I lived in Warsaw for about 5 month during my exchange semester and I fell in love with this city. To me, it felt like being in what I imagine Berlin was like 15 years ago: the alternative scene and interesting places are booming and there are awesome people to talk to everywhere you go. On the other hand, you do have to seek some places out by yourself and do a bit of exploring outside the regular tourist spots if you want to enjoy Warsaw for its full potential.
There are a couple great guides on the internet already, I especially like Vice’s guide to Warsaw and A Hipster Guide to Warsaw. They offer great starting points but in my experience the best way to find cool spots is to make friends with locals – guides get outdated fast.
I want to share with you my favorite places to spend a good evening/night in Warsaw – some are pretty known even amongst tourist but I still enjoyed them enough to recommend them. I’ve never been a huge fans of clubs: I prefer low key bars and concert venues. If you are a bar person too – this guide will be perfect for you! I’m sure if I spent more time in Warsaw I would have even more places to recommend so don’t be shy to mention your favorite bars in the comments.
Plan B is often recommended in guides and Hostels so you will find a lot of tourists there but it remains a great place to get a beer. Nice music playing all the time, with the occasional ambiance DJ. It’s located in what is often called the “Hipster Square” (Zbawiciela square) and there’s always a party going on. You can’t go wrong with Plan B, even on a weeknight. The best time to go is in the summer because most people simply hang out outside and drink out of plastic cups.
Charlotte, a wine bar directly below, is often recommended as an alternative to Plan B but I find it too pretentious for a late night debauchery kind party. Enjoy it hungover on a Sunday morning with a couple of close friends to split the wine with. The croque madames are to die for.
A little warning: look around before crossing to get to the rainbow sign in the middle of the square. I have personally seen people getting tickets because technically you’re not allowed there and there is much police surveillance: anti-gay idiots periodically burn it down.
Where? aleja Wyzwolenia 18
When? 11:00 – 3:00 daily
Smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood in between grocery shops, this bar is like nothing else in Warsaw. Very small but always packed, you can go there for art exhibitions, obscure movie screenings and strange concerts. Where else are you gonna see a show with “Decent elephant” and “Horses On The Wall” ?! Nowhere except Klubokowiarnia Towarzyska. On top of that, the drink selection and barmen are great! Original, intimate, unique and artsy are amongst the many other qualities of the place so don’t miss out!
When? 11:00-2:00 daily
Cuda na Kiju or “miracles on a stick” is the perfect place for you if you’re a fan of craft beer. Located just by the famous Palm Tree, they usually have 15 different beers on tap and if you feel a little hungry, their pizza is the best I have found in Warsaw. The ambiance is relaxed and the decor modern but simple – great for having a conversation with friends while well picked classics play in the background. It closes a little early (1am during the week) but it’s the perfect place to start the night with some class before moving on to trashier venues.
Where? Nowy Swiat 6/12, Warszawa
When? Mon-Thu 10.0-01.00, Fri 10.00-02.00, Sat 11.00-02.00, Sun 11.00-0.00
Another favorite for craft beer enthusiasts, male piwo or “small beer” is a small cozy bar that is worth visiting in Warsaw. It’s perfect for a casual encounter with a couple friends or for your first afternoon beer of the day. You can always feel at home and in good company while tasting a selection of local and regional beers that you will find nowhere else.
Where? ul. Oleandrów 4
When? 11:00 – 23:30 daily
Another great venue for hot summer nights, Warszawa Powisle is an old train station remodeled into a bar. Go there using the city bikes, there is a parking right next to the bar! The food is very good, the music always on point. Usually, it was our second stop of the night, midway between two bars on different sides of the river. If I recall correctly, the first 20 minutes on the city bike are completely free – the strategy is to plot out a couple pit stops along the way to save more money for beer!
Where? Leona Kruczkowskiego 3B
When? Mon-Thur 9:00-12:00 Fri: 9:00-2:00 Sat: 10:00-2:00 Sun: 10:00-12:00
Banka Mydlana aka soap bubble is the coolest outside-only stop in Warsaw. Located in the middle of a park right near a pond, they have plenty of great events during the summer. They even have bike tune-up events and little designer sales from time to time. It is very laid back and feels like its own miniature beach. The sand, lawn chairs and lanterns fit the ambiance 100%.
11 Listopade no 22
Praga, the up and coming neighborhood of Warsaw on the other bank of the river is a must for parties. Some people might tell you to be careful and that it’s a bad neighborhood, but I have found that if you’re being reasonable, there is absolutely nothing to fear. Don’t look for trouble or walk in dark alleys and you’ll be perfectly fine. In that part of town, the cool spots tend to cluster together so it’s very convenient for party-hopping. My favorite “cluster” is on the street Listopade no 22 with 3 very different but equally fun spots.
Restaurant/café by day, bar/concert venue by night – Chmury is amazing! If you’re into rock, punk, hardcore, noise music and more, check out Chmury’s upcoming events and discover talented local bands. The band selection is on point, the beer choice original and the people always down to party. The name Chmury means “clouds” but I imagine they mean those dark and intense thunderstorm clouds because that place is anything but cute, bright and fluffy.
When? Sun-Turs 4:00-11:00 Fri-Sat 4:00-3:00
For a more relaxed Thursday night jam, Sklad Butelek is it. It honestly feels like a get together of good friends in someone’s living room. Honest, no pretense and no bullshit. They even have their own beer, and it’s the cheapest on the menu. It’s the oldest place around and they deserve to be.
When? Wed: 4:00-12:00 Thurs-Sun: 4:00-3:00
Hydrozagadka is the biggest venue on the list, but it deserves to be here. Be warned, it’s not the cleanest of places and I heard rumors that bodyguards could be picky sometimes but the energy in this place is beyond measurement. This place is not for the uninitiated to alternative culture, but if it’s your thing: you’re gonna have a blast. There are no limits and the party doesn’t stop. Some guy said “I love this place because there are no platinum blond chicks” and it describes the vibe perfectly.
No, not the sit-ups! Two of the most memorable nights I spent in Warsaw where in squat houses that function mainly as alternative event venues. They are not open all the time but the concerts and events they hold are extraordinary. Be on the lookout for events by checking their facebook pages regularly: you don’t want to miss it.
A little on the hippy side, this squat often hosts the loveliest of concerts. We discovered the place when we spotted the organizers unloading bottles of Club Mate (a german drink I fell in love with in Berlin) and we could not resist asking why they needed so many bottles. The venue is intimate and there is a little smoking garden at the back where they sold some delicious homemade food during the break. We went for a ska show but they host many different events, chose and pick want you’re into!
Where? ul. Puławska 37
Przychodnia is a punk squat: you have more chances of meeting people with mohawks than with dreads there. However, it being Poland people are not as extravagant as I’m used to with punks in Montreal. You’ll fit in just fine with a black t-shirt. What brings people together there is an appreciation of the music after all. It hosts concerts periodically and we stumbled upon one by accident walking around Warsaw one night. The people are great, the beer is cheap (cheapest I’ve seen in Poland) and the music is loud. What’s not to love?
Where? Skorupki 6A
Klub Hustawka was my favorite bar in Warsaw, but while researching this post I found out it closed down not long ago… It was in a very residential spot so I believe it was due to noise complaints. However, their facebook page is still active and they promise to re-open in another location soon. Fingers crossed!