About Sasha H
Lives in Healey, United Kingdom
Since Jan. 2015
I’ve swum with wild dolphins in the Maldives, fed baby kangaroos in Australia, spent hours in the shopping malls of Dubai and crash-landed a hot-air balloon in Poland – having spent the last decade travelling and freelancing, I am a joyful, nosy traveller, always meeting new experiences head on. I enjoy digging into the culture, listening to what’s happening around me and taking thousands of photos on the way. Thanks to two decades of travelling extensively through Europe, the Middle and Far East and the Caribbean, I know the cities and countries I write about inside out. And even though I live in the Yorkshire Dales – surely the most beautiful place on earth – I never lose my enthusiasm for skiing in Zermatt, visiting my favourite cities in Italy and Poland or discovering new places to shop in Dubai.
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Gardens, Parks, Art Museums
Historic Walking Areas
History Museums, Military Museums, Art Museums
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Lazienki Park is a haven for Warsaw residents. Its 78 hectares of formal landscaping feature water gardens scattered with follies and lakes, an amphitheater, and memorials to Polish heroes (including an Art Deco monument to Fryderyk Chopin). Peacocks roam free, Baroque palaces peek from between the trees, and colonnaded bridges reflect off the lakes. In the late 18th century, Poland’s last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski, lived in considerable style in his ornate Palace on the Isle, with his mistress installed in the (relatively) cozy White House nearby. But despite all the architectural grandeur, this really is a locals’ park, and most weekend see picnicking families and young couples lost in each other.
Warsaw’s historic Stare Miasto (Old Town) is a joy to wander through on a sunny day. It's crammed with ornate Baroque churches, narrow alleys, gabled townhouses, and sweeping piazzas protected by thick bastion walls. Largely annihilated during World War II, Stare Miasto was reconstructed in the 1970s under Soviet rule, and it's now UNESCO listed thanks to its painstaking architectural restoration. The heart of the Stare Miasto is the vast Rynek Starego Miasta, a medieval market square that is today lined with brightly painted Baroque buildings which house hotels, cozy restaurants, and bars selling local beers.
Located at the southern end of the Royal Route, the fairytale Baroque palace of Wilanów was built in the 18th century as one of the most opulent royal palaces in Europe. Today, it is open for tours of its grand apartments and peerless decorative arts collections — but equally inviting are the 45 hectares of delightfully landscaped gardens. The grounds have recently been restored to their bygone grandeur and encompass intricate plantings, whimsical fountains, and sweeping parkland designed in the informal ‘English’ style that was popular at the turn of the 19th century. Treasures tucked away among the lakes, bridges, and follies include a rose garden (a spectacular place to witness in spring) and a tranquil Chinese garden filled with rare oriental trees.
Saski Park opened to the hoi polloi in 1727, making it one of the oldest public parks in Europe. It originally formed part of the royal estates surrounding the Saski Palace, which was built in the early 18th century for King August II. Unfortunately, the palace was destroyed during World War II, and the only remnant of the ornate mansion is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a marble mausoleum that contains an eternal flame guarded by soldiers from the Polish armed forces. The gardens occupy a peaceful 15.5-hectare space filled with wooded walks, ornamental fountains, carp-filled lakes, and statues of mythological gods and legendary creatures.
Behind the Copernicus Science Center, Discovery Park runs alongside the River Vistula and up to Świętokrzyski Bridge. In addition to play areas for kids, the park is dotted with wacky sculptures and interactive sound installations. In summer, it is the venue for open-air movies and astronomy sessions, as well as all manner of sporting activities, including pilates classes. Two ramps link the park to the eco-gardens on the roof of the Science Center, making for one of the newest and most unusual green spaces in the city.
A short walk from the Royal Castle, Multimedia Fountain Park is a popular youth hangout by day, and on summer nights it draws crowds with its whimsical dancing fountains. Multi-colored water jets and laser beams flash, whirl and leap across the skies in time to much-loved tunes by anyone from Chopin to Madonna.
Best visited in summer for the spectacular and multi-colored profusion of roses, Warsaw’s botanical gardens have been part of the university since 1818. Like much of the city, the gardens were destroyed by Nazi bombing in World War II and were only revived in 1987, after extensive renovation of the pathways and greenhouses. Today, they are a delightful repository of Polish trees and plants, with terraces that overlook the River Vistula. Pines, acers and japonica vie for attention with saltmarsh plants from the sand dunes of Poland’s Baltic coast, while the greenhouses are planted with palms, cacti, and tropical fruits.
Devised by the tourist office to follow the route of Polish kings from the Royal Castle to Wilanów Palace (11 km to the south), the Royal Route (Trakt Królewski in Polish) cleverly links the best of Warsaw's attractions. The walk cuts a pedestrianized swathe through the city from Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) past the Royal Castle to Wilanów. Along the way it encompasses: Krakowskie Przedmieście and Nowy Świat, Warsaw’s swankiest streets; the lovely churches of St Anne and the Holy Cross, where Chopin’s heart is entombed; numerous splendid palaces; and many monuments to Poland’s great and good. The most impressive section is between the Royal Castle and the bizarre artificial palm tree on the De Gaulle roundabout, which is around a mile’s walk and is easily accomplished in 45 minutes.