Even those who hate the Old Town for its artifice – and let’s be honest, we all know some prat that claims to have avoided it for years – aren’t so churlish as to deny that the post-war rebuild wasn’t bad at all. Painstakingly reassembled from a heap of blackened ruins, it’s one of the great glories of Poland. With its crooked, cobbled alleys, slender spires and snow-sprinkled rooftops, it’s also filled with enough romantic promise for a Valentine’s meander to remember…
Start at Zygmunt’s Column, the traditional rendez-vous spot for canoodling couples, before heading down Kanonia to the Humpty Dumpty bell that sits center stage. Here, dreams come true if you touch the top, circle three times then make a wish. Next up, Dawna street, a charming little twitten perfectly bookended by two buildings that arch over the alley below: it’s a scene born for atmospheric photos. Then, through the cute navy archway you go, an action that’ll lead you to a small alcove overlooking the river. It matters not this once served as the town’s sewage heap; admire the view and then attach a lovelock to the fence – you won’t be the first. Continue to the mist-cloaked remnants of the town walls or follow in Napoleon’s footsteps and cut to the Rynek by climbing the stone stairwell at Kamienne Schodki.
In the square, share mulled wine from one of the outdoor cabins before wobbling onto the ice rink to skate around a mermaid, or get cultured in the Museum of Warsaw: there’s a reason you’re here – bird’s eye views of the Rynek await, and they’re all the better once the skies fall purple as the clocks move to dusk.
Anything else? Yes! For fireside cocktails in a wood-paneled parlor head to the old coach house that is Bar & Books, or make your way back to the Cathedral plotting your wedding to remember. Doing so, you’ll be passing a statue of a bear: that’s a Mazovian prince waiting to come to life once he finds love once again (he’s only been waiting a couple hundred years…).
Now, you’re back to square one. Cold? If so, head indoors to take Poland’s first escalator before being dispatched at the mouth of the W-Z tunnel and the pastel pink district of Mariensztat. Just by being there, you’re following in the footsteps of the characters in Przygoda na Mariensztacie, a cult 50s rom-com that’s something of a classic.