With a zest and wonderlustification for quirky districts which scream “less tourists here” than most parts of cities as vibrant as Warszawa, I headed as that very tourist across the Wisła River to Warszawa’s “Nowa Praga” district. It literally means “New Prague” but within the realms of these golden ulicas (streets) stands a series of un-expected cafes, bars and buildings which made even the most ardent of tourists (in this case myself) stand back in awe. Taking photos, being the tourist, loving this side of the river…as if I had stepped into C.S. Lewises Wardrobic Country of Narnia, another Wacaday Republic without its own claim for independence of course. Welcome to Nowa Praga! In fact, I spent TWO years living in this district, so finally today I bring you my favourite bars and cafes in the area!
Getting to Nowa Praga
Warszawa has one of the best transport systems in the world. Make no mistake about that. The Metro literally only stops for 2 hours at weekends, night buses are frequent and even the trams give themselves a knackering day out on these glamourous streets. This is a city so often forgotten and neglected, that I still love the “sleeping giant” term it legitimately merits. Brass statuic bands play non existent tunes in the winter snow. I kid you negatively…
“We got a love between us and it’s like electricity” – Suede.
To get here, get a bus (160, 517 etc…) or a tram (7, 9, 25, 26 etc…) to Praga, or the Metro to Dworzec Wilenski, or the train to one of Praga’s many train stations including Warszawa Wschodnia and Stadion Narodowy. It’s easy to get here. Now you can explore to your heart’s content.
Sightseeing in Praga
Praga is a hive of activity for any adventurers. Museums, murals, art, landscape, football stadiums and streets that haven’t changed for years. This is to Warszawa what quirkaday Freetown Christiania is to Copenhagen. It pumps a beat of freedom to those residents who know a fair bit about the city’s lack of freedom in days reluctant to ever end under Soviet regimes. That much is been and gone, Praga shines in its Morning Glory…
“Tomorrow never knows what it doesn’t know too soon” – Noel Gallagher.
And these are my opinions of the quirky non commercial bars and cafes in Nowa Praga, that I have frequented thus far in life…in no particular order…
Bazar is open 24 hours at weekends, serving food even at 3 a.m. This would have been non-existent in communist times and this bar which is kind of in a shell fits the late night bill. They have dark and wheat Czech beers on tap, good whiskeys and a food menu split into three different levels of “affordance” depending on your budget. I liked the placzki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes).
Bazar on Facebook
Bazar Club, Ulica Jagiellońska 13, 03-710 Warszawa
2.W Oparach Absurdu
With the word “absurd” in the title, this translates as “in the fumes of absurdity” and its a real quirky venue with an odd interior design. Frontal open plan windows with red rims have a door that opens into a carpeted zone, with a hanging upstairs level (above the bar) and a further upstairs chill out zone at the rear. Seats are cosy, the two fridges are stocked full of Polish Craft Beers and good Polish food is served, including Pierogi Ruskie. There are sometimes musical events. Try the vintage PRL beer.
W Oparach Absurdu
W Oparach Absurdu, Ulica Ząbkowska 6, 05-077 Warszawa
A bar which translates as “Butcher’s Shop” serves up good beers on tap, a cracking pizza + piwo deal and sits on a prominent corner (opposite Long Bar) in Nowa Praga. A totally fascinating interior with a dentist’s chair, a butchery counter, odd seating and some bizarre lighting make this a pure fire gem on Ulica Wilenska. You can also play Scrabble in here. Friendly staff are on hand to chat away in one of Warsaw’s truly coolest lesser known venues.
Zakład Mięsny na Facebooku
Zakład Mięsny, Wileńska 25, 03-414 Warszawa
Sadly the first ever bar I visited in Nowa Praga (in December 2016) is now closed but it has to make the list as its memories live on. Wilenska 3 had great Grzane Piwo and Wino and fast Wi-Fi. When I first lived in the Praga district in January 2017, I used to come in here to compose the rest of my book, Backpacking Centurion. Rest in peace…
5.Stara Praga Kawiarnia
Translating simply as “Cafe in Old Praga”, this rustic venue is more of a coffee and chill zone on a lazy Sunday than a late night bar. There is a piano inside, carpets and rugs, some alcoves as well as board games and books. Wi-Fi is slow but that wasn’t really the point here. It’s a good coffee and cake venue to mingle in, or read a casual book in tranquility. It’s on Ulica Ząbkowska (one of the most famous streets in Praga).
Stara Praga Kawiarnia
Stara Praga Kawiarnia, Ulica Ząbkowska 4, 03-731 Warszawa
6.Łysy Pingwin (Bald Penguin)
Łysy Pingwin, i.e. the Bald Penguin has a great name and is on Ulica Ząbkowska. There are a few beers on tap ranging from ale to pszeniczne to a dark beer. In winter months you can order up a delicious Grzane Piwo here. The venue has fast Wi-Fi but limited seating – so get in early, especially when the flow of Friday night post-work drinkers kicks in.
Łysy Pingwin (Bald Penguin) Facebook
Łysy Pingwin (Bald Penguin), Ulica Ząbkowska 11, 03-736 Warszawa
7.Pokoje Cztery/Pokoje 4
4 Rooms (Cztery Pokoje) is exactly that! It’s a pub stroke cafe stroke reader’s lounge and it has 4 rooms in it. There is modern art on the walls, a range of different furniture and lighting options and a simple bar with a range of local beers. They even stock some Warszawa special brewed beers with images from the city on them. There is Wi-Fi and occasional live music and poetry. A hangout for the Bohemians of Praga.
Pokoje Cztery/Pokoje 4 Facebook
Pokoje Cztery/Pokoje 4, Ulica Wileńska 19, 05-077 Warszawa
Hidden shyly in a courtyard of three bars (2 of which I include on this list) is the intriguing venue, Skład Butelek. To be pronounced “squad boo tellek”, it’s housed in what was once a dilapitated brick building, and the meaning almost translates into English as “a conglomeration of bottles”. The interior walls haven’t changed for years, the owners added some wood, a basic bar and then they dimmed the lights to create an alternative, a mystical and a hippy hang out. The result is a cosy venue to read poetry in, to drink ice cold craft bottles of beer or to sip wine in the company of friends or strangers. Book readings and jazz music are just some of the surprising charms of an evening out here down “the Skład”.
Chmury is a Polish cloud. This dark and noisy venue is directly next door to Skład Butelek and has regular live concerts and performances out the back in the larger arena. The front room makes for a simple and cosy bar.
Chmury on Facebook
Chmury, 11 Listopada 22, 03-436 Warszawa
10.Fochy i Fanaberie
Totally hidden down an alleyway, and even then you have to try the door to this dimly lit but huge cosy room, this is the place to get relaxed and lose your inhibitions. Run, managed and well-promoted by sultry smart blondey fox Justyna, this is a venue sure to ignite some charm and late night wit. Hosting art events, live music, poetry and attracting a range of youngsters, hipsters, old dears and local drunks, the venue can also be a sexy little spot for some evening thrills. Over a cold beer and a spot of prose.
Fochy i Fanaberie Facebook
Fochy i Fanaberie, Off Ulica Ząbkowska 3, 05-077 Warszawa
11.Caffee & Bistro Galeria Sztuki
Caffee & Bistro Galeria Sztuki is more of a cosy coffee venue to have a quiet chat or indeed to work online, using their Wi-Fi. The venue is almost like a little collection of cupboards with its three rooms and artistic wooden window panes. It is licensed for alcohol too, but not many are here to party – it’s a chill out place.
Caffee & Bistro Galeria Sztuki
Caffee & Bistro Galeria Sztuki, Ulica Ząbkowska 13, 05-077 Warszawa
12.Centrum Zarządzania Światem
Centrum Zarządzania Światem is also housed in an old school brick building, so it is similar to Zaklad Miesny, Bazar and Fochy i Fanaberie in its design. Here in a venue which translates unusually as “The Centre for World Management”, it is more of a trendy coffee and lunch venue which livens up on evenings. A special breakfast and lunch deal lure customers in from Monday to Friday and there are always some weekend events happening here.
Centrum Zarządzania Światem website
Centrum Zarządzania Światem, Stefana Okrzei 26, 03-710 Warszawa
Last and definitely least on the list is Long Bar as the nasty barman once banned me (October 2017) and I haven’t been back since…Long bar is located on the corner of Ulica Wilenska and a bar that also shares a name with the famous Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where infamously as a nothing backpacker and a newbie travel blogger some 10 years ago, I spent my cherished cash on a Singapore Sling! There’s a cool bar girl, Karolina however and a good range of cold bottled beers. The pierogi is also great.
Long Bar, Wileńska 23, 00-001 Warszawa
So that’s it for now on a Thirsty Friday. Happy drinking!