26 Things To Treasure About The Wisła! | Warsaw Insider
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It’s more than just a party! From the quiet, secret corners to the essential hits, we bring you all you simply have to do... 26 Things To Treasure About The Wisła!
26 Things To Treasure About The Wisła! 26 Things To Treasure About The Wisła!

It’s more than just a party! From the quiet, secret corners to the essential hits, we bring you all you simply have to do this August on the Wisła…

Nice… To See You!

Switched on in front of a crowd of 100,000 people on June 21, 2014, the neon sign attached to Most Gdański won a competition to ‘find a new neon for Warsaw’. Not without controversy, Mariusz Lewczyk’s design took top place by default after the original winner was disqualified for cheating. One of the city’s best-loved neons, its message cheerfully proclaims ‘miło cię widzieć’ (‘nice to see you’).

Use… The Stairs

Completed in 1959, the two-level Most Gdański is one of the unsung engineering triumphs of Warsaw. Largely, that’s thanks to an entrancing spiral staircase that’s become a favored photographic backdrop for ‘Just Married’ couples returning from church. The bridge itself isn’t bad for photos either, and that strikes especially true at dusk when the setting sun slashes through the latticed metalwork to cast geometric shadows on the timber planks that run alongside the tram tracks.  

For… A View To Treasure

Not all of Warsaw’s views induce a sickening sense of vertigo. Walk south from Most Gdański and you’ll find an observation deck perched on what looks like an L-shape pushed onto its side. The shallow stairwell makes it an easy ascent for those that usually wobble at the thought of heights – despite its low center of gravity, the sightlines are stunning especially once the skies flush scarlet.

Whistle… The Workmen

Seen through a cloud of grit and dust, work on a footbridge connecting Praga’s Okrzei street with the Wisła’s right bank is well underway. Priced at PLN 120 million, the 452-meter crossing will enable cyclists to zip over the river in two minutes and pedestrians in six. Scheduled for completion in 2024, the investment has already aroused much interest.

Heed… The Mayors

Premiering late last year, and just a stone’s throw from the Royal Gardens, it’s never a bad time to pay homage to two of Warsaw’s greatest leaders. Commemorated in brass, on the one hand you have Stefan Starzyński, the visionary Mayor whose tenure saw the construction of the National Museum, 44 schools, and plans for a metro. Having led by example during the 1939 Siege of Warsaw, he later died in German captivity. Then, flanking him, give a nod to his right-hand man, Juliusz Kulski. Succeeding Starzyński as Mayor, he worked in wartime under challenging circumstances but with the underground’s full consent.

Have… A Whale Of A Time

There’s plenty of modern installations to keep your eyes peeled for, and we love the sea monster that pokes out of the grass close to Most Gdański. Quirky as that is, it’s outdone by the fish and whale sculptures that writhe from the sands and squidgy flooring between the footbridge and the Museum on the Vistula. Capable of spurting jets of water, these stone creatures are a must for your Insta.  

Feed… Your Head

It’s sometimes hard to view the right bank in terms of anything but its nightlife – but cultural life also thrives, with the most high profile bastion of such being the Museum on the Vistula. A branch of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, find a regular roster of challenging exhibitions inside a white cube building (topped by a show-stealing neon) that was transported from Berlin. Inspired by Gothic tales, pagan mythology, and motifs borrowed from mediaeval manuscripts, swing by this August for an exhibition of works by Aleksandra Waliszewska. After, visit the adjoining Paloma nad Wisłą for vegan food with a Californian twist.

Drink… On The Beer Barge!

There are oodles of bars to choose from and your choice covers everything from cheapo clubs blasting 90s dance tracks to sophisticated venues frequented by gazelle-like girls and city boy types jangling the keys to their Merc. Being of simple pleasures, however, for our fave look to Barka Wynurzenie. Accessed via a bouncy gangplank, this craft beer barge gently rocks on the waves – something that considerably speeds up your journey into drunkenness.

Ride… The Waves

Every Warsaw bucket list demands a trip across the river on a tiny water tram. Bobbing over the waves like rubber ducks, a trio of such ferries (the Wilga, the Pliszka and Słonka) can be found plying their trade at various points on the map –.

Walk… In The Clouds

The Copernicus Science Centre has accomplished much since opening eleven years ago, not least by keeping its promise by injecting science with fun – packed with interactive displays, here you’ll survive an earthquake, fly on a magic carpet and stand on the moon. In summer though, one of the chief attractions is the rooftop garden. Free to enter, its meandering paths take you past a park designed to mimic a volcanic landscape. After, check out the strange installations in the gardens down below.

Spot… A Mermaid

Warsaw is a city of mermaids and you’ll discover her likeness on everything from buses and taxis to mugs and t-shirts. There’s also a few statues of the city’s mascot, but none have more history than the mermaid close to Świętokrzyski Bridge. Cast in bronze, it’s alleged to be the last monument to be unveiled in Warsaw before the Nazi occupation. The sculptor, Ludwik Nitschow, used a 23-year old poetess, Krystyna Krahelska, as his model. Serving as a medic in the Home Army, she was mortally wounded on the first day of the Uprising. The statue survived, albeit with 34 bullet dents that are visible to this day.

Cycle… Świętokrzyski

Suspended via 48 ropes from a pair of 90-meter pylons, Świętokrzyski became the capital’s first suspension bridge when it was completed in 2000. Reputedly ‘the most filmed bridge in Poland’, the slender silhouette of this 479-meter project has become iconic of modern Warsaw, and as such it features frequently in commercials, pop videos, rom-coms and serials – in 2007, it even hosted an F1 event starring Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen. Featuring a user-friendly cycle path, it’s our favorite bridge to zoom over on two wheels.

Down… Size

The Insider is a big kid at heart, so the sight of an intricate scale model is fully certified to send us weak at the knees. So how about this: a few steps south of Świętokrzyski Bridge, look out for a complex rendering of the Sinfonia Varsovia. Due to be delivered in 2026 (fingers crossed), the PLN 430 million project is set to push Warsaw’s cultural scene in a world class direction – at least if this 1:10 model is anything to go by.

Float… Away

Marketed as the first such facility in Poland, July saw the premier of a ‘floating beach’. What’s that? Well, basically no more than a barge covered in sand. Moored by the mermaid monument, the Kalima has already staged yoga meets and hosted pop-up stores – we expect more of the same in August.

Get… Smart

TheKamień Educational Pavilion close to Warsaw Zoo station is a beauty: with its architectural form inspired by the rocky boulders so prevalent on this side of the river, the structure features a mezzanine reserved for exhibitions and a wider plot twisted with educational paths. Directly north, City Hall have announced plans to develop the Golędzinów Natural Park so as to safeguard the local wildlife.

Remember… The War

As per tradition, Warsaw will pause at 5 p.m. on August 1st to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. But whilst the loudest patriots congregate at Rondo Dmowskiego, find thousands of others lining the river’s boulevards to view the flotilla of boats pootle down the Wisła to honor the insurgency. With all of the vessels firing flares and sounding their horns on the stroke of 5, it’s a stirring sight that tingles the spine – for the best view of the action, head to the area around Poniatowski Bridge. Seeing that that’s already been and gone, instead walk up to Kopernik metro station to view mangled bits of bridges blown to smithereens during the ensuing 63-day battle: they leave no doubt as to the ferocity of the fighting.

Join… The Herd

Of Warsaw’s clutch of river-side bathing spots, then Poniatówka at the base of Poniatowski Bridge is easily the city’s fave – you know summer has officially started from the first moment you cross the bridge by tram and see hundreds of sunbathers dotted down below. Walking further south, you’ll encounter another classic piece of Warsaw – a muddy, overgrown patch of land that, at the weekends, becomes BBQ cook spot. As darkness sets in, it strike quite an image to see dozens of flickering fires illuminating the darkness.

For… An Insider Secret

If you find yourself poking around Port Czerniakowski admiring the houseboats and general sense of chill, then leave not before tracking down the bio filters (Google map them by seeking out Biofiltr Port Czerniakowski). Offering a brief burst of infantile fun, you’ll find yourself running over a network of duckboards, footbridges and gangplanks that are set over the water in an almost maze-like pattern. Their actual purpose is to filter the water, but don’t let that prevent you from larking about. With so much greenery cascading around you, it feels like the ultimate secret urban oasis.  

Blast… To The Past

Head to the mouth of Czerniakowski Port and you’ll view one of the stranger blasts to the past – a monument to sappers charged with clearing the river of mines in the post-war years. Unveiled on the 30th anniversary of the end of World War II on May 8, 1975, it was authored by Stanisław Kulon and depicts a group of Polish soldiers disarming a Nazi booby trap. Rising tides immerse the figures to various depths.

Let… Your Hair Down

The riverfront has no shortage of places to eat and drink, but for sheer madcap hedonism few can rival the Luna Park. Brought to you by the makers of Nocny Market, this place features a bar inside a carousel, a circus-stye big top, and an adjoining club with an entrance way constructed from outsized Lego bricks. Specializing in street food and late nights, it’s one of the most energetic weekends you ever wish to have.

Take… A Walk On The Wild Side

Offering a sharp contrast to the party atmosphere of the left bank, much of the right side of the river can be described as Warsaw’s secret jungle. Seen as a wild mass of tangled vegetation, the trails that have been cut into the undergrowth are great for off-road cycling and nettle-stinging walks. Explore a little, and you’ll find yourself emerging onto thin walkways jutting into the river – these are the most sought-after fishing spots in town.

Head… To The Center

For many, the city center will conjure images of the Palace of Culture. In actual fact, the official geographical center of the city is found just below the Luna Park on a sand bar that occasionally disappears entirely under water – marked by a makeshift plaque, its exact coordinates are easy to remember (only kidding): 52 ° 13’45.43 “N and 21 ° 02’52.14” E.

Pack… Your Swimmers

Over on the Praga side, visit Kora, a super-fun swimming spot with a young, lively vibe: consider an inflatable unicorn a must-have accessory. Further up, If you’re feeling brave, then forget the pool and hit the sands instead Rusałka on the right bank – it was on the latter than Canaletto painted his epic 18th century work, ‘View of Warsaw From Praga’.

Wave… To Fat Kasia

The stout green rotunda that sits in the river’s murky waters is Gruba Kaśka, a key component of Warsaw’s water treatment system. Unveiled in 1964, there’s something strangely Bond-like about it – accessed via a passageway running under the riverbed, it could easily pass for Blofeld’s secret lair (and we namecheck Blofeld for a reason – fictional he might be, but in Ian Fleming’s books he attended Warsaw Polytechnic – how’s that for a random nugget!).

Pick… A Bridge

Everyone has a favorite bridge, but Warsaw’s battalion of sunset photographers go nowhere else than Siekierkowski. Built in 2002, and supported by two H-shaped pylons, it’s the only crossing in the city whose foundations don’t touch the water. It’s primary pull though is the view: here, the river’s natural bend and the distant glinting skyline make it a favorite for high-impact shots that contrast the futuristic horizon against the river’s natural glory – that’s particularly true when looking down from the Praga end. If you can’t motivate yourself to head that far, then Most Gdański (pictured) is an Insta fave.

Go… Off-Grid

For all the talk of the Wisła’s wild right side, to really feel like you’ve fallen off the edge of the earth head south… deep south. Located past Konstancin, the Wyspy Świderskie Nature Reserve is an enthralling sight: sandy beaches, small islands, pristine woodland. No matter the day, it’s always possible to find a secluded private enclave all for yourself (and your dogs).

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