In November 2015 my boyfriend and I paid a visit to the cool capital of Poland, and we fell completely in love with it. Especially since it kicked ass even during the greyest month of the year. Here follows my top ten best and slightly alternative tips for Warsaw, which work any time of the year!
1. Free walking tour
Start off your Warsaw trip with a free walking tour in the old town. This is a great way to get to know the city better. Why? Because the tour is led by local enthusiasts who love their city and who are thrilled to share their love with you. We joined the Jewish Warsaw tour which took us to places where the Oscar award-winning movie The Pianist was set. A big tip if you’re planning on joining this walk is to watch the movie before or after the tour to make the experience even more vivid. As the headline indicates the tour does not cost you a penny, although you are more than welcome to provide the guide with a symbolic amount of money after the tour is finished. Find out more about the tour here.
2. Scare yourself to death at Horror House
Ever wondered what it would be like to stand face to face with your creepiest horror characters? Well, you need no longer wonder, because Horror House serves that exact purpose. Prepare yourself for the scariest 20 minutes of your life and expect to ramble around in darkness, desperately searching for keys while you’re trying to escape your worst nightmare. It’s a somewhat life-changing experience. Ready to find out more about yourself? Well, visit Horror House and decide for yourself what you’ve learned.
3. Go to a concert
Why not combine your weekend in Warsaw with a concert? I did it, and I can honestly say that it was that Jose Gonzales concert that made the trip go from great to awesome. Not only because a concert in itself is an amazing activity at any time, but more so because a concert gives you the best chance to really be part of the local community. The tourist label that automatically pops up on your forehead when you travel abroad disappears, and instead you become “one of them”, united in a passion for the music you are now sharing as audience. The concert creates a sense of togetherness and presence. Check out available concerts in Warsaw here.
4. Have dinner at a Communist-themed restaurant
Yeap, you got it right. In Warsaw you have the rare opportunity to eat hearty Polish food accompanied by portraits of famous communist figures, such as Lenin and Mao. The story goes that Lenin himself was a frequent guest at this quirky restaurant called Oberza pod Czerwonym wieprzem. You’ll get a menu that is divided into two sections – namely, dignitaries and bourgeoisie. Which one will you choose? Whatever you go for the food won’t disappoint you. Book ahead, it’s a popular place among both tourists and locals.
5. Polish homecooked with a pianist
Hopefully you’re not tired of Polish cuisine just yet, because here’s a restaurant you should really try out when in Warsaw. At U Kucharzy you dine fantastic Polish food in front of an open kitchen to delicate tones of Chopin performed by a pianist – if you are lucky. The restaurant is spacious with an elegant interior, and the staff is there to keep you satisfied. Finish off the meal with an ice-cold and excellent Polish vodka, and if you’re in for a treat, a tasty Polish apple pie.
6. Eat the cheapest lunch ever at a Polish Milk bar
Are you travelling on a strict budget and need a cheap place to have lunch at? Don’t worry, at the traditional Polish Milk bar Mleczny Familijny you can eat plenty for less than four bucks. Maybe it won’t be the most inviting atmosphere, but the low price definitely makes up for that. Also, you will really feel like a local, since it’s a popular place especially among students and seniors. A heads up though is that the menu is only written in Polish. Could be a great chance for an adventure!
7. Schnitzel, beer and entertainment
After a long night out there are few things better than a nice before-bedtime-snack. Forget McDonald’s and Kebab, grab a schnitzel and a nightcap beer at Podwale 25 – Piwna Kompania instead. Here you can even have a lullaby to put you to sleep, since some traditional Polish folk musicians come with the meal. This is also a go-to-place for the beer nerd, especially for those who are into the typical Czech pils.
8. Become James Bond for a night
If you’re up for an untraditional pub alternative Podwale Bar and Books could be something for you. Even though it might appear a bit snobbish at first because of its evident gentleman’s corner attribute, there is still a sense of coziness and funkiness to it. In fact the ambience is rather intriguing with a great collection of single malt scotch and a James Bond-film constantly rolling in the background. It’s also a pleasant hide out for the book worm, since the shelves are loaded with plenty of literature of various genres. An interesting detail is the choice of one might say psychedelic art in the bar, which mainly consists of chimpanzees wearing weird outfits.
9. Some chocolate please
Are you a devoted chocolate lover like me? Then the chocolate café Batida is a must for you. Here you can indulge yourself in chocolate in all forms and shapes. I highly recommend their hot chocolate of high-quality cocoa which literally melts on your tongue. Other options include chocolate tartes and different kinds of chocolate pastries. This place is a haven on a chilly day, few things compete with a hot cup of chocolate when it’s freezing outside. At least if you ask me.
10. Coffee with love
Do you also feel like many people treat their coffee with disrespect and indifference? Do you get slightly upset when you find an open package of coffee on a counter loosing its aromas in vain? Well, luckily there are some folks who take these flavorful beans way more seriously. The mysterious café Sklep z kawą Pożegnanie z Afryką is definitely one of those places. Each coffee bean and country of origin is humbly described in the menu and once you’ve picked your bean it’s time to choose which brewing method you fancy. This is simply put a heaven for coffee lovers.