If Rome is a city of the past and Berlin a city of the future, then Warsaw is a city of the present. Dynamic in all senses of the word, Poland’s capital shines as a vibrant, exciting metropolis and your 72 hours here will be packed to the brim with things to do. But to truly know Warsaw, you need to learn how its modern shape came to be. During World War II, nearly all of the city (85%) was razed to the ground. While this left Warsaw in ruins, it also created an opportunity for development, and that’s exactly what they did. Nearly all of Warsaw is new and with that comes a feel seemingly at odds with traditional Europe, but unique and invigorating in its own way. Here are some insider tips for a 3-day stay
Competition is tight among Warsaw hostels, but one name that continually floats to the top is DREAM Hostel. Despite its large size (4 floors!), the place maintains an intimate feel and has focused on all the details to make your stay perfect, including privacy curtains on every bed, individual plugs, bed light, and immaculately-clean bathrooms. The attic bar/social space is a great place for meeting fellow travelers over a beer or board game.
Being a new city means there’s not much in the way of normal travel sights, but there is an easily-missed treasure at the city’s outskirts. Called the Wilanow Palace, most visitors unfortunately miss this Baroque estate that includes a kingly residence, art collection, expansive garden, and much more. Jump on bus 116 just outside DREAM Hostel and take it all the way out to Wilanow (the last stop before the bus turns around).
After you’ve worked up an appetite from your trip to Wilanow, keep it classy with dinner at hip and stylish gastropub, The Alchemist. While it’s not the cheapest joint in town, the food is worth the cost and we strongly recommend the lamb chops (get the extra 3 chops if you’re really hungry). Also not to miss is the self-serve beer wall where you can choose from a rotating stock of ales on tap and refill at your leisure.
New on the bar/concert scene is barStudio – a venue located at the Palace of Culture. Following in the footsteps of iconic Chlodna 25, this place has become a meeting point for musicians, artists, filmmakers, and others involved in the arts. On any given night at barStudio, you may find a movie showing, live shows, or an all-night electronic party. Some event listings are only in Polish so you may need the hostel receptionist to translate.
Looking for something with a little more funk? Then check out the Neon Muzeum – a collection of signs and artifacts from the cold war heydey of neon. Located across the river at the SoHo Factory, entrance is a reasonable 12 zloty and gives you access to some of the best neon pieces in the world.
Staying off the beaten track, another underground “museum” worth your time is Pinball Station. As much a bar with pinball machines as it is a pinball museum that serves beer, this is an excellent place to start a night out. Grab some friends, get your flipper-finger ready, and try out pinball classics old and new.
If it’s Warsaw and it’s the summer, then the Vistula river is where you’ll find a diverse group of hipsters, trendsetters, beach-lovers, families, and everyone in between. During the day, sunbathers laze away the hours on the surprisingly sandy beach. But by night, the atmosphere changes. Outdoor clubs and restaurants spring into life and offer everything from indie (BarKa) to trendy (Temat Rzeka).
While many European cities hold fast to crumbling ruins and tradition, Warsaw is the pure definition of modern and urban. After 72 hours in the Polish capital, you’ll see why so many young people have made Warsaw their home.