- Meeting a mermaid: A bronze statue of Warsaw’s emblem, the sword-wielding Sawa, takes pride of place in the Old Town Square. The sister of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid, legend has it her siren song charmed the local fishermen into letting her inhabit the Vistula, defending the city that sprung up around its banks. Children delight in splashing through the gush of water suddenly appearing from the statue’s base.
- Catching a Chopin concert: The music of Warsaw’s favorite son is celebrated year-round. The best time to catch it, however, is during the free Sunday concerts held at Lazienki Park between mid-May and September. Couples pop a cork and share a picnic at the foot of the hopelessly romantic Chopin monument, which depicts a dreamy-looking Fryderyk composing beneath a wind-swept willow tree.
- Having a royal time of it: A series of immaculately reconstructed halls and chambers make up the Royal Castle, the stronghold of Polish monarchy between the 14th and 19th centuries. Vast tapestries adorn the walls, crystals drip from chandeliers, and the portraits of Poland’s former monarchs regard visitors sternly. A dip into the castle’s Lanckoronski Collection is well worth it for the two Rembrandt portraits housed there.
- Haggling at a flea market: Warsovites get up early to plunder the booty at Kolo Bazaar, where celebrity shoppers mingle with antiques collectors and eagle-eyed housewives. Sporting everything from communist memorabilia (though whether it’s fake or not is anyone’s guess) to vintage posters, art deco furniture, and grandfather clocks, the best wares are usually scooped up by 2pm.
- Witnessing stories of tragedy and heroism: The Museum of the Warsaw Uprising tells the soul-stirring story of how Warsaw’s citizens pulled together in 1944 to liberate the city from Nazi occupation. Though the rebellion was doomed to failure, witness testimonies pay homage to the bravery of the Polish Home Army, whose efforts resisted the Nazis for 63 days. Reconstructed sewers and aircraft bring the event back to life, while photographs capture mixed scenes of tragedy and heroism.
- Stopping for coffee and cake: Cafes have played an important part in Warsaw’s cultural life since the 19th century, when artists, writers, and academics conducted heated debates in smoky bohemian locales. Clamped down on by the Soviets, cafe culture is now experiencing a renaissance in Warsaw. Established in 1869, Café Blikle oozes old-world style and elegance with its dark wood paneling and a polished cake counter boasting such tempting classics as paczki doughnuts filled with rosehip jam, and fluffy sernik cheesecake.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.