WARSAW – Poland's capital is busy, exciting, hectic, and developing at an unprecedented rate. Though the city is no stranger to constant turnover, war, and rapid changes of luck, its history has only added to its rich cultural heritage. In recent times, art galleries, cutting-edge boutiques, and gourmet restaurants have put Warsaw in line with the latest urban trends.
Whether it's along the colorful streets of its carefully reconstructed historic old town or down its imposing boulevards dotted with post-war buildings, the city is full of surprises. Here's how to discover them.
TAKE A WALK
In Polish, hoża means beautiful or blooming. The street lives up to its name, covered in canopy of green leaves throughout the entire spring season. The street also has a colorful mix of old shops, hip stores, and artsy spots.
Plac Mirowski 1; no phone
The two halls built between 1899 and 1901 are home to one of the city's oldest covered markets. Silent witness to Warsaw's history, the market is an ideal spot to feel the real vibe of Poland and its citizens.
Library Garden at University of Warsaw
Dobra 55/56; +48-225-525-181
The hanging gardens of Warsaw have the surface area of a hectare and are among the biggest roof gardens in Europe. They have a wide variety of plants, eye-catching architecture, and spectacular views over the center of Warsaw and the Vistula River.
Mariusza Zaruskiego 1; +48-602-428-359
An off-the-beaten-path restaurant housed in floating sea containers anchored to the shores of Port Czerniakowski. Great food and beer along with an incredible location turn simple meals into memorable experiences.
Jarosława Dąbrowskiego 38; +48-507-066-072
The master of breakfast in Warsaw serves sweet and salty classics and traditional Polish dishes. The drink menu is as large as the food menu. And they're only open until early afternoon. It's a breakfast place, after all.
Mokotowska 52; +48-226-217-177
Opened by a famous Polish journalist and publicist, Przegryź is a well-established institution in the Warsaw culinary scene. The menu is a mix of classic and revisited Polish dishes. Big plus: Dogs are allowed, and can even order off the menu.
Burakowska 5/7; +48-226-36-8709
A great wine house among high-end boutiques and restaurants in a refurbished 19th-century factory. Mielżyński has a menu of many wines, assorted cheeses, and delightful small dishes prepared with fresh ingredients.
Plac Defilad 1; +48-603-300-835
What used to be Studio Theater in the Palace of Culture and Science has become a hit in Warsaw's cultural bar scene. The monumental architecture and minimal lighting isn't the homiest of settings, but it's definitely a cool one.
Pies Czy Suka
Szpitalna 8A; +48-501-850-114
A new concept store where cocktails with molecular foam go hand-in-hand with curious furniture, artsy accessories, and clothes. Pies Czy Suka (which translates to Dog or Bitch") is one of the more interesting bars in town.
Inside Just Paul. Photo courtesy of Just Paul.
SPEND A PRETTY PENNY
Mokotowska 61; +48-512-013-775
Located on a trendy thoroughfare, the flagship boutique of this Polish clothing brand was founded by a pair of fashionable ladies. Prices aren't cheap, but clothing is well-designed and made of quality materials.
Sienna 43; +48-695-381-796
It feels like stepping into a friend's very chic living room. The exhibition space for contemporary Polish artists is also a modern design store that hosts open forums, lectures, and workshops.
Wołoska 12; +48-533-506-777
A wonderful world of organic cosmetics made with minerals and plant-based products. The company concept and attention to sustainability — from interior decor to bottle design to bags made of recycled-materials — has won them many awards.
GET THE INSTAGRAM ON
Fort Bema; +48-535-855-130
Some of the most famous Polish street artists were called upon to color the walls of the gloomy Fort Bema, turning the fortress into a 24/7 street art gallery that sees new tags and graffiti added on the regular.
Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej
Emilii Plater 51; +48-225-964-010
Inside a glass container (formerly a famous furniture shop), Museum of Modern Art of Warsaw organizes debates, performances, educational events, and festivals, and also has an awesome bookshop.
Pałac Kultury i Nauki
Plac Defilad 1; +48-656-76-76
As a gift from Stalin to Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science has always been hated by the citizens of Warsaw. But for visitors, its 30th-floor viewing terrace (XXX Floor) has breathtaking views over the whole city.
HIT THE TOWN
Miłość Kredytowa 9
Kredytowa 9; +48-226-572-183
A great spot for an afternoon break or a relaxed dinner. When the DJ starts mixing, the social club turns into a favorite venue for the cool kids of Warsaw.
Centrum Artystyczne Fabryka Trzciny
Otwocka 14; +48-226-190-513
The famous concert hall can get raucous, but a drink from the bar, with its impressive back-lit wall, and a seat in the inner courtyard, always make for a chill night out.
11 Listopada 22; +48-602-338-824
In the up-and-coming district of Praga, homey and old-fashioned Skład Butelek hosts jam sessions and concerts by local artists. The vibe is relaxed and friendly, but that doesn't stop the place from getting rowdy (in a good way) late at night.