Although Warsaw took heavy damage in World War II, fierce Polish determination built it back. The current capital is a booming business center with plenty of attractions. Although the Vistula River runs through the city's heart, Warsaw is usually included in the land-based portion of river cruise itineraries.
What We Love
Royal Residences: Set on an island in the midst of a park, the Royal Lazienki Museum was once the summer residence of King Stanislaw August. It's a magical neoclassical palace filled with art. King John III’s palace at Wilanow is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture surrounded by lovely formal gardens.
Interactive Museums: The Copernicus Science Centre has hands-on fun (and learning) for both kids and adults at this museum dedicated to Poland's famous astronomer. Housed in a former tram station, the Warsaw Rising Museum takes you on a chronological journey through the Warsaw Uprising of World War II, where more than 10,000 citizens died rallying against Nazi occupation.
Best Known For
Old Town and New Town: Though it was decimated during the war, Warsaw's Old Town was so perfectly rebuilt, you'll swear the buildings are hundreds of years old. Check out Market Square and its many restaurants and shops. Neighboring New Town dates from the Baroque era.
The Royal Route: Running from Old Town's Castle Square to King John III Sobieski's residence, this road is lined with churches, palaces, museums, and shops.
Chopin: Visit the Chopin Museum, dedicated to this composer and favorite son, or listen to snippets of his music (played by interactive stone benches) as you follow a walking route to sites related to his time in Warsaw.
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Who It's Best For
Museum Lovers: The city teems with museums of all sorts from palaces and art institutes to those dedicated to Jewish history.
Shoppers: Prices are good, stores are numerous, and galleries are plentiful. Antiques, embroidery work, lace, and spices are favorite souvenirs.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The City Is Sprawling: You can't efficiently walk between many of the sights here. For example, it's about 30 minutes to walk from Old Town to the Chopin Museum.
Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.