Warsaw is the capital city of Poland. It has a population of 1.7 million, making it the country's largest city. Located on the Vistula River, it is a popular tourist destination for its interesting architecture and culture. The right bank of the river was the first area to become populated in the 9th or 10 century. Today, however, the city's central district is on the left bank of the river. The Old Town, where you will find many sights and attractions, is fully contained within the city center.
Warsaw has a continental climate that has warm summers, cool falls, and cold winters. The summers can see a range of temperatures that vary from mild to very hot. It is best come prepared for hot temperatures during the day and cooler, even chilly temperatures in the early evening. The peak season for tourism is between the months of May and September. This is when the weather is the most pleasant. Rain is possible year around but in general July is the wettest month. It can snow during the winter months and overnight frosts are very common. January and February are usually the coldest months when temperatures drop below freezing.
Most of the city's sights are located within the Centrum area, specifically within the Srodmiescie area. Many people enjoy following the Royal Road which originally connected the Royal Castle with the Royal Palace in Wilanow. There are many other points of interest along this 10 kilometer route as well.
Popular museums in Poland include the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Center for Modern Art, the Royal Lazienki, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum in Warsaw, the State Ethnographical Museum, and Heavens of Copernicus.
Warsaw can be divided into five districts; Centrum, Northern Warsaw, Western Warsaw, Eastern Warsaw, and Southern Warsaw. Centrum is where you will find the Old Town area. There are six different areas with this district and they include Srodmiescie, Wola, Mokotow, Zoliborz, Ochota, Praga Polnoc, and Praga Poludnie. There are both industrial and residential areas but most tourists in the city spend their time in Srodmiescie, Wola and Mokotow. In Southern Warsaw you'll find the Wilanow Palace. This district also has the historic Natolin park and nature reserve.
Popular festivals in the city include the Warsaw Film Festival, the Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, the Jewish Culture Festival, Warsaw Autumn, the Old Polish Music Festival, the Garden Theaters Contest and Noc Muzeow.
If you're interested in seeing a concert then there are several professional musical or play companies in town. The Polish National Opera as well as the Warsaw Philharmnoic are both based in the city. There are also a number of other companies based there as well.
Food and Dining
There are plenty of interesting places to eat around Warsaw. If you're on a tight budget then your best options are the kebab shops, of which there are many, milk bars, and Vietnamese restaurants. Many of the kebab shops are concentrated in the Srodmiescie area. Milk bars were created during the communist era to serve cheap meals that are centered around milk products. Most of the establishments closed after the fall of communism, but those that remain still have a similar atmosphere to when they first opened. When you step into one, it's like you stepped back into the 1980s. They are most popular with students and senior citizens. The food is decent and they are worth a visit simply for the experience alone.
Another dining option is the plethora of fast food restaurants around town. There are recognizable options such as McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut and the prices at these international chains is often expensive by Polish standards, so unless you are feeling particularly homesick, then they are best avoided.
Warsaw has a decent public transportation system. There are about 200 bus routes and 30 tram lines that can take you around the city. You can find route descriptions at each of the tram stops. Although the system is generally efficient within the city center, once you're outside of that area travel times can be annoyingly slow. There is also an underground line that goes from the south to the north on the left bank but it does not go to many tourist destinations. A second line is currently under construction.
If you decide to drive in the city then there is a paid parking zone in the center of town. Payment is required on weekdays between 8 am and 6 pm. You pay by the hour with either coins or the Warsaw City Card (not the tourist card).