Warsaw is like no other Polish city. Whereas other Polish cities stoically centre themselves on an old market square, Warsaw spreads itself exuberantly across a very broad area. And each district of the city contains a hybrid mix of architecture that includes restored Gothic, communist concrete and modernist glass and steel.
Warsaw’s sheer energy is what makes it such a great place to stay. Warsaw hotels are similarly a diverse mix, so you’re sure to find something that suits.
Warsaw has been the capital of Poland since the 16th century. Today it is Poland's largest city, and its urban and commercial centre. Yet, it has certainly suffered the worst hands that history could have played. It was virtually destroyed during World War II, and then lived under Soviet rule for many years after. Its complex history can be explored in the excellent museums which focus on subjects as diverse as the sheer joy of Chopin to the tragedy of the Jewish ghettoes.
There are 1.7 million people calling Warsaw home, and life here is lived to the full. Warsaw’s restaurant and entertainment options are far and away the best in Poland.
Despite its turbulent past Warsaw has never forgotten how to have fun.
Warsaw is centred on the river Vistula, which divides it into two halves, referred to as its left and right banks. Nearly all of Warsaw’s hotels are on the left bank of the river, and the majority are in the Centrum area.
The Centrum area is made up of six diverse districts. It also includes the part of the city that is called the Old Town. Any hotel in this area will place all the major sights of Warsaw within easy reach, but if you are looking to sample the vibrant nightlife then you should opt for a Warsaw hotel in Śródmieście, Wola or Mokotów.
If you are travelling to Warsaw on business then you will find a number of hotels that serve business travellers conveniently located in Włochy, just a few miles from the centre and near the Chopin airport.
Hotels with a historic character tend to be located in the Old Town, but there are many boutique hotels with a very real sense of personality elsewhere.
Warsaw offers 5 star luxury hotels, that tend to be located in either Śródmieście, Wola or Mokotów, but those travelling on a budget will also find many well-placed 2 or 3 star hotels, a handful of hostels and numerous bed and breakfasts.
If you are looking to stay in a hotel in Warsaw to take part in the many cultural events and festivals that punctuate its calendar, you are advised to book your hotel early. Here are some of the major events that Warsaw hosts during the year.
The Long Night of Museums in May is your chance to visit Warsaw’s excellent museums for free. It’s a great opportunity to wander through the exhibits, with many museums staying open late into the night.
Warsaw Summer Jazz Days in June proves that you can be cool even when it’s hot, with artists performing all over the city.
In late August the vibe of Jewish Warsaw between the wars is recreated in the Jewish Culture Festival. The festival includes Jewish theatre, music, films, exhibits and expositions, and events are hosted in or near historic buildings.
In September lovers of classical music are in for a treat as eight days of music concerts are held as part of Warsaw Autumn, the largest international Polish festival of contemporary music.
The Warsaw Film Festival has been held annually in October since 1985. It showcases films from all over the world.
Warsaw does museums very well, and there really is something for everyone. The city’s turbulent history is documented in museums such as the Warsaw Uprising Museum, where you can experience the historic struggle of the Poles during World War II, and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is situated in a thoroughly modern building on the site of the former Jewish ghetto. Art lovers can explore international trends at the Museum of Modern Art and art through the ages in the excellent National Museum. And the skies open up to you at Heavens of Copernicus, one of the most modern and original planetariums in Europe.
One of Warsaw’s pleasures is to just wander around the different districts: there’s always something unexpected happening and usually something new. Warsaw is a city on the move.
The Old Town and surrounding districts are sufficiently compact to allow a number of excellent walking tours through its history-filled streets. Meanwhile a stroll through old Praga will reveal charming art cafes and galleries by day and plenty of trendy clubs by night.
Warsaw is also home to many musical companies that play regularly throughout the capital. These include Polish National Opera and the Warsaw Philharmonic.
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