This week Midnight Weekly is heading east. After our brief sojourns in Dubrovnik, Seville and Frankfurt, today we’re off to Warsaw. The capital of Poland is a cultural jewel, offering all manner of exciting, enriching experiences. So let’s get out and explore the labyrinthine alleyways of this historic city.
If you have the chance to explore Warsaw on a Saturday morning, you should absolutely start by walking around Targ Sniadaniowy, the little-known ‘breakfast market’. Just near the river Oder, in the Powiśle neighbourhood, this unique place brims with local growers selling fresh produce and chefs serving up truly original dishes. And it’s not just Polish stuff on offer. In fact, you’ll find plates from all over the world. That’s in keeping with this city’s ultra-cosmopolitan energy.
Now the day can really start, head to Stare Miasto, Warsaw’s old town. Here, amid buildings that date back centuries, you can discover the vestiges of a city that wasn’t bombed during the war. In stark contrast with the modern design of the Nowe Miasto, the new town, here you can walk around with no other goal except window shopping and marvelling at the beauty of the Rynek, the old market square.
But now for somewhere really different. In the Soho Factory, a complex of industrial buildings just east of the Vistula river and recently done up, the Neon Museum offers a unique collection of several hundred neon signs from establishments all over the country. It’s an unusual, fascinating place, ideal for fans of visual art, graphic design, publicity and vintage objects. Because let’s be honest, these luminous objects have an old-school charm which is rather hard not to like.
When lunch time comes, trundle on over to Hala Koszyki. This spectacular, recently renovated covered market is now home to 20 or so rather excellent restaurants and shops. The choice is so wide that it’s probably best to see what you fancy at the time. After that, browse the market’s many design stores and snag a souvenir.
Later on, you should definitely visit the Praga neighbourhood. One of very few districts that weren‘t destroyed during the war, this area comprises old, dilapidated buildings and former factories which have gradually been transformed into a bohemian, artistic paradise. Avant-garde art galleries, small hidden cafés and huge amounts of street art covering the walls: Praga offers another face of Warsaw that even the city’s inhabitants have long overlooked. For something a little different, head to the equally arty (but far more modern) area Saska Kepa. This slightly gentrified area is where to go for an end-of-afternoon tipple. Here you’ll be surrounded by creatives of all stripes and be able to kick back on one of its numerous pub terraces and take in the sunset.
Time for dinner. But this time, don’t head to a traditional restaurant. Instead, try Alewino. Originally set up as a wine bar, this unusual establishment serves up a refined, well-sourced selection of bottles from more than 250 different producers. Such was its success that Alewino didn’t hesitate to develop a sumptuous food menu to accompany the wines. Combining the best local produce and inspired by European and Polish gastronomy, the dishes are as well executed as they are respectful of bistronomic trends. A must.