Where to bar-hop: The Praga district used to have a dodgy reputation, but in recent years the area has seen a boom, with an influx of creatives. Bars and pubs have sprung up, and Ząbkowska street offers a perfect stretch for bar-hopping. Łysy Pingwin (“The Bald Penguin”) has a cosy atmosphere and a simple selection of drinks — the local clientele prefers beer (a wide selection of local and imported bottles and draughts) and shots, and there are also snacks and toasties on the menu. W Oparach Absurdu (“In the Fumes of the Absurd”) is filled with stylish mismatched furniture; Skamiejka is also a Russian restaurant, so make sure to order a portion of pelmeni and a shot of vodka. There’s lots to do in the area during the day as well: coffee shops, an antique store, a gallery, and the Warsaw Printing Museum.
The best green space is: While Łazienki Królewskie is the largest park in Warsaw, and is definitely worth a visit for its manicured, tree-lined alleys and cheeky gangs of red squirrels, head to the University of Warsaw garden for a real treat. The secret? It’s a rooftop space, situated on top of the university’s library. It stretches over an hectare and is home to over a hundred species of plants, plus a beautiful view over the river. The garden is only open to the public between April and October.
Best local street food: Zapiekanki baguettes might be featured in every tourist guide to Poland, but with good reason: they’re delicious. If you’ve never had one, think of it as a baguette, cut in half, topped with everything from cheese and vegetables to salami, and toasted to golden perfection. Pretty much any zapiekanka that you get in Warsaw will be nice, but Zapiexy Luxusowe by Cetrum metro station is considered one of Warsaw’s cult spots.
If you’re on a budget, eat in: A milk bar (bar mleczny). You’ll have to arm yourself with a Polish dictionary or Google Translate, as these almost never have a menu in English, but you’ll be rewarded for your endeavours with a delicious homely meal for the price of a glass of water. Milk bars were originally set up in Poland after the Second World War to provide affordable lunches and dinners to workers. And affordable they truly are: a standard meal with three courses will probably not set you back more than 20 złoty ($5.20). The menus in most milk bars are relatively similar, featuring Polish staples like pierogi (dumplings), bigos (meat and cabbage stew), kopytka (a local version of gnocchi) and placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes). The decor tends towards the simplistic — post-Communist, cheap modern furniture — and you have to order at the till, but these things add to the experience rather than detract from it.
For design inspiration head to: The Polish Poster Museum in Wilanów. Poland’s poster tradition is both longstanding and renowned worldwide. Based in the Wilanów palace, the museum has a large collection of posters from the 20th century — from rousing political calls to action to tourist agency offerings inviting you to visit Poland.