To wrap up this year’s travel we headed to Poland’s capital for a little getaway before the Christmas rush. Booking exceptionally low priced flights and an apartment we headed to Warsaw for 3 days. Discovering what the city had to offer, some good and bad we’ve created our guide to Warsaw at Christmas.

Nowy Sŵait

Simply translated to New World Street is a picturesque street featuring some of the most on-trend bars, stores and restaurants in the capital. As it was Christmas the street was strewn with twinkling lights and was absolutely stunning. Sponsored by Ferrero Rocher there are often girls embellished in gold offering out the delicious sweets.

We visited a couple of bars on Nowy Sŵait and especially liked Coctail Bar Max & Dom Whisky which is open until 5am most mornings.

Head down the street and take a turn down a concealed alley to the 15 Bars all grouped together in the Pawilony zone. This area is a jumping spot for nightlife and with cheaper prices than on the street, it’s a great place to have a few drinks.

Culture and Science Viewing Platform

The focal point of Warsaw is the Palace of Culture and Science. Constructed in 1952-55 as a gift from the Soviet Union. This huge centre houses various companies, public institutions and cultural activities such as concerts, cinemas, theatres, libraries, sports clubs. As well as universities, scientific institutions and authorities of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The 8th tallest building in the European Union also boasts a viewing platform. Ride the elevator 33 floors to explore 360-degree views of Warsaw. A trip to the top will cost you 16zł (£3.30) and is well worth seeing for the breathtaking views

Ice Skating at the PGE Narodowy 

If you’re fortunate to visit Warsaw around Christmas time do make sure that you schedule in some time to go ice skating inside the ice rink at the PGE Narodowy. This is Poland’s national stadium and is really impressive. 2 huge ice rinks are complimented by a curling rink, bumper cars and an ice tunnel. Complete with a cafe and other little stalls. 

To ice skate, entry is 16zł (£3.30) and then boot hire is 10zł (£2.10). You get an hour and 15 minutes on the ice. It’s something pretty cool to tell people too that you ice skated on the pitch of Poland’s National Stadium. 

Places to eat

We were only in Warsaw for 3 days and only dined out two of the nights, the first evening was a liquid dinner so we didn’t have enough chance to sample all of the best places to eat in Warsaw however we did eat at the following;

Nasty Steak 

This steakhouse is located at the very end of Nowy Sŵait and is upstairs. This American style steakhouse is relaxed with an open kitchen. 

With the steaks coming in only 100g increments it was a little confusing. We both opted for the fillet and had vegetables and potatoes. Chips aren’t an option.

The service is exceptionally slow and the server was rude and not very attentive, serving everybody before us. Tutting at every request we made. 

The food, however, was delicious, the steak different in flavour to any other steak I’ve had before nevertheless tasty and exceptionally great value for money. For a glass of red wine, coke, 2 fillet steaks and veg the meal came to 207zł which was around £43.

AiOLI Cantine Bar Cafe Deli

Feeling hungry we stumbled into AiOLI for a bite to eat. This rustic hip looking burger joint was bustling with diners. Sitting down I ordered a Moscow Mule from the menu. Expecting a cold cocktail in a copper mug. Like it is usually served. I was presented with a tall glass with a hot version of the classic. Totally don’t recommend.

We did, however, enjoy a delicious lunch. I opted for the chicken burger and Sophie opting for the margarita pizza. Both served promptly and full of flavour.

For a coke, “Moscow Mule”, burger and chips, pizza, beer and Irish coffee the whole bill came to £22 which was an exceptionally great value.

Lokanta

On our last evening, we headed to Lokanta which was a two minute walk from our apartment. Deceptively it claims it is a club, however, we were unable to find their club space. The restaurant itself serves up classic mezze & charcoal-grilled meats in a rustic setting with Turkish decor & a mezzanine floor.

We both selected a cocktail to begin followed by chicken kebabs. Again the service was slow and virtually non-existent once they had discovered we were English.

The food, however, was really good and one of our favourite meals in Poland. We sat up on the mezzanine which was quite nice as we could look down into the open kitchen as we watched them prepare our meals. Again the prices were exceptional with our meal coming in at around £16 for 2 cocktails and 2 chicken kebabs. 

If you’re looking for something relatively clean and light then I’d recommend visiting Lokanta.

Zapiecek

When is Poland right? You’ve got to experience a traditional Polish meal? We headed to their Polish chain Zapiecek for a lunch to discover why everybody was raving about the dumplings. With the waitresses dressed in traditional Polish dress and a very ‘like Grandma used to make’ feel about the whole place the menu was full of traditional Polish dishes.

Selecting the potato dumplings with a mushroom sauce and Sophie choosing a basket of fried dumplings our food was served pretty quickly.

My potato dumplings (like gnocchi) were absolutely delicious although the sauce was exceptionally rich. Sophie’s dumplings wouldn’t be my first choice. Then again I’m not a lover of deep fried parcels. However she did thoroughly enjoy them. Again the bill was really low cost and 12 dumplings, and my gnocchi with a coke and beer came in at £15.

Top tips for Warsaw

Be wary of underpass 

In the city, jaywalking is a fineable offence so there are underpasses below all of the main roads. These are complicated enough to navigate without having to also navigate the suspicious people and homeless that loiter around on a nighttime in them. Be wary after midnight, especially female travellers. 

Uber is your BFF

The flat rate for an Uber is 10zł which is roughly £2.10. The cars are all unmarked and all drivers look about 13 years old however they are great for getting around the city and probably the most friendly people you’ll encounter. 

They’re exceptionally cheap and an Uber from the airport is around 95zł which works out at approximately £19. You can get the shuttle from the Airport to Modlin and then get the train from there, this costs about £2-£5 however we just hopped in an Uber.

If you don’t have an Uber account you can create one here and grab some free credit by entering the code laurad14230ue.

Service is slow when they realise you’re English

We had a few incidents where we were greeted in Polish to smiling waitresses, and especially so at the ice rink until we spoke English and their attitude completely changed towards us. We were often ignored and waited forever to be served. Both Sophie and I found that the majority of people we came into contact were extremely rude. We had read this a number of times on a number of different sites about the people of Warsaw being rude so we were well prepared for this.

We did get ourselves lost and Sophie had gone over to a Policeman, the words excuse me had barely come out of her mouth before the policeman raised his flat palm to her face and sternly proclaimed NO ENGLISH.

You can hire electric scooters for exploring 

If you want to explore Warsaw yourself and go off the beaten track then download the Lime app (Apple and Android) and attach your card, simply scan a scooter you find on the street with the app and away you go on the electric scooter. 

Note: they do zip along and probably after a substantial amount of cheap vodka shots they’re not the best idea to get on! 

There is a man made beach

Yes. In the landlocked capital, there is a manmade beach under the Poniatowski Bridge. A large stretch of sand which runs for miles and plays home to around 20 clubs along the beach path. In the Summer it is a revellers paradise. There’s something for everybody along the route. Check out this hipster’s guide to Warsaw for more about the beach. 

Polish brands are cheap, imports carry a heavier price tag

Use a currency converter and know prices of things prior to travelling to the city. For example; Żubrówka vodka at home is around £17 a bottle but in Poland is 40zł (£8.40) which is an absolute bargain. However, imports such as MAC cosmetics are significantly more expensive with a £27 bottle of foundation costing £41. 

Their luxury department store which carries brands such as Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo and Moncler is also significantly more expensive with the Moncler Liane around £200 more than the £325 site price.

Flights and Accommodation

Getting to Warsaw is relatively easy (and affordable) it appears that the majority of flights are run by Ryanair and relatively regularly. Check them out here. Or check Skyscanner for other cheaper routes here.

We booked an apartment opposite the Palace of Culture and Science for £130 for two for three nights. This boutique style apartment was gorgeous and had great amenities, the bathroom did, however, smell of the sewer. I do think that Warsaw in general, has an issue with their sewer system. The location was really great for two female travellers.

We booked this through booking.com. This is the apartment here. However, there are some chain hotels such as the Novotel and the 5* Marriot (with rooftop bar). Which are also pretty central too. With a range of hotels and apartments for all types of budget and traveller check out a great deal below.

Booking.com

Overall we did enjoy our time in Warsaw, however it’s not somewhere that we would both rush back. Out of all the countries and places that I’ve visited it’s the place I’ve felt the least safe. Saying that the architecture is beautiful and the vodka is cheap. If you enjoy museums this will be right up your street.

Have you visited Warsaw? I’d love to get your thoughts of the city.

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