Prior to this we had never even been to Poland before, and were keen to see at least one small part of the country.
However, we had little idea of what to do in Warsaw in just one day, so did a lot of digging around online.
And, in the end, we were not disappointed!
Warsaw has had an incredibly tumultuous history over the last 100 years; with most of the city being destroyed by the Nazis back in WW2.
The Warsaw you see today is actually relatively modern; however they have maintained much of the typical old town charm you would expect to find in a historic European city.
And with just one day to spend there, it’s important you get to see and experience as much as possible!
So, here’s a rundown of what I believe to be the 9 best things to do in Warsaw in one day!
Before we get stuck in, here’s a few quick travel tips to help you make the most of your visit to Warsaw ...
Getting to Warsaw is pretty straightforward and the Warsaw Chopin Airport is located just 15 to 30 minutes outside the city.
You can get cheap flights there from most other European cities; and for the best deals I recommend checking out Skyscanner.
If, like us, you are road tripping your way through Europe, then there are lots of main roads that run straight up to Warsaw.
The drive from Berlin (Germany) to Warsaw takes about 6 hours and is really lovely!
We stopped off at the Polish city of Poznań the night before and would recommend it as a nice place to rest up at.
It’s also about 6 hours from Warsaw to Vilnius (Lithuania) and the drive is similarly nice.
All of the best Warsaw sites listed below are relatively close together; so you don't need to worry about hiring a car or anything.
We actually used electric scooters for all of our sightseeing in Warsaw (more on that below), but you could even just walk if you wanted.
I recommend picking somewhere located in the heart of Warsaw so as to minimise any unnecessary walking and to get the most out of your time here.
We stayed at SleepWell Apartments Nowy Świat and I would highly recommend them.
The rooms are very spacious and clean and located just outside the Old Town in a really popular area called Nowy Świat.
This is in perfect proximity to all kinds of bars and restaurants; perfect for a late night on the town for you to make the most of your one day in Warsaw.
For finding other great value accomodation in Warsaw, I would say your best bet is to search on:
If you have just one day in the city, then one of the top things to do in Warsaw is to head to the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
It gives you a massive crash course in Polish history during and after WW2.
Of course, the main focus of the museum is on the Warsaw Uprising which occured in the summer of 1944.
Up until that point, the German army had occupied Warsaw and killed hundreds of thousands of local civilians and troops in an effort to bring it to heel.
For years the Polish underground resistance lay in wait for their opportunity to strike and the museum carefully chronicles all stages of the war and the movement.
All exhibits are in both Polish and English; and I would say that you need a good couple of hours here to see everything in-depth.
Entrance is 25 PLN per person and it’s possible to rent audio guides.
The Jewish Quarter (or Jewish Ghetto) in Warsaw was formed during the WW2 occupation of Warsaw by the Nazis.
400,000 jews were forced to live in an area a little over 3 square kilometres in size.
The quarter was demolished even before the end of the war, with around 300,000 jews taken from here and executed; largely as a result of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1933 (not to be confused with the Warsaw uprising of 1934).
Today, as you walk around the Jewish quarter, there are numerous monuments and memorials to those that lived and died there.
You will see plaques on the floor that mark the border of the ghetto.
To see and learn as much as possible it’s best to do a walking tour; such as:
You will now see electric scooters everywhere in Warsaw, and I really do recommend you hire one to help you get around the city.
Not only is this the best way to see as much of Warsaw in one day as possible; it’s also a heck of a lot of fun!
All across Europe, you will now find that cities have hundreds of electric scooters lying around, all very cheap and easy to use.
In Warsaw, they use a few different companies; but my top recommendation would be Lime.
This is because they have the most scooters available, but also allow you to hire out multiple scooters (up to 5) all from one device.
Here are the apps to download:
One of the nicest places to visit in Warsaw Old Town is Market Square (or Market Place).
It was completely destroyed during WW2, but rebuilt not long after the war.
It was built to closely resemble its pre-war appearance; and it’s strange because you can tell it’s meant to be old fashioned, but certainly feels relatively new!
Especially if you’re used to visiting typical Old Towns in other European cities.
Here you’ll find cafes and bars to relax in (at least during the summer months).
In winter, when we visited, it was home to a small ring of Christmas market food stalls; and in the middle was a big ice rink!
In front of the Royal Castle you have Castle Square.
It was once home to the Polish Royal Family and today is a lovely spot to visit, especially in the evening time.
In December, it’s all lit up with Christmas lights and a large Christmas tree.
Here, you’ll also find a string of Christmas markets leading off from the square.
Compared to other Christmas markets in Europe, the ones in Warsaw are relatively small, but I actually bought more here than at any other we visited.
Like much of the Old Town, the Royal Castle was systematically deconstructed during the German occupation.
After bombing and destroying much of it; what remained was carefully taken apart, with many artifacts and pieces distributed across Warsaw, Poland and even into Germany.
Following the war, historians and architects carefully reconstructed the castle; using as many original pieces as possible.
Today, it’s possible to go on a tour of the Royal Castle; and you can buy tickets here.
If you’re interested in learning as much as possible about the history of the castle and the Old Town, it could be worth taking a guided tour; such as this one here from GetYourGuide.
Another grandiose building to visit in Warsaw is the Presidential Palace.
It’s one of the seemingly few buildings in Warsaw that wasn’t devastated during the German occupation; though it was apparently further rebuilt and expanded following the war.
We weren’t able to go into the palace, but it’s nice to view from the outside; and we conveniently got to walk straight past it on the short journey from the Warsaw Old Town to our hotel on Nowy Świat.
Without a doubt, the best way to end your 1 day in Warsaw is with a visit to a truly typical Polish restaurant.
We did a lot of searching for the best restaurant to eat at in Warsaw city centre and it turns out that Zapiecek just so happened to be right next to our hotel.
In the end, we absolutely loved this restaurant and would 1000% recommend it!
I would go so far as to say that having our meal here was possibly my favorite thing to do in Warsaw.
We shared a big selection of Polish fried dumplings as well as the large potato pancake with mushroom sauce.
Oh yeah, and plenty of shots of Zubrowka vodka (the only decent vodka I’ve ever tried!).
It’s honestly one of the nicest meals I’ve had anywhere in Europe, and perhaps the cheapest as well.
As mentioned above, I recommend staying somewhere either in the Old Town or on Nowy Świat.
It’s just outside the Old Town and has a big row of shops, restaurants and bars.
After strolling down the street we found Max & Dom Whisky, a really cool cocktail bar with hundreds of bottles of spirits lining the walls and central carousel.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a wide selection of alcohol in one place, and the bartenders are able to make you literally any cocktail you could want.
I recommend the caipirinha and pisco sours, the perfect way to end a day in Warsaw.
Well, that’s about it! Do you have any other fun things to do in Warsaw that you think could have been on this list? If so be sure to let me know in the comments below so I can check them out next time we visit Warsaw!