WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Warsaw

CulturalPalace

I visited Warsaw once a very, very long time ago on a school exchange trip. It was in the mid ’90s and it was a fascinating place – full of Soviet-era architecture, but already buzzing with potential. Now 20-odd years later I am sure that potential has been fulfilled and I would love to go back and discover the city with my kids. Kristina, one of our lovely readers, lives in Warsaw with her family and was kind enough to put together a list of things to do, see and experience in Warsaw with kids!

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Kristina was born in a small, little town in between the Alps and the Adriatic sea in the North East of Italy. With a Czech–Bulgarian mother and Italian dad, she soon developed an interest in studying languages, cross cultural relations, travelling and different foods. After living in Paris, Prague, the English countryside and London, Kristina, her Anglo-Scottish husband and their two (soon to be three!!) children enjoy life in Warsaw.

EAT

Polish people love foreign food. You will find anything from Asian noodle bars, to great Sushi, fabulous Italian and French food. But I do suggest you try some traditional Polish dishes.

 STARY DOM Whilst many People associate Poland with Pierogi, my favorite dish is Golabki (stuffed cabbage with minced meat in a light tomato sauce). If you are very hungry order the pork knuckle (Golonka), another classic. Children are most welcome at Stary Dom and besides the chicken goujons on the children’s menu, you can ask for anything in the menu served in smaller portions. We go to Stary Dom on weekend days as there is a children’s entertainer that does a good job keeping the children busy with games and colouring from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Another fabulous Polish restaurant is Rozana. Polish food is prepared in a more modern style and the piano man does a terrific job. A nice glass of wine, the music, the peculiar décor…great venue for a romantic Varsovian dinner.

FOOD ON THE GO

Warsaw can easily accommodate anyone is hungry but has no time to sit down for a meal. A classic is the Zapiekanka – a dish where French baguette meets Italian pizza. A grilled slice of bread topped with ketchup (!), cheese and various toppings of your choice. I was quite dubious about it, but having it tried at a concert I must admit there is something to it! Another classic is the burger kiosk. You can get your burger and fries fix any time, anywhere in the city.

Cake

VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN

It is quite common to find vegetarian restaurants in central Warsaw. I have tried a few and they are all Devine! SAM is great for breakfast and lunch. Children are very welcome. Their Sunday brunch is quite something, but make sure you book in advance.

Around the corner from SAM, in the trendy neighborhood of Powisle, do not miss Veg Deli, a fabulous vegetarian and Vegan restaurant. It is slightly harder to enter with a pushchair, as there are a few steps to get in. Do not worry, you can just leave your pram on the side walk if you have one.

For Pizza do not miss Spaccanapoli just across from the Palace of Culture, Napolitan pizza at it’s best! Also if you are visiting the Copernicus Science Centre with the children, step out and make a pit stop at Boscaiola Pizza. The owner is Italian and often eats there, a testament to the restaurant.

Sakana: For sushi lovers, My favourite restaurant has to be Sakana.  There are three great locations: downtown, in the old Jewish quarter and past Wilanow. They use a lot of tempura batter and make great maki rolls. Children are very welcome and, if they like Asian flavours, the chefs will make some special rolls, rice dishes and soups just for them.

AIOLI and BAZAR KOCHA BISTRO AND DELI

If you are looking for a mixed menu try Aioli. Aioli is quick and has a bit of everything, from pastas to burgers, pizzas and delicious salads. Do also try their lemonade, it is delicious.

Bazar Kocha Bistro and Deli is in the nice shopping street of Warsaw, Mokotowska. If you need to sit down and have a rest after boutique shopping, head here for a healthy vegetarian breakfast, lunch or simply a cup of tea and their fabulous pastries. I buy the pastries and breads to take home as well.

Particular to Warsaw are also the little corner fruit stalls. They are all over the city and you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Every neighborhood has a few ladies or gentleman selling mostly seasonal fruit and veg. They have saved me a lot of times when the “I am hungry” screaming started!

WINTER HIDEAWAYS

When visiting Warsaw, you might have spectacular sunny and warm days or ugly and cold ones. If you need to entertain your children during a cold day, go to one of the many children cafes. Children do not start kindergarten till the age of 3 in Poland and hardly anyone goes to nursery before that. Therefore it is indispensable to have things to do during the harsh winter.

I often visit Pompon café because it has two play areas, one for the older children with swings, slides a little climbing frame and a lovely little house. All indoors! The other sections accommodates the younger children and it has a little gate to it to keep them safe. Delicious and various menu for both mums and babies and … a SPA that offers among others manicure and pedicure within the premises.

Café Kolonia is located in a quiet residential area. It is basically a huge big room with toys and books. Parents are able to see their babies all the time. On sunny days the back garden of Kolonia is filled with sand and has sand toys, climbing castles and a trampoline. Sipping coffee on the porch while I watch the children play is one of my favorite sports 🙂

Café Kredka is great too and, although the coffee area is separated from the play area, a camera is placed in the play area and allows you to see what the children are up to.

OldTown

SEE

Unfortunately Warsaw was mostly destroyed during WWII. When rebuilt, Poland was under Russian influence. Anyone familiar with Russian architecture of the 50s will understand the prevailing architectural imprint Warsaw has. In the past 10 years however the city has been undergoing an architectural change and more skyscrapers and modern structures are being built all over the city.

Visit the unmistakable Palace of Culture and Science, once a symbol of power. It hosts, amongst other things, the technological museum. It is a bit dated, but I love to take the children there. Fancy watching black and white TV with no remote control? Atari computers? You can even play at Super Mario with a joystick! If you are not afraid of heights, you can go up to the 30th floor of the Palace of Culture and Science and admire Warsaw.

If you have time, visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which documents the story of the Warsaw Jewish ghetto and it’s last attempt to fight for freedom. Like POLIN, the fantastic Museum of the History of Polish Jews, I do not recommend a visit with young children. Whilst very interesting, the subject matter is quite heavy. Teenagers might find it quite interesting, especially if they are studying WWII at school.

Stroll through the old town to see how Warsaw used to look before the war. Lovely buildings, cobble stoned roads and the open spaced squares. You must try a gofry while exploring (the polish equivalent of waffles).

The Chopin museum is a necessary stop for music lovers. It illustrates the life and works of one of Poland’s greater composers.

The Kopernicus Science Center is so far one of the best science centre for children I have visited. It has an area called Bzzz! Gallery dedicated to children from 0 to 5 years old with fun activities and trials for them. Bring a dry t shirt as one of the most fun features of the Bzzz! Gallery is the water section, teaching the power of water to the little children. My little girl cannot resist sending colourful balls down the water paths.

The Kopernicus Science Centre offers – by purchasing an extra ticket- access to the planetarium. There is also a lovely cafeteria that serves hot food, as you might spend the whole day in there! (Closed on Mondays.)

Not everybody is a fan of zoos but I quite often visit the Zoo of Warsaw. It is located on the side of the river called Praga. It is quite a nice zoo and very easy to access and walk through. There is a nice playground and several food stands.

Museum

PLAY

Make sure you take advantage of the ever so present outdoor playgrounds; they are everywhere. Keep your eyes open when walking around town and you will see swings, slides and sand pits appearing from in between buildings and in the middle of any little or big park. Also after 5 pm and on weekends, most elementary schools leave their playground gates open and anybody can come in and use their basketball courts, racing tracks, climbing frames.

Saski ogrod is the park located just between the old town and the financial district. Besides visiting the tomb of the Unknown Soldier you can have some fun in its newly refurbished playground.

Try also the playground in the very central located Lazenki Park and Ujazdowski Park. Lots of fun guaranteed and there are som ice cream parlors very close by.

If you are near the old Jewish quarter stop by Ogrod Krasinskich. It is very quaint and has playgrounds for bigger and smaller children. I discovered it once on a jogging trip. It had been closed for a long time due to a reconstruction but is now a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.

If you are visiting Warsaw in the summer time you must go and play by the fountains, below the Castle. There is an evening show starting at 8 pm with colours and music, but you can pop in anytime from 10 am and let the children run through spays of water that appear and disappear from the ground.

Another feature of outdoor Warsaw is the Vistula River Bank. You can take a lovely walk or decide to cross one of the bridges and reach a sandy beach in the middle of the city. The best beach is the one under Poniatowskiego bridge as it offers refreshments during the summer days. Its playground has a big pirate ship, where I spend hours watching my little pirates sail away.

Do not miss the Sunday Chopin concerts at the top of Lazenki Park. From mid May until the end of September, every Sunday at 12 pm and 4 pm a professional pianists plays 30 minutes of concert music by the Chopin memorial. It is a lovely experience and a tradition that started 49 years ago!

Wilanow Palace is nice if you are looking to explore outside the city center. It is about 20 minutes by car from the center and offers a lovely walk trail around the lake and lots of nice restaurants and cafes at its edge.

SHOPPING

Shopping in Warsaw can be a great adventure. Numerous designer and fashion labels seem to appear on a weekly basis. You can obviously find all the world best known brands in the numerous malls located around the city.

My favorite children’s fashion is sold in a shop called MILOVE. The shop is owned by three ladies and mostly sells their creations. Fabulous cottons and linen make it for breathable and comfy clothes.

 MYSIA3 Concept store sells a variety of wonderfully designed clothes, casual and more elegant at very good prices. Make sure you visit also their furniture stores, as you never know what you might fit in your suitcase 🙂

For great gifts or souvenirs I always go to PRODUCT PLACEMENT. 100% Polish made artefacts, books, children’s items and a small but interesting stock of clothes.

STAY

When deciding on where to stay during your visit to Warsaw consider the wonderful Bristol Hotel. It is located downtown and is one of the cities landmarks. The hotel was built at the beginning of the Twentieth Century and features neo-renaissance and Art Deco interiors. During weekends you can find great deals. I have often stayed for a weekend night at the Bristol Hotel with my family. On cold winter days we would take advantage of the cheaper rates and check –in, use the pool, have a nice cozy pyjiama party with the children and enjoy the spectacular breakfast the next morning!

I have heard very good reviews about Chopin Boutique bed and breakfast, a lovely small bed and breakfast very close to the city center.

Oxygen residence has a more modern, sleek look and it is located in the CBD of Warsaw, just a few steps away from the old town and Jewish quarter.

TIPS:

  • If you like posters and printed art created before and during the World Wars, stop by the University Library (dobra 56/66). At the ground floor of the library there is a gentleman selling posters from 11 am every morning.
  • Whilst at the National Library take the elevator to the top floor and have a stroll on its roof garden. You can admire the Vistula River and the beautiful Warsaw Skyline.
  • Over the wee end hotels are cheaper in Warsaw! The reason is that Warsaw is a business and cultural centre, but not yet a tourist centre.
  • Before travelling check plane tickets also to Krakow. Often there are better deals for flights to Krakow. Krakow is wonderful and only 4 hours on the train from Warsaw. There is a special wagon on the train dedicated to small children.
  • The best seasons to visit Warsaw are spring and summer. Autumn can be unpredictable and cold and it can start snowing at the end of October.
  • If you are a jogger like me, bring your trainers. Warsaw is very flat and has long wide avenues, ideal for runs around the city!

Thank you so much Kirstina for this list. I cannot wait to come and discover Warsaw in person! Do share if you have any other tips about things to do in Warsaw.

– Emilie


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Comments (4)

June 30, 2015

It was really nice to read about my family town on your blog :).
Greetings from Warsaw, Agnieszka


July 8, 2015

In a couple of days i’ll take a flight to Poland and i’ll visit warsow , krakow and lodz. Thanks a lot for recomendations!!!!


Marcin
February 4, 2016

Warsaw Uprising Museum is not about Jewish Ghetto (not only about jewish ghetto anyway) . Jewish Ghetto Uprising took place in 1943 and when it comes to length, number of casualties and area it was a lot smaller than Warsaw Uprising, which happened in 1944, right before Russians “liberated” Warsaw.


Lisa
June 20, 2017

It looks that you had so much fun! I love travelling to Poland and Warsaw is one of my main destinations there. I really enjoy exploring new interesting place in the city. My last discovery is a great bar in the Old Town called Bubbles. They specialize in champagnes and wines, but also serve simple but delicious meals. It is a perfect place for a meeting with friends 🙂


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