Things to do in Warsaw in Winter (Food, Fun and History!)

Warsaw old town, snow-covered roofs and and distant city center at dusk, aerial winter panorama

The dynamic capital of Poland, Warsaw has plenty to offer locals and tourists alike.

It’s well-known for its hearty cuisine, range of fascinating museums, beautiful architecture and vibrant atmosphere. 

Warsaw is a little colder and darker in the winter months, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any lesser worth visiting!

In fact, many travellers favour the Polish metropolis during this season, thanks to the local vibe and lack of crowds. 

Plus, Poland at Christmas is nothing short of magical. The frosty weather and dark nights are the ideal setting for millions of Christmas lights twinkling all over the country, and Warsaw is at its epicentre. 

There’s also an abundance of indoor attractions, such as the Polish Vodka Museum, the Neon Museum and an observation deck where you can see the twinkling city spread out beneath you. 

With affordable flights from many European destinations, a winter city break in Warsaw is a great idea! 

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Warsaw in December, January and February!

This article may contain affiliate links. 

What’s Warsaw like in winter? 

colorful old town square  in winter, Warsaw, Poland

Let’s not beat around the bush: Poland can be very cold in the winter months. 

However, unlike in previous years, it’s actually nowhere near as freezing as it used to be.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing – it’s due to global warming – but it does mean that you won’t be quite as chilly while you’re here!

Snow can happen any time from November to March, although it’s most common in January. 

But Polish people don’t let a bit of nippy weather dampen their spirits, and you shouldn’t either! Warsaw remains a vibrant city throughout the year, and many people prefer visiting in the off-season, as it’s a lot quieter and there are fewer rowdy groups.

(Warsaw is a prime destination for tourists, usually from the UK, on stag/ bachelor or hen/ bachelorette parties, but they’re usually only in the city in the summer months). 

Let’s take a look at each month for a bit more information! 

Warsaw in November

The temperature starts cooling down in Warsaw in November; expect temperatures to plummet to around 0°C/ 32°F.

Snow is a fairly common occurrence in November, although it is becoming rarer as the climate is changing.

At the end of the month, the Christmas spirit infects the city and it turns into a winter wonderland.

Enjoy festive lights, cheery seasonal markets and displays in shops and restaurants. If you want to take in Christmas in Warsaw, visit any time after the 25th November!

Warsaw in December

Warsaw, Poland - December 25, 2019: Panorama of Castle Square with Christmas tree, Sigismund's Column and The Royal Castle by night.

Snow can start falling in December, with temperatures falling to -4°C/ 24.8°F.

Of course, this is the most magical time of year to visit!

Christmas in Poland is a big deal, and Warsaw is one of the most festive places in Europe to visit.

You’ll experience charming decorations lining the streets and of course, the majestic Christmas market itself.

It’s chilly, but there are plenty of places to warm up with hot chocolate or mulled wine! 

Warsaw in January

Lazienki Park in winter. Poland, Warsaw.

Weather conditions can be chilly in January; it’s this city’s coldest month. 

Temperatures are usually around 1°C (34°F) / -5°C (23°F).

While it can certainly be colder and darker, the crowds are virtually non-existent and prices are a lot cheaper!

Warsaw in February

Cold weather continues throughout February, with highs of 2° (35.6°F).

You might be enjoying the tourist attractions covered in snow during February, but it does start to warm up considerably by the end of the month. 

Warsaw in March

The weather in March warms up considerably, with highs of around 7°C (44°F). You might see some snow still, but it largely melts by the middle of the month.

By the end of March, you can see bright, sunny days with weather in the teens!

It also starts getting busier by the end of the month, especially as you draw towards easter, although Warsaw generally isn’t too busy until the peak summer season.

Things to do in Warsaw in winter

Warsaw Christmas Market

Warsaw, Poland - Skating rink in the Old Town Square and Christmas Market

If you’re visiting Warsaw during the festive period, there’s no doubt as to where you should head first.

The Warsaw Christmas Market is, as you’d expect, one of the best in Poland.

Opening its doors in November each year, the market boasts a plethora of stalls selling authentic Polish cuisine and gifts and souvenirs made by local Polish artists.

The charming decorations give off a magical atmosphere, the sound of Christmas carols will meet your ears and you’ll smell wafts of festive gingerbread in the air.

Warsaw Christmas Market is located within the old town, next to Castle Square.

You can’t miss it – there’s a towering Christmas tree with thousands of twinkling lights in the centre.

There’s also an incredible ice rink!

POLIN Museum of Polish Jews 

Poland, Warsaw-April 2018: Museum of Polish Jews in Polin, illumination included

The POLIN Museum of Polish Jews is without a doubt one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. 

It details everything you need to know about Judaism in Poland, from its origins back in 1098 during the First Crusade to the tragic events of the Holocaust when three million Polish Jews were murdered, to present-day. 

Not only is it an important museum to visit, given the horrors of the Holocaust that still affect the city today, but it’s also incredibly interesting. 

Go back 1,000 years in time and learn about Jewish origins on the continent, their customs, traditional food and celebrations.

The section about the Holocaust is very distressing, but the museum as a whole will give you a deeper understanding of this historic religion.

You can buy tickets on the door or click here to book a guided tour and skip the line ticket for the museum.

Warsaw Uprising Museum

Warsaw, Poland - May 01, 2022: famous monument and building of the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. A popular tourist attraction in the capital of Poland. The memory of the victims of Nazism in Eastern Europe and World War II

Modern Warsaw is defined by its uprising, and in this museum, you can learn all about it. 

The Warsaw Uprising took place in the summer of 1944.

It was an attempt by the Polish resistance movement at freeing Warsaw from oppressive German occupation.

Taking place over 63 days from 1st August to 2nd October, the uprising ultimately failed due to its lack of support.

85% of the city was destroyed in the process, including much of Warsaw Old Town. 

However, the uprising showed Polish resolve, which is proven in the incredible restoration of Warsaw Old Town.

The museum focuses on that along with how it impacted the city. 

It’s an interactive museum that’s well worth visting, especially if the weather isn’t so kind when you’re in town!

You can book tickets on the door or click here for a skip the line audio guided tour.

Other Warsaw Museums

There are plenty of other captivating museums to take in while you’re in Warsaw, which is ideal for those chilly winter days! 

They include:

  • The Museum of Warsaw: This museum details the complete history of the city and is a must-visit for anyone who wants a well-rounded knowledge of the capital!
  • The National Museum in Warsaw: Originally a Museum of Fine Arts, this is nowadays Poland’s national museum.
  • Museum of Fryderyk Chopin: This details the life of Poland’s favourite composer!
  • Polish Army Museum: Learn all about Polish defence at this fascinating exhibition.
  • Museum of Modern Art: Established in 2005, this art gallery houses pieces from Polish and international artists.
  • Polish Vodka MuseumYou’ll learn all about the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink at this informative and amusing museum! 

Explore Praga

Praga is famous in Warsaw for its alternative culture, and its trendy streets are a stark contrast to the traditional surroundings of Warsaw’s old town. 

Unlike the rest of Warsaw, it wasn’t destroyed by German forces in the uprising, so it remains the most historic part of the city. 

It’s well known for its temples, including churches like Our Lady of Loreto, which dates back to the 17th century. 

However, the history of Praga merges with the new; the city is famous for its fascinating street art pieces and other modern attractions.

One of them is the dazzling Museum of Neon Lights! 

Museum of Neon Lights

Dazzling Museum of Neon Lights in the Praga district of Warsaw. There are a few signs, a neon red one saying"Berlin" and a neon green one saying "Bibliotek"

Fancy getting lost in lights? You can do just that in a neon museum in Praga, one of Warsaw’s quirkiest attractions!

The Museum of Neon Lights details everything you need to know about neon and has a spectacular exhibition of all the lights you could ever imagine.  

The Neon Museum has an interesting commentary about the use of neon both in past and present; many of its signs are preserved from the Cold War Era.

Walking city tour around Warsaw

One of the best ways to understand Warsaw’s fascinating yet sometimes very sombre history is by taking a walking tour around the city centre.

These run all year-round – but if you’re visiting during a particularly chilly time, just make sure that you have a scarf, hat and gloves! 

The walking tour will traverse the historical streets of Warsaw Old Town and Warsaw New Town (the name is deceiving – the neighbourhood actually dates all the way back to the 15th century!).

You’ll see sights like the historic city walls and the Bell Tower of St Anne’s Church.

Plus, you’ll learn about the city’s 1791 constitution, showcasing some of Europe’s tallest skyscrapers and detailing the life of famous Warsaw locals.

One of the most famous is Marie Sklodowska Curie, who was the only person who ever earned the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields

You’ll learn about how Warsaw Old Town was virtually flattened and then rebuilt in World War Two, which is why you can see so many brutalist buildings from the Soviet days alongside historic buildings that have been remade. 

There’s a lot to pack in, but if you want a comprehensive overview of the Polish capital, definitely add this to your winter Warsaw itinerary. 

Alternatively, if you want to explore the capital independently, walk the royal route, which is a series of streets containing some of Warsaw’s best landmarks. 

You can book a walking tour of Warsaw by clicking here.

Warsaw Castle 

Take a step inside Poland’s majestic history as you explore Warsaw Castle, one of the iconic landmarks of the capital city. 

With classic gold detailing throughout the Throne Room and Royal Apartments, you can get a sense of the grandeur of the historic Polish royalty as you explore.

On display in the Royal Castle are Rembrandt paintings and the Bernardo Bellotto canvas, which was used as a grounding to rebuild the city after the uprising.

You can also explore the Senator’s Hall, where the 1791 3rd May constitution was passed, which was the first to ever be passed in Europe (and the second in the whole world!).

Also enjoy the beautiful palace garden, which was recreated to match the style of the 1920s/ 1930s, with fountains, mazes and beautiful colourful flower beds.

Warsaw Castle is situated right in the historic centre of the capital, so it’s easy to pop in while you’re exploring nearby attractions! 

Willanow Palace

Beautiful baroque facade of Royal Wilanow Palace in Warsaw

With history spanning back to the 17th century, Willanow Palace is a wonderful place to visit for history lovers.

Willanow Palace was once the home of King Jan III Sobieski.

When visiting, you’ll learn about the incredible history and explore the grand architecture!

You can order tickets for Willanow Palace by clicking here.

Enjoy Warsaw’s dining scene

Polish food is seriously underrated. With hearty stews, warming soups and mouthwatering dumplings, parcels with potato, cheese or meat at the centre, this cuisine is even more delectable during the winter.

  • Borscht: A warming beetroot soup that’s from various Central and Eastern European countries, this is the perfect dish to enjoy when you need to defrost from the cold!
  • Pierogi: Aaah pierogi. These little parcels of joy consist of potatoes, cheese or meat wrapped in pastry. It’s easy to find vegetarian options of these if you don’t eat meat. 
  • Crepes: Manekin is a Polish chain restaurant that serves incredible crepes with various different fillings!

I recommend heading to a Milk Cafe for a traditional Polish experience – these cafes have stayed largely the same since communist times and serve delicious local food for very cheap prices.

Czerwony Wieprz

This bizarre Communist restaurant serves Socialist Bloc cuisine, and was previously a meeting place for people in the communist movement in the early 20th century.

Apparently, Lenin even visited! 

Its food is surprisingly good, particularly the potato pancakes, and it’s been voted one of the most interesting restaurants in the world – an accreditation we’ll agree with! 

Bounce around at Hangar 646

Hangar 646 is the ideal Warsaw winter attraction, especially if you have kids that can’t keep still!

With over 60 trampolines, a foam pit, a dodgeball zone, air track and more, this indoor park is the best place in the city to burn off some energy.

Ideal for children, teenagers or adults, there’s lots going on here, and you can easily spend a couple of hours bouncing around.

Take anti-slip socks or buy them there, as normal socks don’t do that well on the slippery trampoline surface!

It’s difficult to reach the park on public transport, so you’ll need to take a taxi or Bolt.

Go vodka tasting

Close up on Vodka shots and other alcohols in a row

Now an activity that’s strictly grown-ups!

Once you’ve visited the Polish Vodka Museum, you might want to try tasting the popular spirit. 

Touring a vodka factory is one of the most quintessentially Polish experiences that you can have, and it’ll no doubt warm you up from the cold. 

On this vodka tour, you’ll visit three locations in the city centre and try six different types of Polish vodka, including hazelnut vodka and grass vodka, and a flaming absinthe shot. You’ll also enjoy a few traditional snacks that complement the drink perfectly.

But this isn’t just going to a few bars; you’ll learn about the origins of Polish vodka and its culture today.

You’ll leave with a new appreciation of the drink!

Click here to book your tour!

Experience Warsaw’s nightlife 

Want to explore Warsaw’s night scene like a local?

Take part in this Warsaw pub crawl, which guides you around some of the best bars in the city and even has a few complimentary drinks thrown in. 

Of course, if you want to explore independently, there are tonnes of incredible bars around the city! I recommend Klar Cocktail Bar and Veles Bar.

See a Chopin concert

One of the most famous Warsaw locals (even the airport’s named after him!), Frédéric Chopin was a classical music composer and performer, born in nearby Żelazowa Wola, in the 19th century. 

He then moved to Warsaw and left a huge mark on the city!

While you won’t be able to actually see him perform, concerts playing his music run every night of the week. If you want to appreciate classic 19th century Polish culture, don’t miss this!

Click here to book a Chopin concert.

Also, look out for the Chopin benches 

As you explore Warsaw, you’ll see musical benches scattered around the streets. These are located in 15 sites that are integral to Frederic Chopin’s life in Warsaw in the 19th century. 

Head to the Palace of Culture and Science Viewing Terrace

The Palace of Culture and Science of Warsaw from a low angle view. An historical public cultural institution and the tallest building in Poland.

The Palace of Culture and Science Viewing Terrace incorporates various cultural activities like art shows and temporary exhibitions.

At the top of the palace, you’ll find an observation deck with views all over the city centre. It’s well worth submitting to the top and looking out over the capital!

This used to be the tallest building in Poland; but as of 2022, the Varso skyscraper has overtaken it – it’s actually the tallest in the European Union! 

Click here to book your tickets!

Day Trips from Warsaw in winter

If you have a few extra days on your Warsaw city break, then why not check out some of these da trips, many of which make perfect winter activities! 

Łowicz Mazovian Countryside

This private tour takes you away from the city and into the snow-covered countryside.

You’ll experience Łowicz Ethnographic Park, Radziwiłł Palace and Gardens, which once belonged to the Polish upper class and the English-style Romantic park in Arkadia.

It’ll just be you and the guide on this tour, so there are plenty of opportunities to make extra stops – plus, you’ll have a chance to quiz the guide about the region and Polish life.

Click here to book it!

Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s HQ

It’s little-known that Hitler hid away in Wolf’s Lair, close to Warsaw, for 900 days during World War Two.

In this private tour of the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s HQ, you can explore the vast network of bunkers and even see the room where an assassination of Hitler’s life took place.

You’ll have an English-speaking guide who’s an expert in the area and World War Two, who will answer all the questions that you may have about Wolf’s Lair.

Click here to book your ticket to Wolf’s Lair!

Treblinka Concentration Camp

Most people immediately think of Auschwitz when it comes to concentration camps in Poland.

However, if you want to learn about this dark side of Poland’s history, there is another concentration camp to visit from Warsaw: Treblinka, the largest in Europe.

It’s just a one-hour drive from Warsaw, and the tour involves a professional guide around the camp, who will be able to answer all of your questions.

It’s a heartbreaking tour, but it’s important to learn about this side of Europe’s history to ensure that the same mistakes aren’t repeated.

Click here to book your ticket.

Krakow and Auschwitz

Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau, opened in 1940 and was the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps. Located in southern Poland

Poland’s second city, Krakow has an incredibly historic city centre with architecture spanning back centuries. Also, enjoy a rich gastronomic scene and great museums.

Close to Krakow sits Auschwitz, the Nazis’ most notorious concentration camp in World War Two.

You can do a tour that includes visiting Auschwitz from Warsaw. Again, it’s a tough place to visit, but it’s important to know about it.

Click here to book your ticket.

Chopin’s Birthplace Tour 

This tour takes you to Żelazowa Wola, where Chopin was born.

A must for all music fans, you’ll see where he was born in 1810 and explore what is now the musical museum and see the church where he was baptised.

You’ll learn all about Chopin’s life and see another side of Polish culture as well.

Click here to book your ticket and read more about this day trip!

Where to stay in Warsaw in winter

Warsaw, Poland - January 22, 2020: High angle panoramic view of Warszawa cityscape skyline with centralna train station and palace of culture night evening

How to get to Warsaw

Warsaw Chopin Airport is well-connected with affordable flights to cities all over Europe, from London to Istanbul. WizzAir is the main carrier at the airport. 

You can book direct transfers to the city online, or just use an Uber or Bolt to get into the city. 

Alternatively, Poland has excellent rail service, and Warsaw is connected to destinations across the country, Central and Eastern Europe, and Germany, most departing from the central train station.

You can purchase tickets in advance or on the day of travel from the ticket machines here. 

I’d recommend taking the trains in Poland rather than on domestic flights. 

You can also take buses from major cities in Germany and Poland. Most leave from the Warsaw West Bus Station, the city’s main bus station. Ticket prices are usually cheaper the more in advance you buy them. 

Poland's capital Warsaw on early August morning. Central part of the city. Monument to famous Polish scientist Nicolaus Copernicus

How to get around Warsaw

Warsaw has a great public transport network, with buses, trams and metro options.

Plus, public transport tickets are very affordable. This is without a doubt the fastest method of transport; although it’s quite a walkable city too!

If you want a taxi, I’d recommend using the Bolt taxi app, which is popular in Central and Eastern Europe.

The rates are generally cheaper and there are usually more cars than in Uber, although it does operate in the capital as well.  

What to pack for Warsaw in winter

Although Warsaw’s winters are usually a bit warmer than they used to be, you’ll almost certainly need a thick coat, scarf and gloves from December to February.

Novembers and Marches can be a little milder, but make sure you check the weather forecast before heading out!

Also, sturdy shoes (preferably boots that you can wear with thick socks!) are essential. 

Where to go from Warsaw

If you’re on a Europe trip in winter, you might wonder where’s best to go after Warsaw? 

You’re in a great position here; you can either journey north to the Baltic countries, east to Berlin or south to Krakow (and then onto other Central European countries!). 

If you need inspiration, check out my guide to visiting Poland in winter or my city guide to Krakow in winter

Or, head to the country’s winter capital – Zakopane – one of the best places for skiing in Poland!

FAQs about visiting Warsaw in winter

What is there to do in Warsaw at Christmas? 

Warsaw, Poland - December 2019: Christmas Market in Warsaw, old Town Square

Alongside the festive market, there’s ice skating, plenty of museums, gorgeous decorations adorning the streets and historic buildings like the giant bell tower and Warsaw City Walls. 

What is the coldest city in Poland? 

Suwałki in northeastern Poland is usually considered to be the coldest. 

Is Warsaw or Krakow better? 

Krakow is generally more popular, but Warsaw has tonnes of history and. a great atmosphere too. They’re both worth visiting – and trains and domestic flights connect them, so they’re easy to visit on one trip! 

A capital brimming with history, Warsaw is a lesson in resolve, spirit and determination. The fact that it was virtually flattened in the Warsaw uprising and has rebuilt into the modern metropolis it is today, filled with captivating museums and Christmas attractions with gorgeous decorations is enough of a reason to visit.

While it can be cold, Poland excels in winter activities and you can bet that a winter city break in the capital will be warm and wholesome! 

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