Is Warsaw in line to be the next big gay destination? We won’t make that prediction yet, but it seems that travelers are taking another look at Poland’s capital city.
A big change came in July 2010, when thousands of people converged on Warsaw for Europride. It was a coming out party of sorts for gay Poles, who until very recently seemed happier to relocate to London, Paris or Berlin. The big parade, which rolled through the center of the city, was as festive as any in Europe, with only a small band of hostile protesters, quickly surrounded by police.
Things are now changing quickly in Poland. In 1932 it had been the first European country to decriminalize homosexuality. But then came the war, and for 70 years the post-war governments, both left and right, were not sympathetic. A number of clubs in Warsaw now openly show the rainbow colors, in striking contrast to that very recent past.
Big business hotels often prices with weekend rates of 50-75 euros for rooms that normally go for 120-150. We list several on our map. The Friends gay guesthouse has closed, but gay info sites such as GayNetWarsaw have lots of options. For rock-bottom prices try the listings at HostelBookers, with dorm beds for as little as 5 euros/night. If planning to use hostels pack a one piece bag sheet for extra savings.
Frédéric Chopin International Airport is the country’s largest airport. It handles dozens of international fights daily, so it’s not difficult to find a good connection.
Warsaw’s Central Station is conveniently located downtown, so getting here by train from elsewhere in Europe is a snap.
Warsaw taxi drivers have a bad reputation when it comes to fare charging, particularly from the airport. Avoid drivers near the arrival gates - instead go to a airport taxi rank for a clearly marked cab. See if you can get picked up by your hotel or a reputable transfer service - or take the public transport.
Trams — ubiquitous in former communist countries — are a great way to get around downtown Warsaw. They are safe, efficient, cheap and city-wide, with a network of trams, buses and the one line metro. Purchase tickets from tram drivers and validate them in the onboard machine as you begin your journey. The bus system is much slower. For useful tips consult the ExpatGuide for Warsaw.
What to do
Warsaw’s National Museum recently hosted the “Ars Homo Erotica” exhibit of contemporary and historical homoerotic art, intended to “challenge myths in art history, and encourage debates on democracy, eroticism and humanism.” See their website for current and upcoming shows.
Błota, a riverside beach, 10km south of city center, is a popular summer gay hangout, and cruising area through autumn months. A bike ride takes about 40 minutes - from from Wał Miedzeszyński take a left into Sitowie, a bumpy gravel road. Ask around, or consult the GayWarsaw map for exact location. Wybrzeże Gdyńskie at Most Grota Roweckiegois bridge is another gay favorite summer river beach river, also with no facilities.
Currency and Money
The local currency is called the zloty, and each zloty is divided into 100 groszys. Although Poland will not switch to the euro until 2012, many shops and restaurants happily accept them.
Gay.pl, Gaylife.pl, Gay Warsaw, and GayGuide.net, all in English, are useful websites for Warsaw. All have good listings for local gay-friendly accommodations and other business listings. Gay.pl also has an extensive listing of gay escorts and chat lines.
Clubs & Bars
Bastylia (ul. Mokotowska 17), stylish wine/ champagne bar and cafe, covered terrace, sweet and savory crepes, soups, salads, croissants, eggs; lesbian, gay, straight-friendly.
City (ul. Jana Pawła II 43a) open daily, coffee shop and wine bar, drag shows, karaoke, mixed crowd, music parties until dawn.
Fantom (ul. Bracka 20a, Palace Brzozowski), Poland's oldest gay club, good drinks prices, men only. Boast being best place, anytime, any day, to meet people, extra busy weekends. Open to 5am Fridays and Saturdays. Also a sauna and sex shop.
Galeria Dance Club (Plac Mirowski 1) - drink, dance and sing; stage, dance floor, VIP chillout room, karaoke nights. Music includes R & B, and House, many of Poland's biggest stars of drag on stage; also strippers, singers, musicians and dancers.
Glam Club (ul. Zurawia 22) next to Metro Center, weekend chill-out lounge, large dance floor. Sunday karaoke, Tuesday night fashion shows, concerts, star performances, door selection policy.
Le Garage (ul. Burakowska 12), former Rasko location, gay dance bar, drag shows, live music, parties, karaoke, dark room.
Lodi Dodi (Wilcza 23) nightly gay club, 3 floors, 6pm to midnight, all-night weekends, expat-popular. Polish beer, retro-pop, men-only Fridays. Basement every night men's cruise bar, darkroom, maze, cabins, videos, sling; shirtless, underwear parties.
Luztro (al. Jerozolimskie 6) mixed crowd after hours dance club, latest electonic Deep House, Tech House, Progressive House and Minimal. Gay events from time to time.
M25 (ul. Minska 25) post-industrial mega space, more Berlin than Warsaw, world class sound system, gay-friendly but mostly straight; periodic gay nights.
Miedzy Nami (ul. Bracka 20), alternative scene, cafe and store, magazines, books & music store; art gallery space.
Plan B (Aleja Wyzwolenia 18; placu Zbawiciela), artsy & alternative, gay-friendly mix, electronic dance music, performance art, films, food served until late.
Toro (ul. Marszalkowska 3/5, off Plac Unii Blubelskiej), a bit out of the center dance club plays disco, and has shows, an outdoor summer patio, and a big dark room. Open until 5am on busy nights.
Utopia (Kredytowa 9) Friday disco/pop and Saturday House dance nights with the Utopia family of DJs, guest stars and fans - alternative, artsy-stylish, mostly young male crowd, selective door.
Wild Club (ul. Chlodna 39, lok.3) men's sex club, darkroom, videos, dresscode naked/fetish/underwear parties.
The young and artsy-alternative gay-friendly space, on the east side of the river, houses several venues including Saturator (11 Listopada, 22), with periodic gay parties. Others at this same location include Skład Butelek, and Klub Zwiąż Mnie.
Saunas, Sex Clubs & Shops
Fantom Sauna (ul. Bracka 20a, Brzozowski Palace - look for doorbell). Men-only club, dark-room, sauna, body gym, private rooms. Open daily, until late on weekends. Closed Sundays. Sex-shop porn cinema, gay mags, DVD sales, condoms, lubes, accesories, leather, and underswear.
Heaven Sauna (ul. Waliców 13), dry sauna steam room, massage services, naked nights, darkroom cruising, bar, cabins, videos, WiFi.
Sauna Galla (ul. Ptasia 2) has a bar, TV room, a famous aquarium in the relax room, a steam and dry saunas and darkroom. Loyal regulars welcome the occasional visitors. Men only Monday to Saturday; men and women on Sundays.
Pink Shop (ul. Orzechowa 25, Wlochy - and - al. Jana Pawła II 46/48 pawilon 1B) is a chain of adult stores for gay and straight xxx videos, accessories, toys, lubes - and all the other stuff you'd expect.
C13 has fetish sex parties with no regular venue or time - check their website for upcoming dates and locations.
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