Warsaw

Summer 2021: Top Tips for Visiting Warsaw during the Pandemic

24 Jul 2021
It's summer 2021 and we, like you, are more than ready to go all out and have some fun in Warsaw. But, ahem, hold on just a second... we don't want to put a dampener on anyone's summer plans (far from it, we're here to give you the best tips on how to enjoy Poland's capital), but there is the slight issue of the pesky, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s the sweetener, however – we’re more than 1.5 years into the coronavirus shit-storm now and, despite the ups and downs experienced during this time, we’re certain it’s possible to enjoy the best the city has to offer while staying safe. Hear our message, ye people of hope!
 
EN: 'I washed my hands after peeing before it became trendy.' 

But before we continue, a period of reflection is needed. This is more or less to point out just how privileged we feel to be able to continue producing content for you despite the difficulties we’re all experiencing. This whole episode has certainly been a strain. We feel it’s best to provide some background info (context, if you will) for all our recommendations, to give you peace of mind that we have your best interests at heart. So how has the last year passed by for us, and Poland in general?

With the introduction of restrictions in March 2020, we were all taken aback by the scale and pace of the measures; put simply, our world was turned upside down. All industries were affected, but take this guide as a microcosm of these industries – each business or cultural institute we have listed in every section, all of a sudden had the rug pulled from under their feet. Closed. Indefinitely. We all pulled together and a spirit of camaraderie prevailed, with campaigns to provide meals for medical staff, vulnerable members of society and support for the gastro industry all springing up like mushrooms; all this time later, thankfully, many of those gastronomy businesses have managed to survive. There are those that didn’t prevail, of course, and we’re not even mentioning the sickening human scale in terms of deaths. But there is a glimmer of hope now and we’re here to help provide some joy, no matter how humble, to try and make things feel good again. Did you shed a tear reading this? Don’t. Pick up and move on. It’s time to enjoy life again. So what’s up in Warsaw? Plenty. And all can be experienced safely.

 

Give Yourself a Guided Tour

Whether you’re here alone, with friends or family, we’ve designed our guides in order for you to use them to give yourself a self-guided and informative tour should you choose not to join an organised tour offered by one of Warsaw's many tour companies. Head on out into the city, walk, read, learn and enjoy. Easy. Each section is laid out with a map, a prescribed route and listings to accompany you along the way. Choose from tourist hotspots such as the Old Town, the Royal Route, the riverside Powiśle district or alternative Praga district. More into history? No problem, read our thematic sections, with points of interest marked on our maps for you to navigate with ease. Ask your hotel reception or tourist information for a printed copy of our guide and/or accompanying Warsaw City Map. We’ve put a lot of heart and soul into making them, so feel confident in the knowledge that we’ve got you covered for all itineraries!
 
One of the most popular urban beaches in Warsaw: Poniatówka Beach. Photo: M. st. Warszawa.

Enjoy Warsaw’s Riverside

As soon as it gets sunny and hot in Warsaw, the usual tourist trails on the Royal Route have a distinct lack of locals. This is obviously in part to them going about their daily routines elsewhere, but in their spare time, many tend to head on down by the river. So what’s so special? It’s just like any other urban riverfront, right? Yes and no. The left bank of Warsaw’s riverfront is spanned by a concrete boulevard, a sanitised pathway with bike trails, dotted with bars and cafes, play zones for children and lounge areas for everyone. The right bank is a complete mirror opposite experience– and herein lies the uniqueness of Warsaw’s Vistula riverfront – you have a choice of enjoying an urban promenade, or completely wild bike and pedestrian trails in the woods. Mix and match, if you wish, using the numerous bridges found in the city. Walk, ride, or use public transport, it’s incredibly easy to find yourself a perfect spot. If the well-trodden tourist trails get a bit too much, head on down to one of many urban beaches found on both sides of the river (all are marked on our maps)! Although a word of advice – definitely don’t think about going into the water. Not only is it quite filthy, but the undercurrents can be lethal!
 
Explore Warsaw by Bike

See the City by Bike

If you’re in Warsaw for the first time, you’re going to notice quite a few things, like a puppy experiencing snow for the first time. One of the strange things is the sheer amount of bike and scooter traffic. It’s huge, and no wonder, with the city now racking up over 500 km of bike trails. It’s fair to say that you can get on your bike in any city, but with Warsaw, you can experience completely different vibes by simply doing loops of the city over the bridges – choose your start and endpoints, heading north-south, east-west, going on sanitised boulevard trails on the left bank of Warsaw’s Vistula river to the more rugged, natural terrain of the east bank. Even before the pandemic hit, we’d spend whole weekends riding around the city, but during the lockdowns, simply going out for a bike ride provided people with a welcome outdoor activity. In fact, the no. of bike sales in Poland rose rapidly soon after lockdown measures were eased for the 1st time in summer 2020. If you don’t have your own bike, no problem, simply rent one of the Veturilo city bikes, which you can easily sign up for online or at the bike stations in a jiffy. Should you choose to ride a scooter with the many providers, beware, they fell under regulation recently and require you to ride on provided bike trails and stick to the speed limits. Hefty police-issued fines await those who fail to follow the rules.
Mechanical Centaur by Pixel Pancho - ul. Dolna 37 (Mokotów district)

Find some of Warsaw's Street Art

Urban street art has exploded in popularity throughout Poland, with Warsaw having its fair share of murals. We’ve personally documented around 200 of them in the city alone, all of which are marked with a yellow spray can on our main maps. You’ll see many near tourists trails should you not wish to venture far, however, if you have a particular passion for outdoor art, we definitely recommend checking out the alternative Praga district, which is home to many murals within a concentrated area! The area marked on our maps (I/J/K 1-2) is a good place to start your hunt. Likewise, our online catalogue of street art may prove particularly useful in case you are seeking out a specific piece of art and wish to learn more about it!
 

Visit a Museum

With lockdown measures finally eased, it became clear to us just how much we missed the simple things in life. Warsaw is full of museums, spanning many themes, and to all of a sudden have this wealth of cultural experiences cut off was a shock to the system. But here we are again, museums and cultural institutes have reopened, albeit with restrictions on the no. Of people that can enter at any one time – it’s a small price to pay in order to be able to enjoy them at all! Our sightseeing section is filled with museum listings, so make sure to check opening hours and remember that entry is not permitted without wearing a face mask!
 
Gastro-phenomenal 'craft' awaits you in Warsaw...

Get a taste of the city…

Quite a handful of restaurants did not survive the lockdown restrictions and unfortunately had to call it a day. Those that remain, trust us, are more than delighted to be able to cook up some amazing food for you. The café, restaurant and nightlife listings in our guide have been personally visited by us to… you know, do that hard work of giving the Inyourpocket seal of approval! We also just love food and drink, so it’s always a pleasure to sample the best gastro and bar experiences the city has to offer. With summer in full swing, even if you have apprehensions about sitting indoors to eat, the majority of venues have outdoor gardens. Sanitary measures are in place to ensure everyone gets to enjoy the experience, and safely. So check out our recommendations, we’re sure whatever cuisine tickles your fancy, we’ll have it written up for you here.
HE Concept Store - home of Polish and International Designer goods.

Sign up for some retail therapy

One of the things we’d never have expected of Warsaw even just 10-15 years ago, was for the city to become a top retail destination. I mean, sure, there are malls here, but today, almost every district has a huge mall with all the latest high street and top-class fashion brands to choose from. Outlet shopping likewise has become popular, and we know of instances of people specifically flying into Warsaw to spend hundreds, nay, thousands of Euros/Dollars to take advantage of the discounted prices. Whether you’re here to buy a souvenir, splash out on discounted clothing or find the latest top designer fashion brands and accessories, our shopping section is filled with the very best recommendations for you to explore in and around the city. All budgets are catered for, so no need to break a sweat or your bank account!
 
The outdoor pool area in Powsin Cultural Park. Photo: parkpowsin.pl

Most importantly, have fun…

We live and work in Warsaw, but when it comes to trying to bring you the best up-to-date information about the city, we try to put ourselves in the shoes of visitors coming here for the first time. As the years have gone by, our appreciation for the city has grown, mainly down to the fact that it has a happy medium for all the things we like to see and do. All tastes are catered for, whether you’re an outdoor type, a leisurely walker, adrenaline junkie or admirer of all things historic. Every district of Warsaw has something different to offer expats, visitors and students alike. Therefore, when we tell you to ‘have fun’, we leave it down to your own interpretation of the word in how you choose to spend your time in the city. If you’re in Warsaw solo or on business, no problem, you’ll leave fulfilled with new experiences, and if you’re here with the kids, there’s plenty for them to do to remain occupied and for you to join in too. It’s literally all here in our guide. Use this free tool to your advantage.
 

Seasonal Events...

We love autumn, winter and spring for various reasons, but summer in Warsaw, even during a pandemic, is a vibrant time of year. The foliage in the city’s many parks looks amazing, the beaches are welcoming, the public swimming pools have been revamped and the al fresco dining experience are not only a staple of summer living in Poland, but also something that can be enjoyed with peace of mind during this nasty pandemic. Our events section has a bunch of cool things you can enjoy during your time in the city. Free outdoor summer cinema screenings, exhibitions, cultural events and concerts, it’s all there and we encourage you to try and attend at least one or two to get a flavour of the city’s artistic underbelly. With lockdown measure eased, there’s an atmosphere in the air that suggests everyone is delighted to be out and about. A true joie de vivre – and no wonder! If in Warsaw you pick up on this vibe – go with it. If you leave Warsaw with positive experiences and smiles resembling the grin of a Cheshire cat, we’ll feel a sense of satisfication that not even a global pandemic can destroy Warsaw’s exciting reputation.

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