Warsaw is a very old city -- it's been the capital of Poland since 1596 -- but not a lot of the original buildings remain. The city was leveled during World War II by the Germans to punish the locals for the failed Warsaw Uprising. But you almost wouldn't know it on a walk through Old Town, which has been completely rebuilt along its historic lines.
The Vistula River splits Warsaw into two distinct areas: the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The Right Bank has little to recommend it. Most of the attractions of the city are in the Left Bank and include the city center and the charming reconstructed Old Town. Start your exploration of Old Town at central square, which has a lot of open-air cafes and art stalls. The Warsaw Historical Museum is at the north end of the square and features fascinating exhibits of the city's tragic World War II experience. At the edge of Old Town is the immense and imposing Royal Castle, which has been restored to its period elegance and is open to the public. From the castle, follow the Royal Route to Lazienki Palace. The way is lined with churches, museums, galleries, palaces and government buildings. When you reach Lazienki Park, you'll find the enchanting Palace on the Water. Farther along still are the lavish Wilanow Palace and gardens. Take time also to visit the Warsaw Uprising monument in Krasinski Square and try to track down a surviving piece of the ghetto wall built by the Nazis to surround the Warsaw Ghetto. You're in luck if you're in the city during one of its many music and entertainment festivals. In the summer there's the Jazz Festival, the Festival of Jewish Culture and the Film Festival.
Dining and Shopping
Dining in Warsaw is not quite the gastronomic experience that dining in, say, London or Paris might be but there are still quite a number of decent restaurants. There are a lot of traditional Polish places around Old Town. Try to locate one of the few remaining milk bars. These relics of Communist days were once famous for their inexpensive, filling meals and a few still survive. Have a look around the neighborhoods bordering the Old Town central square and the Centrum neighborhood. Or park yourself in one of the congenial taverns around Trzech Krzyzy Square.
The largest malls in Warsaw are the Carrefour and Tesco but there is not a lot to recommend these rather institutional places. Instead, look for deals on original souvenirs and local arts and crafts in the Old Town square market. Or try Srodmiescie along Marszalkowska or Aleje Jerozolimskie. The high-end boutique shopping is focused around Plac Trzech Krzyzy, particularly along Mokotowska.
Zwirki I Wigury, 18
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 20