WHAT TO SEE?
Parks. A very good start, and literally any park in Warsaw. The city has so many of them (our favourites are Pole Mokotowskie and Skaryszewski Park), and they're all fairly big, so you'll always find a plethora of people walking around enjoying the season just like you – families taking the kids and dogs out for pleasant strolls. And despite the no.s, you'll still have a fair amount of personal space. The top tip from us, wherever you go, is to simply walk around. Warsaw's public transport may be well connected, but the charm of walking is made all the better with the sights you'll see on foot. Ya just can't get that same vibe looking through a bus or tram window!
If you liked our front cover, it's because we chose it for a damn good reason – to highlight one of the best locations to go anytime of the year, but especially during the fall season – Łazienki Park. The local inhabitants, mainly squirrels, are rushing around preparing for winter, and they're simply beyond cute. They have no fear to approach you, so don't leave them disappointed, come prepared and hand over some nuts!
If you're in Warsaw for a visit, the likelihood is you'll follow the Royal Route, and this is perfect, for the top destinations along the way look great in Autumn, but there are also some less visited and hidden charms which you may not have known about. We'll assume a starting position of the Old Town leading to Łazienki Park. Along the way you can walk, ride a bike, or choose to get off public transport one stop earlier – this is a top option on the way to Łazienki to see Ujazdowski Park. The park itself is overshadowed by its larger neighbour Łazienki, however, it is still a charming detour where you can enjoy the quiet, or if you have kids, let them run riot in the play area. But this isn't the main reason we suggest coming here – directly behind the park is a unique set of 27 buildings which make up Osiedle Jazdów (Jazdów estate) which was the first to be built after the destruction of World War 2. But there's more to it than that, as these are small wooden Finnish houses (the wood imported from Russia as part of war reparations which Finland was forced to pay the Soviet Union) built in 1945 to house the workers and architects of the Warsaw Reconstruction Office (Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy, BOS). They were only intended to be temporary, to last no more than 5 years, however, years later, many are still standing, and were added to the national list of historic monuments in 2017. Today, you can walk along the streets named Jazdów and John Lennon (who's he?); some of the houses are residential and cannot be visited, however, there is a great community iniatiative called 'Otwarty Jazdów' (Open Jazdów) which offers a social, cultural and ecological programme. This is a great place for artists, students, urban gardeners and even beekeepers. It all feels completely out of place being in the city centre, but that's exactly why it's quirky, unique, and worth seeing.
From here, you can easily walk across the bridge which leads to Ujazdowski Castle, just visible in the distance. Most times we've been here, we've had the opportunity to encounter squirrels scurrying between the two parks, and we'll admit to even feeling a bit like Dr Dolittle once providing some walnuts to the little critters! Now, you can check out our Łazienki Park section to get right into the autumn vibe, so take full advantage of it. To continue on the Royal Route, the next stop is Wilanów, which again, we've covered in-depth and provided a map for you to navigate around the area. The palace is the draw, and for any keen photographers, the cheerful yellow of the building blends in perfectly with the surrounding autumnal pallete. Enjoy the park and gardens here, and we guarantee you won't be disappointed...well... as long as it doesn't rain!
Heading back to the city centre, the Vistula Boulevards, although mainly associated with riverside summer living, are no less impressive in Autumn. The left bank is a land of concrete, but looking across the river, the wilder east side is all natural, the tree leaves fading to the golden browns we love. You have a choice, to continue along the boulevards and reach the Warsaw University Library & Gardens, an attraction in themselves, but the autumnal colours here not only include golden brown but beautiful shades of red! The rooftop garden canopy (available to see until the end of October) is a highlight. From the heights of the rooftop you have a great view of the city centre and Old Town, but more importantly, of the Praga district just across the river. The entre district is worth visiting, but for that laid back autumnal vibe, head to Skaryszewski Park next to the PGE National Stadium before heading to the charming highlight of the Saska Kępa district – ul. Francuska. Chilled out all times of the year, the stunning tree lined main street is a worthwhile wander, where you can pop into cafes or feast on some seasonal Polish dishes. The surrounding area is littered with villas and architectural delights, all found on the tree lined side streets – crunchy leaves everywhere!
If walking around is not ideal for you, perhaps you're the active type who enjoys riding bikes, and for those wishing to go further afield should consider wooded/forested areas to the north such as (Las = forest) Las Bielański, Las Młociński and even Kampinos Forest. All can be reached by bike paths, and once there, long trails await, and of course, they look great as the golden leaves fall.
TIME FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT...If you're in Warsaw, or indeed Poland, on/around 01 November, All Saints' Day (Dzień Wszystkich Świętych) and 02 November, All Souls’ Day (Dzień Zaduszny), consider visiting a cemetery. As odd as that sounds, this is a visually stunning and touching couple of days when Poles remember their deceased loved ones, and believe us, they take it very seriously. Cemeteries across the country are covered in commemorative candle lamps, which make the areas look like a sea of candelight. The best place to witness this is the huge Powązki Cemetery. Prepare to be humbled.
WHAT TO EAT?AT IYP, we love autumn, and not just because of all the aforementioned activities, but for the awesome food. Traditional Polish food (and its modern variations) is already something we big up, but the great thing is that whether at home or in restaurants, what you can expect on the table comes and goes with the seasons, and autumn is pretty special. So what can you eat? First and foremost: a whole variety of mushrooms! The most common are ‘Boletus edulis’ (PL: Borowik Szlachetny) or ‘Chanterelles’ (PL: Kurki). Freshly picked, all shapes and sizes, they’re great in main meals, soups, and in another Polish pastime: pickling. From pumpkin to zucchini, it’s pickled! As for fruits, from apple, quince, pear, to cherry, Poles turn them into jam! Some even make their own liquers (PL: nalewki) from fruits and pine syrup. Other seasonal ingredients are game animals such as boar, venison, pheasant and duck. Whether you’re carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, you won’t miss out. Our restaurant sections are full of great places to try out autumnal cuisine, and special mentions go to U Fukiera, Grand Kredens, Gościniec and PAM PAM.
If/when you are in Warsaw, the weather isn't quite as crispy as you'd hoped, and more wet and squidgy, don't worry, there's still plenty to see and do indoors, which you can read all about in our sightseeing sections and leisure & activity section. We at Warsaw IYP have got you covered for all meteorological outcomes! Enjoy your time in Warsaw!