Christmas is coming! We prepared some tips for you to make your Christmas in Warsaw to be indeed merry and unforgettable, even if they are not going to be all snowy and white.
In Poland, Christmas celebration starts already on Christmas Eve with a supper served – according to tradition – when the first star appears in the sky. During the supper, Santa Claus comes with presents for those who were nice during the year ;).
On that day you can feel the atmosphere of last minute shopping and preparations.
Many people are in hurry to finish their shopping and work and come back home as soon as possible to prepare the Christmas Eve supper, which means that most shops close much earlier than normal, c.a. at 4 pm, so make sure you get all you need beforehand. Please remember that most shops, including groceries, will stay closed also for the whole Christmas Day (Dec. 25th).
Also, most restaurants, bars and food markets halls close at c.a. 3 pm, so if you are planning to have a nice dinner, better convert it into lunch. If you plan to go somewhere by taxi or uber, remember that in the afternoon and in the evening it may take longer than usual to order the car.
On Christmas Eve, practically all Warsaw museums and attractions are closed. Their staff also needs time to make pierogi and other Christmas dishes. That’s why this day is good for outdoor activities like ice-skating in the Old Town Market Square or in front of the Palace of Culture and Science (both are open from 10 am to 2 pm, both are free, renting ice-skates – 10 pln/1 hr), or walking around the city, for example with one of our walking tours.
The Christmas Eve afternoon is an exceptional opportunity to see Warsaw streets almost empty. The rush in the streets starts again shortly before midnight when people hurry to churches for a traditional Midnight Mass called “Pasterka”, both ceremonial and joyful. They are celebrated in all churches, and if you are in the area of the Old Town, you can enter the St. John’s Cathedral from 11:40 pm to listen to traditional Polish Christmas carols before Pasterka starts.
Christmas Day traditionally is a day spent at home with family. That’s why almost all city attractions are closed. Most Varsavians will go outside after dinner to burn some Christmas calories by visiting churches to see Nativity scenes. You are welcome to join this tradition. We especially recommend the Nativity scene in the undergrounds of the Capuchin Franciscans church in Miodowa 13 St. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but it’s been working without a failure since 1948 and each year attracts generations of Varsavians making it a Warsaw Christmas time must-see spot.
In the evening, we recommend hopping onboard of the bus 180 directing to Wilanów to see the Royal Garden of Light.
If you prefer more something more adventurous than walking, you can choose ice skating on National Stadium – open from 4 pm. You can choose from two ice rinks and a special ice hill that could raise up your level of adrenaline. Remember to book tickets in advance.
On Boxing Day life slowly starts to come back to reality. The biggest Warsaw museums like Royal Castle, Warsaw Rising Museum, Polin Museum, National Museum or Royal Palace in Wilanów Museum are open again and most restaurants and cafés too.
For this Christmas time our colleagues from Eat Polska – food experts – prepared a list of restaurants particularly worth visiting:
Ed Red – a real feast for meat-lovers, all from Polish, local ingredients,
Elixir – Dom Wódki – modern Polish cuisine with wide selection of Polish traditional alcoholic beverages
Warszawa Powiśle – popular pub located in old railway station building, offering informal atmosphere and nice pierogi
Zorza Bistro – simple and trendy place in a social realistic building.
Christmas time will not be complete without something sweet! Polish Christmas tastes of gingerbreads, poppy seed cake and of course cheesecake – the most traditional one is decorated with rich icing and orange zest. You can try it just within a couple of steps from the Sigismund’s column in a place called “Pączek w Maśle” in Krakowskie Przedmieście 83 St. It’s open on 24th December from 10 am to 4 pm and on 26th December from 10 am. What you will also find there is a traditional Warsaw cake called “wuzetka” (ask the shop assistant for it) which maybe is not a typical Christmas cake but it’s so delicious that is worth trying all year round! They also have delicious coffee to go with the sweets.
And of course, during the whole Christmas period, you can join one of our free walking tours. We will be waiting with some Christmas surprises. See you at the Sigismund’s Column!