A city trip in the regenerating Warsaw – Poland

In the center of Warsaw, in the National Stadium which in the days as a repair hosts football games and performances of international artists, a registration center for refugees from Ukraine has opened in recent months. Here they receive documents that give them the right to work and medical treatment, similar to the citizens of the country. Warsaw, along with other cities in Poland, has absorbed an almost unimaginable amount of Ukrainian refugees since the outbreak of the war, except that during a trip to the city (and other Polish cities) there is no sense of refugee or misery, no tent complexes or people queuing for food. On the contrary, refugees are absorbed into the homes of local hosts, many of whom rent apartments and join the labor market. A tourist traveling in Poland these days will mainly feel the identification and mutual help, among other things in the form of Ukrainian flags flying in many places around the country, identification marches, support signs and more.

It is important to start at this point in order to dispel the fears of the average tourist, who may think that this is not the right time to relax or travel in Poland. From personal experience, this is definitely a suitable time, even excellent. The warm hospitality is just one of the many reasons that make the trip here enjoyable, as we discovered during a spring trip, where we visited three cities – Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow. Since each of these cities offers a wealth of attractions, entertainment, interest and fine cuisine, as well as a different atmosphere, we will focus on each one individually.

Warsaw’s Old Town. The colorful area was restored and renovated after being almost completely destroyed during World War II Photo: Shatterstock

Naturally, we will start in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. But even before we peek into the city sites, a few words about money. The local currency is zlotys, and as of this writing one zloty is worth 0.76 cents – that is, 100 zlotys is worth 76 shekels. During the visit to Poland, we discovered that you can eat a good meal, even in a chef’s restaurant, for around NIS 60 per diner and stay in an excellent hotel in the city center starting at NIS 300 per night. Now that we’ve discovered how cheap it is to travel in Poland, it’s time to visit some of the new places that have opened in Warsaw in the last two years:

From industrial plants to cultural and entertainment centers

Warsaw has been a center of attraction for many tourists, including Israelis, for quite a few years. The short flight, less than three and a half hours, the young and vibrant atmosphere, the interesting sites and the very favorable prices (even in well-known chains like Zara or M&H the prices are significantly cheaper than in Israeli branches) – all these made the Polish capital a fun place to travel. And even if you have visited Warsaw before, you will be happy to find that the city is constantly being renewed. Thus, for example, abandoned factories have in the last two years become shopping centers, cultural and entertainment areas with interesting architecture, which preserves the spirit of the past combined with a modern and advanced atmosphere.

One of these places, for example, is Concern Vodka Factory (Koneser) in Prague. Even before entering the former factory gates, a few words about Prague district, Which is well worth devoting a few hours to during a visit to the city. Praga, on the east bank of the Wisła River, was once a separate town and to this day its inhabitants retain local pride, a unique accent and a relaxed character. While the center of Warsaw was almost completely destroyed in World War II, Prague remained relatively intact and throughout the district you can see original buildings, narrow cobbled streets and industrial factories from the 19th and early 20th century that became interesting cultural complexes.

A vodka factory that has become a complex of food and entertainment

Day and night: a vodka factory that has become a complex of food and entertainment

Day and night: a vodka factory that has become a complex of food and entertainment

One of these places, as mentioned, is a local vodka factory, which has been converted into an area that houses restaurants, cafes, bars and also the Polish Vodka Museum.

Even if you are not a fan of vodka, you should definitely visit this small and invested museum. The visit is only on a guided tour, during which you discover how vodka is made, what is the difference between a drink made from barley, wheat or potatoes, what is the connection between Rolling Stone and the local vodka and a variety of nice stories and anecdotes. In the background of the tour is the question about the country of origin of the vodka – Russia or Poland? The answer may not be clearly stated, but visitors certainly have a feeling they know what it is… At the end of the tour you come to a tasting room, where glasses are waiting on the table, each of which is poured into vodka made from a different raw material. This way you can practically discover the differences in the taste of each of the vodkas, depending on the ingredients from which the alcohol is extracted.

Polish Vodka Museum.  At the end of the guided tour expect a taste of vodka

Polish Vodka Museum.  At the end of the guided tour expect a taste of vodka

Polish Vodka Museum. At the end of the guided tour expect a taste of vodka

• Where and how much? The Museum of Vodka or Polish Muzeum Polskiej Wódki is located in Plac Konesera, in the Prague district. A guided tour leaves every 45 minutes and includes tastings of three types of vodka. The price of the visit includes three tastings – 45 zlotys per participant; For an additional 10 zlotys you can enjoy four tastings. Museum website

Another industrial complex that has been converted into an area of ​​shopping and food, and is highly recommended to visit, is Power station Powisle, A power plant for generating electricity from the beginning of the last century that was converted into a stylish and chic complex, with luxury shops and a particularly tempting dining floor. Even if you do not eat or shop here, you should go upstairs to get an impression of the original metal sources that support the roof of the building – the holes that can be seen here and there in the beams are the result of shelling in World War II. And if you give women, do not miss a visit to the bathroom upstairs (we did not check the men’s bathroom in person, so we do not have information from Hyman about them…): You will not believe, but there is an opportunity here for perfect Instagram photography.

• Where? Good 42

A power plant to generate electricity has become an upscale mall with a particularly tempting dining floor

A power plant to generate electricity has become an upscale mall with a particularly tempting dining floor.  Upstairs you can see the original steel beams

A power plant to generate electricity has become an upscale mall with a particularly tempting dining floor. Upstairs you can see the original steel beams

In the past year, several other industrial complexes have been renovated and opened in the city, which have become entertainment centers. Among other things it is worth visiting the structure of Warsaw, Which housed the largest brewery in Poland that operated from the mid-19th century until World War II. Today the complex has restaurants, cafes and a boutique brewery with 19 types of beer. Also worth a visit isNorblin An industrial metal factory, which flourished in the 19th century and last year became an attractive complex with restaurants, a piano bar, galleries, a small, high-quality cinema and more.

Overlooking Warsaw from above

We ate, bought, enjoyed, it was time to look at Warsaw from above. Until now the high observation deck in the city was from the top of Palace of Culture And science, The same iconic building given as a gift to the Polish people by Stalin. Stalin is said to have asked Poles what they would like as a gift – a metro or a skyscraper. The answer can be easily seen in central Warsaw, the metro was built only years later, after the fall of communism. But it will soon be possible to look at the Palace of Culture and Science from above, which brings joy to quite a few of the city’s residents, who do not exactly like the Stalinist souvenir. During 2023 a new observation deck will be opened in the skyscraper Tower Varso Which is nearing completion of construction.

The view from the observation deck in the Varso Tower that will open to the public in 2023

The view from the observation deck in the Varso Tower that will open to the public in 2023

We got an initial glimpse of the view from the 46th floor of the new tower. Equipped with boots, helmets and glowing vests we climbed to the top of the tower. From above the whole city is spread out at our feet, including the “peak” of the Palace of Culture and Science and the strange bubbles of the roof of the Złote Tarasy canyon adjacent to the main train station. When completed, the tower will rise to a height of 310 meters, making it not only the tallest building in Poland, but in the entire EU. And if the locals are looking for another reason for pride, thanks to the antenna at its head it will be one meter high from the famous Shard Tower in London.

Workers are working on the observation deck of the tower, which will be the tallest in the EU

Workers are working on the observation deck of the tower, which will be the tallest in the EU

• Where? The Varso Tower is part of a complex of three towers in central Warsaw, not far from the Palace of Culture and Science and the Central Railway Station. Construction of the tower is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022, and the observation deck will open to the public in 2023. site

Jewish history and a royal way

No matter what you plan to do during your stay in Warsaw, even if it’s mostly shopping and entertainment, do not miss a visit toMuseum of Poland, The Museum of the History of the Jews of Poland. The uniquely designed building presents a thousand years of history of Polish Jewry in an innovative and interactive way, which makes the subject accessible in a maximum, exciting and captivating way. At the bottom of the museum there are rotating exhibitions, during our visit it was the exhibition “What is being cooked?” Which focuses on Jewish food – Ashkenazi cuisine of course, after all we are in Poland, but also other Jewish cuisines, including those of North Africa and the Middle East.

Museum of Poland.  Exciting displays that introduce visitors to the lifestyle on the Jewish street  Photo courtesy of the Warsaw Tourist Board

Museum of Poland. Exciting displays that introduce visitors to the lifestyle on the Jewish street Photo courtesy of the Warsaw Tourist Board

• Where and how much? Museum address: 6 Mordechaja Anielewicza, admission – 30 zlotys per person, children up to the age of 16 and students with a certificate – 1 zloty. Audio Guide (Audio Guide) – 12 zlotys, and it is definitely recommended to bring it. Museum website. The exhibition What’s Cooking on Jewish Cuisine is open until December 12, 2022.

Warsaw offers lots of other fun things, among other things it is highly recommended to walk along The Royal Road, Which includes impressive palaces, churches and public buildings. You should pay attention to Chopin benches Scattered in significant places in the life of the renowned Polish composer. A push of a button will play you a short piece of music. The royal road ends atWarsaw’s Old Town. It is a small, colorful and lively district, restored after being almost completely destroyed during the war.

The royal road leading to the old quarter

The royal road leading to the old quarter

You should also walk along Vistula River, Which in the summer becomes a lively place of entertainment for the residents of the city and worth joining them. On the river bank there is an area of ​​sandy beaches and other areas paved. No matter where you hike, on a clear summer day you will meet the locals sunbathing, having fun and enjoying beer and snacks from Pod Tracks by the river.

The Vistula River that crosses Warsaw in early spring

The Vistula River that crosses Warsaw in early spring (above, photo by Rotem Bar Cohen) and in summer (photo courtesy of the Warsaw Tourist Board)

The Vistula River that crosses Warsaw in early spring (above, photo by Rotem Bar Cohen) and in summer (photo courtesy of the Warsaw Tourist Board)

Food and accommodation recommendations in Warsaw

The favorable prices, and even funny compared to what we know from Israel, are encountered every day in restaurants and hotels in Poland in general, and in Warsaw in particular.

Out of the variety of restaurants we dined at, we especially liked the Restaurant Should, And it turns out that not only do we think she’s great. This is a Michelin-starred restaurant, with a particularly impressive wine room, containing many hundreds of local and international wines. The cuisine focuses on seasonal and fresh ingredients, most of them from the region, and as befits contemporary cuisine the dishes are small, immaculately designed, and the flavors are concentrated and great. As expected, the wine menu is very extensive and the sommelier will be happy to recommend you wines that will accompany the dishes well.

• Where and how much? Lunch menu (served Tuesday to Friday between 15: 00-12: 00) costs 73-55 zlotys (ie starting from 40 shekels per diner!); A seven-course tasting menu (served between 17:30 and 20:00) – 310 zlotys, and there are also a la carte dishes. Address: Rozbrat 44A, site

Opening meal at Dyletanci Restaurant

Dessert at Dyletanci, Michelin-starred restaurant

First course (top) and dessert at Dyletanci, a recommended Michelin-starred restaurant in Warsaw

A particularly pleasant night can be spent atIndigo Hotel – Indigo Warsaw Nowy Swiat – located in a good location in the city center. This is a charming boutique hotel, with colorful and captivating design and very spacious and comfortable rooms. A special note was given to the breakfast served at the table instead of at the buffet as is customary in hotels. The breakfast menu offers many excellent dishes, with or without eggs, which leaves a good taste for the start of a new and fascinating day in the city.

• Where and how much? Smolna 40, siteStarting from 400 zlotys for a double room including breakfast.

The lobby of the Indigo Hotel Warsaw.  A colorful and charming boutique hotel at a very attractive price

The lobby of the Indigo Hotel Warsaw. A colorful and charming boutique hotel at a very attractive price

Departing from Warsaw: here comes the train

If you want to leave Warsaw and get to know more parts of Poland, you can of course rent a car. But there is another way, successful and very fun, to get around in Poland, certainly if you plan to travel between several cities – a train ride.

Trains in Poland are good, efficient, convenient and fast, and last but not least – cheap. If you want a real treat, buy a ticket for the high-speed train, which, like super-high-speed trains in the world, also boasts a locomotive with a narrow and elongated bow, and it travels the road at speeds of 250 km / h and more. Take the first class on the high-speed train. Here you can relax in front of the green landscape, with a tie waiter serving you coffee in porcelain cups alongside nice sandwiches.

Each of the three cities we visited on our trip – Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow, can be reached by high-speed train, a journey that takes less driving and is independent of traffic jams. Details bWebsite of the Polish Railway Company

The author was a guest of the Polish Tourism Organization, PTO – site, Facebook


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