Warsaw has risen from the flames in recent decades: Poland's proud and beautiful capital city was destroyed during the Second World War, but made a miraculous comeback. Rebuilt under Communist rule and recently cleaned up for the successful 2012 European Football Championship, it is one of the largest and most vibrant cities of Central Europe.
Start off in the Old Town, where you can shop in boutiques around the statue of the Syrena (mermaid) on the main square, or along the beautifully restored Krakowskie Przedmieście boulevard leading south. Just to the west in the former Jewish quarter, the gleaming new Museum of the History of Polish Jews (www.jewishmuseum.org.pl) promises to become the city's best museum.
The huge, Soviet-style Palace of Culture and Science (www.pkin.pl), a short walk away, is the perfect place for views of the city. Along the river, you can enjoy hands-on experiments at the family-friendly Copernicus Science Centre (www.kopernik.org.pl) then take a picnic to Łazienki Park (www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl). On the other side of town, Warsaw Uprising Museum (www.1944.pl) tells the tale of the failed 1944 uprising against the Nazis.
Warsaw has restaurants catering to all tastes and ages. Your children will love the play area and jungle gym at Kosmos Kosmos (www.kosmoskosmos.pl), where adults can enjoy quality international food in peace. Looking for a romantic evening out? Halka (www.restauracjahalka.pl) looks like the set of the opera it was named after, and serves authentic Polish food. For a fun dinner, try Polish specials at Oberża Pod Czerwonym Wieprzem (www.czerwonywieprz.pl), a popular communist-themed joint.
Warsaw's bars and clubs are spread out all over the city, but if you're looking for high-end drinks, the area around Plac Piłsudskiego is a good bet. Dress up for cocktails at Paparazzi (www.paparazzi.com.pl). For cheap beer, head to the 'Secret Garden' courtyard behind ulica Nowy Świat 22, where a dozen tiny bars fill up with students at weekends. More quirky bars can be found in the up-and-coming Praga district across the river, such as W Oparach Absurdu bar (www.oparyabsurdu.pl).
In May, Night of the Museums (www.noc-muzeow.pl) draws crowds to special exhibitions and events across the city. The Chopin Festival (en.chopin.nifc.pl) in August attracts the world's best musicians for two weeks of classical and contemporary music. The Old Town fills with music during the free Jazz in the Old Town Square festival (www.jazznastarowce.pl) between mid-June and mid-August. Another impressive venue is Wilanów Palace (www.wilanow-palac.art.pl), a baroque palace and museum which has survived intact since the late 17th century. Classical concerts and cultural events take place throughout summer in its landscaped gardens.
Chocolate pralines and other delicacies have been made at the legendary Wedel factory since 1851, and you can taste them all at Pijalnie Czekolady Wedel (www.wedelpijalnie.pl). Fashion, food, film and design come together beneath the spectacular dome of Złote Tarasy mall (www.zlotetarasy.pl), beside the main train station. Hop on the tram to the Dalibora stop for Warsaw's best weekend fleamarket, Koło Bazar. Haggle down the price of that antique lamp, jazz record, vintage dress or 1970s kitsch – or you're paying too much!