Warsaw and Poland in general has never really done tourism in the past, but it slowly seems to be getting its act together. As the co-host nation for the Euro 2012, Warsaw took its chance to get its name on the map and is now making a name for itself as a top European city destination.
You might think Warsaw and automatically think war and communism, but we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what it has to offer travellers. Plus, if you want to do Europe on a shoestring budget, there are few places better as Warsaw is one of the most affordable European cities, third only to Budapest and Athens.
Ok, so Warsaw may not be a shopping mecca, but if you’re counting the pennies do you really want to be tempted by huge designer names anyway? Having said that, there are plenty of shopping centres to browse around, but for a real bargain, you’re best looking around the markets and independently owned shops.
Bazar Na Kole is an antique market held every Sunday in the Kolo district, where you’ll find just about everything from unique handcrafted articles to fresh fruit and vegetables. The most famous of Warsaw markets is Bazar Ró?yckiego, which became hugely popular after the war, but has deteriorated in recent years.
Second hand clothing doesn’t come much cheaper than at Bazar Namyslowska, but make sure you stop by at the weekend as it sells fruit, veg and sausages all week.
If the idea of sauntering around small antique bookshops and local souvenir shops takes your fancy, head over to the Old Town. This area of Warsaw is, well, old, although much of it had to be rebuilt after the Second World War.
The streets are lined with galleries, boutiques and smaller interesting shops, but at the heart of the Old Town is the Market Place.
Cheap Eats & Drinks
As Warsaw has only recently moved away from its dark communist culture and into a bright and cheery tourist destination, many of the restaurants menus are still dominated by traditional Polish cuisine. However, that’s nothing to be scoffed at, especially when you’re on a tight budget as you can dine out for peanuts.
If you’re really skint and willing to brave entering a truly local restaurant, head to one of the many Bar Mleczny or Milk Bars for ridiculously cheap food. It’s a bit foolish to think that there’s nothing else on offer though, Warsaw has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and there is a progressive culinary scene.
For a bit of fun, try out Solec, a Polish restaurant with a twist. Here you hand over a few zloty at the counter and spend hours playing traditional board games. The fun doesn’t compromise the quality of the food though – the head chef creates a new menu every single day using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.
Dining out with the kids? Kosmos Kosmos is the perfect place for dinner. There is an entire kids’ play area with a wooden playhouse, slides, dolls houses, toy cars and colouring books, but also two menus –one for the adults and one for the children. Main meals range from £4-£6.
Arts & Attractions
If you’re looking for things to do in the Polish capital aside from shopping and dining, have no fear as there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy.
The Warsaw Rising Museum, which opened in 2004 on the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, is one of the newer museums in the city. It tells Warsaw’s story of the Second World War and acts as tribute to those that lost their lives in the fight against the Nazis. Admission is 14PLN (£2.84) but turn up on a Monday to get in for free.
Wilanow Palace, often referred to as the Versailles of Poland, managed to escape destruction from the Nazis unlike the majority of the city. You can pick up an English audio guide to help you around the palace, but make sure you’ve brushed up on Polish history beforehand for a complete experience. Don’t fork out the 20PLN (£4) entrance fee because admission is free on a Sunday.
Warsaw has an incredibly turbulent history, but a lot of time and effort has gone into regenerating the city to transform it into what it is today. Although perhaps not the first European city on your wish list, it’s the perfect destination if you’re on a shoestring budget.
|Written by :|
|Jemma is a news & research reporter for compareandsave.com.Having worked as a journalist on a number of personal finance websites; she now spends time researching and commenting on UK personal finance stories and investigating new ways to help our readers save money.For press enquiries, please visit our Media Centre page.|