A TOUR WITH OUR LOCAL INSIDER:
Hello, my name is Natalia and I live in Warsaw. My life now mainly consists of travel, which you can follow on my Instagram channel (@nataliakusiak). But it wasn’t always like that! Previously, I worked for a film production company for a few years, where I was responsible for film communication. I also founded a female DJ collective that was booked for the best clubs in the whole of Poland. One day, I left all that behind... and went to Asia. Since then, I have travelled all around the world, but Warsaw still has a special place in my heart. The more I see, the more I appreciate the city: it’s the perfect size and has a very vibrant centre, surrounded by districts that are just as interesting. The food scene is of a high standard; it’s green, lively and very eclectic. Here are some of my favourite places, which I guarantee you won’t find in any guidebooks!
Our Motel One in Warsaw
I try to eat a vegan diet. I don’t know if it’s on everyone’s radar, but Warsaw is always ranked highly as one of the world’s most vegan-friendly cities! I normally prefer to eat at places that are a bit off the beaten track, but I’m happy to make an exception for ‘Bekef’, which is actually located right in the heart of the city. It’s an Israeli restaurant with a very long history that offers vegan, vegetarian and also meat dishes. The undisputed star at this restaurant, though, is its fantastic hummus. I’ve never eaten better, even in Tel Aviv!
I love second-hand shops, but no one wants to spend ages rummaging through piles of clothes to find just a few special gems. There’s a boutique in the Mokotów district where simply everything you find is something special! As you walk into the shop, you feel like you’re in an elegant boutique – and that’s no accident. The owner, Justyna Konczewska, has created a unique fashion Mecca here and its main strength is its selection of clothing. There are pieces by the most well-known fashion brands, items by Polish designers, and sometimes even pieces without a recognisable label, but which still offer classic style and exceptional quality. At ‘Crush’ you can find clothing that has come from the wardrobes of the most renowned stylists, meaning you’ll discover plenty of niche brands that are popular in the fashion industry. Despite that, prices are generally fair and many items are also available online on the shop’s Instagram page.
The competition to sell the best coffee in Warsaw is in full swing. I have a few personal favourite cafés, and ‘Stor’ is definitely one of them. They’ve got every detail there just right. You can drink coffee that has been prepared in almost every possible alternative way and also eat delicious cake, often including vegan versions. The owners of this café pay close attention to their environmental impact, so you have to pay a deposit for takeaway cups, sandwiches are packed in cloth napkins that you can take home with you, and plastic is avoided wherever possible. Another plus point is the location: the café is in Tamka Street, literally opposite Motel One Warsaw.
MOOD SCENT BAR
While we’re in Tamka Street, it’s definitely worth taking a look in niche perfumery ‘Mood Scent Bar’. It’s tiny but beautiful, and you can discover unique scents there from all over the world. You might think that this is just another shop, but beware: you can easily spend hours here sniffing away! For anyone who is not that familiar with the world of scents, the dedicated staff will be happy to help you. They are really passionate about all things scent-related!
YOGA BEAT KIELECKA
I like to exercise and am physically active, so I enjoy exploring and running through unfamiliar streets and parks. But sometimes even I run out of breath, especially when I’ve already clocked up a good few kilometres of sightseeing. That’s why I sometimes miss having a reliable local yoga studio that I can visit while I’m on my travels. For all those who like to fit in a yoga session while they’re away, I recommend ‘Yoga Beat’, a studio in Kielecka Street in the Mokotów district. I think it’s the best yoga studio in the whole of Warsaw! They also teach Pilates and barre there, and the range of classes is continually changing so there is always something new to discover.
I recently moved to the district of Old Ochota. It’s a quiet, green district where the pace of life is a little slower. It invites you to go for a walk to take a closer look at the buildings and to soak up the atmosphere of a slightly different Warsaw. My latest discovery here is the ‘Ocho’ restaurant, which is located in the Ochota Theatre. It’s a hive of activity in the evenings – the ideal place to meet up for a glass of wine in the summer. But it’s a great place to have lunch, too: the food is delicious, the menu has a strong international and seasonal feel and there are always vegan options. To prove that it’s worth taking a detour to try it out: all of the friends that I have recommended it to are now regular visitors.
MINISTERSTWO DOBREGO MYDLA
For anyone who’s curious about small Polish brands offering unique products, ‘Ministerstwo Dobrego Mydła’ (roughly translated as ‘Ministry of good soap’) is a great place to go. It’s a natural cosmetics brand that was founded by two sisters. It all started with soap, but the product range is now much wider. The products are all made from natural ingredients and smell fantastic. In my opinion, it’s the perfect place to get original and high-quality gifts for every occasion!
POWSIN BOTANICAL GARDEN
Warsaw is not really known for its botanical gardens, but it could be! The Botanical Garden in Powsin is located a little outside the city, but it can be reached easily by public transport (which is very reliable in Warsaw) or by taxi. It’s the perfect place to escape the high temperatures that are common here in the summer. In addition to the beautifully designed gardens, you can often watch photo shoots there. In any event, it makes an interesting change to being in the city.
BAZAR NA KOLE
Flea markets are a little hobby of mine. I’ve browsed around so many of them and I have to say that Warsaw’s ‘Bazar na Kole’ always scores well, even in comparison to other bigger, more global ones. It takes place every Sunday in Wola. It’s best to get there between 8:30 and 9:00 am. All of the stall holders will have set up by then, but it won’t be too crowded yet. Nearly everything you’ll find here is old and second-hand – anything that has a bit of history. There is all sorts of furniture, ornaments, lamps, porcelain, glass, but also jewellery and watches. You can only pay in cash, so make sure you get some money out in advance!