We’ve magicked up a nifty fifty musts that all should complete before they can claim their Medal of Service. Not just for rookies but for veterans as well, you haven’t conquered Warsaw till you’ve experienced the following…
#1 Relive… The Past
Warsaw likes to dress-up… and not just for a night out. Covering all aspects of Polish history, historical reenactment groups don’t need much prodding to dust off shields, sabers, muskets and flags. The anniversary of the 1944 Uprising, the 1920 Battle of Warsaw and the 1410 Battle of Grunwald have all become dates to watch. Elsewhere, May’s Night of Museums (a time when over 200 cultural institutions open their doors for free) just wouldn’t be the same without the presence of hundreds of actors clattering about in period costume.
#2 Discover… Praga
While the streets of old Praga survived the outright wartime destruction that effected much of Warsaw’s left bank, the post-war plan to repopulate the area with out-of-towners and ne’er-do-wells was never going to end well. While the rest of modern day Warsaw walked the road to riches, Praga was left to fester as a rotting remnant of the toxic past. Not anymore! No longer the lawless bandit land of yesteryear, the area’s stop-start regeneration has reached a unique point in time: still miles away from overt gentrification, it retains a raw, gritty identity whilst simultaneously juggling a new role as an arty, creative hub.
For its spiritual heart, first visit ul. Ząbkowska, a street filled with elaborate courtyard shrines, peeling tenements and the swank rising form of the Koneser Vodka Factory. Here, the stunning Polish Vodka Museum fits perfectly inside a wider complex that includes a Google campus and the groundbreaking Zoni restaurant. But to plug into the area’s eccentric soul, pop into the shabby W Operach Absurdu to cavort with drunken playwrights and aspiring musicians.
Culturally speaking, the Praga Museum is essential, and gives visitors a brilliant insight into both the history and soul of the area: don’t miss the rooftop view of the legendary bazar down below. It’s here that Warsaw used to trade everything from guns and passports to wedding dresses and slippers. Beyond that, explore the side streets, where bullet pitted apartments stand next to revamped dwellings such as the elaborate Pod Sowami – itself now an award-winning restaurant that’s reprised several local recipes in a modernized form. And, of course, head north, where three subdued bears plod around a concrete island just a stone’s throw from the onion-domed Orthodox Church.
Finally, think Praga – think music. Traditionalists should seek out the musical monument to the Praga Band, a cloth-capped five-piece that once entertained on the streets and courtyards. Too old fashioned? Then instead head to Hydrogazadka, a place of crazy nights and innovative sound.
#3 Support… Your Local Team
Legia Warszawa are the self-proclaimed kings of Polish football, and taking in a match at Łazienkowska 3 is a must: not least to listen to the lusty, pre-match rendition of the club anthem, Sen o Warszawie. Matches against historic rivals such as Lech Poznań, Wisła Kraków and Górnik Zabrze get especially heated, with pyro and banner displays frequently adding to the hair razing atmosphere.
Champions at the start of the millennium, Polonia Warszawa have had misfortune aplenty the last few years, but that hasn’t deterred their devoted fan base from supporting their side. A charming blast to the past, their stadium – and club bar – is a must for any self-respecting groundhopper.
Head to Hutnik, a 6th tier side worth visiting for several reasons: first, it’s free, second, their stadium is quite an extraordinary concrete relic half-eaten by nature. Bring your own beer and enjoy.
Attention all beer monsters! Warsaw-based groundhopping blog Kartofliska.pl turn out for occasional cup matches and one-off games. Usually attracting 300 or so pissheads, it’s a great day out featuring tubby players, wild challenges and good-natured revelry in the stands. Expect zero trouble but plenty of drinking. In a nutshell: grassroots football at its best.
Playing at the Don Pedro Arena, eighth-tier Zły Warszawa are Poland’s first ‘democratic’ football team. Founded on tenets of social responsibility, their multi-ethnic team includes a chef, violinist, banker and psychotherapist. Crowds peak at 200 but the hardcore sure know how to make a din: find drums, flags and thumping tunes. At times, watching feels like a street party with some football in the background!
#4 Break… A Law
Who knows, maybe it’s a hangover from communism? Either way, the city is a stickler for rules and regulations. Of the more common to fall foul of, crossing the road before the little green man says so is among the most frequent. And Łazienki Park? Don’t even think of stepping onto its billiard green lawns. The ‘look but don’t touch’ ethos even applies to the city’s fountain park between the Old Town and the river. You can tell a true Varsovian as someone who doesn’t give a damn about these or the billions of other decrees you’ll find in the city (disclaimer: the Insider follows the law to the letter!).
#5 Leave… A Lovelock
While other global cities are clamping down on the soppy ritual that involves dreamy couples attaching padlocks to bridges Warsaw, so it seems, just doesn’t give a hoot. Most Świętokrzyski has appeared in dozens of commercials since opening in 2000, though it is its associations with cheesy rom-coms such as Tylko Mnie Kochaj and Nigdy w Życiu that have seen it come to be regarded as the local ground zero of the lovelock fad.
#6 Ride… An Escalator
Not just any old one, but the first in Poland! Running from the mouth of the W-Z tunnel all the way up to Pl. Zamkowy, the capital’s original escalator was marketed as a triumph of socialist technology when it opened in 1949. Seen as a major tourist attraction at the time (hey, communism really wasn’t much fun), the ‘moving stairs’ remained a novelty for years to come. Reopened in 2005, original reliefs celebrating Soviet-Polish friendship have been preserved, as have boorish commie era regulations warning children and those with heart defects against repeated use.
#7 Drive… Down Karowa
As straight as spaghetti, Karowa street is a helter skelter thrill of hairpin bends and bumpy cobbles: at its climax, the Stanislawa Markiewicz viaduct is the iconic mouth of Powiśle with its ornate architecture making it a favorite landmark among serious photographers.
#8 Hunt… A Dinosaur
The sensible choice when hunting for dinosaurs in Warsaw would be to visit the Geological Museum. But come on, who wants to see bones and unconvincing models when you have the craziest dinosaur in town menacing the corner of Banacha and Żwirki i Wigury. He’s there to mark the location of a rival museum (Stanisław Józef Thugutta Geological Museum), one whose collection includes a load of rocks gifted by Tsar Alexander I.
#9 Check… In On Facebook
Hala Koszyki remains the biggest check-in round town, though if you’re looking to boost your social media credentials then Hala Gwardii ain’t too far behind. Pl. Zbawiciela’s popularity might have waned since the days it was known as Pl. Hipstera, though it’s credibility still remains. Then there’s Poznańska street, hands down the city’s acknowledged bastion of effortless cool.
#10 Instagram… Iconic Stairs
There’s something weirdly and undefinably magical about stairwells – and my God, don’t they look good on Instagram. Share our weird passion? Then don’t miss any of the following:
Katyń Museum: documenting the 1940 massacre, the Katyń Museum is an architectural marvel, one that’s rounded out by a magnificent stairwell.
Most Gdański: completed in 1959, this bridge features an entrancing spiral staircase that’s a favored backdrop for ‘Just Married’ couples.
Kłopotowskiego 38: this historic 19th century tenement was once occupied solely by Jewish residents. Known as ‘the emerald staircase’, its defining feature is a ghostly but beautiful glimpse into the past.
#11 Get… Arty
Outside of the established big hitters, Warsaw has a thriving independent arts scene, a point that’s apparent with a visit
to the likes of Galeria Foksal, Leto and Raster. But for something really crazy, visit Galeria Forty/Forty (fb.com/ProjektFortyForty), an unsupervised Tsarist brick fortress whose vaulted, dank interiors have been turned into a spontaneous gallery of street art.
#12 Explore… Both Sides Of The Wisła
On your left: revamped riverside boulevards that have been dubbed as among the best in the world. Come the sun, the party doesn’t stop till the season changes. On your right: wild natural beauty in its untamed form. Contrasts don’t come any sharper – be sure to check both.
#13 Marvel… At Gargamel’s Castle
Widely decried as the most grotesque building in Warsaw, TVP’s headquarters on Woronicza 17 are a staggering tribute to Gargamelizm, a vulgar architectural style seemingly unique to post-communist Poland. Known by many as The Tower of Babel, this chaotic glass carbuncle has to be seen to be believed.
#14 See… A Polish Ghost!
With so much blood spilled on the streets of Warsaw it naturally follows that ghosts aren’t hard to find. The most famous of all lurks on the back balcony of Morskie Oko 5. It’s here that Hanka, a teenage girl shot by a German sniper in 1944, is said to fleetingly appear pining for her insurgent lover. But if you’re really serious about a ghost hunt, then make the short journey to Otwock. Buried deep in the woodland is Zofiówka, a disintegrating Jewish psychiatric hospital whose story involves experimental electroshock therapies, Nazi executions, dead nuns, moving pictures and creepy, viral videos. Bad things happen here.
#15 Join… A Queue
It’s said two things will survive a nuclear holocaust: cockroaches and the queue outside Manekin. Lining up outside the latter before being seated for pancakes has become something of a local rite-of-passage, and you haven’t lived in Warsaw until you’ve experienced this pleasure. Mind you, this isn’t the only time you’ll find the locals forming a single file. For the biggest queues in town, wait for May’s Night of Museums to come around or February’s Tłusty Czwartek. Better known among foreigners as National Donut Day, don’t be startled to find hundreds of people massing in (dis)orderly lines outside their favorite donut store – anticipate something between chaos and combat.
#16 Pimp… Up Your Cupboard
Lined with boutiques and stylists, Mokotowska has become synonymous with luxury retail. Especially popular with the established doyens of Polski fashion, look out for names such as Robert Kupisz or Ania Kuczyńska. Away from your closet, pimp up your shelves with stunning Polish porcelain from Porcelanowa close to the Zachęta.
#17 Take… A Walk
Impossibly wide roads, nutty cyclists, meandering oldies, cracked pavements, never-changing red lights and minefields of dog poo serve to make Warsaw a hard walk. That said, there’s several smashing options. Disregarding the obvious (Old Town, the riverfront, etc.), don’t miss the following:
Having struck off the Finnish Houses and the intricately clipped gardens of Park Ujazdowski, top off an early evening prowl by heading down Agrykola. It feels particularly special in colder weather, when halos of light form around the 19th century gas lamps that flank this plunging, leafy street.
Once a red-light district known for pimps, prostitutes and punch-ups, Mariensztat was rebuilt after the war as the city’s first post-war housing project. Fringed with pastel colored buildings, it’s filled with quirky elements (a cat mosaic, a statue of a hen-holding woman, etc.) and feels the perfect antidote to touristy Old Town.
The back-to-basics values preached by Le Corbusier are a feature of Saska Kępa, the posh suburb south of the stadium. Precise in their style, the inter-war dwellings lining Obronców and Katowicka are emblematic of the district.
#18 Beat… The Buzzer
Sometimes, sightseeing in Warsaw requires patience and persistence: take Hoża 70. Use charm and / or deceit to trick your way past the gate to see what’s known as Domek Baby Jagi. Set inside the courtyard, and hemmed in by teetering tenements, this small cottage-like building is one of the city’s hidden gems.
#19 Shoot… some shots
Duh, you’re in Poland: it’d be rude not to. Shot bars abound in town, but to really get to the bottom of the country’s soul then why not add a little culture to your boozing. Featuring a slick, commercially aware approach (as well as ‘drinking goggles’ demonstrating the effects of too much!), the Polish Vodka Museum in the former Koneser distillery is a great primer that details the highs and lows of the national drink. After, head to the WuWu bar next door for round-the-clock shots served in swanky surrounds
#20 Enjoy… The Silence
Built as a temporary solution to house architects working on the post-war reconstruction of Warsaw, the Finnish Houses (ul. Jazdów) have doggedly survived to become one of the town’s greatest little secrets: a picturesque community of cute wooden chalets, they offer a serene oasis of calm in the very heart of the city.
#21 Stay… Lucky!
See that glued-up bell on ul. Kanonia? Stitched up after crashing down from St. John’s Cathedral during the war, it’s now common practice to circle it three times with your finger on the top before making a wish – presto, your dreams will come true.
#22 Pick… Up A Bargain
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Ponder that while you pick through the merchandise at Sunday’s Kolo Antique Market: prepare for communist vinyl, antiques in different stages of disintegration, creepy war finds, general tat and occasional gems. Much lower down the scale, head to Bazar Olimpia for ultra-budget odds and ends (rusty bayonets, empty pictures frames and dented cutlery). Both feel like an anthropological experience.
#23 Count… The Mermaids
She’s everywhere. Warsaw’s iconic symbol and historic guardian appears on everything from cabs and buses to ashtrays and flags. The most famous mermaids of all, though, are cast as statues: there’s one in the Rynek, one on Karowa and another at the mouth of Świętokrzyski Bridge. The one you won’t see is the original Picasso drew on a trip to Warsaw in 1948. Surprising his hosts on a tour of a prototype housing estate in Koło, the artist climbed a ladder and sketched a hammer-waving mermaid. “My God it was massive,” exclaimed one eyewitness, “her bosoms were like two balloons.” Annoyed by the number of people knocking on their door for a glimpse, the couple that owned the apartment eventually hired a handyman to obliterate all trace.
#24 Follow… In The Footsteps Of Napoleon
Missed by many, the steep stone stairwell that leads from the Rynek towards the river is where Napoleon once strolled in 1806. It was here, at the bottom of the stairs, the Frenchman is said to have stared towards the horizon contemplating eastern conquests. Once a favorite hangout of 19th century painters, today the Kamienne Schodki offer a quiet solace from the tourist herds that stampede across the square.
#25 Become… A Pinball Wizard!
Featuring over 30 machines blinking and beeping in riotous discord, visitors to the Warsaw Pinball Museum (pinballstation.pl) clatter through a clanky metal door to be met with a kaleidoscope of retro noise and color. Great fun and hopelessly addictive, it’s a strong candidate for the nerdiest night in the nation!
#26 Witness… A City Growing
Once a no-man’s land of abandoned factories and empty plots, Wola is in the process of reinventing itself as Warsaw’s new CBD. Touted as the city’s most dynamic area, its aggressive growth spurt has been defined by completed and ongoing projects such as the Spire, Art Norblin, and Browary Warszawskie. From rags to riches, it’s become a barometer of Poland’s growing prosperity.
#27 Follow… A Tour Guide
Jewish, alternative, royal or communist: take your pick from these and other topics before heading yonder to learn more about Warsaw. Characterized by their umbrella-wielding guides, join Walkative (freewalkingtour.com) for illuminating insights to the city you’re in. They’re fab and free!
#28 Bypass… Security
Stunning architecture awaits those who step beyond the doors of two educational institutions: capped by a pyramid-shaped glass roof, the ‘parachute hall’ of the Warsaw School of Economics is trumped only by the main foyer of the Polytechnic. Heavily influenced by the Italian renaissance, exploring the echoing cloisters is a pleasure in itself. Good to know: Ernest Stavro Blofeld earned a degree in Engineering and Radionics from the Poly before going on to become the greatest supervillain in the history of Bond!
#29 reach… New Heights
Why spend the afternoon in the library when you can spend it on it instead? Sometimes lauded as the one of the largest and most beautiful rooftop gardens in Europe, the park that tops the roof of the University Library (ul. Dobra 56/66) feels equally spellbinding and futuristic. The views of the Wisła ain’t too bad either.
#30 Light… A Candle
Let it be known that Warsaw remembers its dead and does so well. That much becomes clear on November 1st (All Saints’ Day) when cemeteries and public memorials are festooned with votives. As darkness sets, the effect of tens of thousands of flickering candles casts an eerie red glow over the tombs and necropolises: it’s a sight to remember.
#31 Stand… Up For The Little Guy!
Measuring in at just 6 sq/m, Poland’s smallest café can really pack out: so far, 12 is the record for the number of people to squash into Dobro & Dobro (ul. Puławska 11). Oleg and Ina, the super friendly Ukrainian owners, stress it was never meant as a gimmick: “This was our first business,” says Ina, “so we didn’t want to take the risk on something bigger.” Nonetheless, with Dobro installed as a cult stop-off, the unexpected publicity has had fringe benefits and new (bigger!) locations have been added across Poland.
#32 Listen… To The Sounds of Chopin
Firmly installed as the capital’s favorite son, Fryderyk Chopin figures highly in Warsaw’s collective consciousness. But while the concerts that take place each summer in the shadow of the composer’s statue will be wrapping up this September, that shouldn’t spell an end to your flirtation with the man. As part of its growing Chopinphilia, the city has installed 15 ‘musical benches’ along key locations on the Chopin trail, however, for the Insider’s favorite free concert in town hang around outside the University of Music (Okólnik 2) to hear upcoming pianists recite his works. Can’t get enough? Then a high-tech museum celebrating his life lurks around the corner (chopin.museum).
#33 Peer… Into The Unknown
So-called ‘urban explorers’ have a wealth of sites to bust into, and they don’t come weirder than SKRA, a huge sporting complex home to a rundown 35,000-capacity athletics stadium and four swimming pools long since swallowed by nature. But for the king of the bunch, slip through the hole(s) in the perimeter to visit the Wola Gasworks. Known as the Colosseum, two derelict rotundas are a spooky flashback to the industrial age. With shafts of light streaming through the windows, the effect isn’t unlike happening upon some ruined gothic cathedral: serene, surreal and slightly unsettling. Not that, of course, we’d encourage trespassing: the area is patrolled by security goons, and if local rumors are to be believed, attempts to remove WWII booby traps weren’t entirely successful: you enter at your own risk!
#34 Buy… A Ticket To Ride
Attention all cheapskates! Forget spluttering your banknotes on cab fares, to see all of Warsaw’s sights in a day buy a 24hr ticket for the 180 bus. Stops include: Powązki Cemetery, the city’s answer to Père Lachaise; the forlorn Jewish Cemetery; the staggering Polin Museum of the History of Jews; the Warsaw Uprising Monument; the Old Town and castle; Krakowskie Przedmieście and all she entails; the embassy row of Al. Ujazdowskie; Łazienki Park; and finally old Wilanów itself. Jeez, you’ll even get a glimpse of Legia’s stadium!
On A Parade
The locals need no excuse to hit the streets to wave some placards. In recent times, politically motivated actions such as the pro-choice Czarny Protest have gained massive numbers, as too have pro-democracy groups such as KOD. For the party spirit, join thousands of revelers for June’s annual Equality Parade, or wait until November 11 to see the capital paralyzed as Poles celebrate the nation’s independence with fireworks, flares and billowing banners.
#36 Go… Vegan
Officially ranked as having the fastest growing vegan scene IN THE WORLD (not to mention, the third largest overall), Warsaw has become big news among the globe’s plant eaters. In the main, find the action centered around what’s become known as The Vegan Square Mile, a chunk of south central Warsaw that bristles with eateries. Ranging from Israeli fine dining down to a multi-ethnic kitchen operated by refugees, your vegan choices in between run from sushi and Mexican to kebabs and falafel – simply put, you’re spoiled for options.
#37 Be… A Plane Spotter
You could hit up the observation deck at the airport, but to join the hardcore spotters you’ll want to make a beeline for the carpark of Decathlon on Al. Krakowska. It’s here the real anoraks assemble, watching in a state of deep arousal as jets swoop in on Lotnisko Chopin – numbers surge when A-listers like The Stones fly into town!
#38 View… To A Kill
Warsaw’s got a ton of viewpoints from which to enjoy the toytown below. The Palace of Culture is the famous one, but similar views can be had close by from the bar in the Marriott and the top floor pool at the InterConti. Club creatures will enjoy The View, while culture vultures should head to the Museum of Warsaw for a bird’s eye view of the Rynek below. Away from the center, visit Kopiec Powstania Warszawskiego to climb a 141-meter artificial hill built atop of war rubble.
#39 Seek… Out A Living Legend
Warsaw lost one of its greatest modern figureheads with the passing of Czarny Roman late last year. Resplendent in black hat, black suit and polished black shoes (or, in later years, a pink onesie), ‘The Prince of the Streets’ would often be found stalking Nowy Świat bellowing prophecies of doom. A mysterious figure of urban fascination, his cult fame was such that one commentator was moved to compare him to King Zygmunt II. While Roman was a unique one-off, the city has no shortage of alternative everyday heroes. Among them, cross the river to encounter the stealthy Grochówski Ninja, a one-man anti-crime unit, or head to Metro Centrum to listen to street musician Paweł ‘Krzesło’ Zieńkiewicz drumming on a chair. Further, look out for DJ Wika, an 80-year-old woman that’s reputed to be the world’s oldest DJ, and head to the fringe of Żoliborz to find Stanisław Wdowczyk, a man who jacked in the corporate rat race to take on the name of Einar and build a Viking fortress.
#40 Trip… Back In Time
Nearly half a century of communism has left Warsaw studded with reminders of its past. Of the most significant, Stalin’s gift to the Polish people, the Palace of Culture and Science, requires no introduction, but while most have visited the 40th floor viewing platform, nowhere near as many have taken the tour of its underground passages. Do so you and you’ll be rewarded with slinking cats, mysterious tunnels and rooms filled with broken masonry and 50s construction gear.
Of the things less known, take a look at Obiekt Alfa (obiektalfa.pl), a declassified nuclear bunker from which Poland’s medical operation would have been handled in the event of World War III. A labyrinth of musty chambers, the route takes in a sinister laboratory, decontamination units and a living room brimming with empty beer bottles, fading newspapers and commie era cookbooks.
Across the river, the Neon Museum (neonmuzeum.org) turns sightseeing into a supercool pursuit with its collection of 50 retro signs and 500 letter forms. Kill two birds with one stone by then visiting the nearby Museum Czar PRL (adventurewarsaw.pl), a beautiful and humorous homage to everyday life in the People’s Republic – if there’s time, book onto one of their tours of communist Warsaw. Conducted in cranky militia vans, you’ll be listening to groovy 70s tunes, meeting locals and tanking back nips of vodka: all the while being avalanched with quirky factoids and amusing anecdotes.
Alternatively, be independent and brave the pungent smells of a classic milk bar such as Bar Sady in Żoliborz or drink in the atmosphere of an old school restaurant like Lotos in Mokotów. And while you’re on the streets pounding the pavements, keep your eyes peeled for gnomes! The Orange Alternative were a surrealist group who relied on absurd forms of protest during the communist years. Embracing the gnome as their symbol, plenty of the cheeky fellas were sprayed onto the walls of Warsaw. A few survive, most notably on Madalińskiego 3/5.
#41 Hit… The Water
While more grizzled sea dogs head to the coast up north, Warsaw has no shortage of scenic lakes to satisfy the less ambitious mariner. In the center, check out Jezioro Kamionkowskie to the north of Park Skaryszewski, though for the pick of the bunch head to the shimmering, gentle waters by Wilanów Palace: paddling the calm, inky waters, you feel as though in a story by Jane Austen.
#42 Feel… The Revolution!
Attracting both radicals and curiosity seekers, two of Warsaw’s best-known squats allow visitors to go through the keyhole to see how the other side lives. In the case of Syrena (ul. Wilcza 30) outsiders are welcome to take part in ‘graffiti jams’, language workshops and bike hospitals, as well as to hang about the onsite, vegan Cafe Kryzys. On the other hand, A.D.A. (ul. Puławska 37) is more musically-minded with a busy concert schedule involving bands with names such as Vehemence, Appalachian Terror Unit and Limp Blitzkrieg…
#43 Chill… In Pani Hania’s Garden
A.k.a. ‘The Secret Garden’, pop into Kwiatkarnia (ul. Zakopiańska 24) for tea and homemade cakes served amid tumbling greenery and blooming plants. Nowhere else in Warsaw comes close to matching the cuteness overload of Pani Hania’s fairytale world.
#44 Smell… The Roses
Need to make a last-minute apology? Then divert your Uber to Hala Mirowska: working all hours, the outdoor flower stalls have long been the city’s favorite source for floral gifts. For something a little more romantic, then wander around the Botanical Garden attached to Łazienki. An extraordinary enclave of horticultural treasure, it’s nothing if not a surprise: secretive, serene and certainly surreal, its looping pathways take day trippers through a thrilling cacophony of color that presents in excess of 6,000 species. Amid them, find historic bits and pieces such as an Astronomical Observatory founded in 1825, a hothouse once used to cultivate figs and pineapples for Poland’s elite, as well as a small brick chapel that was to form part of a giant Temple of Divine Providence.
#45 Have… A Close Encounter Of The Third Kind
Visit Pole Mokotowskie for a close encounter with Cosmo Golem, a weird alien-like beast cast down to earth in 2009. Built from wood and featuring a hatch through which kids can post their ‘dreams, hopes and desires’, this four-meter tall structure was created by Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen with the aim of giving children an ‘identity and voice’.
#46 Experience… Modern Polish Cuisine
Be truthful, when you first came to Poland you thought you’d be eating grey, gloopy stodge served by old bats. While that might have been the case a while back, the last few years have seen the country embrace a gastro revolution with the capital leading the way. Updating forgotten techniques and thrusting local ingredients to the fore, a core group of restaurants stand apart from the crowd: in terms of this, Atelier Amaro, Zielony Niedźwiedź, Zoni, Bez Gwiazdek and Mala Polana Smaków have become something of a benchmark.
#47 Snap… A Selfie
Stick your head through the neon heart on Pl. Europejski or hit-up the Warsaw Palm to shoot the tree as if it’s positioned between your thumb and forefinger. Alternatively, why not be old school and instead climb the 147-steps up the bell tower of St. Anne’s Church. With the Castle Square behind, any selfie you take is bound to look the business.
#48 Take… Craft Beer Notes
At press time Warsaw could boast 50-odd multitap bars, a phenomenal accomplishment given that figure stood at zilch back in 2011. While the craft beer revolution has penetrated even the darkest, most philistine suburbs, it’s beating heart remains found on Nowogrodzka – no-one will bat an eyelid should you start scribbling notes about the latest double hopped seaweed gose. In fact, doing so is encouraged.
#49 Lose… Yourself In Art
There’s one reason to visit Bródno, and that’s for a sculpture park that’s commonly cited as one of Central Europe’s best kept artistic oddities. Peppered with crazy installations, highlights include an upside tea house, a bronze nude with jets of water shooting from her nipples, and an invisible sculpture that you really can’t see… For deets, see: fb.com/parkrzezbynabrodnie.
#50 Tick… Off Some Murals
A reflection of the city’s new upbeat mood, the once grey and gloomy walls of Warsaw have been used to channel its artistic voice via large format murals. Loaded with relevant messages and subliminal meaning, these giant works have transformed this city. Spend your day(s) tracking as many as possible using the art map at puszka.waw.pl, and don’t miss the Insider’s three faves!
‘Playground’ on Stalowa 51 aims to spark dialogue regarding Warsaw’s lack of urban planning. “In the old days,” says artist Ernest Zacharevic, “there would have been a playground in front of this building. Now, there’s nothing.”
Making the most of a brief Cold War era stopover at Dw. Gdański, David Bowie set off on foot to Pl. Wilsona where he explored the area and visited a record store. This short foray into Żoliborz was enough to stir him to write Warszawa, an eerie instrumental recorded in 1976. Shortly after his death, a mural celebrating his visit was added to Marii Kazimiery 1.
The work of Italian artist Pixel Pancho, the mechanical centaur on Dolna 37 is depicted slaying a simpering robotic stag. It’s meaning? We haven’t the foggiest, but it’s for certain among the city’s most complex artworks.