WITH its classic architecture and modern spaces, Poland's capital is a charming collision of old and new.
Here, writer Ella Buchan explains why Warsaw should be your next weekend getaway.
WANDER THE OLD TOWN
Much of Warsaw’s Old Town is actually relatively new, rebuilt after devastating destruction during WW2.
The eclectic, pastel facades are stunning, plus the imposing beauty of the Royal Castle, restored from rubble, is testament to the city’s determined spirit.
Wander around pretty Old Town Market Place, home to townhouses and the Museum of Warsaw, which movingly tells the city’s story through exhibitions and artefacts. Entry costs £4 (Muzeumwarszawy.pl).
HAVE A HISTORY LESSON
Walk through 600 years of distilling at the Polish Vodka Museum to learn about the spirit’s production, label design and traditional toasts. Entry costs £8, plus £3 for a guided tasting (Muzeumpolskiejwodki.pl).
The nearby Neon Museum illuminates the city’s Cold War era culture with restored signs from hotels and cinemas. Entry costs £2.60 (Neonmuzeum.org).
Then explore the trendy Praga District and learn about Warsaw’s time under Communist rule with Adventure Warsaw, which runs tours in vintage Nysa vans. Tickets cost £38 for four hours (Adventurewarsaw.pl).
GET YOUR NATURE FIX
With 95 parks, Warsaw is lush and leafy. Head to Royal Łazienki Park, with tree-lined boulevards and a 17th-century bathhouse that later became a palace for Poland’s final king before the monarchy was abolished – watch out for the bronze statue of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin.
The park also hosts free classical concerts between May and September (Lazienki-krolewskie.pl).
The Warsaw University Library has a rooftop exploding with greenery, from the shrub-flanked flight of steps to walls obscured by creepers. Entry costs £2 (Ogrod.uw.edu.pl).
MUNCH IN A MILK BAR
Sample traditional pierogi (filled dumplings) and potato pancakes at Prasowy, one of Warsaw’s best bar mleczny (milk bars). These no-frills spots serve delicious, home-cooked meals, with dishes costing from £3.
Fancy something fancier? N31 is the latest opening from Robert Sowa, former chef to the national football team.
Modern classics such as deer carpaccio and confit duck breast with currant sauce are served in sleek surrounds, with mains costing from £15 (N31restaurant.pl).
Or dine in a former orangery at Belvedere Restaurant, where tables are tucked among palm trees and plants. Mains cost around £16 (Belvedere.com.pl).
The boulevards on the banks of the wide river Vistula become buzzy hangouts in summer, when people picnic in pagodas and laze on urban beaches.
BBQ areas, art installations and mini trampolines add to the fun. Take a guided kayak trip around the nature reserve and sandy beaches on the wilder opposite bank. A two- hour tour costs £12 (Kajakwstolicy.pl).
SOAK UP THE VIEWS
Head to the Panorama Sky Bar before sunset to gaze at city landmarks, including the Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw’s tallest building.
Try cocktails created with house-made botanical infusions, from £10 (Panoramaskybar.pl).
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At the Vienna House Mokotów in the city’s quieter business district, bartenders pour stiff concoctions such as the Rhubarb Sour and the Spicy Mezcal, from £4, in the chic lobby.
The hotel is a great spot to lay your head, too – rooms have sleek bathrooms, plus huge, super-comfy beds. Double rooms cost from £47 B&B (Viennahouse.com).
Warsaw’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plan your trip at Poland.travel and Warsawtour.pl.
Return flights from London to Warsaw with LOT Polish Airlines cost from £99 (Lot.com).