If you like contact with nature, you want to be surrounded by greenery in your free time, Warsaw is the perfect place for you! It only takes a moment to reach a totally different space in the heart of this city, for example the Kampinos Forest, the Mazowiecki Landscape Park, historic gardens, city forests or the botanical gardens, which are open to the public.
Notwithstanding whether you are keen on running, cycling, walking, or you prefer “hunting” with your camera, you are bound to love this city.
The Warsaw Escarpment / Natura 2000
The Warsaw Escarpment spans along the Warsaw section of the Vistula River. The landform features, and, to be precise, the difference between the levels of the former ancient Vistula river bank and the current one, determine the multitude of points overlooking the Praga side of Warsaw. In turn, looking from the right bank towards Żoliborz, Śródmieście or Ujazdów, we can admire a beautifully displayed panorama of left-bank Warsaw. Sunsets are spectacular here!
The escarpment, together with the Vistula valley, creates a perfect natural ecological corridor for animals and plants. No other capital city in Europe can boast a river with an undeveloped course, wild banks overgrown with riparian forests, and “the Central Vistula Valley” Natura 2000 protected area, flowing through the city centre. This place is particularly appreciated by birds of the Charadriiformes order, characteristic of wetland and marsh areas. They nest directly on the ground, populating Vistula river islands and beaches which are not visited by people very often.
A bird protection area was marked out for them, so-called “Bird Directive”. We can go for a walk or a bike ride there, as there are cycle paths along both river banks. We need to remember that it is home for birds, and it should be used with respect to the rights of the hosts. Warsaw residents will soon gain a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Vistula river. Picnics and sunbathing, being surrounded by river bank greenery, the sight of flowing water, birds singing ... sounds good?
Gardens, parks, lawns
Gardens, city parks, reserves, squares and lawns account for a vast share of green areas in the city. Kaskada Park, Sady Żoliborskie Park [Żoliborz Orchards], Żeromskiego Park and Fosa Park with the slopes of the Citadel, as well as numerous roadside plantings contribute to the green image of Żoliborz which is an inherent part of the district. The Saxon Garden [Ogród Saski] in the city centre is one of the most famous and oldest parks in Poland. It witnessed numerous historic events, it is a place where young Fryderyk Chopin would play, and a film set in numerous productions.
Moving on to the right river bank, it is worth noting the Praski Park, which is an “entry way” to the City Zoo, a place loved by the youngest residents of the city. Skaryszewski Park was awarded the title of the Most Beautiful Park in Poland, and ranked third in Europe, as a mainstay of biodiversity in urban conditions, also referred to as the “green heart of Praga-Południe.” In addition to its natural assets, it provides access to a wide range of sports activities. The Kamionkowskie Lake, a perfect place for water sports, is situated in the park. It is the seat of a sports club with a thriving football section.
Returning to the left-bank side of Warsaw, we can visit the Ujazdowski Park and the Royal Łazienki Park. They are situated in the most representative part of Warsaw, as diplomatic posts and central government institutions are located nearby. The word has it that the Ujazdowski Park houses the best ever playground for children. The visitors to the Royal Łazienki come in crowds to enjoy the annual Chopin's music concerts. Enthusiasts of open air photography can count on beautiful shots with the Palace on the Isle in the background. Naturalists can admire plant specimens at the Botanical Garden of the University of Warsaw, and those who enjoy theatre art may watch plays at the 18th century Royal Theatre in the Old Orangery building.
Former airport and horse racing track, the Pole Mokotowskie Park, is another proposal for a great time outdoors. A perfect place for laying on the grass, family picnics, running contests, and music concerts. The park and the “Skra” city stadium will surprise visitors with a new layout, thanks to which the area will gain new possibilities and attractions for residents. The Morskie Oko Park (with Szustra Palace and Promenada Park) is greatly popular among Warsaw residents, due to its picturesque location on the Warsaw Escarpment (if you haven’t been sledding there yet, make sure to do it soon). The Arkadia Park with the Królikarnia Palace and Dreszera Park are located nearby.
Moving further south, going past the Dolinka Służewiecka Park, we reach the Royal Wilanów with Morysin, which provide a wide range of proposals for the enthusiasts of nature, culture, and family walks across the English-style garden and around the Wilanowskie Lake. Natoliński Park is the largest park in Warsaw, while the park and forest complex called Culture Park in Powsin, the most southward green area, together with the Kabacki Forest creates a unique place marked with numerous ravines.
An amphitheatre, being a local summer stage, is located at the slope of one of such ravines. Enthusiasts of flowers and rare plants will certainly not be bored at the Botanical Garden of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Numerous barbecue and bonfire spots are provided for those who love partying. Powsin is also a popular base for playing chess, beach volleyball, table tennis, and tennis. Bielański Forest and Młociński Park are famous for winter leisure activities, with cross-country skiing routes at various levels of advancement, where the rental of equipment should not pose any difficulties.
The residents of the north-western part of the city are keen on visiting the Bemowo Forest. It includes the Łosiowe Błota reserve (Moose Marshes) with an enchanting footbridge - a trail running over a peat bog. It is a buffer zone of the Kampinoski National Park, and as the name suggests, we can see a moose here, as well as other forest inhabitants, such as beavers, lynxes, wild boars, or smooth snakes. The Bemowski Forest is the most versatile place in the city in terms of diversity of plant and animal species, and landform features.
Discover the city
There are countless green areas we can discover in Warsaw. It is not possible to name them all, and new ones are being developed, for example a Park at the Warsaw Rising Mound, or the Suwak Linear Park with flowery meadows and rain gardens. The city is gaining new plantings each year, and currently such activities are focused on the centre of Warsaw, where the process of making the main roads greener is under way. Parks, roundabouts, squares, and Vistula boulevards are full of colourful compositions of flowers, perennials and grass, changing with seasons of the year. There is a growing number of community gardens, flowery meadows, green walls, and green roofs - community initiatives, possible thanks to our Participatory Budget, or the green fund initiated by the City of Warsaw.
Green enclaves are full of street furniture, like playgrounds for children, open air gyms, skate parks, or dog runs, and function as places where less popular sports can be done or played. The city is intertwined with those places, like green oases. Shaded alleys are a relief during heat waves. Old trees, carefully maintained by gardeners and dendrologists, produce immense quantities of oxygen, and absorb carbon dioxide, captivating dust and reducing noise. They are a perfect background for city architecture, they give the surrounding area its distinctive character, and a breath of fresh air, they astonish with the multitude of colours, being easily accessible places to relax after a hard day. Do you know where you see yourself next time?