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Warsaw may not win any beauty contests, with its drab Soviet apartment blocks and sprawling suburbs, but Poland's capital does have a certain appeal and its Old Town (Stare Miasto) certainly has oodles of charm. Completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, the whole city was virtually reconstructed by the 1950s. Communist-era architecture dominates the city's landscape, some edifices considerably more attractive than others, such as the monumental Soviet Palace of Culture and Science, a gift from Stalin to the city. But it's the city's compact Old Town that really delights, with one of Europe's most beautiful main squares lined ...

Warsaw may not win any beauty contests, with its drab Soviet apartment blocks and sprawling suburbs, but Poland's capital does have a certain appeal and its Old Town (Stare Miasto) certainly has oodles of charm. Completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, the whole city was virtually reconstructed by the 1950s. Communist-era architecture dominates the city's landscape, some edifices considerably more attractive than others, such as the monumental Soviet Palace of Culture and Science, a gift from Stalin to the city. But it's the city's compact Old Town that really delights, with one of Europe's most beautiful main squares lined with colorfully painted buildings and narrow cobblestone streets.

Eating is a real pleasure in Warsaw, with the highlight being hearty specialties such as pirogy — dumplings stuffed with cheese, potato, minced meat, apple and other fillings — served in specialized restaurants. A number of these charming, traditionally decorated places scattered around the Old Town feature a window into the kitchen so you can see the women making these treats. A visit to a communist-era "Milk Bar" shouldn't be missed; some of these simple budget cafeterias have loads of character. Poles are cultured people and a night out at the Warsaw Philharmonic or National Opera is a must to experience the atmosphere as much as the music.

Lara Dunston
About the Expert

Lara Dunston and Terry Carter have traveled to over 60 countries and written more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Rough Guides, Footprint, and others on destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and South America.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Capital and largest city in Poland located in central Poland along the Vistula river
  • Language: Polish
  • Currency: Polish Zloty
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and summer