Warsaw is the Phoenix among Europe’s capitals. It was conquered by Prussia, France and Russia. It regained independence in 1918 just to be almost completely destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. The following Soviet regime rebuilt the city with hammer and sickle, creating a similar contrast between communist and classical influences that you’ll also find in Berlin.
Since the fall of the iron curtain Warsaw’s reputation as a gloomy concrete jungle in social fashion has been shifting. The unique blend of Baroque palaces, concrete blocks, museums, modern architecture and green parks undermine its aspirations to become Eastern Europe’s culture capital. We discovered a diverse mix of neighbourhoods from post-industrial, edgy Praga to the restored Old Town with its rich cultural heritage.
Warsaw isn’t just about history however. You’ll find a pleasing amount of concept stores, galleries, cocktail bars and edgy clubs as you stroll through the streets. In the hotspots of Warsaw’s culture there’s a rich art scene with exhibitions, plays, performances and of course a certain amount of sophisticated snobbery. In short: These days, Warsaw is a whole lot of fun.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews – Created by the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, work on this museum commenced in 1995 and continued until 2005, when it was officially instituted by the Polish president
Museum of the Warsaw Uprising – Dedicated to the military uprising of the Polish army against Nazi Germany on 1st of August, 1944.
Palace of Science and Culture – An eye-catching high-rise building built during the Soviet reign in 1955.
Old Town (Stare Miasto) – Warsaw’s historical center was beautifully restored after its destruction during WWII
Weekend Breakfast Market – Dozens of local food producers, farms and restaurants invite you to shop fresh food and spend time with your friends
Zlota 44 – Designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, Zlota 44 is the tallest residential tower in its class in the European Union
Keret House – An art installation in the form of an insert between two existing buildings, representing different historical periods in Warsaw’s history
Royal Lazienki Park – Warsaw’s biggest park boasts a royal palace, a theatre, a water tower and numerous landmarks
Copernicus Science Center – In the city center, neighbouring the Vistula River and the new Warsaw University Library, you’ll find one of Europe’s best science centres.
Vistula River Boulevard
Vistula is Warsaw’s biggest river and splits the city in two. It’s always been a life-giving vein for the city. Over the last couple of summers, it has also become an fun-giving vein for party hunters. With more than 20 clubs, it’s one of the most frequented areas during summer. Drop by at one of the food trucks, hang out at the beach or chill with the locals to store-bought beers at a camp fire. If there’s any place in Warsaw that spells cutting-edge, it’s here.
If you’re looking for great restaurants, this is the place. The lively Poznańska Street is popular with both locals and tourists. Outstanding venues like Beirut, Tel Aviv, Bez Tyulu and Nolita put it on any well-informed gourmet’s map.
The neighbourhood that makes you fall in love in Warsaw. While the whole city is intriguing, it’s here that the magic happens. Praga is an formerly neglected part of town that was revived by artists who moved there for the cheap rents. Now you’ll find bars, cafes and vintage shops next to towering concrete buildings. It’s a little rough and was even considered dangerous some 10 years ago. While it’s perfectly safe now, you still don’t see too many tourists. Perfect!
Located in Praga, SoHo Factory is a post-industrial zone that formerly housed weapon and motorbike factories. Following its re-development, the business complex and cultural hub is now home to artists, architects, restaurants, cafes, fashion boutiques and design stores. It boasts an unique Neon Museum and even a theatre and tattoo studio. The location where daring plans meet actual possibilities.
Plac Grzybowski / Prozna
Plac Grzybowski and Prozna Street (Empty street) were part of the Warsaw Ghetto. Prozna Street still features four tenement houses and is one of the few left-overs of “Jewish Warsaw”. During the annual Festival of Jewish Culture, the neighbourhood catches the pre-war climate and reminds of the Jewish quarter it used to be.
Art in Warsaw
As a city on the cultural rise, Warsaw boasts a flourishing scene for modern art. Here’s our Top 5 galleries and museums!
Galeria v9 – urban art and in-depth looks at the graffiti and street art scene http://v9gallery.com/
Raster Gallery – Contemporary art gallery established in 2001, exhibiting and representing emerging artists from Poland and abroad
Museum of Modern Art – Contemporary art from around the world and especially young Polish artists working across media, video, installation, performance, and sculpture.
Neon Museum – Dedicated to the documentation and the preservation of Cold War era neon signs
David Bowie Mural – A tribute to David Bowie’s time in Warsaw, which inspired him write his 1977 song Warszawa
Warsaw is packed with culinary delights, but just like in Berlin, it took a while until the culinary scene really had found its flavour. The trend of small food trucks is complimented by the first Michelin stars rising over the city’s horizon, promising more to come over the next years. Warsaw is an exciting place to be for foodies. If it’s international flavors you’re after or traditional pierogi and bigos, you’ll definitely not go home hungry. Here are our favourites:
L’enfant Terrible (top pick)
Chef Brys is among the most innovative chefs in Warsaw, having worked in outstanding restaurants in London, Zwolle and Copenhagen. In a venue boasting dark, sober colors and minimalistic design he serves mouth-watering gourmet cuisine.
Italian-French chef Andreas Camastra, whose restaurant Senses (sensesrestaurant.pl) recently snagged Warsaw’s second Michelin-star, brings a global sensibility to bear on Poland’s classic cuisines and generous natural larder
Atelier Amaro only uses seasonal Polish products and is considered one of Poland’s most modern venues. Their slogan is “where nature meets science” and obviously, they’re doing their laboratory work. It’s the first restaurant in Poland to land a Michelin-star.
This four-seat, one-table restaurant is a hidden gem and undoubtedly the most exclusive restaurant in Warsaw. As the name suggests, those lucky enough to indulge do so at the exclusive invitation of the Chef. Legend has it, that Vladimir Putin and Steven Segal are among the select few to have enjoyed this honor. True to its exclusivity, the exact cuisine of the restaurant remains a mystery.
Warszawski Sznyt – Steak & Art Kitchen
Restauracja Warszawa Wschodnia by Mateusz Gessler – Mix of Polish and French cuisine
Boat House – Boasts a glass wall through which you can see the Vistula
Tel Aviv – Vegetarian restaurant with Middle Eastern kitchen
Koszyki – Delicacies from around the world under one roof
Strefa – composition of food from many corners of the world with many Polish accents
Milk bars, or bar mleczny in Polish, are remnants of days past, when fresh food was rare and state-run venues served affordable food – mostly vegetables and dairy. They now serve a wider variety of dishes, but the concept is unchanged: inexpensive comfort foods like soups, pirogi, meat and potatoes.
Milk Bar Prasowy – Instead of the usual basic seating and tables of most milk bars, Prasowy offers modern, sleek design and traditional dishes sure to please eyes and tongues alike.
Milk Bar Maslanka – The communist era exterior is complimented by coca cola umbrellas. The interior’s light blue colours remind more of a frozen yogurt bar.
Bistro Charlotte – Rough and rustical charm with great breakfast. A hipster’s favourite.
Pozegnanie z Afryka – The first coffee-specialised shop in the country with grains from South America, Africa and even Asia.
Telimena – One of the oldest cafes in Warsaw, boasting an art gallery and a small concert hall
In Warsaw there’s plenty of ways to roast your liver. During the summer you’re best off with the beach clubs on the banks of Vistula river. Can’t find them? Just follow the river until you hear basslines. Warsaw’s bars range from rough and shabby to sophisticated, but all of them will close around 02:00am, clubs at about 06:00am. Many clubs take residency in empty warehouses, so be prepared for big stages, massive sound systems and anything from techno to Balearic house.
Na Lato (top pick!) – Na Lato serves superb Mediterranean cuisine at night and turns into Warsaw’s hottest bar at night. With a picturesque setting in an urban park’s pathways, innovative cocktails and DJs on the weekend, Na Lato is Warsaw definite number one.
Warszawa Powisle – A formet ticket hall that’s now home to clubbers and night owls
Plan B – The true heart of Hipster’s Zbawiciela square
Panorama Sky Bar – Amazing views over the city
Charlie Bar – Cocktails with attitude
Pies Czy Suka – High-end design boutique with cocktail bar and part time club
Dom Wodi – Modern looking bar specialized in Vodka
Luzztro (top pick!)
Dark, intimate atmosphere, pumping tunes, cheap but good drinks and a chilled-out crowd. Luzztros an unlisted underground electronic club that attracts both locals and tourists looking to party until daylight.
The View – Hyperposh rooftop nightspot. The #1 place to see and be seen in Warsaw.
Level27 – An amazing rooftop space with breathtaking vies over Warsaw. Top notch cocktails and A-List DJs guaranteed!
Smolna 38 – Rough, shadowy and simplistic design, three dance floors, two outdoor areas, a chill-out room, an indoor air-conditioned smoking room and three bars
Pomost 511 – One of Vistula’s best beach clubs
H15 Boutique Apartments (top pick!)
Located in the heart of Warsaw, H15 is a renovated 19th-century building combining history with contemporary luxury.
Autor Rooms – A small four-bedroom boutique hotel. Very private and personal atmosphere for guests who want to experience a unique hotel
Marriott Hotel – Major hotel with 523 rooms and a bar on the 40th floor offering spectacular views over the city
Bristol Warsaw – Founded by the famous pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Bristol is one of Warsaw’s most remarkable landmarks blending history and contemporary luxury
Hotel Bellotto – Located in the heart of Warsaw’s Old Town, within the walls of a sixteenth-century Primate’s Palace, Bellotto offers classic luxury
For more information about Warsaw, check WarsawTour and inyourpocket guide!