Jan 30, 2009

Shopping in Warsaw

Arkadia shopping mall, Warszawa Arkadia shopping mall, Warszawa Wikipedia Commons

Poland used to be a poor country. It still is, in many ways, but lately Warsaw and other cities have developed into decent places for shoppers who are looking for low prices and a good selection of international goods.

For instance, the large recently built shopping mall «Arkadia» in Warsaw, has an incredible choice of international brands to offer. The service is not always the best, but if you see through that you can have a nice shopping experience in Warsaw.

After a shopping trip to Arkadia, all other shopping centres will seem like David to Arkadia's Goliath. 180 shops, 20 restaurants and fast food joints, a 15-screen cinema, 4000 parking spaces, and many other impressive figures all in one place! Pretty much every brand name shop, Polish and European, can be found under Arkadia's massive roof, as well as a Carrefour that's open from 7:00 - 23:00 on weekdays (9:00 - 21:00 Sundays). The centre is easily accessible by bus, tram, metro, and possibly helicopter.

Downtown shopping

Also, the nice layout of the city centre makes it easy to get around and pleasant to walk around. If you need to travel longer, taxis are cheap and easy to catch. The taxi drivers usually doesn't speak english (as with most Polish people), so make sure to have a written note with the name of your destination if possible.

I would recommend going to Warsaw during the warmer periods of the year. Especially if you are planning on doing a lot of shopping. The town centre is quite small, but it can be a freezing experience walking the streets while the winter winds are blowing past you like a blast from the cold war era. During spring and summer, the city is a much more pleasant place to be - and hopefully the people are a bit in the lighter side as well ;)

A new era for Warsaw

In 1989 the workforce in industry accounted for over 30 per cent of the total in Warsaw, today it is about 18 per cent. Embarking on a market economy has meant a severe shock for Warsaw industry, in terms of the loss of its previous export markets, the reorientation of production, and the large-scale exodus of its personnel to other sectors.
The number of state - owned enterprises is regularly decreasing and the number of companies with foreign capital growing. The largest foreign investors are Daewoo,Coca Cola Amatil and Metro AG.
Warsaw has the biggest concentration of electronics and high-tech industry in Poland.

Tourism in Warsaw

About 5 million foreign tourists spent at least one night in Warsaw last year. The largest group were visitors from the former Soviet Union and Germany. Thanks to Warsaw unique role as the political, commercial, academic and cultural capital of Poland, the dominant group of visitors are businessmen, politicians, scientists and artists. A large number of foreign visitors, those from the East, come to the city to buy and sell goods, while another important group of tourists, mainly from Western Europe, visits Warsaw for pleasure, while on holiday. It is estimated that tourists from abroad spend total of 1 billion dollars annually in Warsaw.

Visitors arriving to Warsaw have at their disposal a large variety of accommodations: 34 hotels, four youth hostels, four campsites and four open camping fields. The hotels can accommodate a total of 16,500 visitors. Most hotels and other types of accommodation are grouped in the centre of the city. Significantly, there is a growing number of hotels in the vicinity of main roads linking Warsaw with other cities and regions. Although the number of hotels is growing with each year, there is still a shortage of two- or three-star facilities in Warsaw.

Dining out in warsaw

Restaurants in WarsawNowadays, the standard of the network of fast-foods, restaurants, and cafes is similar to the European one except for cheap street bars.

In the most expensive restaurants you can expect to pay over 100 zł for a meal for one. If you want something cheaper, go to a small restaurant or bar, or have a pizza (from 20 zł). 'Milk bars' offer the cheapest food (5 to 9 zł). A cake in a Warsaw café will cost you 3-8 zł, a cup of coffee 4-10 zł. The price of a beer in a pub varies from 6 to 10 zł. The majority of larger restaurants accept credit cards.

Do not forget to try the Polish specialities: bigos, made with sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, onions and any variety of leftover meat. Polish meals start with przekąski (starters), such as pike in aspic, marinated fish in sour cream, salted and rolled herring fillets with pickles and onions, kulebiak (a large mushroom and cabbage pasty) or Polish sausages such as the long, thin and highly spiced kabanos or the hunters' sausage (myśliwska) made with pork and game.
Soups play an important part at mealtimes and are usually rich and very thick. Soups such as barszcz (beetroot soup, excellent with sour cream) or rosół (beef or chicken boullion) are often served in cups with small hot pasties stuffed with meat or cabbage.

Popular dishes include zrazy zawijane (mushroom-stuffed beefsteak rolls in sour cream) served with boiled kasza (buckwheat) and pig's knuckles. Poland is also a good country for fish (ryba) such as carp served in sweet-and-sour jellied sauce, and poached pike with horseradish in cream. Herring (sledz) is particularly popular and is served up in countless different ways. Polish pastries (ciastka) are also worth trying.

There are a few kinds of good Polish vodkas worth recommending ,e.g., zubrowka (bison grass), tarniowka (sloe plum), sliwowica (prune) and pieprzowka (vodka with ground white pepper). Western drinks, such as whisky, gin or brandy, can be obtained in most bars but are expensive. Wine is available but, again, is imported and expensive. The best bottled beer is zywiec, a fairly strong lager-type beer.

In restaurants and hotels tips are not included in the receipt. That is why there is a custom to add 10% on the top of the sum of the bill.

Getting to Warsaw

Warsaw airport is about 10 km from the city centre. It has a post office, a bank, exchange bureaus (kantor), cash machines, a restaurant, a fast-food bar, a coffee bar, souvenir shops and a car rental office. There is also a tourist information office at the Arrival Hall. The majority of international airline representatives have their offices in the airport.

You can reach the city centre by bus number 175, and bus number 188 will take you towards the right-bank, eastern parts of Warsaw (Praga, Grochów, Gocław). The domestic airport is next to the international terminal.

Kristoffer Sandven

Kristoffer Sandven is the founder and author of The People Mag, Shuttertips.net, JoomlaBlogger.net and more. His daily work involved web development, SEO, Photography and selling coffee online.