Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for visiting Warsaw, Poland.
Warsaw is a city with strong character and a complex history. The capital of Poland has a bustling financial center, a pretty Old Town, and plenty of cultural activities.
I visited Warsaw for the second time and fell even more in love with this unique city. The following are the reasons why you should make Warsaw your next destination.
Planning a trip to Poland? Check out a 2-day budget itinerary for Krakow.
You can live large on a small budget
Poland is a part of the Schengen area, so your arrival will be border control-free when coming from another member country. It is also in the European Union, however, has its own currency, the Zloty.
Generally, transportation, restaurants, and bars will be relatively inexpensive compared to central or western European countries. Beers can be bought for as little as 4 PLN ($1 USD and $1.40 AUD) and the standard price for trams is 3.40 PLN ($0.88 USD and $1.19 AUD) in zones 1 and 2. Uber is incredibly cheap, even going to the airport from the center it only cost me 21.81 PLN ($5.52 USD and $7.45 AUD). You can feel like a champion, buying rounds of drinks and ordering an Uber for you and your friends to the next bar, without it breaking the bank.
Accommodation is also very economic. I stayed at Hostel Helvetia where they have dorm rooms starting from 39 PLN ($10 USD and $13 AUD) per night. This economic price includes daily breakfast of bread, spreads cereals, coffee, and tea. Or you can upgrade to the more exclusive Helvetia Plus with private rooms and a full breakfast with the additional items cold cut meats and cheese, tomato, and juices. You can get your own room with a private bathroom from 169 PLN ($44 USD and $59 AUD) per night.
Great nightlife and hipster scene
If you like to party, Warsaw is your city! There are plenty of bars and dance clubs to choose from depending on your taste. Here are just a few that I personally tested and recommend:
- Cafe Loft: Inner city bar with a good cocktail menu and trendy decor. They also serve food.
- Pavilions: A cluster of bars, all side by side, off the main street of Nowy Świat. The different themes and an alternative crowd make for a fun way to start the night.
- Plan B: Frequented by locals and overflowing on the weekend, this bar has cheap drinks and guest DJs.
- Club Luzztro: A dark and atmospheric club with electronic music. If this is your style, also check out Smolna. I didn’t get a chance to go, however, it was highly recommended.
- Teatro Cubano: Popular Latino music club that plays all your favorite Reggaeton songs. They also have a separate dance floor for other styles of music.
Delicious Polish food
Polish food is generally filling, cheap, and good. There are many dishes to try including Barszcz (beetroot soup), Placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), Sledzik (herring). and Kielbasa (sausage). The following are all places that I ate at and are also recommended by locals.
- Cukiernia Pawlowicz: A Polish bakery located on a side street off Nowy Świat. Try a Paczki (hot doughnut) filled with chocolate.
- Bar Mleczny: Literally translated into “Milk Bar”. These are cheap Polish restaurants that serve traditional dishes. The menu is normally only in Polish so you might want to make friends with a local or Google translate. I had a meal of sauerkraut and pickle salad, tomato and rice soup, pork in a spinach sauce, and a drink for less than 20 PLN ($5 USD and $7 AUD). These places are only usually open for lunch, closing before 6 pm.
- Zapiecek: Delicious Pierogi (polish dumplings) fried or boiled. It is a chain restaurant and you won’t find any locals eating here, however, the food is still great quality for a relatively low price. The best thing about Zapiecek is that they have over 30 types of Pierogi to choose from.
- Czerwony Wieprz (Red Hog): A humorous communist-themed restaurant with dishes inspired by former Soviet Union leaders. The menu is even divided between meals for dignitaries and proletariats (high and low cost).
Polish culture and history
While visiting Warsaw, you will want to get to know more about the city and its past. But on the flipside, there is also the modern Warsaw with over 18 theaters and modern art installations, such as the giant Palm Tree.
- The Old Town: Learn about how the city was almost completely destroyed during World War II and meet the city’s symbol of a mermaid on a free walking tour (tips encouraged for guides).
- Royal Castle: The castle was completely rebuilt, however, the artifacts and furniture inside are antique. Entrance is free on Sunday.
- Chopin Museum: The beloved Fryderyk Chopin was born in Poland and his homeland pays homage to him with a museum. There are also daily concerts with his music in the Old Town. While walking in this area, look out for benches that bear his name. These play melodies and show historic landmarks that were relevant to him during his time in Warsaw.
- Palace of Culture and Science: This looming building towering over the city was a gift from Stalin. It is the tallest building in Poland and has a terrace on the 30th floor which people can visit to see the city views.
- Praga: The bohemian residential area across the river. There are rumors of pickpockets, so be careful of your bag. However, there are some great bars, cafes, street art. Free walking tours also cover this area.
- Warsaw Uprising: An interactive museum to retell the valiant Polish resistance through sound and touch.
Relax and unwind
When you aren’t sightseeing, museum or bar hoping, you might want to find somewhere quiet to chill.
- Lazienki Park: Gorgeous sprawling park with countless squirrels and the beautiful “Palace on the water”.
- Cud nad Wisla: A riverside outdoor bar that has been set up with sand, deck chairs and hammocks for a beach feel. I was so relaxed here, that I actually feel asleep in my deck chair.
Hostel Helvetia, Warsaw
Imagine staying in one of the first hostels opened in Warsaw. Hostel Helvetia started in 2005, dreamed up by the adventure-loving couple, Gosia and Piotr. The decor is bright, airy, and colorful, with spacious rooms and comfortable beds. The staff are extremely friendly and are happy to answer all your questions and give you additional recommendations.
At Hostel Helvetia, they offer economically priced rooms for single, couple, and family travelers. The room options include female dorm, four-person dorm, six-person dorm, eight-person dorm, twin room, double room, and family room. The common area is a cozy place to hang out, relax, and make new friends. I spent 4 nights in the three-bedroom female dorm and had fun meeting other guests.
They also have Helvetia Plus, just five minutes walk from Hostel Helvetia. Helvetia Plus feels like your own private apartment in Warsaw. There is a kitchen and common area, with a choice from twin room, double room, and apartment. The atmosphere is very calm and tranquil. I stayed in a twin room for 3 nights and felt like the only person in the whole apartment.
Hostel Helvetia is located in a fantastic location, right next to the historic district and within walking distance to many of the places that I have recommended. For a detailed description on how to get here from the airport, bus, or train station check out their Contact page. Gosia and Piotr have also included many great tips for first-time visitors to Warsaw.
Location: Sewerynów 7, 00-924 Warszawa
I was a complimentary guest of Hostel Helvetia however, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
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