The southern side of Warsaw’s Downtown is full of contrasts. It contains numerous houses that luckily survived WWII as well as contemporary architecture and significant communist-era buildings. Here you can see a boutique hotel standing next to an abandoned and ruined tenement house. Some facades are still covered with bullet holes. This is where you can find local cafes, trendy bars, restaurants, and art galleries. However, travellers still often miss this neighborhood during their visit.
The area served the German Nazis during the occupation as their residential district and headquarters for the German police institutions. The neighborhood was bombed during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, but the scale of the destruction wasn’t as big as in the North including Old Town area.
There are several landmarks that you should definitely see here. The Warsaw University of Technology (Politechnika Warszawska) is an architectural gem from the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Besides the Main Buidling you can also enter one of the gates from Noakowskiego, Koszykowa, Nowowiejska and Chałubińskiego streets to see the whole campus. It`s a mix of historic and modernist architecture designed by outstanding Polish architects (Plac Politechniki 1).
Konstytucji Square is the most important part of MDM housing estate from the communist era. These monumental buildings refering to Carl-Marx-Allee in Berlin were dedicated to workers. On some facades you will see sculptures of workings class: a miner, farmer, teacher, metalurgist etc.
The most beautiful is the area of Aleje Ujazdowskie, a green avenue with elegant apartment houses and small palaces of the prewar city`s elite. Many of them house embassies these days. Check out the Ujazdowski Park, a historic 19th century garden designed by Franciszek Szanior in landscape style.
This area offers numerous private art galleries. There is always something interesting on display in Raster Gallery (Wspólna 63), lokal_30 (Wilcza 29A/12), Monopol, BWA Warszawa and Biennale Warszawa (All on Marszałkowska 34/50). Every year at the turn of September and October these galleries take part in Warsaw Gallery Weekend, the best art event in Warsaw. Around 30 private galleries from all around the city present their new exhibitions. You can grab a map from one of them and spend hours walking from one to another.
Zbawiciela Square is the most popular meeting spot in the neighborhood. It has been mentioned by travel bloggers for years so the crowd can be quite international here. The most popular bar is Plan B, for wine and good snack go next door to Charlotte. Karma cafe on the other side of the square is a spacious and easy-going cafe with comfortable chairs. In W Orbicie Słońca you can eat pizza, have a drink and dance on weekend electronic music parties. This place has been my number on that square. Right next door you can drink vermouth-based drinks in Warmut. Check out their ceiling with models of Warsaw communist-era iconic buildings, it`s one of a kind.
Hala Koszyki is a food venue housed in the former food market from 1905. It`s one of the few Art-Nouveau buildings in Warsaw. However, the only untouched elements are two entrences on sides of the front square. Look up at sunflower stulks meandering on walls and bull heads. Facade is covered with patches after bullet holes from the Second World War. The main hall was rebuilt but the original prewar contruction and briks remain. This interior is really breathtaking. Here I recommend 24/7 Bistro Ćma with one of the best Polish cuisines in town. Kiełba w Gębie serves simple sausage-based meals and great pierogi. I usually don`t eat in Polish restaurants cause I like trying different things. Gringo Bar and Mango are my favourites here. The first one serves burritos, while the other – falafel.
For unique culinary experience you should go to Ale Wino, it`s a fancy restaurant with author cuisine and superb wine selection (Mokotowska 48). Bez Tytułu is a very stylish place with a little bit industrial design. The cuisine is very international and modern. (Poznańska 16).
If you are a beer person you should go to Cuda na Kiju. It`s a tap bar housed in the former communist party headquarters (Nowy Świat 6/12). Here you can also eat one of the best pizzas in town. Behind the communist headquarters there is a newer glass office building with several clubs. Rakieta is the best club in this part of the city. In summertime the square in front is covered with hundreds of people dancing like nobody`s watching. In summer 2021 these were the best outdoor parties in Warsaw. Just across the street enter the passageway to find a hidden backyard with Wozownia. This bar is located in the former prewar stables. There is a nice outdoor space in here which is covered and heated in winter (Nowy Świat 1).
The best coffee you will find on Wilcza Street. Coffee Desk (Wilcza 42) and Relax (Wilcza 17) offer a coffee made in many different ways. You can also buy a bag of coffee beans and coffee making equipment. One of the most unique places on Wilcza Street is Cafe Kryzys housed in a squat. It operates from Friday to Sunday and besides coffee you can also eat something vegan here. Everything is offered in two different prices: regular and crisis. The place is ran by members of the Syrena anarchist collective (Wilcza 30).