Venture off the well-trodden tourist path and make time to visit the Praga district just over the river from Warsaw’s old town. The area was once avoided due to its crime rates but is now becoming popular with artists and hipsters. Coffee shops and street art are popping up everywhere along with industrial redevelopments taking place. It is still pretty gritty but is becoming a cool place to be. Could it become Warsaw’s Brooklyn?
The stunning neogothic Koneser Praga Centre is now home to the Polish Vodka Museum which opened last month. The historic distillation and rectification plant once housed the Koneser Vodka factory which produced several flagship brands. The national drink for the Polish and loved around the world, here you can learn all about the production of Vodka. Visitors can understand the importance of vodka on Poland’s history, tradition and culture through displays using the latest technology and a virtual laboratory of a medieval alchemist. You can also admire the label designs through the ages. Tickets cost 40zl (approx. £8) and there also several training courses for cocktail making, food pairing with Vodka and learning more about the history of Polish Vodka. Book in advance to guarantee a place. Visit http://muzeumpolskiejwodki.pl/en/plan-your-visit/ for more details.
Next on the list is the Soho Factory. Stroll around 20 minutes south from the Polish Vodka Museum and you will find this trendy and vibrant space which has been transformed from a dilapidated set of buildings once used to house weapons and motorbike factories. Attracting an arty crowd with low rents, it is full of art galleries, museums, restaurants and trendy shops. The Neon Museum is worth a visit. An array of Cold War-era signs in dazzling neon from across Poland can be appreciated here. Designed by great artists as part of a revolution and used for state propaganda. Tickets cost 12zl (Approx. £3). Visit http://www.neonmuzeum.org/pages/about.html for more details.
The first Museum to be opened on the right bank is Muzeum Warszawskiej Pragi. If you are keen to learn more about the history and people of this part of Warsaw, it is a great place to spend a few hours. Tickets cost 15zl (approx. £3.50) and admission on Thursdays is free. Visit http://muzeumpragi.pl/en/ for more details.
Still too grimy and crumbling for some and certainly not the polished streets you will find across the river but make the trip and you might just catch a glimpse of the real Warsaw and feel the heart of the people making this such a vibrant and interesting place to be.