Warsaw: Old and new in Eastern Europe’s culture capital

Warsaw has re-emerged as the proclaimed next Berlin - with art galleries, museums, bars and restaurants scattered throughout the city.

Mixing old and new, it provides a something for every visitor, whether you’re looking for history, excitement, or a bit of both. Below are some of the highlights of the city and our favourite spots during our short but packed stay.

 

Warsaw Old Town

 

Warsaw Old Town/Rynek Starego Miasta: We spent our first morning exploring the old town, filled with shops and cafes in alleyways. Though completely rebuilt after the destruction from World War II, it is beaming with authenticity and history. The Market Place, in the centre of the old town, was restored to its pre-war appearance with endless details in facades and architecture.

 

Rynek Starego Miasta

 

Nowy Świat Street and Mokotowska: Two important shopping streets adjacent to the old town. Nowy Świat winds down from the old town’s main square towards Mokotowska, an upmarket street filled with polish designer boutiques and international brands. If you walk down it, you’ll see the presidential palace as well numerous restaurants and bars until you reach the Triple Cross Square, where Motokowska begins.


POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews: A new and impressive museum with hours’ worth of exploring in its permanent exhibition. It recounts the history of Polish Jews from their first settlements in Poland until today. We took two hours to make the visit, but done correctly it can take up to five!
Anielewicza 6, 00-157 Warszawa, Poland

Palmier: A recently opened french cuisine restaurant near Motokowska. The food was delicious and the cocktail list extensive. The best part was the decor, in particular the antique look brass mirrors and lush palm trees, reminiscent of Havana and the French Riviera.
Żurawia 6/12, Warszawa, Poland

Neon Muzeum: Nestled in the Soho Factory, a new zone which houses creative businesses, Neon Muzeum recounts the history and ensures preservation of neon signs in cold era Warsaw. Most surprisingly, we discovered that the lighting was used for political purposes rather than consumerist. The history of the technology and its purposes were fascinating to read, and the exhibition is an Instagrammer’s dream.
Mińska 25, Warszawa, Poland


Mateusz Gessler Warszawa Wschodnia: Whenever there is mention of Warsaw, this restaurant is recommended again and again as a must-go at any point during your stay. I mean any point in the literal sense, as this is a 24h restaurant with world-class chefs working on a rotating shift basis. We had a full tasting menu of experimental Polish cuisine at 4pm after our visit to the neon museum. It has an outstanding layout, with a large square bar and the kitchen in the middle to watch your food being made with tasteful execution. Like the Neon Museum, it is in Warsaw's Soho Factory.
Mińska 25, Warszawa, Poland


 

Na Lato and Jackpot: These are two distinct bars but owned by the same person and adjacent to each other. Na Lato is a perfect summer drinking spot, with a covered terrace and sofas spread out on the lawn. It is also a restaurant, serving international food and late night pizzas. We attended the opening of Jackpot, a speakeasy, whisky bar and BBQ joint.
Rozbrat 44A, 00-419 Warszawa, Poland

The best surprise about Warsaw is how affordable everything is on a London budget. A two-course meal for two including drinks came to about £30. Moreover, you can grab bargains in the city’s lesser-known shops and secondhand stores. What we sadly missed was the Koło bazar - a weekend outdoor market where you can find antiques, World War II and Cold War memorabilia. We also missed the nightlife, something we’re not so gutted about. Despite starting to attract big name DJs and with more and more independent gigs throughout the city, it is still predominantly commercial. There are signs of change, though, and they’re happening quickly.