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8 ways to experience Warsaw like a local

To get to know Warsaw and its people really well, get off the beaten path and go to neighbourhoods full of bars and cafes beloved by the capital’s people, see the city’s post-industrial spaces and the Vistula River. Find the place in the capital where you will feel like a true local.

Visit the former Koneser vodka factory complex in Warsaw’s Praga district. Restaurants, design stores and the Polish Vodka Museum are waiting for you in this newly revitalised space, where festivals, concerts and exhibitions take place regularly at weekends. On nearby Ząbkowska street, you can spend the evening in one of the atmospheric bars, where you can try typical Warsaw snacks such as jellied pork with shots of vodka, beef tartare, herring with onions as well as craft beer from local breweries.

The garden of the University Library in Powiśle is one of the most beautiful roof gardens in Europe. Visit it and you’ll find that it looks like a maze full of nooks and crannies connected by footbridges, paths and bridges covered with vines and hydrangeas. The garden overlooks the centre of Warsaw and the wild banks of the Vistula.

In recent years, the Warsaw section of the Vistula has become the heart of Warsaw’s summer nightlife, attracting crowds of locals. However, there is something to do all day long: you can ride a bike or skateboard on the boulevards, take a ferry trip and relax on one of the beaches. Don’t forget to go for a walk along the natural bank of the Vistula in Praga.

Together with the bazaar next to it, it has enjoyed popularity among Varsovians for over 100 years. Here you can buy almost everything you need for the house pantry: fruit and vegetables, noble meats from organic farms, regional cheeses, or baked goods. In the square in front of the hall, coming from the side of John Paul II Avenue, you will find dozens of flower stalls. While shopping here you will experience the unique atmosphere of a Warsaw market – many stallholders have been selling here for years and are on familiar terms with their regular customers. Chefs from renowned Warsaw restaurants also pop in here – maybe you’ll meet one of them?

Zbawiciela Square, overlooked by the baroque Church of the Holy Saviour, is one of the most fashionable places in Warsaw. Popular theatres, literary publishers and even a comedy club are based here. It is here that culture vultures, hipsters, students and young people meet in popular cafes, restaurants and pubs. To feel the metropolitan character of the capital, visit an eatery with international or Polish cuisine or one of the popular ice cream parlours.

Soho Factory used to be where motor scooters and motorcycles were made. Today, it is one of the most popular cultural and entertainment centres in the city. Now, the former production halls offer art studios, designer shops, restaurants and even innovative theatre stages. The heart of Soho is the Neon Museum, where you will see light advertisements from the 1960s and 1970s that decorated Poland’s streets.

Do you like places away from the hustle and bustle? Then visit Saska Kępa on the banks of Praga. This place is a cultural melting pot thanks to numerous embassies as well as pubs run by migrants from Africa and the Middle East. When walking along Francuska street, pay attention to the traditional workshops of watchmakers and photographers, intertwined with health food stores, cafes and bookstores. Do you like nature? Make sure to visit Skaryszewski Park, perfect for walking, running and relaxing by the ponds.

It’s no wonder that the grandparents of young Varsovians gave this place a wide berth. For many years, the ‘Party House’ building was the seat of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party and the place from which the first secretaries ruled Poland. It was here that Bolesław Bierut governed, a Polish president subordinate to the Soviet Union responsible for communist terror and crimes during the Stalinist era. Following the change of political system, the building was taken over by the Warsaw Stock Exchange though today its arcades play host to fashionable eateries. They attract enthusiasts of craft beer, pizza or broth as do the view of the nearby palm tree and of the neon sign of the National Museum.