Where The Locals Go In Warsaw
Warsaw lies at the intersection of Europe’s West, through Berlin in Germany, and East, through Vilnius in Lithuania and Minsk in Belarus. While the city still carries the impressions of World War II and the Cold War, Warsaw is full of life and colour, combining Polish tradition and Communist history with all the features of a modern city. This amalgamation of the old and new is best captured in Warsaw’s striking Old Town, most of which was reconstructed after World War II to match the city’s original architecture.
The Polish capital is a thriving cultural centre, with experiences that promise to satiate all your senses. From visiting the “world’s narrowest house” to listening to budding artists and tasting some of the best vegan food you’ve ever had, Warsaw is truly an indulgence. Come explore one of Europe’s most up-and-coming capitals with some tips by Warsaw locals.
How to get to Warsaw by train: Warsaw is well-connected by train, with travel from Gdansk and Krakow taking about 2.5 hours and from Wroclaw about 3.5 hours. Explore the rest of the country with an Interrail Poland Pass and the rest of Europe with the Global Pass!
Kick up a Polish Storm!
Neighbourhood hangout Bar Wieczorny is a place where locals go to have a last drink before heading home for the night — in theory, at least. Polish local Magda Przedmojska admits, “I actually feel it is unfair to promote this tiny place here as it is meant to be small and ‘off’, but I just can’t do without it.” The creative establishment is known for its “Polish Storm” (a cocktail with 7 different types of alcohol!) and its “Surprise Me” option, where patrons simply name a single drink or ingredient and let the barmen do their magic.
David Bowie in an underrated district
A testament to the emerging street art scene in Poland, Żoliborz is just 15 minutes away by tram from the city centre. This area is home to a huge, crowd-funded David Bowie mural that’s been around since January 2016, frequently photographed by locals and visitors alike. The reconstructed district is also a pleasant place to go for a bike ride or a relaxed walk outside, especially when the sun gods are smiling down upon us. Żoliborz has a few noteworthy cafes — we’ll leave them to you to discover.
Have lunch with the locals
“Milk bars” are very popular at lunchtime in Warsaw and have been so since Communist times; they offer traditional Polish food at affordable prices in a no-frills environment. Bar Bambino strikes a good balance between authenticity and modernity — its prices are a bit higher than at other establishments, but the central location and delicious food more than make up for it! We recommend trying the pierogi, especially the sweet “leniwe” version with cinnamon.
The “skinniest” house in the world
Did you know the narrowest house in the world can be found in Warsaw? The house, built in 2012 by the architect Jakub Szczęsny, is reportedly about 90 centimetres wide at its very narrowest. When famous writer Etgar Keret is in Warsaw, he stays in the ultra-skinny house — but Keret’s House also serves as a creative studio for artists. Keep an eye out for open house days, so you can experience this unique architectural feat!
An unusual local museum
Praga (not to be confused with the Czech capital) is thought by many to be one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Europe. Once a separate town from Warsaw, on the other side of the river Vistula, Praga escaped World War II relatively unscathed. You can learn about the history of this district at the Muzeum Pragi, which has over 1,500 everyday objects, many of which have been donated by the local inhabitants. The museum is a very lively example of cooperation between locals and an institution to collectively preserve their neighbourhood’s history.
A cultural cafe in the Palace of Culture
Warsaw’s iconic Palace of Culture and Science is home to a concert space, theatres, museums, pubs, and far beyond. The aptly named Cafe Kulturalna offers a rich selection of beer and drinks (including Polish wine) and hosts concerts on the weekends. It’s a great place to grab lunch as well, and because of its proximity to many cultural institutions, it’s frequented by artists and art amateurs alike. Come mingle and discover this bubbling cultural hub for yourself.
Warsaw was ranked among the top 10 vegan-friendly cities in the world by Happy Cow in 2022. “Just a few years ago, I would’ve said that would be impossible, but now…” If you’re as delighted as local Nitzan about Warsaw’s development into a vegan hotspot, here are some must-try recommendations: Vegan Bistro for international cuisine; Dela Krem for desserts, Krowarzywa for the tastiest vegan burgers, and Vege Stacja for the creamiest vegan ice cream!
Elegant and local shopping hall where shopping meets history
Hala Koszyki opened in the 20th century as an elegant shopping hall; after having undergone many changes before and after 1989, it’s still all that and more. 18 trendy restaurants call the market hall home, as well as many other popular bars and shops. When you’re done shopping, don’t miss going up to the second floor to learn about the making of the hall and view modern art installations. And while you’re there, feel free to take a few photos of Hala Koszyki’s impressive industrial roof for the ‘gram!
Polish local Magda Przedmojska gets straight to the point, “These days being in Warsaw and not knowing Hala Koszyki is a social faux pas. Make sure you visit to have an opinion!”
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.
Edited by Sukriti Kapoor, Content Writer, Eurail.
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