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Poland's capital is one of the most culturally rich cities in all of Europe - from groundbreaking art galleries to an incredibly vibrant night life, it's perfect for a weekend getaway.

 DAY 1:

 09:30  Warsaw is finally shaking off its rep as an austere outpost of the Eastern Bloc and becoming known as a city buzzing with energy. Divide your time between lowbrow pub crawls in the Praga district and more cultural experiences, such as classical concerts and edgy art galleries. But start with breakfast at one of Warsaw’s milk bars, Bar Mleczny pod Barbakanem (Mostowa 27, mains from 60p). Milk bars, a relic of the Communist era, offer hearty portions of often dairy-packed grub – think stodgy dumplings and omelettes – for low prices. Don’t let the spare decor and grumpy service put you off, it’s all part of the experience. 

10:00  Nearby, the historic Castle Square is surrounded by beautiful townhouses and holds Sigismund’s Column, which is named after the Polish king who moved the nation’s capital from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596. 

11:00  Wander towards the Old Town, where you’ll find the St Martin’s Church (Piwna 9, tel. +48 22 8310222), with its Baroque-styled facade and cute orange-hued monastery courtyard, and the unique gothic St John’s Archcathedral (Kanonia 6, tel. +48 22 8310289), one of the oldest churches in the city with distinctive twin spires. 

12:00  All this fresh air is bound to be making you hungry, so stop in for lunch alongside some of Warsaw‘s artsiest folk at the cafe-cum-photography studio Melon (studiomelon.pl, mains from about £5). Based in Inzynierska, the opening of this studio triggered the area’s transformation from a cluster of shady backstreets to the buzzing artistic hub it is today. After lunch, check out the cluster of studios and galleries nearby.

14:00  Carry on your cultural immersion with the Fryderyk Chopin Museum (chopin.museum, entry £4.25). The interactive multimedia display tells the famous composer and virtuoso Chopin’s story and you can even see one of his own pianos and – oddly – a lock of his hair. 

16:00  From one legendary Pole to another, visit the Copernicus Science Centre (kopernik.org.pl/en, entry £4.25), which celebrates the astronomer’s achievements. Geeky but very cool exhibitions include a laser harp, an air-powered flying carpet and the spectacular Heavens of Copernicus planetarium. 

18:00  If you make one big splurge this weekend, let it be on dinner at art nouveau Porto Praga (portopraga.pl, mains from £10), where you can get stuck into gourmet delights such as Spanish veal and Balinese tuna tartare. 

20:00  We promised you a Praga pub crawl – now here it comes. You’re already in the right district, so walk to W Oparach Absurdu (Zabkowska 6, tel. +48 660780319, shots from £1.80), where you’ll be welcomed by a 5ft plastic tarantula. Enjoy a tipple or three among the rest of the bizarre decorations. 

22:00  Move on to Hydrozagadka (Ulica 11, Listopada 22, tel. +48 5 04111059, beers from £1.50) for a dose of live music, DJs and plenty of ready-to-party Varsovians. Join them ‘til the small hours.


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Weekender: Warsaw - A guide to the perfect 24 hour in the Polish capital
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