The 5 best ways to discover Warsaw
If you are considering a tour instead of walking around yourself, you will be pleased to hear that are many options. Besides the obvious buses and walking tours, you can also catch a horse carriage, water tram, vintage tram or even take a van from communist times to giude you around.
Warsaw is a fascinating place full of history and culture, and there is an incredible amount to see and do there. It’s the type of place where a detail you may never have noticed reveals a story you could never have imagined. It’s seen incredible highs and devastating lows, and is home to some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Copernicus, Chopin and Marie Curie. It’s also a sprawling urban area, so planning your sightseeing in advance is important to getting the most out of your stay in Warsaw. Your hotel or hostel might have suggestions for tours, but knowing your options in advance is always helpful.
Walking tour of Warsaw
The first option is a walking tour. Some of these are free (though you may be expected to pay a tip at the end), and they offer you the opportunity to wander around the most beautiful parts of the city while learning about its heritage. There are a variety of tours available, including Old Town, Communist Warsaw, Jewish Warsaw, and most of them run about two hours. If you choose the walking tour option, you definitely need to select your tour carefully because there is no possible way for any one walking tour to cover even the city’s biggest attractions.
Bus tour of Warsaw
You can also take a bus tour, with a bus driving you to and around major landmarks, where you can get out, walk around and learn about each of them. This is a good option for anyone who wants to get all the major sightseeing done at once, as the bus can take you all over the city. Another benefit to the tour is that busses can be heated and air conditioned, and Warsaw is a city of extreme weather. It can be very, very hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, but a bus will temper this. There are two types of tourist busses, one run by a tour company with a guide riding in the bus, and the other a public transportation bus geared toward tourists. Bus routes 100 and 180 stop at all the city’s major locations, so you can simply get a day pass and visit all the sites at your own leisure.
Other Warsaw city tours
The Vistula River runs through the city, dividing it into two very distinct areas. Before WWII, Praga was the poorer side of town, but after the war it was practically the only part of the city left standing, so now it has some of the city’s trendiest and prettiest areas. On the West side of the river is the rest of Warsaw. You can see and learn about both, as well as venture into the surrounding countryside, on a water tram tour.
There are many other options for tours, some quaint, some quirky. Vintage trams tour the city and horse-drawn carriages carry people around the Old Town. Some give young people a taste of the nightlife, taking visitors to the best bars in the city. Some even use vintage, communist-era vans. There are lots of options, and official Polish tour guides must pass a state exam. The type of tour just depends on your preference.
What to consider in your city tour
Whatever mode of transportation you choose, the most important factor when choosing a tour of Warsaw is the guide. The soul of the city truly lies in its history, its people, and their stories. Though outwardly unassuming in many areas, Warsaw is the city which was razed to the ground because it decided to stand up to the Nazis. It’s the city where people ran underground educational institutions under extreme oppression, not just once but many times over the course of centuries. It’s the city where Chopin asked his heart to remain, though he died in Paris. There are an uncountable number of stories like this, and you need a tour with passion, which will tell you some. Reviews and descriptions of the various tours can help you decide which tour to choose.