Poland is a hugely underrated European country for digital nomads and travelling couples. There are heaps of things to do, see and eat. Best of all, the things to do in Poland are unlikely to dent your travel budget!
Here are our top 10 things to do in Warsaw, Poland.
FREE ON SUNDAYS
The museum was built on the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Warsaw. It is dedicated to the people who lost their lives. You can also follow the story of their everyday lives preceding the rising. It helps you to understand the complexity of the international situation at that time and the strength of the Polish people.
2. Eat at Hala Koszyk
Packed with international cuisines, pop-up bars and art gallery exhibitions, this is one of Warsaw’s hidden gems. It didn’t strike us as a very touristy place, but instead a buzzing local hangout. Hala Koszyki is an extremely large, contemporary, open-plan indoor food and drink spot and perfect for those colder winter months. Occasionally they have a DJ playing in one of their small restaurants but otherwise it’s just a great place to chill out any day of the week.
3. Take a stroll in Łazienki Palace and park
Łazienki Palace was constructed from 1774-1784 by King Stanisław August Poniatowsk. He was a big advocate of the Arts and this is clearly illustrated in the main palace interiors. It spans over 76 hectares and is best known for its ‘palace on the island.’ It is one of Poland’s greatest architectural accomplishments and even though it was slightly damaged, it managed to survive WWII. The surrounding lands are a mixture of French gardens and classic English parks. There are so many things to explore here, so clear a day and just enjoy a stroll around this beautiful and iconic place.
4. Grab some beers at Plan B
If you are anything like me, I like to find at least one local, cheap dive bar in every country. I enjoy the buzz of a young, local crowd with the added bonus of astonishingly cheap drinks! Poland is excellent for these, but it can be difficult to find a great place without stag/hen goers that have the same idea! Plan B is popular bar in an excellent location. It's busy, it’s cheap, it has an eclectic mix of music, and the bar staff are a good laugh.
5. Eat at a Milk Bar (Bar Mleczny)
Bar Prasowy is, hands down, the best milk bar in Warsaw! You can find milk bars all over Poland and they are a true representation of its culture, politics and history. The very first milk bar was opened in 1896 but launched again after WWI in the 1920s. They were present throughout the period following WWII.
Mid-range, highly priced, privately owned restaurants were considered by the regime at the time as anti-communist. Therefore, milk bars were more aligned with their anti-capitalist agenda. They were inexpensive and aimed at a worker's salary. The word “milk bar” simply came from the fact that most dishes had dairy based ingredients.
Today, they are still an affordable way to eat a traditional and wholesome meal. They have a canteen style layout where you order before you collect your food. Most of the staff speak English so you shouldn’t have a problem ordering. It was not a place to soak up the ambience, but more so for a quick, delicious meal of pierogi, potato pancakes, soup or even creamy chicken!
6. Polish Army Museum (Muzeum Wojska Polskiego)
ADMISSION FREE ON SATURDAYS
The Polish Army Museum is a wing of the Polish National Museum. It documents the vast military history of Poland from the 10th century to the second world war. What we really enjoyed was getting to see the armoured vehicles, artillery pieces and aircraft from a mix of Polish, Soviet and western origin. These can all be viewed for free on a Saturday, so if you are strolling around the city centre at this time, check it out!
7. Spend a day at the Vistula river beach
Less than 1km long, with not the most picturesque of views, you might not consider the the banks of the Vistula river as anything special. However, the river is regular part of the summer lifestyle in Warsaw. Thousands of people spend their time alongside this river in the summer months and it’s for a good reason. There are over 20 clubs riverside, heaps of restaurants and bars, open air theatrical performances at Boogaloo Beach bar and even skimboarding and beach volleyball at Temat Rzeka. Taking a stroll down the riverside will take you past many interesting places or you can just choose to grab a picnic blanket and relax for the rest of the day.
8. Visit the Palace of Culture and Science
You can’t miss this high rise building in the centre of Warsaw. The building itself is a central point for two museums, concerts, cinema, institutions, sports club and even businesses. The building was built in 1955 and was a gift from the Soviet Union. Many Poles dislike this building as they feel it is a sign of Soviet domination. Despite the negative feelings, it has been widely recognised as a symbol of Warsaw. I enjoyed the panoramic view from the 30th floor 110 meters high and the museum of technology.
9. Be a tourist at Old Town
Old Town is one of the oldest areas of Warsaw and dates back to the 13th century. All of the area was completely destroyed in WWII but it has since been rebuilt to what it would have looked like (although many of the buildings would have been made from wood). Market square is a fantastic place to explore on a calm day. You will find stalls, musicians, outdoor restaurants and cafes, narrow cobbled roads and beautiful buildings. Even though it was recently rebuilt and is a big tourist trap, that doesn’t take away from a lovely day out visiting the clean and friendly area.
10. Go shopping at ZOO market
When you think of antiques, flea markets and vintage shopping you wouldn’t automatically think of Warsaw, Poland! However, on the right bank of the Vistula river is the new ZOO market. Hundreds of people come to this area every week to grab a bargain or just to have a look at the vast amount of stuff on offer! For vintage enthusiasts there are heaps of clothes and accessories from all eras. For antique lovers there are never ending lines of home decor, furniture and small souvenirs. You will be able to find vinyls, books and so much more over the 60 stalls. They are open twice a week, even when it is raining or snowing!
BONUS TIP: Always Purchase & Validate Your Tram Journey
Don't get caught without a ticket on the trams! One day, our ticket had expired on our way back to our Airbnb apartment. Before our stop, two ticket officers with arms the size of small cars joined us from either side of the tram and demanded that we pay a fine of 160 Zlotys (~£35)! Rightly so, they don't listen to excuses especially when it comes from tourists.
Most journeys will cost you around £1 or just over $1. It's not worth the hassle, you can also buy weekly travel-cards that are inexpensive.
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