Kraków travel might have Poland’s idyllic beauty, but Warsaw travel contains the country’s political and cultural heart. Nurturing its 400-year role as Poland’s modern capital, Warsaw is the nation’s urban core and largest city, with upwards of 1.7 million residents situated along the shores of the Vistula River. It stands practically equidistant between the Baltic Sea in the north and the Carpathian Mountains in the south, making Warsaw travel a “must” for any traveler to Poland, if just to witness its many facets where tradition intermingles with modernity.

While Warsaw’s history stretches back to the 13th century, it is perhaps most conspicuously defined by its post-World War II resurgence. Poland’s capital was nearly flattened by the war, with the occupying Nazis destroying over 85% of its most historically and culturally important buildings. Ever since, the city—much like its symbolic mermaid icon emerging from the rough waters—has striven to rise from the ashes and replace what was lost, beginning first with the stark Soviet structures during the postwar communist regime and later accelerating after the 1989 fall with more Western influenced construction. What little remains of the old structures is largely confined to the Centrum area around the famous Stare Miasto (Old City) and Nowe Miasto (New City), popular time-traveling neighborhoods for Warsaw travel. Today, the city is covered in booms and cranes, rapidly shifting and changing as it outgrows the whole of its home nation in economy, employment, and energized hope for the future.

This undeniable Warsaw energy also manifests itself in the form of entertainment, from highbrow cultural festivals honoring the country’s favorite rock star, Chopin, to edgy art openings and museum exhibitions, such as those of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, an interactive space and 3-D experience that documents the historic struggle of the Poles during World War II. With a fourth of the city covered in parkland and a wealth of cultural suitable for all tastes and budgets, Warsaw travel offers an ever-changing point of interest and a quintessential stop on any luxury journey through Central Europe with Ker & Downey.