Travel 6 minutes 24 November 2023

Two Days in: Warsaw

Located in the very heart of Europe, Warsaw offers a heady mix of tradition, contemporary vibes, history and hospitality, not to mention a vibrant culinary scene showcasing the best Polish produce and fresh talents. Time to indulge!

Poland 2023 2 Days in: Warsaw

The best way to discover a new city is to live it, even if only for a few days: plug into its rhythms and soak up its sounds and smells with all the senses; find your own way through its quaint little streets and busy squares, and take it in bite by bite, sip by sip.

Day 1: A land of plenty

Morning
Start the morning as many Warsaw people do – with food shopping at the markets. It is a great introduction to what’s in season and what’s local. Sit in the centrally located open-air food market just by the Hala Mirowska and Hala Gwardii – twin neo-Gothic food halls built in the early 20th century that now house shops and street food stands. The real buzz is to be found in between the two halls, among the stalls selling fresh vegetables, plump fruit, dried fruits, cheese and bread. You will encounter everyone from families to foodies hunting down ingredients for the day’s meals, to the city’s top chefs sourcing produce for their menus. And even if you do not need groceries, you can simply savour the spectacle of the procession of people and the picturesque still life of cabbages, apples or mushrooms arranged artfully by vendors. If you are looking for edible souvenirs, you have come to the right place. Favourite take-homes include local honey (try the buckwheat one, uniquely dark, savoury and bittersweet!), dried porcini and smoked plums, a traditional specialty with an original flavour.

Hala Mirowska © Malgosia Minta
Hala Mirowska © Malgosia Minta

After the market, grab a coffee at one of the specialty coffee shops. There are plenty of cafés next to the Hala Mirowska.

Forum Coffee next to Hala Mirowska © Malgosia Minta
Forum Coffee next to Hala Mirowska © Malgosia Minta

For centuries Warsaw was a melting pot of cultures and nations and has a complex history, reminders of which are still visible all around the city. To learn more, visit the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The impressive building that houses it, designed by Finnish architectural studio Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, is worth seeing in its own right.

Lunch: Tradition meets contemporary
After a walk through the verdant Muranów neighbourhood, head to Kieliszki na Próżnej, a Bib Gourmand restaurant, whose name translates literally as “Glasses on Próżna Street” and which has thousands of glasses hanging above the bar. Glasses also represent one of the pillars of Kieliszki’s concept: wine. Guests can select a tipple from more than 200 labels available by the glass, complemented by chef Sebastian Wełpa’s bistronomy dishes, for example, his meat ravioli with pumpkin and pickled currant leaves, grilled trout with wheat, daikon and horseradish, followed by crème anglaise with wild berries, mirabelle plums and Prosecco. Next to Kieliszki na Próżnej is Plac Grzybowski, one of Warsaw’s many green squares and a special one for the feeling it inspires as you glance around at the eclectic cityscape surrounding you: sleek glass skyscrapers, the classical lines of All Saints Church, beautifully decorated Art Nouveau townhouses and the simplistic cubes of 1970s apartment buildings, with glimpses of the monumental Palace of Culture and Science in between – a real-life postcard revealing different layers of the city’s history.

Bib Gourmand Kieliszki na Próżnej © Kieliszki na Próżnej
Bib Gourmand Kieliszki na Próżnej © Kieliszki na Próżnej
Afternoon:

To discover Warsaw’s sweet side, head to Chmielna street. There are several patry shops, where Polish confectionary traditions meet a modern French approach. Choose between a classic Kraków cheesecake, a silky Napoleon cake or wonderful cream-filled choux.

Limoncello Story Cake at Lukullus on Chmielna Street © Jacek Malarski
Limoncello Story Cake at Lukullus on Chmielna Street © Jacek Malarski

Royal walk
Fuelled by all that sugar, take a leisurely stroll towards the Old Town, which is also the site of some of the most prestigious hotels in the city, known as much for their stunning decor and style as for their impeccable hospitality. The Raffles Europejski Hotel is home to MICHELIN Guide-recommended restaurant, Europejski Grill; call in for an informal yet elegant dinner, or perhaps simply a platter of blini with Polish caviar and a glass of bubbly, or step into its iconic Long Bar for a signature Warsaw Sling.

Next door there is another gem: the luxurious MICHELIN Guide-listed Hotel Bristol, a wonderful option for an overnight stay in lavish style. This century-old grand hotel, next door to the Presidential Palace, was long the city’s most elegant before falling on hard times, along with Warsaw itself. Today, as Poland recovers from the twentieth century and joins the new Europe, the Bristol is once again its splendid old self. An extensive facelift and new ownership have returned it to its glory days. The interiors are all nineteenth-century grandeur, furnished with antiques and Polish artworks. The guest rooms are delightfully old-fashioned, with ornate wall treatments and marble bathrooms, respectably refined to the last detail.

From here, continue to Plac Zamkowy to see the Zygmunt Column and Royal Castle, and wind your way through the maze of cobblestone streets flanked by colourful townhouses towards Rynek, the main square. Though the Old Town was all but razed during the Second World War, it has been meticulously reconstructed and its former charm and a fairy-tale atmosphere restored.

Old town of Warsaw © querbeet/iStock
Old town of Warsaw © querbeet/iStock
Long Bar @ Raffles Europejski © Piotr Gesicki
Long Bar @ Raffles Europejski © Piotr Gesicki
Bristol Hotel Warsaw © Bristol Hotel Warsaw
Bristol Hotel Warsaw © Bristol Hotel Warsaw

Dinner and Evening: A modern spirit

After a day of intense sightseeing, a reward is in order, preferably in the form of a special dinner. Warsaw may be steeped in history, but it is also vibrant and young-spirited. To get a taste of its youthful zest, head to one of the restaurants promising a modern take on Polish cuisine, rooted in the richness of produce and the terroir but also compatible with modern palates and tastes. At Hub.praga, chef Witek Iwański will treat you to beautiful creations that showcase his technical skills and sense of aesthetics, in the form of dishes prepared with ultra-local vegetables and fruit – expect everything from Warsaw-grown watermelons to wild mushrooms and foraged herbs. Here you can also indulge in the freshwater fish or venison for which Poland is so well known. Needless to say, it can all be paired with a glass of Polish wine. The restaurant has an à la carte menu and a set menu, the latter representing more of a deep dive into chef’s ideas. If you want to learn more about Polish regional cuisines, make a beeline for Bez Gwiazdek, run by chef Robert Trzópek. Each month he devises a different tasting menu inspired by a particular region of the country, putting a contemporary spin on its traditional dishes or emblematic produce.

Bez Gwiazdek © Matylda Roslaniec
Bez Gwiazdek © Matylda Roslaniec
hub.praga © Lukasz Smudzinski
hub.praga © Lukasz Smudzinski

Conclude your evening with the perfect touch – savor an after-dinner-drink amidst one of the city’s inviting foodhalls such as Fabryka Norblina, Elektrownia Powiśle, or Hala Koszyki. At Fabryka Norblina check out hall "Gimlet Live" that, is dedicated to entertainment and cultural events. It houses 5 unique bars, each with a different offer. Afterwards find yourself drifting into peaceful slumber in your exquisite guest room at the Bristol Hotel.

Norblin Factory  © M. Czechowicz
Norblin Factory © M. Czechowicz

Day 2 : A feast for the senses

Morning
Warsaw is renowned for its thriving art and culture scene, so be sure to save some time to check out a couple of the city’s museums and galleries. Our top choices are the National Museum in Warsaw (Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawa), which, aside from its permanent collection, rotates well-curated temporary exhibitions, and Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, as a counterpoint to the classics of the National Museum.

Open-air entertainment
The latter is in the vicinity of the Royal Baths (Łazienki Królewskie) Park, one of the city’s most beloved places for wandering among the grand old trees, serene lakes and ponds, romantic statues and hidden meadows, where you might spot one of the resident red squirrels or peacocks. If visiting during the summer months, check the calendar for open-air Frederic Chopin concerts, when the music of this famous composer, one of Poland’s greatest, is performed in one of the park’s gardens, close to his statue.

Lunch
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, recharge your batteries with a laid-back lunch in one of the city’s Bib Gourmand restaurants that pay homage to a neo-bistro style. Alewino is among our top tips for sunny days, when its beautiful green courtyard is filled with tables. If you are accompanied by friends and wish to dine comfortably around a bigger table, aim for Koneser Grill, on the right bank of Vistula River. Here, everything revolves around over-the-fire cooking and premium ingredients, including dry-aged Polish beef, specially sourced seafood and seasonal vegetables. Koneser Grill is located in – and also takes its name from – a beautifully restored old spirit factory, called Koneser. The factory is long gone, but the spirit of craft is kept alive thanks to the multimedia Museum of Polish Vodka operating in one of the reconstructed buildings. As well as learning about the history and theory behind spirit-making traditions, you can also join a vodka tasting or visit the museum’s bar.

Koneser Grill © Jedzenie
Koneser Grill © Jedzenie
Alewino ©restaurantica/Instagram
Alewino ©restaurantica/Instagram

No trip is complete without a little souvenir shopping, and luckily in Warsaw you will find a good choice of small independent boutiques that stock local crafts, fashion and design. Warsaw is also known for its strong contemporary art scene and well-curated galleries, many of which also sell pieces of both rising stars as well as already established young Polish artists.

Dinner:
A crossroads of influences
When planning your time in Warsaw, be sure to book a table at Nuta, a one-MICHELIN-starred restaurant and among the most interesting eateries in the city. Its chef and founder is Andrea Camastra, who hails from southern Italy and who, over the course of his career, has worked all over Europe, finally settling in Warsaw. Previously at the helm of Senses – another restaurant that was awarded one star by the MICHELIN Guide, before closing in the wake of the pandemic – he is now to be found at Nuta, right by Three Crosses Square. The deeply personal nature of this project is reflected both in the name (Andrea Camastra has a professional musical background), the interior and – of course – the food that won over the MICHELIN inspectors. Nuta’s tasting menu embodies the chef’s own favourite flavours and taste combinations, whisking diners away as far as to Thailand, to the Italy of his memories and, finally, back to Poland. You might be served a take on a cheese board, composed of pear soup with a gorgonzola foam, golden waffles with truffle pecorino romano and honey ice cream and walnuts or brioche with smoked sheep’s cheese and cold smoked trout, artichoke salad and a shot of cucumber soup or ramen with calamari, octopus and guanciale crusted pike perch. The menu seems eclectic, but so is chef’s life story… and so is Warsaw: welcoming, contemporary, fun, open-minded and receptive to new people and innovative ideas.

1 MICHELIN Star Restaurant © Nuta
1 MICHELIN Star Restaurant © Nuta

Round off the day with a musical finale at Jassmine, an intimate concert venue and bar that hosts top contemporary jazz singers and musicians. Jassmine is located in the basement of the Nobu Warsaw Hotel, which is listed in the MICHELIN Guide’s hotel selection. The hotel, the first of an acclaimed chain to have opened in Warsaw, boasts a unique design allying historical and modern architecture. Its sleek interiors, adorned by custom-ordered art pieces provide the perfect setting in which to relax after a day of notching up experiences and creating new memories. The new wing pays tribute to Japanese tradition, and the rooms are lavish without being opulent. Meanwhile, in the historical Art Deco wing, a few suites remain in the original interior style, with subtle Japanese accents tucked into their century-old atmosphere.

Nobu Hotel Warsaw © Nobu
Nobu Hotel Warsaw © Nobu

Find the Best Spots on the Map

Illustration Image : Warsaw city centre and Pola Mokotowskie park © dzika_mrowka/iStock

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