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A Warsaw travel guide – diverse museums and buzzing art scene in Poland’s reborn post-communist capital

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A Warsaw city break offers a great opportunity to explore Eastern Europe’s historical and cultural powerhouse. With crumbling socialist factory buildings transformed into cutting-edge, modern art spaces, book a Warsaw hotel and experience the renaissance of one of Europe’s most fascinating capitals.

Culture hotspots

The Russian Byzantine-styled Church of St. Mary Magdalene is one of the city's most atmospheric, with 5 onion-domed towers and a golden interior. Just across the Vistula River is Warsaw’s growing bohemian scene, where the working-class district of Praga’s factories and warehouses are now the focal point of city culture and night life. The one-time communist Fabryka Trzciny factory has been reinvented as an evening spot for artist types. Galeria Luksfera is great for rubbing shoulders with up-and-coming photographers and artists, and the raw space of Magazyn Praga is a fashionable gallery-cum-boutique.

Vibrant art scene

A city break in Warsaw is great for catching some cutting-edge work from young Polish artists. Visit the Raster Gallery, set atop a dilapidated apartment block, or the Foksal Gallery Foundation, which puts on the work of some of Poland’s best known contemporary art makers. A selection of international – often off the wall – contemporary art is on permanent view at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, while the Center for Contemporary Art presents the work of some hundred established Polish artists. To hunt for artsy diamonds in the rough, visit to Bazar na Kole, an outdoor flea market with stalls chock full of communist paraphernalia. 

Museums galore

Warsaw is home to some 60 art, history, military and ethnographic museums. The National Museum holds Poland’s impressive collection of modern and pre-modern art, but smaller, more modest spots are far more compelling. Visit, for example, Chopin’s Parlour – the artist’s last apartment in Warsaw – or the Museum of Artistic and Precision Handicrafts, which has amassed everyday folksy items from past eras.