If you are the kind of traveller who prefers an evening of theatre to a swanky bar, or would relish visiting a beautiful garden rather than lazing around in the sun, then holidays in Warsaw will be right up your street. With such a rich cultural heritage, you will be spoilt for choice.
Located on the Vistula River, Warsaw is Poland’s capital and cultural hub. Over the years, it has sustained considerable damage during its various uprisings and conflicts, with the most serious devastation occurring during World War II. Today the city has been extensively rebuilt and mature travellers are now choosing holidays to Warsaw, especially to experience its incredible cultural diversity.
The museums in Warsaw reflect hundreds of years of turbulent past. Some are breathtaking in their beauty. Some contain original manuscripts or art work, whilst others house exhibits of considerable historical significance – none more so than the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
We have compiled a list of some of the best museums to visit in Warsaw. Why not discover all five on your next trip?
The National Museum
The National Museum is housed in a striking, modernist building located in a bustling area of the city, close to the Charles de Gaulle roundabout and the Poniatowski Bridge. The artwork inside is an eclectic mix of photographs, drawings, sculpture and paintings, with works from around the world exhibited alongside Polish art. It also contains Europe’s largest collection of artefacts from the Nubian culture, but the highlight has to be the collection of paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War II, and since returned for the nation to enjoy.
Admission to the permanent exhibition is free on Tuesdays.
Fryderyk Chopin Museum
This museum is a temple dedicated to the talented composer Frédéric Chopin. All things Chopin are housed here, including personal items, original manuscripts and the composer’s piano. The most macabre exhibit has to be Chopin’s death mask and a cast of his hand.
The museum itself is housed in the beautiful Ostrogski Palace, a stunning baroque building. There are 15 rooms inside, where you can explore the entirety of Chopin’s life. The whole space is very cleverly designed and arranged and you’ll leave the museum with the feeling that you knew Chopin personally.
Admission is free on Tuesdays.
Museum of the History of Polish Jews
This museum is as moving as it is informative. The actual site of the museum was once the heart of an area of Warsaw mostly populated by Polish Jews. A busy Jewish ghetto before the start of the war, it is a stark reminder of Europe’s dark past and a living monument to all the Polish Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Located in Muranów, you will be instantly enthralled as you approach the glass façade, which includes a vast crack designed to represent the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelis.
There is an entrance fee to pay but this varies according to the package you choose.
Museum of Technology and Industry
This museum is a technology enthusiast’s dream. The collection of vintage Polish computers will have you reminiscing about the good old days when computers were the size of a car and cost as much as a modest, two-bedroomed house.
Pride of place in the collection goes to an Enigma machine, used in World War II to decipher secret German military messages. Models of rockets, lunar landing modules and all things space offer a reminder of the Cold War and the tense competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to reach the Moon.
Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów
Built at the end of the 17th century, the grandeur of this astonishing palace is awe inspiring. The royal apartments are sumptuous and fitted out with original furniture. Looking up at the ornate ceilings may well give you neck ache, but it’s worth it as gilded cherubs look down at you from every corner.
The various occupants have invariably added their own design stamp and the museum contains fascinating portraits of Polish royalty and other distinguished figures. The garden is serene and dignified, with sculptures, fountains and a lake. It is easy to imagine yourself in France, Italy or even in a Jane Austen novel, such is the stateliness of the place – this is a must-see for history enthusiasts and romantics alike.