A woman in a plastic apron and headscarf glares as you approach the chipped counter. She barks something in Polish, and brusquely dishes up a plate of cabbage rolls and pierogi, Polish dumplings. Warsaw’s milk bars may be an intimidating introduction to the city, but they are a fascinating remnant of the Soviet era. Here, you can still get a cheap traditional meal amid the profusion of more expensive international restaurants along Nowy Swiat Street.
85% of the city was destroyed during World War II and had to be rebuilt. Hence the nickname ‘the Phoenix City’.
In the Old Town Market Square, discover a more cheerful side to Warsaw, with its beautifully restored townhouses and sunny cafés. The Royal Road shows off Warsaw’s classical beauty, with castles and churches. Meanwhile, battle-scarred Praga is becoming a bohemian success, with new galleries and fashion houses run by the district’s art community. Warsaw is a diamond in the rough, but its many facets sparkle.