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One Day in Warsaw Itinerary: Explore Warsaw in a Day

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With eclectic Vistula River views and a rich history that few cities can compare to, Warsaw is a gem of central-eastern Europe. As the capital city of Poland, it’s a destination brimming with activities, so if you are short on time, planning a one day in Warsaw itinerary is an absolute must.

Girl in Warsaw old town market square

When we first decided to include Warsaw in our recent European travels, we didn’t expect much, but we were glad we spent a few days there and extended our trip to one full week, as we enjoyed it so much. 

From walking The Royal Route to visiting the bountiful list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Warsaw pleasantly surprised us, and we are sure your time in the city will be memorable, just like ours!

One Day in Warsaw Itinerary: Top things to see and do

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Here is a glance at the things to do in Warsaw in one day. We’ve also included a Google Map and some planning tips to help you navigate this iconic city:

  • Have breakfast at To Lubie
  • Join a free walking tour of Old Town Warsaw
  • Walk/cycle The Royal Route (Many of the stops in this itinerary are along this route)
  • Visit the Royal Castle of Warsaw
  • Enjoy the views from St. Anne’s Church
  • Explore the Warsaw Barbican
  • Feel the energy of the Old Town Market Square
  • Explore St. John’s Cathedral
  • Wander along the Vistula Boulevards
  • Walk through the Saxon Garden
  • Dine at Zapiecek
  • Enjoy a Chopin Concert

Planning your trip: How to get to Warsaw’s Old Town

We flew to Warsaw from Lisbon, Portugal, where we have been living for a while. If you are flying into the city from North America, you will arrive at the Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW). 

Old Town Warsaw
Old Town Warsaw

From the airport, it is about a 30-minute car ride to the Old Town, also known as Castle Square. You can either book an airport transfer or rent a car.

PS: Renting a car is an excellent option if you extend your time in Poland. You can compare rental car prices here.

If you prefer public transport, bus, and train services are available in Warsaw. However, train services go to the city center rather than Old Town, so the bus will be a better option if you follow this itinerary. 

Warsaw Public Transport System (trams, trains and buses)
Warsaw Public Transport System (trams, trains and buses)

You’d need to take Bus 175 from the airport and get off at the last stop at Pl. Piłsudskiego. Trips take around 30 minutes. If this is your preferred mode of transportation, you can view the tickets and tariffs here.

You can also join this full-day city tour to explore Warsaw without worrying about transportation and timing hassles. This is the most convenient way to get around but is the pricier option.

Warsaw sightseeing on a horse-drawn carriage
Warsaw sightseeing on a horse-drawn carriage

During our visit, we stayed in the centre at the Radisson Blu Sobieski and loved it – the central train station was just a 15-minute walk away, and from there, we also utilized hop-on and hop-off bus tours to get to various sites in Warsaw. 

For this one-day Warsaw itinerary, we recommend sticking to the Old Town attractions only for easy navigation and comfort.

One Day Warsaw Itinerary: The best things to see and do

It’s time for us to show you the ultimate way to spend a day in Warsaw. We have organized the day so that there isn’t too much unnecessary traveling so that you can make the most of your day.

1. Breakfast at To Lubie (or many others in Old Town)

As most free walking tours only begin at 10:00 AM, you may get a hearty breakfast. While there are many cafés around Castle Square in Old Town, To Lubie is the pick of the bunch.

From freshly squeezed juices and flavor-filled coffees to hearty breakfasts, there’ll be something on the menu to tickle your fancy. While they specialize in cakes and pavlova, there’s a vast selection of savory breakfasts.

Head to Warsaw Old Town for breakfast
Head to Warsaw Old Town for breakfast

You can sip on your morning tea or coffee inside, but there is an outside section where you can watch the city come to life.

Top Tip: You will also find a McDonald’s at Plac Zamkowy or Historic Castle Square in Warsaw, which is the entrance to the city’s Old Town (aka Stare Miasto).

2. Warsaw Old Town Free walking tour

Once you’re filled up and ready to go, you can join a short, free-walking tour of Warsaw. There are various tour options, but we recommend joining the tour of Warsaw’s Old Town. 

Girl with coffee enjoying walking tour in Warsaw
Walking tour of Warsaw

Most tours last two hours, so we found it the perfect way to start the day. From overlooked historical buildings to a local’s insider information, these tours offer a lot you may miss if you just explore independently.

There are many companies, but Free Tour Warsaw and Guru Walk offer the most comprehensive experiences. 

Top Tip: Remember to tip your tour guide. Although the tours are free, tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for their time and effort.

We joined the Free Tour Warsaw, which walked us through some of the most incredible spots in Old Town. This helped us navigate and learn about the Old Town attractions, and we later returned for photos at our favorite sites. 

Sigismund's Column (dedicated to Sigismund III Vasa, who moved the capital from Kraków to Warsaw. Originally built in 1644, rebuilt after the World War II)
Sigismund’s Column (dedicated to Sigismund III Vasa, who moved the capital from Kraków to Warsaw. Originally built in 1644, rebuilt after World War II)

It is important to know that most of Warsaw, including much of the city’s Old Town, was destroyed in the Second World War. The Royal Castle, Sigismind’s Column, and many of the buildings surrounding the main square were left damaged. The walking tour shares the history of destruction and the rebuilding process that began in the 1970s.

If you are interested in visiting the museums (like us), remember that the walking tours will only briefly stop at the site, so you must come back and then visit the museums. Old Town museums will only take about 30 to 45 minutes each.

3. Cycle or walk The Royal Route

After exploring Old Town Warsaw, it’s time to cycle or walk The Royal Route. We’ve made the rest of the itinerary follow along this path. So, you can stop at each location as you go down the route.

Go biking on the Royal Route
Go biking on the Royal Route

This is an 8.4-mile long route, starting at the Royal Castle of Warsaw and ending at the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace in Wilanów. We’ve reduced your route, ending at Presidential Palace, making it a much more manageable half-mile journey. 

If you want to venture to King Jan III’s Museum, you can, but it will consume much of your day. 

Top Tip: Veturilo is a super affordable bike-sharing service with plenty of drop-off and pick-up stations across the city. If you prefer a guided bike tour, here is a top-rated experience to book

4. Royal Castle of Warsaw

The next stop is at the Royal Castle of Warsaw, the official start of The Route Route. You’ll be able to explore the royal apartments and the throne room, all of which exude opulence. 

Royal Castle of Warsaw
Royal Castle of Warsaw

It’s one of the city’s most historic buildings and a memorable site thanks to its turquoise roofing and burnt orange facade. Once you step inside, you’ll be met by gold-lined ceilings, frescos, expansive rooms, and noteworthy artwork. 

You’ll see works by Rembrandt, Bernardo Bellotto, and many more throughout the building. In true royal style, there’s also the terraced garden at the back, which you can wander through at leisure.

Informative boards at the Royal Castle
Informative boards at the Royal Castle

The Royal Castle impressed us the MOST. As mentioned, most of Warsaw (including the castle) was destroyed during the Second World War. The castle was rebuilt between 1971 and 1980, incorporating the remnants of the originals wherever possible. 

The castle’s work was so wonderful that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. As the name suggests, the Royal Castle was the former home of the Polish royalty; today, it is home to a state museum and is recognized as a national historical monument.

Inside Warsaw Royal Castle
Inside Warsaw Royal Castle

We recommend spending 1-2 hours at the castle complex.

Note: You must purchase tickets at the kiosk to enter the premises.

5. St. Anne’s Church

The Royal Route awaits, but first, you must admire Castle Square from above. The best to do so is from the top of the bell tower at St. Anne’s Church. You can only pay for the ticket in cash, costing $1.53 (6 PLN) per person.

St Anne's Church
St Anne’s Church

Before heading up, check out the church’s stunning rococo-style relief sculptures and golden altar. After climbing up 150 stone steps, the stellar vistas of the Old Town present themselves. 

Sigismund’s Column takes center stage, while the colorful buildings in the distance set the perfect photo opportunity. 

6. Warsaw Barbican

Just northwest of the Old Town Market Square, the Warsaw Barbican is a historic military fortification that captures your imagination and serves as a poignant reminder of the city. 

Warsaw Barbican
Warsaw Barbican

It was nearly destroyed during World War II and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944. Fortunately, several parts of the Barbican and its city walls have been restored with traditional mortar and terra cotta tiling. 

Top Tip: When looking north towards the New Town District, the Barbican acts like a frame, showing the unique blend of the city’s old and new architecture.

7. Old Town Market Square

Once you’ve enjoyed a trip back in time at the Barbican, it’s time to soak up the charming Old Town Market Square atmosphere. 

Old Town Warsaw Market Square
Old Town Warsaw Market Square

You’ll notice the quaintly decorated Burgher Houses that line the square, some adorned with frescos and other gorgeous decorations. The most notable is the “House Under the Lion,” with magnificent frescoes by Zofia Stryjenska.

From the cute Polish souvenir shops and cafés to the statue of Syrenka, there’s plenty to enjoy in the town square. 

Amber jewelry at a store
Souvenir shops in and around Old Town

If you’re hungry, you can always visit the city’s oldest restaurant, number 27, in the square, U Fukiera. We enjoyed cups of mulled wine and cheese while soaking in the vibes of the market square.

Top Tip: Warsaw is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe. The Old Town Market Square is beautifully lit and hosts a lovely market throughout December. During our spring trip, the square was equally decorated in festive colors!

8. St. John’s Cathedral

St. John’s Cathedral, dating back to the 14th century, is a historic ode to the city’s resilience. Although 90% of the building was destroyed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1944, the Gothic-style cathedral was reconstructed.

St. John's Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral

It’s been the location of several historic moments. Some examples include the swearing of the first constitutional act in Europe in 1791, which is the burial site of many Warsaw Archbishops.

With so much history stored in a tiny building, it’s worth a stop. Be sure to snap some lovely photos outside the building’s iconic honey-mustard and white facade.

Next Read: Look at our top one-week European itineraries, which include Warsaw.

9. Vistula Boulevards

Vistula River is a European hidden gem that few truly get the chance to enjoy. So, it only makes sense to visit the Vistula Boulevards, which are a short 7-minute cycle from St. Anne’s Church. Here, you’ll be able to appreciate Warsaw’s cityscape from its vibrant promenade. 

The area is well known for its popular riverside walking routes, terraced cafès perfect for people-watching, and soft-sand beach featuring ocean-inspired sculptures.

Top Tip: If you have time, consider joining a Galar ship cruise in the area.

10. Presidential Palace and Saxon Garden

Along the Royal Route is the Presidential Palace, the official residence of the Polish head of state and president. We recommend this as a quick stop when in Warsaw for a day instead of spending a few hours (however, if interested, free guided tours are available). 

Presidential Palace Warsaw
Presidential Palace Warsaw

After an 11-minute walk or a 3-minute bike ride from the area around the Presidential Palace, you’ll find one of the oldest public parks in the world. Despite facing severe damage in WWII, the beautiful park was restored to its classic English style after the war. 

It’s more than just a park, though, as it has some distinct landmarks worth visiting. From the 1863 sundial to the massive fountain designed by Marconi in 1855, there’s plenty to see. 

Some more historic sites include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the memorial created in honor of Warsaw residents who passed away during WWII. Simply put, the park is an excellent place to relax before heading to the following location.

11. Zapiecek

After admiring stunning views of Warsaw’s cityscape, it’s time to sit down for a hearty meal of Polish delicacies. The best place to do so is a 20-minute walk or a 7-minute cycle from Vistula Boulevards to the Zapiecek restaurant at Krakowskie Przedmieście 55.

Zapiecek
Zapiecek

Here, you can enjoy popular local food at an affordable price! You must try pierogi, a type of Polish dumpling, or get a platter of pierogies with multiple fillings. Bison vodka and special drinks are also worth a try. 

Zapiecek Bison vodka
Zapiecek Bison Vodka
Zapiecek dumplings and more

We ate at Zapiecek at various locations in Warsaw, and the one at nowy Świat was particularly charming. Having said that all Zapiecek locations were very warm and inviting (red-colored interiors). On some days, live music was also being played inside the restaurant. 

Alternatively, you can try out one of the restaurants near the Presidential Palace — the halfway point between Vistula Boulevards and the Saxon Garden. 

12. Chopin Concert

To wrap up a fantastic day in Warsaw, grab your Chopin concert ticket and prepare to be amazed. 

Choplin Concert in Old Town Warsaw (by the Royal Castle)
Choplin Concert in Old Town Warsaw (by the Royal Castle)

Back at the heart of Old Town Warsaw (a 5-minute cycle or 15-minute walk from the Saxon Garden), you can indulge in a glass of Polish honey wine while a pianist performs Chopin’s classic pieces.

The concert takes place in the left wing of the Royal Castle, where the moody Gothic interior sets the stage. As the evening passes, you can relax and listen to timeless tunes. It is the perfect way to cap your day in Warsaw.

Warsaw in the evening
Warsaw in the evening

Top Tip Warsaw nightlife: If you still have some energy left for the day you can join this Warsaw pub crawl to explore the city’s beer culture and enjoy the nightlife. 

More great things to see and do during your trip to Warsaw 

If you plan to spend more than one day in Warsaw, here are some other noteworthy attractions. 

1. POLIN Museum and the History of Polish Jews

Discover a millennia’s worth of Jewish history within Warsaw at the POLIN Museum. From the wooden synagogue of Gwozdziec with its painted ceilings to the large-scale work following the life of the yeshiva in Volozhin, there is plenty to see.

POLIN Museum Warsaw
POLIN Museum Warsaw

Itinerary Tip: We spent almost an entire day here at the POLIN Museum and highly recommend visiting it if you are interested in Jewish history. 

To include this in one day, we recommend checking off the Old Town highlights (with the free walking tour) first, then using the hop-on and hop-off services to explore the various city neighborhoods, and later ending the day at the POLIN museum (plan to spend at least 4 hours, though). 

POLIN Museum Warsaw
POLIN Museum Warsaw

The permanent exhibit is set up chronologically, starting from the Middle Ages. 

The Holocaust Gallery offers a deep dive into the experiences of the Shoah, while several interactive video installations also help showcase Jewish life throughout the centuries. Get your tickets here.

2. Frederic Chopin Museum

Next, an extended visit to Warsaw wouldn’t be complete without spending time at the Frederic Chopin Museum. Throughout the three floors, you’ll get an insider’s glimpse into the revolutionary musical works of Chopin. 

The first floor covers his time in Warsaw and the environments, locations, and people that inspired his works during this period. The same can be seen on the second level, which consists of pieces associated with his time in Paris, the most noteworthy being Chopin’s Pleyel grand piano. 

The third and final floor consists of all of Chopin’s works, which you can listen to at leisure.

3. Polish craft beer

The best way to enjoy the eclectic atmosphere of Warsaw is by bar hopping and trying the city’s top craft beers. While there are loads of bars and beer houses throughout the city, here are our top recommendations:

4. Jewish Cemetery

One of the most eerie parts of the city to visit is the Jewish Cemetery. Dating back to 1806, this ancient cemetery is more of a forest than anything. Large trees and moss-covered gravestones fill the 83-acre piece of land.

Jewish Ghetto Memorial Warsaw
Jewish Ghetto Memorial Warsaw

From burial sites of prestigious Polish Jews to mass graves during the German occupation in WWII, this cemetery is a poignant reminder of Warsaw’s history.

5. Warsaw Uprising Museum

Another historic location worth visiting is the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It is a tribute to the underground resistance who fought and died for Polish independence during WWII. 

Warsaw Uprising Museum
Warsaw Uprising Museum

The most notable feature of the museum is the Warsaw Uprising Monument. It’s a large bronze sculpture, with the first section depicting a battle between insurgents and the German military. The second element of the sculpture is an abstract interpretation of a collapsing building.

Yet another part of Warsaw showcasing the city’s history is worth visiting, even if it’s for a short time.

6. Palace of Culture and Science

The magnificent Palace of Culture and Science is located near Świętokrzyski Park. The structure is stunning, and although the construction started in 1952, this architectural feat was only completed in 2020. 

Palace of Culture and Science

The palace is located near the Central Train Station, and if you use hop-on and hop-off services, you will find this attraction a convenient pick-up point. 

Atop the palace, you’ll find the clock tower, now the second-largest in Europe, only behind the church clock of St. Peter’s in Zurich. The building has an astounding 3,288 rooms, from offices and theaters to museums, shops, and restaurants. 

The palace’s interiors are breathtaking, but its true calling card is the viewing deck on the 30th floor Viewing Terrace. 

Top Tip: Take this short guided tour to explore the building and, if interested, get skip-the-line tickets to the observation deck.

7. Lazienki Park

Lazienki Park is a nice place to get a glimpse into Warsaw’s eclectic range of architectural inspiration. Remember that the park is away from the Old Town (about a 10-minute drive), and for attractions like these, availing of hop-on and hop-off services (or using Uber) is very convenient as they drop you at the gate.

As you explore the park, look out for its stunning landmarks. You have to see the Palace on the Island, a 17th-century building built as a private bathhouse. Other notable attractions include the classic arena, Old Orangery, and the Art Nouveau-inspired Chopin Monument.

Your Warsaw One Day itinerary map

Here is an interactive map you can use to help navigate the city during your trip.

Click to view the full map

Read Next: Warsaw three day itinerary.

Where to stay for your one-day in Warsaw: Hotels Guide

You must spend a night in Warsaw to enjoy a full day’s exploring. Here are our top recommendations for every budget.

Hotel Verte, Warsaw, Autograph Collection

If you’re looking for a truly memorable night in Warsaw, look no further than Hotel Verte. This hotel has everything, from golden finishings and rooms with city views to the onsite Restauracja KuK and a sauna to melt all your problems away.

Check prices and book your stay at Hotel Verte here

Old Town Heart VII – TheBarbican

The Old Town Heart VII is an excellent option for something in the heart of Old Town that still offers a luxury stay at an affordable price. The simple white palette and wooden finishings add a touch of class, while the self-catering kitchen is fit for a master chef. It’s also situated along Krakowskie Przedmieście, so you’re never far from the city’s top attractions.

Check prices and book your stay at Old Town Heart VII here.

Radisson Blu Sobieski 

Consider staying at the Radisson Blu Sobieski—an excellent option for mid-budget travelers. We stayed there, and their hospitality was outstanding. The suites were clean and luxurious (and many had city views). 

Radisson Blu Warsaw
Radisson Blu Warsaw

Click to view availability at the Radisson Blu Sobieski

Duval Apartments

If you’re traveling on a budget, the Duval Apartments will provide a comfortable stay near Old Town’s top attractions. Each room has unique finishings, and while the kitchenette is reasonably basic, there are some lovely restaurants downstairs, such as Same Krafty

Check prices and book your stay at Duval Apartments here

Tips for your one-day trip to Warsaw

To help ensure you have a great time in Warsaw, here are some of our top travel tips for the city:

Museums in Old Town Warsaw
Museums in Old Town Warsaw

1. Many museums offer free entry on selected days, so visit their websites to determine when.

2. Walking or cycling through the city is the easiest way to get around, especially if you just intend to explore the Old Town Market Place.

3. Prepare for unpredictable weather and pack warm and cool clothes. 

4. The country’s currency is the Polish Zloty, but you can use your credit card everywhere.

5. Tipping is not obligatory, but it is greatly appreciated. 

FAQs about spending One Day in Warsaw

Before sending you off on your next adventure, here are some popular questions and quick answers. 

What is the best time of year to visit Warsaw?

The warmer months between April and July are great, but they are the peak tourist times for Warsaw. A great alternative is over Christmas, as the Old Town sparks life with festivities, and there are fewer tourists, and lodgings are cheaper. 

How long should you spend in Warsaw?

We’ve created this one-day itinerary to make the most of a short trip to Warsaw. However, spending two to three days in the city is ideal. 

Warsaw Old Town

With three days in Warsaw, you can use this itinerary to explore Old Town, set aside another day for Jewish Quarters and important museums, and utilize the third day to visit parks, pub crawls, and shopping!

Which is better, Krakow or Warsaw?

Krakow offers a more traditional experience and a young ambiance through its big university presence. On the other hand, Warsaw is packed with history and provides a slightly more cosmopolitan ambiance. 

Warsaw has more to do, but it depends on what you’re looking for in your Poland trip.

Wrapping up your epic one-day Warsaw trip

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the best possible day in Warsaw. The itinerary is filled with historical intrigue, eclectic experiences, and some much-needed downtime now and then.

As we’ve included a few extra activities at the end, you can mix up the itinerary, but we have created it to maximize your time in the city. No matter the case, Warsaw is bound to be one of the most memorable visits during your travels across Europe.

Top Tip: Learn where Warsaw ranks on our best European winter destinations list.

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