A few weeks ago I was invited to the Polish capital – Warsaw. To be honest I did not really have high expectations, so was a bit surprised to learn the city has flourished in recent years both culturally and economically, becoming a trendy hub for artists in Europe.
The restaurants were all serving local food made of organic products; art galleries seem to be popping up exponentially; bars offering an impressive variety of local beer are all around… Sounds a bit like Shoreditch. But don’t expect to find the typical East London Hipster here. Warsaw is different – there is a air of authentic cool you don’t often find in Shoreditch any more.
It is a hard city to pin down, so I have put together a selection of of Warsaw’s finest to help you discover this dynamic city, powered by its restless creative scene.
This unusual bar was built in the mid ’50s, and originally served as a bleak modernist railway station that combined space-age appeal with post-bloc decay.
In 2009 however, the ticket kiosk was converted into a cafe and bar bearing the same name as the station, and has since become a hub for younger crowds drawn by the unpretentious setting and its myriad variety of cultural activities. When I got there crowds had begun to congregate outside to enjoy music and party under the station’s fuzzy neon lights.
They serve a selection of vodkas along with burgers and fries.
This was one of the first places I went to check out when arriving in the city. It had been recommended by a few friends, and I wanted to immerse myself in the history of Warsaw before wandering around the city.
The museum tells the story of the uprising that took place in August of 1944, when the residents of the country’s capital joined members of the resistance Armia Krajowa to drive the Nazi occupation out of Warsaw.
The Warsaw Rising Museum charts a detailed documentation of the movement’s history and legacy, along with insights into Poland’s tug-o-war between eastern and western politics. It is a wonderfully curated museum, that you could easily lose a whole day in.
Warsaw is one of the last places I would expect to find good vegan food, but while there I had on of the best vegan-burgers I’ve ever eaten!
Krowarzywa is a small vegan burger joint, that opened up in March and has quickly become a local favourite with herbivores and omnivores alike. The food is all healthy, local and seasonal … oh and they are huge!
The staff were super- friendly and even gave me a list of other restaurants and bars to check out while in town.
The place is quite small and usually packed, so prepare yourself to queue and for the possibility of not finding a seat, particularly if you go at peak hours. But that said: it’s totally worth it!
This cafe, located by the Warsaw university and library, is the perfect place to kick back and relax after a busy day exploring the city. With its bold red armchairs, dark sofas and bric-a-brac adorned walls and chequered flooring, the cafe prides itself on rescuing piles of discarded books that you can then purchase, trade or loan while you sip your coffee. Perfect for book lovers.
If you want to pick up an unusual souvenir, we recommend checking out Magazyn Praga. Located in a former glue warehouse, the store features relics from its industrial past that intermingle with their high-profile selection of new and vintage fashion and furniture. The store is considered to be at the cutting-edge of Polish design, but you can also expect to find Scandinavian, Czech and international products from established and emerging designers.
One of the things you can’t help but notice in Warsaw is the incredible amount of construction taking place. With massive regeneration projects under way, particularly on the right-bank, the city is constantly evolving. At the forefront of this regeneration of is Soho Factory, a creative hub.
Pulling inspiration from New York’s SoHo, the area has succeeded in attracting a wave of exciting galleries and businesses to the larger and cheaper industrial spaces of Praga. New exhibitions are put on at BWA Warszava and Leto Galeria, and I highly check out any exhibitions taking place if you visit.
The Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art has been located in a temporary home in the centre of town since its inception in 2008. While it is quite small, they run a host of cutting edge exhibitions, events and educational programmes with a focus on contemporary art, industrial design and architecture. This is definitely a gallery to watch as they have big plans and a beautiful new home currently under construction.
A weekend in Warsaw: what to do