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There’s a saying that people have a separate stomach for dessert. Whatever the case, one should always leave room for one of Warsaw’s typical sweet treats.

Whenever you get a craving for something sweet, drop into a bakery or patisserie and buy a pączek to go. Unlike, for instance, American tyre-shaped doughnuts, Polish pączki (plural of pączek) are shaped like a slightly flattened fist-sized ball and contain a sweet filling, usually rose-petal jam or plum butter. Fried to a nice golden-brown and glazed with icing or sugar-dusted, pączki are an obligatory treat on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent), when long queues appear outside pastry shops.

In a contest for the most typically Warsaw cake, first prize would surely go to the wuzetka, a square-shaped pastry made of chocolate sponge cake filled with whipped cream and covered with chocolate icing. How it got its name remains uncertain, but one version maintains it came from Warsaw’s East-West thoroughfare running beneath Warsaw’s Old Town. Polish Wschód-Zachód (East-West) is abbreviated to W-Z and pronounced wu-zet (voo-zet), hence wuzetka.

Several years ago, Warsaw lived to see the birth of yet another sweet symbol – the zygmuntówka. It was named after one of the city’s principal monuments, the King Zygmunt Column, and won a contest for the official Warsaw dessert. An almond, luscious cake, it is adorned with meringue and filled with chocolate mousse, cranberry jam and whipped cream.

Sweet snacks will surely make city sight-seeing more attractive. During such excursions it’s worth visiting one of Warsaw’s cafés whose history goes back many decades. You can experience the ambience of a bygone era when visiting the antique interiors of Café Bristol, Blikle’s Pastry Shop, the Wedel Chocolate Drinkery and the 1960s-style Lukullus Café.

In Warsaw one can also find modern, French-style pastry boutiques, American-style doughnut shops and pâtisseries specialising in vegan and gluten-free desserts as well as ice-cream shops offering traditional ices made with only natural ingredients.