Visiting Warsaw in winter is quite the experience. Fairy Christmas illuminations, snow sprinkled streets, warm inviting cafés, festive markets streets scattered across the city and parks full of sledging enthusiasts all come together to make a winter break in the Polish capital a truly wonderful experience.
To get into the Christmas spirit, a walk along the beautifully decorated historical Royal Route up to the Old Town is a must. Each year, hundreds of lights in various shapes and colors illuminate the city, making it a perfect setting for unforgettable festive moments.
Poland in winter
A giant Christmas tree is erected in Castle Square. On top of that, Varsovians can enjoy splendid Christmas decorations installed off the beaten track – for example, on Grzybowski Square, the Warsaw Uprising Square, and Wileński Square in the Praga district, on the right bank of the River Vistula. Join locals also for a walk in the gardens of Wilanów Palace. Amazing illuminations can also be admired in the Royal Łazienki Park, which is beautifully decorated, with a wonderful Christmas tree set in front of the Palace on the Isle. And for a magnificent panoramic view of the illuminated city, go after dark to the 30th floor terrace of the Palace of Culture and Science, the tallest building in Warsaw.
In the Christmas shopping season, shops in Warsaw draw Varsovians’ attention as much for their sparkling festive window displays as for the shopping itself. Holiday deals, discounts, coupons, one-day-only specials, and sales make your Christmas shopping easier on your wallet.
Varsovians have at their disposal around 20 shopping malls. The three largest shopping centres – Arkadia, Galeria Mokotów and Złote Tarasy are located near the city centre. The latter is best known for its spectacular architecture, especially its signature wavy glass ceiling.
Varsovians bravely face winter temperatures and truly enjoy seasonal outdoor sporting activities. The ice skating rink in the Old Town Square, surrounded by picturesque, colourful houses, is a winter attraction not to be missed. There are also various hills in the many parks for sledging enthusiasts to take advantage of (Królikarnia, Moczydło and Skaryszewski Park).
The well-known Górka Szczęśliwicka slope is a perfect place for those who want to mix up traditional visits to the city landmarks with speeding downhill, skimming just over the snow. Last but not least, cross-country skiing is growing in popularity and is well worth checking out. Explore the best tracks in the Bielany district and in Powsin, near Warsaw.
Every year, the “PGE Narodowy” stadium invites everyone to enjoy the largest ice park in Poland. With its huge ice rink, skate park, curling sheet, multi-lane slides, and all sorts of musical and sporting events.
Every year Christmas markets return to Warsaw with their goods and goodies. The most attractive and popular stalls are set in the picturesque surroundings of the Old Town – on the Market Square and around the Barbican. Wooden stalls are filled with ceramics, jewellery, candles, amber, hand-made crafts.
Over the Christmas season, some Warsaw markets feature not only Polish exhibitors, but also those from Czech, Ukraine, Croatia and Lithuania, offering interesting goods and delicious food typical of their home countries.
While soaking up the festivity, why not warm up with some steaming mulled wine and try the seasonal specialty loved by the Poles – hot beer with honey and spices. Why not let your nose lead you to one of the food stalls where you can try various traditional treats. For example, bigos made with stewed sauerkraut, meat and sausage, barszcz – a beetroot soup served with tiny dumplings stuffed with a mix of dried mushrooms and fried onion, pierogi in their festive version with sauerkraut and dried ceps, gołąbki – cabbage rolls stuffed with buckwheat and dried forest mushrooms, and oscypek – a salty Polish smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk, grilled on an outdoor barbeque and served with a side of cranberry preserve. Christmas markets are also heaven for those with a sweet tooth, with offerings of traditional Polish Christmas cakes such as makowiec – poppy-seed cake – and piernik – old Polish gingerbread full of exotic spices, including ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.