Warsaw's winter sun might be chilly, but it shines down on a beautiful sight. Poland's capital city has as much history, classic architecture and charm to offer in the winter as it does during any other season of the year.
Old Town and the Royal Castle
The city's oldest section, which was founded in the 13th century. After 90% of the area was destroyed during World War II, this historic part of the city was meticulously restored and today remains a hub of historic sites and striking monuments. Originally built in the 15th century, the Royal Castle was reconstructed after the war using rubble from the destruction. Today, the castle houses archeological exhibits and art, including two Rembrandt paintings.
Many of the symbolic elements you'll find in Old Town architecture are associated with historic tales and legends. For example, the King Zygmunt III Waza Column, which is the oldest and tallest secular monument in the city, has a statue at its pinnacle of Zygmunt III Waza, the king who moved the nation's capital to Warsaw. The figure holds a sword in its right hand and a cross in its left – and according to local lore, danger is imminent if and when the king’s sword falls downward.
Old Town Christmas Market
When visiting Warsaw's old town district in December, you won't want to miss the seasonal fixture that is the Christmas Market. The average temperature in Warsaw isn't likely to climb much higher than about 36 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the month, so bundle up and enjoy the Old Town as it transforms into an idyllic setting straight out of a holiday picture book. Local businesses sell baked treats, savory and sweet filled dumplings called pierogi, and Christmas souvenirs among the twinkling lights and festive decorations.
The Palace of Science and Culture
A leftover from Stalin's era, the Palace of Science and Culture is not considered one of the most attractive buildings in Warsaw. Nonetheless, it is the tallest in Poland and affords visitors spectacular views of the city from its 30th-floor observation deck. Currently the eighth-tallest building in the European Union, the structure is home to commercial offices, a cinema and other entertainment venues.
Ice skating at Torwar
Skate in style at Torwar, one of the largest sports and entertainment centers in Warsaw. The full-size ice-skating rink, open from mid-October, is a great place to go with family and friends. The kids can learn to skate with the aid of adorable penguin, panda, and polar bear ice walkers. Visitors of all ages can take classes in figure skating, curling and ice hockey, or simply enjoy speeding across the frozen arena.
National Library of Poland
Nothing says cozy like a library in the wintertime. The National Library of Poland is an impressive archive housed in a 17th century building. Inside you'll find countless testaments to and records of Polish history and heritage, such as Chopin’s musical compositions, religious texts, maps and important architectural renderings. The library serves as the national bibliographic agency as well as an important center for research and conservation in Poland.