City Guide: Warsaw with Yanina Trapachka
The city of Warsaw never stands still. Bombed and almost completely destroyed by the Nazis in WW2, the Polish capital continues to undergo massive regeneration to this day. Often referred to as the Phoenix City, Warsaw has risen from the ashes to become a gritty, ever-changing and cosmopolitan metropolis – a mix of gleaming skyscrapers, colourful Old Town facades and Communist-era concrete.
Yanina Trapachka arrived in Warsaw eight years ago and now couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. She stayed in the city after graduating, choosing it as the base for her creative agency and thriving on its energy. “Warsaw changes every second of the day,” says Yanina, “There are new places to go, new exhibitions, new creative companies opening…It’s full of opportunity.”
Her favourite neighbourhoods? Środmieście, the city’s main business and shopping district, home to an abundance of designer eateries and boutiques. The UNESCO protected Old Town with its beautiful buildings and pavement cafés. And Żoliborz, a village within the city, traditional home of the intelligentsia and home to charming streets lined with grand villas.
Across its many districts, Warsaw is a place to experience diverse architecture, cuisines from around the world, a vibrant nightlife and excellent local vodka. Here Yanina shares her insider recommendations for an authentic Warsaw experience:
"A walk around the Old Town’s cute winding streets, then a coffee at one of the cafes on Market Square is a great starting point for anyone exploring Warsaw. Pałać Wilanowski is another must-see. It’s a royal palace, built in the late 17th century and damaged but not destroyed during WW2. Nowadays the palace houses a museum and its gardens host cultural concerts during the summer."
"To get another perspective on Warsaw, go for a walk along the Vistula River. There are great views and lots of cool cafes to choose from along the away. Near the river you’ll also find the Museum of Modern Art, which is amazing. Saying that, my favourite museum in town has to be the Zachęta National Gallery of Art (which offers free entry on Thursdays)."
If you need to get your shopping fix, your first stop should be Mysia 3, a big shopping mall in the Środmieście neighbourhood. It has every shop you can think of - design to fashion, bookstores to galleries. The Leica Store here sells camera equipment, books, coffee and hosts exhibitions too so it’s well worth a visit.
For contemporary books and magazines, head to Super Salon on Chmielna. It’s a small place but my favourite book store in the city. And Galilu is another of my regular haunts. There are two locations (Mokotowska and Koszykowa) and they stock awesome perfumes, beauty products and candles – it’s a feast for the senses.
"I love to start my day with a breakfast in Charlotte on Plac Zbawiciela. If you order the signature Charlotte breakfast you’ll get fresh croissants with delicious jams and aromatic coffee. On the same street you can visit Ministerstwo Kawy, home to the best coffee in town."
"For lunch, head over to the Powiśle neighbourhood and find the Veg Deli on Radna Street. Every day there’s a new lunch menu and every day it’s delicious! Or, if you’d rather stay in the city centre, go to La Sirena, my favourite Mexican restaurant."
"Walking around the city, you're going to need a late afternoon tea break. Odette Tea Room in the Cosmopolitan skyscraper serves yummy desserts in a stunning, stylish setting. And, in the evening, you can't beat Der Elefant on Bankowy Square. Order the seafood platter from the single-card menu and enjoy the amazing atmosphere (sometimes with live piano music)."
"Warsaw nightlife is incredible. Bibenda on Nowogrodzka does great cocktails but some tasty food too. And it has this cool, laid back atmosphere. Next stop and only five minutes away, I’d recommend Weles. It’s like something out of The Great Gatsby – chandeliers and old world glamour. Then to finish the night, it would have to be 6 Cocktails. It’s a speakeasy type bar and you need to contact them for an invite. Cocktails are obviously a speciality but you’ll also be treated to world class DJs playing great music all night long."