We arrived in Warsaw the previous evening on a Ryanair flight from Leeds-Bradford Airport. Our flight departed promptly at 16.10 arriving into Modlin, Warsaw’s second airport. Transferring into the city centre was very easy with tickets costing 19zl (£3.95) per person, available from a machine in the baggage hall. A regular shuttle bus service then takes passengers on the 10 minute journey to the nearby station from where we were able to connect to a train into the centre of Warsaw, taking a further 35 minutes. After a quick snack near the station, we walked across the city to the Ibis Hotel Warsaw Centrum our accommodation for the next four nights.
After a good night’s sleep and a tasty buffet breakfast, we consulted our map and walked into the city centre. Our first stop was at the tourist information office in the Palace of Culture and Science. This landmark building the tallest in Poland, standing 237m tall, is an example of socialist-realist architecture. It can be seen from all over the city and houses four theatres, a cinema and two museums. The building was erected as a gift from the Soviet people in 1955 as a symbol of Soviet domination at that time.
At the tourist information office we obtained the 72 hour Warsaw Pass which costs 189zl (£39) and 219zl (£45) including public transport. We selected the public transport option which includes admission to 15 museums and attractions across the city with discounts at several others. As we were planning on visiting many of the city’s cultural highlights, we considered this to be a worthwhile purchase.
Checking our map, we decided to start with a visit to the Dollhouse Museum located in the inner palace courtyard between the tourist information and the Congress Hall. Entrance to the museum is 20zl with a 20% discount for Warsaw Pass holders.
I adore visiting toy and childhood museums on my travels and did not want to miss an opportunity to visit Warsaw’s Dollhouse Museum. The small museum contains more than 100 dolls houses, shops and room layouts containing charming interiors with intricate attention to detail. The impressive collection of handmade pieces features a model hospital, school room, general store and church.
One section focuses on toy manufacturing in Eastern Europe in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Numerous glass cabinets along a staircase contain a personal collection of dolls in national costumes of their countries. Some of these dolls were similar to ones I collected myself as a child, and it’s such a pity that I no longer have them. If you also have a nostalgic interest in old childhood toys and dolls, I believe that you would find this museum an enchanting experience.
As we were leaving the Dollhouse Museum we noticed the Hop-on Hop-off bus nearby and as travel on it is included in the Warsaw Pass we decided to use it to take us to the old town.
From the end of the 13th century the old town market place was the heart of the old town and a regular meeting place for merchants. During the Second World War much of the district was badly damaged and destroyed but was later meticulously reconstructed using as many of the original bricks as possible.
Wandering along the narrow cobbled streets we admired the medieval style architecture leading to the old town’s main square which is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as an outstanding example of near-total reconstruction of buildings covering the 13-20th centuries.
Located in eleven historic tenement houses is the Museum of Warsaw, which is included in the Warsaw Pass. The museum was only partially open as it is undergoing restoration and expansion which is due to be completed in June 2018.
We viewed the underground cellars containing archaeological treasures and a gallery about the history of the old town with a scale model of how it used to be. Interestingly, there used to be a town hall in the middle of the square but it was decided not to include this in the reconstruction project. Other sections included silverware, portraits and a room filled with old postcards. We followed signs to the top floor viewing area but unfortunately this was closed during our visit.
It was a bitterly cold, grey day so we decided to find a cafe for some lunch and return to the market place at a later time when the sun might hopefully be shining.
Just around the corner from the main square we came across the Zapiecek restaurant which was warm and cosy and where we enjoyed bowls of steaming sour rye soup served on a wooden platter with rye bread, sausage and a hard boiled egg. We accompanied this with pots of earl grey tea, our lunch bill amounting to 49zl (£10).
Continuing, we made use of our public transport pass by taking the metro towards the Copernicus Science Centre. The Warsaw metro first opened in 1995 with an additional line opening in 2015. Navigating the metro is very easy with on-board announcements in both Polish and English.
The Science Centre which is the largest in Poland is located on the embankment of the Vistula River. Standard adult admission costs 27zl (free with the Warsaw Pass). The centre is set out on two floors and we had lots of fun experimenting with many of the 400 interactive exhibits on display. The majority of the visitors were school children but age doesn’t matter for the inquisitive and there was much to inspire us. A temporary exhibition on air featured a wind tunnel and demonstrated how planes fly.
After spending more than two hours there, we were feeling a little tired so we returned to our hotel for a rest before eating dinner in the city centre.
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