This was one of my favourite guides to write! Warsaw is a bustling, vibrant city with an emerging hipster scene (but not in an annoying way). They have heaps of vegan options, cute craft breweries, amazing bike paths and so many parks! The only thing I didn’t love about Poland was the weather! It was pretty cold every day which was not ideal and there was quite a bit of rain, so make sure you bring a rain jacket outside of the summer months.
I was in Warsaw about 6 years ago and things have changed dramatically since then! The Polish diet has a lot of meat however there are some vegetarian options including Pierogi Ruskie (Polish dumplings with cheese and potato, often with caramelised onions on top). I was expecting to exclusively feast on these pierogis however I was super shocked when I walked through the streets of Warsaw and saw so many vegan restaurants. According to Happy Cow (an awesome vegan website), in 2018 Warsaw had 47 vegan restaurants within in a 5-mile radius, and with most of those within just a one-mile radius. It also ranked as the 7th most vegan city in the world which is crazy! The options were endless so here are some of my favourites.
Known for their burgers and falafel plates, Mango Vegan has a good vibe. The staff were not overly helpful or attentive so I wouldn’t recommend you go there for the amazing service, but the food was good quality and quite cheap. It wasn’t the best place I went to but I had a beyond cheeseburger and it was a filling feed!
According to Happy Cow, Krowarywa has been voted twice to have the best vegan burgers in town. With a range of patty options and fresh ingredients, they are a great option if you want a delicious burger fix. There is a popular burger scene in Poland, with the grungy craft beer and burger a regular choice! Krowarzywa has 4 locations across the city which is convenient!
Now this place absolutely blew my mind. Their ramen was better than anything I ate in Japan and it was all vegan! A really chilled out vibe in a quiet street, it reminded me of a David Chang venture from his early days. I had the creamy shoyu ramen bowl which was the perfect combination of salty and creamy.
This is something you can get anywhere in Poland and is core to their local cuisine. They are super cheap (about $5AUD for about 8-12 pieces) and are delicious. But beware, if you are trying to keep your figure, it may not the most helpful food to eat. It is literally carbs on carbs but it is a winning treat. Although I may have over indulged as I even had them for breakfast on my last day!!
Hoppiness Brewery and Food
Craft breweries are popping up all over the city. Polish beer is an absolute winner and my favourite mass produced beer is definitely Zywiec!! Zywiec is the name of a town in the south of Poland and has a brewery with a museum which is great for an excursion if you’re down that way.
We went to Hoppiness Brewery and Food for a few pints and they had a wide range of options at decent prices. Culture Trip also put a list together of the top ones which can be found here.
This place was incredible and in a cute little hipster park area. The falafel plate was about $12 AUD and super filling! It was incredibly busy so finding a table can take a bit of a while however people are always moving in and out. It is in an old shipping container on the corner of a little park. Around the park there are some cute little shops and is relatively near Lazienki park which is a great way to work off the massive lunch!
There are so many greengrocers on the streets of Warsaw with local farmers bringing their produce. They are often outside supermarkets or close to where people do their shopping. They are a great option to reduce plastic waste and it is always fresh and delicious! Also they are mostly family run businesses so the money goes directly to local families which I love.
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Last night it was raining up a storm in Warsaw so I decided it was the perfect time to buy an insane amount of raspberries from a local farmer… not in plastic… straight from the farm AND the rain basically washed them for me so I could eat them on the way home. Now that my friends is a full on sustainability slam dunk! 💚 🏀🌨 Check out your local farmers market ASAP they are the best! . . . . . . #farmersmarket #raspberries #delicious #sustainability #planetbinsights #noplanetb #travel #blogger #foodstagram #travelblogger #farm
The Warsaw mayor is developing new strategies to transform the city with new technology. Read the recent Planet B Insights article about their full strategy here.
Warsaw has the 5th largest urban bike system in Europe which is over 600 km long. As it is a large, sprawling city, this infrastructure is important. To ensure mobility services, Warsaw has been proactive in ensuring bike rental services as well as the emergence of Lime and other electric scooters. In 2017 there were 5 million bike rentals with 600 000 users. For a population of almost 1.8 million people it shows that tourists are also using the bike system as a form of mobility. These electric scooters are also quite popular however locals are often concerned that they may cause issues with pedestrians.
Parks and Green Spaces
40% of Warsaw’s land is dedicated to parks, forests and green spaces. Yes, they even have an urban forest! Lazienki park is one of the largest parks in the area and has some regal old buildings and great ponds with ducks and wildlife. They also have a bunch of squirrels running around the place and the locals love to feed them so they are very tame.
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Anyone who knows me well knows that my natural habitat is roaming around a park somewhere. Probably because I’m constantly channeling Leslie Knope. I’m usually taking millions of photos of trees and ponds, quietly chasing local wildlife to see where they live and of course telling tourists to put their rubbish in the bin. Well you can imagine my excitement when I found out that 40% of Warsaw is covered in parks and forests… I was in paradise!!! But I was so excited about it that I forgot to get a photo of me in the natural beauty. So here is a photoshop version of me from a warmer time enjoying the wonders of Lazienki park like a classic tourist who is too nervous to ask a stranger to take a photo of them posing awkwardly. But legit if you’re ever in Warsaw, go to this park and get a tourist to take a photo of you. It’s magical ✨ . . . . . . #poland #nature #warsaw #greenspaces #parksandrec #leslieknope #wildlife #pond #environment
One Million Trees
This is of great pride to the residents of the city and their Lazienski park is incredibly expansive and beautiful. Building on the green spaces, Warsaw City Council created a mobile app in 2017 called ‘One Million Trees’. The app allows citizens to find places around the city where a tree could be planted and nurtured. The citizens can then plant the tree and log it in the app to create a network of tree locations across the city. It is aimed to increase the awareness and importance of tree planting as well as help citizens play a role in climate based solutions.
When I was walking into town one day, I found a few trees that were planted as part of the initiative!
Warsaw Mayor and the Climate Strike
Everyone I spoke to shared very positive views about the Warsaw mayor. He is from the opposition party to the Federal Government (who are very conservative) and is young, ambitious and pro environment. He is implementing a smart city and digital transformation strategy as a way to get Warsaw prepared for future growth.
I attended the climate strike and the Warsaw mayor offered free public transport on the day to incentivise more people to come. I don’t know the official numbers but there were definitely thousands out. I spoke to a few people, one guy with a swear word written in Polish on a piece of cardboard attached to a broom stick. He said he was angry at the government inaction and wanted to show his support for change. Another older lady said she was so inspired by young people calling for change that she wanted to show her support.
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Loved marching with the legendary amount of kids, teens, adults and dogs in Warsaw yesterday who were all protesting for greater climate action by their federal government…But the Warsaw Mayor is pretty cool. He made public transport free for the day to encourage people to come to the strike! Gotta respect that in a big way! Now let’s hope there are more people like the Warsaw mayor who get into power around the world!!
Google has their Google for Startups campus in the Praga region of the city. The campus is situated in the old Polish Vodka Factory where there are a range of offices, restaurants and a Polish Vodka museum if you need a break from the daily grind of work!
I spent a few days working in the hub (which is free!) and the space was constantly buzzing. They often have meet ups and events for their members.
I didn’t find too many social enterprises or sustainable businesses in Warsaw to be honest, however there were a few Humana shops around which is a second hand clothing shop. Second hand clothing is becoming more and more popular with a few vintage places around.
Warsaw was such a delight to explore and see the changes since I was here last. The amazing and intense history means there are a range of museums and exhibitions around. They have walking tours as well but there is so much going on in the streets. Food and drink is super cheap in comparison to other European cities so eating out and meeting locals is an awesome way to see another side of the city. There is a serious hipster culture emerging with the rise of vegan restaurants, craft breweries, second hand shops and bike paths. What more could you want?!
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