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  • Warsaw on a Budget

    city_Warsaw_Poland

    When you land on Warsaw’s Frederic Chopin airport and take a cab to the city center, you notice immediately that you arrived in a big city. Modern sky-scrappers surround the grim and nostalgic Palace of Culture and Science, once the tallest building in Europe. Huge shopping centers, neon ads spelling ‘Marriot’ or ‘Hilton’ and the rumble of cars might scary those who expected to find the same capital from communist times.

    Getting around Warsaw is not too difficult (for details on the city’s transportation network, check out this Warsaw Travel Guide); but like any major touristic destination, Poland’s capital has its tourist traps and can get pretty expensive.  In Warsaw you must know exactly what you want and where you’re heading from (otherwise you might ending up spending half an hour just to figure out how to cross the street).  If you’re a student or traveling on a budget, but are still want to see as much as you can from Warsaw, you might find this brief ‘Warsaw on a budget’ guide useful.

    Accommodation

    For those willing to go bellow Hilton standards and be happy with a clean bed and a basic breakfast, Warsaw has some pretty decent hostels to offer. Very close to the Palace of Culture and Warsaw Central Station you can find Oki Doki Hostel and Lemon Hostel, offering a very international environment and rates starting at 45 PLN a night (that’s approx. 10 euro).

    Getting around/Food

    Much of Warsaw’s Old Town can be seen in a several hour walk. This part of the city was entirely reconstructed during the latest decades, after being systematically torn down by the Nazis. Strolling along these old streets will give you the chance to get not only a free architecture lesson (Warsaw’s churches, palaces and old apartment buildings are quite remarkable), but also enjoy some free street manifestations and grab some fairly priced fast food specialty. A cheap and healthier alternative are the so-called ‘milk bars’ (‘bar mleczny’), a useful atavism from communist times.
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    Museums

    Warsaw has lots of museums, and most of them have a free admission day. The recent Warsaw Uprising Museum is free on Sundays and hosts an interesting collection of artifacts, testimonials and recordings form WW II. The Caricature Museum behind the Tourist Information Office on Rynek Starego Miasta is an intellectual delight: its display of sketches, cartoons and comic strips can make you laugh for an entire week. (The tourist info centre can also save you a lot of trouble and money by providing accurate information, free maps and brochures).

    Events

    There’s no use pointing out that Warsaw’s cultural life is worthy of any European capital. From underground to open air festivals, Warsaw is home to numerous cultural manifestations throughout the year, many of them free of charge.  Street festivals in Warsaw cover all possible themes, form urban manifestations (International Book Fair) to pagan rituals (Topienie Marzanny in March or Noc Sweitojanska at midsummer). Equally interesting are the Anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising in August, the International Street Arts Festival in July or the Warsaw Christmas Fair in December.

    Wish you an enjoyable trip and keep your eyes and years wide open for bargains!

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