restaurants in Poland are AMAZING.

Posted by
18736 posts

The Gdansk old town was tourist-clogged during my summer 2018 visit, so I think time of year is a critical factor there. I had the impression there was a lot of traffic from Scandinavia, or perhaps multiple large cruise ships were in the area. I was in Gdansk for at least 4 nights, and the crowds were there every day.

I would urge anyone contemplating a trip to Poland to dig into a good guide book and use the "In Your Pocket" guides available online for most of the major cities to build a list of sightseeing targets of personal interest. Failing to do that will almost certainly lead to a too-short trip. The Poles have done an excellent job of making their museums and historic sites accessible to English-speakers. Some of those (including the WWII Museum and Solidarity Center in Gdansk and POLIN and the Rising Museum in Warsaw) are extremely large and could be full-day affairs. Folks interested in such things can easily enjoy a week in Warsaw because there are very many points of interest, despite the fact that the rebuilt historic district is modest in size.

I knew about the historic sights before my trip but was surprised at the variety and quality of the food. The best Thai restaurant I've encountered in my 67 years was in Warsaw, and the best Greek restaurant was in Poznan.