What do you do when you have a free weekend off and a couple of days off the following week? You book a weekend break, of course! Our most spontaneous trip to date! I booked the flights in my lunch break on Friday afternoon and we flew at 0610 the follow morning. It just so happened Joel had a week off and I didn't but after mentioning this to my boss he asked if I wanted a couple of days off, to which I said 'yes'.
I used Skyscanner to find our trip to Warsaw and selected the destination to 'anywhere' and moved from one departure airport to the next, with direct flights, to find the best price from an airport we were willing to drive to. Birmingham worked out the cheapest with the best flight times to maximise our time in Warsaw. However, the flight out was so early that we travelled up the night before and crashed in Bumper at some services on the M42. We paid £10 at WH Smiths and stayed the night, safe in the carpark. The following morning we got to the airport parking after a short drive from the services and voila, the break began!
We booked the accommodation through AirBnB. The accommodation was cheap, only £22 per night and the place was lovely, complete with Ikea furniture throughout and it was right on the edge of Old Town. You can find the apartment on Airbnb HERE. We flew with Wizz Air, the Hungarian budget airline, and everything worked like clockwork. We even booked the return airport transfer through them because the flight back was too early for public transport. We flew with hand luggage only, as we usually do, which was backpacks only with Whiz Air. Everything had to go in to the backpacks, sathels, cameras, #EVERYTHING. If you haven't flown with them before you should be aware that Wizz Air are super hot on what you take on board if you haven't paid for it. They will stop you and make you pay! So check the baggage requirements before you fly. By 1100 we were sat in the sun in the in Old Town Market Square, drinking Polish beer and scoffing Polish dumplings.
Rich in cafes, shops and restaurants, Old Town is the gem of Warsaw. Despite being heavily damaged during the Second World War, it was meticulously restored. And what an amazing job they did. So amazing that it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as "an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century." We loved Old Town so much that we spent most of our time here wandering around the little streets and squares, listening to the musicians and soaking up the relaxed atmospheres. It's chock full of cool little bars and restaurants so if you like a good beer or are a bit of a foodie, you won't be short of places to visit.
We hired some Lime scooters and they were so much fun! You can download the app and pick them up almost anywhere in the city. Stick to their drop off rules though otherwise they'll tell you off and charge you for the pleasure. Our intention was to visit Łazienki Park on them but you can't take them in. So we dropped them off and continued on foot. The park is massive. It covers some 76 hectares, so be prepared to spend a good amount of time there to get around it all. You might even catch sight of a red squirrel. They are pretty friendly and curious to see if you have any food for them.
There's also a trendy bar scene too and we love a good beer. Beer on the continent always tastes better than in the UK...or is this just us? Not only did Poland have some decent beer (that they also export) like Żywiec and Tyskie but they also do some decent ales. We came across some really cool bars near Centrum metro station that had all sorts of beers on tap and some super cool decor. PiwPaw has beer bottle caps on almost every wall throughout the entire place - impressive in itself. The street sign below caught our attention. It's the most fun street sign we've ever seen and it translates as "attention wedding party", according to Google. Do you like to visit an Irish bar when you go overseas? And why is there always an Irish bar wherever you visit? There was a couple in Old Town we went to that didn't disappoint with their familiar beer and music. Stacey even found a new love for Murphy's.
We had the best of the weather in Warsaw. Despite the time of year it was still lovely and warm. And on top of that, there was amazing colour everywhere! It was also getting late in the year so mulled wine was on the menu! We had a lot of fun with the camera during the trip too, probably helped by the conditions, colours and Stacey finally relaxing and letting me take her picture!
Warsaw turned out to be one of our favourite city breaks ever and if you were considering going, you should move it to the top of your list. What made it so good? The weather, the vibe, the friendliness and the variety of everything, including the architecture. It's quite a fascinating place when it comes to its architecture, from the historic buildings of Old Town to the grand buildings of Łazienki Park and the 1950's Palace of Culture and Art (which you can, and should, definitely go up!). I should also include Keret House here too, which is described as the world's narrowest house. It's actually an art installation designed by the architect Jakub Szczęsny through the architecture firm Centrala.
Palace of Culture and Science
Keret House (the sliver between the two buildings)
Za Żelazną Bramą district
When we go to a new city we usually try to find an escape room. We found one. Joel booked it. We turned up. Turns out he got the date AND wrong time! Thankfully, they weren't too busy and let us in anyway. Joel is now banned from booking anything. Not because of this one incident but because he does this all the time. We were in Krakow one New Year and he booked the wrong restaurant AND the wrong time and then there was the flight...we'll talk about that another time.
There's so much more to Warsaw than what we have written. It really is a great place to visit with a vast history and a super relaxed vibe for a capital city. Have a look through the image carousel below which might show you some of the things you might want to see that we haven't written about.
One last thing before we wrap this lengthy post up - go to the Neon Museum. It's not very big but it's bright, colourful and will leave you wanting your very own retro neon light for your home. It's located in a pretty cool area too on the other side of the river to Old Town. After catching a bus over the river, we headed the rest of the way on foot. It was quite a walk but an enjoyable one where we got to see some of the real Warsaw, away from the tourist locations. It's built within a fairly new/redeveloped complex with some old train lines and cool cafes and bars.
Unknown Soldiers' Grave
skwer Matki Sybiraczki Monument
Palace of Culture and Science
Warsaw University of Technology
Room Escape Warszawa
Irish Pub Miodowa
Shabby Chic Coffee & Wine Bar (breakfast)
Jabeerwocky Craft Beer Pub
Vincent Boulangerie Patisserie (coffee and snack!)
Hala Mirowska (food market)
Our Star Ratings
Accommodation - ★★★★☆ - good location, cheap, clean
Travel times - ★★★☆☆ - early flight, but short flight time >2 hours
Food - ★★★★☆ - inexpensive and satisfying traditional food
How expensive - ★★★★☆ - cheap for a capital city
Things to do - ★★★★★ - loads to do, you won't be short of things to do
Local beer - ★★★★★
Overall experience - ★★★★★ - we loved it and totally recommend it