Warsaw’s a funny old city when it comes to the weather. You trudge through the winter months in the knowledge that, one day soon, spring will eventually arrive and everything will be rosy in the garden. That’s until you realise it’s actually already close to the middle of May and you're still venturing out in scarf, hat, layers and the heaviest coat in your armoury. Panic kicks in as you start worrying that Poland may well be suffering from some kind of never ending Game of Thrones style winter malaise. Then, one day, totally unannounced, you wake up in the morning to that lazy ol’ sun bursting through your curtains and the temperature rising into the mid to high 20’s. Spring seems to get a bum deal in this city as we regularly head dive straight out of winter into fine Warsaw summer weather almost overnight.
Within days of this miraculous change of climate, the city’s eating and drinking habits change as well – everyone wants to be outside and lapping up the rays while they’re doing nothing in particular, just lounging around, having a bite to eat, a cold drink and enjoying the simple things in life. In order to satisfy those cravings, the right of every man and woman, we’ll take you on a little journey around the beating heart of Warsaw’s summer nightlife – the banks of the much loved and majestic river Wisła as well as a few personal, off-beat favourites around town for those who prefer a somewhat more laid back but still trendy atmosphere minus the vast crowds and thumping music of the river area.
It was only a few years ago that the leisure culture along the banks of the river was simply groups of kids and yobs hanging out with a few shop bought cans of beer and bottles of vodka, a barrage of foul language that would make a sailor blush and the distinct possibility of heading home with a black eye...or worse. It was never viewed as a particularly pleasant place, nor as a place worthy of any tourism/nightlife potential. Boy, how things have changed! In the summer months, the banks of the Wisła turn into an amazing jungle of pop-up bars, open air clubs, moored vessels and pontoons converted into crazy discos and an endless traffic jam of funky, food trucks serving up grub from any country you care to mention.... the list is endless and it’s all fun, hip and a million miles away from what a stroll along the river at night would have meant five years ago! The weekend evening exodus from the city centre to the waterside is reminiscent of watching wildebeest migrate across the Serengeti on one of David Attenborough’s BBC shows.
Established favourites on the Praga side of the river include La Playa (ul. Wybrzeze Helskie 1/5) - best known for its tropical rhythms, sexy cocktails, beautiful crowds and stunning views over to the illuminated Old Town at night, or the laid back and chilled sandy beach right under the Poniatowski bridge with its minimal ‘sailing club’ style beach bars and the largest urban beach area in Poland – which, incidentally, tends to disappear off the map after any torrential downpour and the rising of the river – continue being great choices. During the day, the unselfconscious lie around in the skimpiest outfits, sizzling in the hot sun and in the evenings folks just lounge around chatting, playing beach sports or sipping drinks. The Urban Beach wins, hands down, as being the most easily accessible from the city centre; just hop on any tram from al. Jerozolimskie which is heading in the river/Praga direction and hop off at Rondo Waszyngtona. If you want to make the whole trip to the beach seem like more of an adventure, hop on the free ferry service from the city side in order to traverse the mighty waters of the river Wisła – actually, the trip only takes around 4 minutes but you may have to wait ages to cross as the vessel can only accommodate 12 people at a time. With its more natural and sandy riverbank, the Praga side is popular with folk who just want to sit on the sand, have a few beers, grill a few sausages and get away from it all - although ignored by the 'couldn't give a s*** brigade', remember that lighting fires or setting up barbeques outside of designated spaces is illegal and punishable by death (actually, it’s a hefty fine) and truly not worth the hassle, the authorities are very, VERY strict about this! The more isolated stretches are also popular with groups of underage kids, who have managed to procure a carrier bag of booze and need to stay a little incognito in order to prove they're all grown up.