My close friends and family are aware of my love for Poland. After spending 6 months living in Krakow Poland I had shut this country in my heart. So when a Polish friend invited me over for a weekend I couldn’t say no of course. So a few weeks ago (I have been busy since, hence the delay in the article) I flew to Warsaw together with two other friends. After a very interesting flight we arrived safely and totally ready for a relaxed girls weekend in the capital in one of my favorite countries! In the weekend I tried to visit as many places as possible. However, I also received some input from my friend actually living in Warsaw, to get to know the real “local” places.
Things to see and do
Since everybody already had been once in Warsaw we decided to skip all the main attractions, except for a walk through the “old” city centre. Unfortunately Warsaw was nearly completely destroyed in WWII (the whole story can be seen in the Warsaw uprising museum, highly recommend it!) so after the war the government decided to rebuild parts of the old town in exactly the same style as before the war. This allows you to see how grand the city once has been, however, for me it feels a bit like walking through Disneyland. All houses are made to look old, however, none of them are older than 60 years, giving it a bit of a weird feeling for me, but hey, everything is personal!
So rather than redoing the top 10 must do items we decided to go “off the beaten” track and went to the horse races, something done throughout the spring, summer and autumn season in Warsaw. It was a good day of fun, but unfortunately the betting computers were down so we could only look without making some serious money. (minimum bet is 20 cents..) If you want to be more cultural and visit a museum, the Science Museum supposed to be really nice; allows you to test and try out various experiments yourself as well (http://www.kopernik.org.pl/en/).
Through the middle of Warsaw runs the Vistula river, which basically divides the river in two. The “old city” and commercial heart of the city are on the left side of the river, while the more artistic and eclectic part of the city is situated on the right side. Praga is a neighborhood on the right side of the river and is filled with a large collection of eclectic and a bit weird bars; think a grandmother’s apartment during communist times. I myself went to a place called W OPARACH ABSURDU (address ul. Ząbkowska 6) and this is supposed to be one of the best ones. In case you happen to speak Polish here’s a list of all bars in Praga.
On the left side of the river there’s a popular bar district as well in the area around ul. Poznańska. This area is full of cocktail bars (me and my headache can testify for those cocktails) and lounge clubs with some music and dancing. Leniviec – Cafe- Bar- Breakfast & Brunch Restaurant comes highly recommended and has amazing cocktails (address ul. Poznańska 7). Other good places in this area are Cafe Beirut (also calledHummus and Music bar) known for a bit dark, but very friendly atmosphere with good music and cocktails (address Poznańska 12). The last recommended place in this area is a bit of an odd bar with a funky interior and energizing music: Znajomi Znajomych (address ul. Wilcza 58a). I’ve been those all these places (first the Leniviec for a starting cocktail, then Beirut for an additional Dutch courage Mojito, and ending in Znajomi Znajomych, for some serious people watching and energetic dancing).
Since the last time I was in Warsaw (about 5 years ago) a huge amount of small, hip restaurants have emerged in the city. One of my favourites is a place called Bufet Centralny, a fashionable hipster place close to the city centre with amazing food! Except to pay around 6-10 euros for a main course. If you want to find something a bit cheaper and a bit more old school you can always opt for a milk bar, a cheap lunch restaurant back from the old days. I have been told that Bar Prasowy is a good one (address ul. Marszałkowska 10/16).
If you’re looking for something slightly more fancy (but still very affordable) I can highly recommend restaurant Bacio. The food here was truly amazing and we literally rolled out of the place straight into the cocktail street area around ul. Poznańska. If you’re more of the sweet variety you should definitely visit Pijalnia Czekolady Staroświecki Sklep.(address Ul. Szpitalna 8). This store is known for its chocolate and amazing chocolate milk.
As I stayed at a friend’s place I did not look for any hotels/hostels in Warsaw, however you can find many places through the general accommodation websites. (see this article for more information).
All in all I was super surprised about Warsaw! The experience I had 5 years ago wasn’t great. However, after staying in the city for a weekend, and knowing where to go thanks to my lovely local guide, I have to say Warsaw is an amazing city for a weekend break in Europe!