Central Europe: Poland - Things to See/Do in Warsaw

By Cubie - January 19, 2015

We took a train from Krakow to Warsaw in the evening. There is complimentary wifi, coffee / tea and biscuit on train. Maybe the other train offers free coffee and biscuit too but we were unaware. We found out about the complimentary food because the nice gentleman in our same coach kindly informed us when the coffee cart came.

We stayed in OkiDoki Hostel in Warsaw, somehow it feels super long walk to the hostel from the train station but in actual fact it wasn't that far. Maybe there was some road works at that time. Our room was a six person mixed dorm. There is a door between the shower place and sink area. However once you enter the shower place, there's two shower section but they are only closed with shower curtain. I am not sure if all the bathrooms are similar but that was the one closest to our room, on the reception level.

1. The Mermaid of Warsaw
According to legend, a mermaid stopped on the riverbank near the Old Town to rest and decided to stay on. She released the fishes caught by local fishermen and they planned to capture her but abandoned the plan because they fell in love with her singing. Later, a rich merchant trapped the Mermaid and imprisoned her. She was fortunately released by a young fisherman. The mermaid, armed with sword and shield promised that she would help to protect the city and its resident.

2. Zygmunt's Column
This column is in the centre of Plac Zamkowy, the oldest secular statue in Warsaw. This statue is Zygmunt III Vasa (or Sigismund III Vasa) at the top of Zygmunt's Column. He is the first Polish king from the Swedish Waza family. He relocated the capital from Krakow to Warsaw in the year 1596.

3. Royal Castle (Zamek Krolewski)
Right opposite the Zygmunt's Column is the Royal Castle. This is the former royal residence, rebuilt in the 1970s. In 1596 after Warsaw was made the capital, this served as both the king's residence and the meeting place of the parliament.

4. Old Town Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta)
As like all market square, this was the most important place in Warsaw in the past. This is a rectangular market square, each side of the square was named after a mayor of Warsaw.

5. Wishing church bell
This church bell was from 1644. If you touch the bell while circling around it, the bell will fulfil your wish. If it is a big wish, you would need to touch the bell and skip on one leg.

6. Monument to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising
This monument which was unveiled in 1989 commemorates the heroes of the historic Warsaw Uprising. The sculpture represent soldiers defending the barricades and going down into the sewers. During the Warsaw Uprising, insurgents used the sewer system to move around Warsaw.

7. Maria Skłodowska-Curie Museum
The first woman Nobel laureate and famous co-discoverer of radioactivity. Together with her husband, Pierre Curie, she discovered the elements of radium and polonium. Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize twice, in 1903 for physics and in 1911 for chemistry. Polonium was named after her native land, Poland of course.

8. Chopin's Benches
In the year 2010 in conjunction with 200th Anniversay of Fryderyk Chopin's birth, the Capital City of Warsaw has set up some benches with multimedia benches. These benches followed a walking route through historic spots in Warsaw. If you press a button on the bench, the bench will play a selected fragment of Chopin's music.

9. University of Warsaw
The largest educational institution in Poland. Some of the faculties are situated at its main site on Krakowskie Przedmiescie. 

10. Mikolaj Kopernik
At the southern end of Krakowskie Przedmiescie, stood the statue of Mikolaj Kopernik. This statue was stolen by the Nazis and brought to Germany. Now it is back to where it belongs. Nicholas Copernicus was born in Torun and went to college in Krakow. 

11. Nowy Swiat
This shopping boulevard is a continuation of Krakowskie Przedmiescie. The main of the street changes to Nowy Swiat at the statue of Copernicus. 

12. Palace of Culture and Science (Palac Kultury i Nauki, or PKiN)
Poland's tallest building, also known as the "gift" from Stalin. 

13. Bar Mleczny (Milk Bar)
'Milk Bars' are canteens that were very common and popular during Communist times. They are popular for local and cheap place for home-style cooking food. The name 'Milk Bar' derived from their past menus, mainly of dairy and flour dishes. The one we went was near the Old Town Market Square. There were three elderly polish ladies in the bar at that time. The one at the counter did not appear to speak any English. Luckily there's English menu provided, there's only one set of English menu and it will be passed around while you queue to order your food at the counter. Just queue up to order your food, pay and you will be given a small piece of paper with your order. Pass it to the food counter, wait and collect your food. Eat and enjoy!

14. Copernicus Science Centre (Centrum Nauki Kopernik)
K plays both piano and violin while I play neither. She wanted to visit the Fryderyk Chopin Museum and thought I might not enjoy it as much. I don't mind checking out Mr Chopin but she probably has a valid point. So while she had her date with Mr Chopin, I dated Mr Copernicus. 

Copernicus Science Centre (Centrum Nauki Kopernik) is probably not anyone's main attraction to visit but I had fun! It is a science centre, so generally there are heaps of interactive things for hands on. Photography is permitted but I was playing so I kept the camera in the bag. So I hardly took any photos. 

Entrance fee was 25zł including a login card. You can register your email address and send results of certain machines when tap on this card. 

Side note: Maria Curie is the only woman buried in the Paris Pantheon. 

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  1. The more I read your Europe travelogue, the more my eyes are green with envy. Central Europe is one of my bucket list and I really wish I could to travel there for a month, at least.

    1. Hope you will get there soon ^^
      I really like Central Europe :)