Paris, London or New York it ain't, but hard-core shoppers can still find plenty to spend their well-earned lolly on. Warsaw is seeing true growth in the array of shops available and the number of big-name labels that are opening storefronts. Whether it’s western-style malls, designer boutiques, dusty family stores or antique markets, a day spent shopping can result in both bargains and treasures.
Shoppers, be aware, as of 01 March 2018, a new law comes into effect banning Sunday trading across Poland, although it will gradually be phased in over the next two years. This means, initially, the first and last Sundays of each month will be normal trading days, but mid-month, shops will be closed (the first dates for closure are 11 & 18 March, along with 08, 15 & 22 April). As of 01 January 2019, shops will be open only on the last Sunday of each month. Finally, as of 01 January 2020, the full ban will take effect, meaning no shops will be open on Sundays across Poland. The exceptions to the law are bakeries, patisseries, pharmacies, kiosks, souvenir shops and gas stations, to name a select few. Despite the ban, there are plenty of gifts to be had for everyone on your Holiday list.
Poland is well known as THE home of amber, so grab a piece of jewellery made from this Baltic treasure at the Galeria Bursztynek. For "Darling, I'll love you forever" gifts, check out the credit card busting, luxury goods world of VITKAC.
One word: vodka. Another word: smalec. Take home Poland's famous nectar and a container of savoury, spreadable lard and you'll make any man happy. Specjały Regionalne carries tasty tubs of smalec (as well as dozens of other Polish foodstuffs that make perfect gifts), while you'll find popular Polish vodka brands like Żubrówka and Belvedere in any alcohol shop.
What brother couldn't use some heavily ironic Polish cartoons by the country's leading illustrator. Don't miss the Andrzej Mleczko Gallery where you can find all sorts of paraphernalia plastered with the artist's clever comic strips. While most of his puns are properly Polish, most of the English translations are a guaranteed belly laugh and a half!
Sis will definitely become suspicious of your new found eye for design if you pick her up a fashionable felt bag embellished with an embroidered traditional folk motif from the immensely popular and trend-setting Polish design shop Goshico. If the bag's a bit much, go for something smaller like an iPhone case from the equally cool accessories range.
For young boffins we recommend you raid the Science Store at the Copernicus Science Centre; games, experiments and books for all ages await.
You can't go far wrong by getting mama some of PL's famous Bolesławiec Pottery from the store of the same name or from Souvenir City. The mainly blue and white 'peacock eye' patterns hold something of a cult status and a great range is available from Cepelia. The neighbours will be in awe when they drop by for tea and a gossip.
If your dad is anything like ours he can lose hours of his life in interesting vintage bookshops. Warsaw is packed with them, and Antykwariat Lapidarium is one of the best for old postcards, unique prints, old books and yellowing maps from bygone days. Remember to ask about restrictions on certain pre-1945 items being taken out of the country.