April 19th-24th – Poland 🇵🇱 – Trip#5 of 2023

You are reading Part 4 of 4 on April’s trip around Europe’s best bars! If you want to start reading at an earlier part in our journey please backtrack to:

Part 1: Slovakia, Austria and Slovenia 🇸🇰 🇦🇹 🇸🇮

Part 2: Croatia 🇭🇷

Part 3: Czechia and Germany 🇨🇿 🇩🇪

In this final part we travel to several of Poland‘s 🇵🇱 central cities: Wrocław, Poznań, Bydgoszcz, Toruń, Warsaw and Łódź!

Day 1: Wrocław & Poznań

Due to frequency of flights and affordability I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Wrocław since my first visit in 2016. It belongs among a handful of cities where I could be dropped anywhere and roughly know my way around. Due to perhaps no more than its unfamiliar looking name, UK tourism really hasn’t taken off there in the same way as Kraków, even though many of its main features – castle aside – are actually reasonably comparable. A beautiful old town, network of waterways, visible heritage stretching from the middle ages to the 19th century connected by a modern tram system – sound familiar? It also has hundreds of little gnomes – that part is different, but I thought you’d like to know about it.

It would only be a fleeting visit on this occasion, but that wasn’t to say we wouldn’t be going to any bars! An early visit to Literatka 🇵🇱, a café bar on the central square gave a glimpse of what the evening atmosphere would be like, but for late morning visit I didn’t get enough of an impression to say for sure. There’s a backroom used for smoking and I understand it is popular with local functionaries and for a while the artistic crowd. Service was friendly and it’s somewhere we’d return to – much later at night.

After lunch at a nearby Bar Mleczny, I had a walk to the cathedral island, market hall and park, before returning to one of our Top 100 Bars in Europe, Art Café Kalambur 🇵🇱. While it’s a shame to not have been able to visit later at night (when the atmosphere is electric it is a beautiful environment to be in at any of time of the day, with its art nouveau stylings and funky adornments. A cinema, café, snack bar and later club/dance hall, this is a versatile, brilliant venue.

I drifted towards two other Wrocław classics, the first being the town square Brewpub/Ratskeller, Spiż 🇵🇱. Calling the venue iconic seems an anodyne description these days, devalued with overuse. It undersells just what a fixture this place has been in the lives of local residents. A cellar venue with huge terrace on the square, allowing for a great experience in summer or winter. Their own brews are last-generation and focus on Polish/German styles, but are not without merit. The beer is often served with bread and home-made bacon lard.

Moving to an altogether more sensual experience, a café bar that for all the world could fit in among the many antiquey, olde-world bars in Kazimierz, in Kraków. After nearby Graciarnia was ruined by some idiots and turned into an ineffective and overrated pizza joint, Mleczarnia 🇵🇱 has carried the flag for this style of bar in Wrocław. Candlelight, vintage furniture and low lighting effectively moves forward time, so while it may have been early afternoon, you can easily feel you are approaching early evening. You lose track of time. Have a beer, take a look at their cakes and pastries. While away the hours in a bubble of relaxation of harmony.

Breaking the spell was the thought of needing to catch the train to Poznań. Fortunately the walk takes you past one of the city’s key nightlife areas, a series of bars built under the railway arches on Wojciecha Bogusławskiego, for a while one of the seedier areas of the city. There are still a couple of sex shops and the occasional dodgy character around but these days it is leaning towards becoming gentrified. One of these bars, Sielanka 🇵🇱 is on our guide, but we decided to try somewhere else, and Cinema Paradiso 🇵🇱 looked worth a try. Part of the decision making came down to the fact people were inside unlike virtually all of the other dozen bars. On entry we discovered a tidy little pub which will prove a convenient stop off/fallback option before a train or tram, or even when going for a night out. The beer selection is a step up for this sort of place with Czech options on tap and a few Polish craft cans in the fridge. Didn’t make the guide but definitely pause for thought. Here are the two duff photos I took of it:

Poznań, by contrast is a city we hadn’t visited since 2016. We were assured by local residents that it was easily the equal of Wrocław. That remains to be seen – but it does nevertheless have an attractive city centre. I wasn’t to know but on arrival that city centre was a building site. Every lane, main road, side alley was surrounded by metal fencing and the paving had been removed. It made getting around a real pain in the arse and of course spoiled the views. This is as good as it got as when we returned the rain turned it into a quagmire:

From a bar going perspective, I was excited return to some of our favourite haunts. Alas, Za Kulisami 🇵🇱 was closed on a Wednesday, but it would be only a 2nd visit to a Top 100 Bar In Europe, Piwna Stopa 🇵🇱. This pub (English name: Beer Foot) is simply superb in everything it does. Melding top quality Polish craft beer with a well-tended garden, a truly cosy, convivial and social interior, and stonking pub grub. It is one of those places that’s painfully far from home, one that I’d make my local within 5 minutes of moving to the area.

After a rest at the apartment we tried a couple of venues for the first time. One, Dragon Social Club 🇵🇱 has gained some level of reputation at home due to it being the local pub for Ben Aitken, author of ‘A Chip Shop In Poznan‘ when he lived in the city. The interior has a purposefully colourful, collegiate feel with some niches that will appeal to different groups and that is perhaps its strength, turning what is in places a quite flowery, loungey venue into somewhere you’d still find punks hanging out. It made our guide, first and only inclusion of the day!

Final stop of the evening (remember this had been a seriously long day out) was at Na Piwek 🇵🇱 , a basement bar and craft beer joint. The combination of the two ought to have worked, yet while it was hardly a disaster, something about the shape of the venue, furniture choices and general ambience failed to fire, despite several groups of people being there. Photos may make it look better than it actually was.

That was the end of the evening, and we woke up ahead of our first ever visit to Toruń, where we would find the best bar of our entire trip.

Day 2 – Toruń – Gingerbread, Copernicus and Brick Gothic

Imagine a country with affordable first class rail travel, where you look at the uptick in price and think – ‘You know what? Yes.’ You’re thinking of Poland, where premium train travel can be obtained very affordably – on its own merits too, not just in comparison to Western nations. I arranged mine and headed to Poznań station, stopping along the way at Fort Colomb 🇵🇱, a bar set in the limited remains of an old Napoleonic fortress. As well as being extremely convenient, it is a nice little pub too, with the vaults of the building on show, a fire installed and little niches. Most of the furnishing and product is regular and mainstream but it just inched over the line by our reckoning.

The weather improved over the course of our journey to Toruń and on arrival rail passengers were treated to the splendid sight of its UNESCO world heritage city centre from the bridge passing over the Vistula river. Of all the new places I visited this made the strongest positive impression. While it can’t beat Kraków or Gdansk for scale, it is a beautiful old place with a set of attractions that make it an ideal stop-off. A night or two here will be very well spent, trust me on that.

Our first move bar-wise was to check out the city’s central brewpub, Jan Olbracht 🇵🇱. This well-financed operation in a historic old town building has been carefully designed to exhibit the historical features of the building, give some hints to the glory years in its Hanseatic era pomp and show off some seriously impressive modern finish too. The exposed brick, black wood, copper brewkit and yellow neon signage is really complimentary, with some flair applied too, booths set into what seem to be the inside of huge barrels. The complex is sprawling and perhaps the only real criticism is that they could have made the central bar room more communal and pubby. Their regular beers are competent rather than spectacular, although they have a creative side-line in more adventurous brews too. It deserved an inclusion to our guide.

Next stop was one of Toruń’s craft beer bars, Deer Bear 🇵🇱. This is connected to a brewery of the same name who have a national reputation. The focus is – predictably – on IPAs and sours which were all hitting the mark. The interior was pleasant with some exposure of the historic beams and brick, but the layout slightly lacks a social focal point. That said, the actual people in the bar were chatty and it had a friendly feel. If you lived here you’d find yourself in this bar a lot. Overall it just sneaked an inscription on our guide.

The next venue was a way west of the city centre with no alternatives nearby, making it a risky all-or-nothing endeavour. However, from our advance research I had to try. And boy, was it worth it! En route, a sudden thunderstorm boiled up and I was hopping between tree cover for the last 15 minutes before reaching our destination, the fantastic Czarny Tulipan 🇵🇱 (English: Black Tulip). I hadn’t expected the building itself to be so striking, a brick turn of the century effort which had taken on an almost haunted house quality. On approach two windows were gleaming with warmth and light, and it suddenly looked far bigger than the images online had suggested. You walk up the porch stairs to be greeted by a supremely cosy, characterful and aged bar with a quality of light that places you in an instant feeling of ease – not just ease but a bond to the place. The side rooms were actually filled with 2 pool tables in use – not what I had expected for a vintage type bar, but it is clear this neighbourhood pub is versatile and accommodates a range of needs well. This is also seen in the pricing which was among the lowest anywhere we visited in Poland. At this stage we will let the photos speak for themselves:

How do you follow that? Well, thankfully with a walk to burn off one of the two strong beers I had sunk. On returning to the centre the pace had picked up in town seemingly, so decided to visit two basement bars for some lively atmosphere. One, Przepompownia 🇵🇱 was a nice battered old hangout but lacking customers, the other, Kredens 🇵🇱 was kind of the other way around, a little tacky and full with a young crowd.

It’s annoying when you arrive at a venue and it’s closed when the information published says it’s open, but occasionally leaving it too late to arrive can be no-one else’s fault but yourself. The next, final, unsuccessful effort was a mixture of the two. I arrived at Tutu Jazz & Whisky Club 🇵🇱 with around 40 minutes before the scheduled closing, but it was emptying out and the guy at the bar apologised as he was closing it up. I should have left a bit more of a margin, really. The frustrating thing is, it looked pretty decent.

Day 2 – A day in Bydgoszcz

With Bydgoszcz and Toruń only 45 minutes apart by train, there was no urgency to get up and about so after a lie-in I explored more of the gorgeous old town – soon to be improved with a renovated riverside/promenade area. The Town hall tower, Copernicus exhibition and Gingerbread museum were all well worth doing and the hour hand reached over the yardarm to – yes, you guessed it – bar time!

The first stop was a survivor, an old local’s hangout stretching back to the 90s (maybe longer), U Kaduka 🇵🇱. Whatever else you may say, it’s an honest operation, clearly somewhat of an institution but lacked some personality. Décor was non-descript and it didn’t give off the impression I was hoping it would.

This left room for just one more venue before getting the train. A better outcome, Krajina Piwa 🇵🇱 was a really nice place blending all aspects of pubbage well. A strong selection of Polish craft on tap and in the fridge, a nice, not overbearing seafaring theme, featuring a piano, upturned barrels at the bar top and a link to a restaurant – they may even be owned by the same operation. Service was friendly and helpful, and with the station only a few minutes walk away, it was ideal. It’s now on our guide.

Bydgoszcz (pronounced Bidd-Gosh-tsch) appeared to have a modest hitlist of a lot of what you expect from historic Polish cities. The reality is it is quite low key and understated with a nice, if slightly under-exploited riverside area, a nice, if slightly under-exploited market square and a funky little cathedral with colourful painted interior. There was no way a city of 350,000 people was not going to have a few great bars, until we discovered that actually, no – those bars don’t exist.

Somehow I ended up getting pointed to Pub Parnasik 🇵🇱. It was unbelievably drab as well as towny, getting things off to a pretty terrible start in Bydgoszcz.

After check-in and a rest, we headed out hoping for at least something a little better. That emerged in the shape of neighbourhood craft beer bar Kraftodajnia 🇵🇱. On arrival it seemed like a pretty safe bet, if a little unimaginative. The beer selection was very decent and hopes were high until my choice – a hefeweizen was undrinkably bad. The staff took a little persuading but agreed and I switched to a beer which was thankfully fresh as a daisy. The pub was near totally absent of people but even with an evening crowd I’m not convinced it would quite pass the threshold.

I assumed the next venue, Prolog9 🇵🇱, a rock/punk pub with craft beer would be likely to have at least a couple of groups hanging out. Not only was it dead, but the service sucked and the furnishings inside looked more like the locker room of a goth football team than somewhere you’d want to spend time. I like rock pubs, but not this one. The Black IPA was all kinds of meh, too.

With things going from bad to worse, and no sign of a let-up, I reluctantly headed to Piwo – Ty nalewasz 🇵🇱. I wasn’t expecting it to be guide worthy, but this bar has a sampler format where you load a card with money then pour your own beers. Half the taps were not overly interesting, however several were, and I at least got to have some fun, even in what was mostly a typical mainstream towny bar. It’s a good gimmick and so long as there are 4 or 5 beers worth trying, you can sit back and just about forgive everything else. It won’t make our guide though.

This was the 20th day of the trip, and I have to confess I threw in the towel after one final try – OGIEŃ Craft beer & pizza 🇵🇱. Neither bar, nor pizzeria, a typical hybrid place. Good beer, good food, middling value, but so little to write home about I didn’t even bother taking a photo, it seems.

If you find any great bars in Bydgoszcz then firstly, congratulations – you did a better job than me, but secondly, please let me know!

Day 3 – The capital city Warsaw beckons

The journey from Bydgoszcz to Warsaw is pretty straightforward – the train is modern, and the route is flat and boring, enlivened only by the odd sight of a deer, hare or kestrel in the field. Excitement was building though, as I had never visited Warsaw before though was well aware of the attractions in the capital and the differences between it and other Polish cities.

Due to an absence of affordable accommodation more centrally I was booked in right at the end of the line, so decided to break up the transfer, walking to the restored (rebuilt from scratch) old town for lunch, then a tram to Praga, Warsaw’s alternative end, to the first venue, W Oparach Absurdu 🇵🇱. A bar fitting for Kraków’s Jewish Quarter Kazimierz, this felt familiar and instantly likeable, if not perhaps as dramatic mid-afternoon. It was nice to see a healthy beer range, not only Browar Amber on tap but a big fridge of craft beer too. Vintage furniture, fairy lights and Persian rugs. You’ve seen it before, but it’s well done.

There was a bit of time available to check out another bar in the area before check in at 3pm and I spotted a craft beer bar not far around the corner, the supremely generic titled Beer Station 🇵🇱. With a range of Lithuanian options and a few Russian voices, I didn’t get the impression this was a Polish outfit. A neighbourhood multitap bar created on a budget, in a strange way the lack of finesse actually improves it and gives it a tiny bit of personality. There wasn’t much else to report though. It will do the job if you’re in the area but needs another dimension to be worth considering for an inclusion.

Based in Gocławek, literally the end of the tramline, it was about half an hour there and back from downtown Warsaw, so every decision had to be made with that in mind. After a rest I emerged, visiting the very cool Neon Museum before a park walk to Fregata 🇵🇱. Reportedly a survivor pub from well before the fall of the Iron Curtain, this supposedly offered retro vibes, good value and neighbourhood life. It did, but all of you will have felt the difference between a vibrant old survivor and a dog-eared one. This rather fell into the latter camp. It was also possibly too foody to really consider either.

The theme of feeling vaguely underwhelmed persisted at the next stop, Kicia Kocia 🇵🇱. It came highly recommend and had an interesting brutalist entrance but inside the vibe was a colourful café trying to be all things to all people, with the inevitable feeling of dilution – not a strong ‘bar’ feel. It feels harsh to criticise an operation not doing anything actively wrong, but a vague sense of cynicism to the whole thing dragged it down. It was at least busy and it serves a neighbourhood that isn’t brimming with alternatives.

I thought it best to head towards the city centre, so stopped off at Pardon To Tu 🇵🇱, a high-ceilinged modern bar on the corner of an intersection. Busy with a mainstream crowd, there was something distinctive to the décor, but perhaps the sum was less than its individual parts. Further underwhelming vibes, but the black IPA was very tasty. The bar was a lot busier than the photos below make it look, with a large busy terrace full of people.

Changing style and tempo after these slightly underwhelming (or is it over-hyped?) venues, I went to downtown Warsaw aiming to find a speakeasy cocktail bar named BackRoom 🇵🇱. There are well-hidden ‘secret locations’ and those hiding in plain sight. The unmarked entry to this bar looks identical to any of the other apartment doors you’ll find in this complex and eventually I co-opted the help of a local resident. On entry, the bar was over-stocked with staff versus customers. I’m not sure how many moustachioed bros it takes to say Hi to one person, show them a menu and then rustle up a cocktail but apparently the answer was north of 6. All the same, the cocktails really were excellent. Décor fairly good, the back-room seemed to me the nicest part, bookish study type surroundings but without a reservation I had to settle for a space at the bar itself, which was still good to see the staff at work.

Staying on the cocktails for now, I walked across a few blocks to a much more open, neighbourly venue, Aura 🇵🇱. Far smaller than any images really show, this is a corner bar with a wall of booze from floor to ceiling, (accessible via a ladder), Persian rugs on the wall with arched mirror. Quite odd. A duo of hyper, possibly dosed-up guys exchange banter and do everything at a manic lick. This does give it a much more informal, fun atmosphere and I quite liked it – cocktails are very decent too. This is where I suddenly noticed myself having a profuse nosebleed which was quite embarrassing for 5 minutes or so.

The evening ended somewhere unplanned. I walked past Armand 🇵🇱, only to be impressed by what I was seeing inside. You have to give these things a go and not just remain fixed on an on-rails itinerary. For all my careful research, this impromptu bar I chanced upon was better than the 6 previous bars I had swotted up on – it just goes to show. An atmospheric place, the gilded Deco signage outside doesn’t quite fit the interior which is more pleasingly bohemian. Colourful but brooding, each little vintage table is cute and dinky with its own lamp, and the vibe had reached that lovely buzz of happy, spirited conversation. The bar serves up a decent modern range across the board – it’s unlikely anyone, even craft beer or whisky specialists will be disappointed.

Stalked by the fear of missing the last tram to Gocławek, I set off earlier for home than had I been based more centrally – a lesson to learn for next time perhaps. It had been an interesting first day, even if it hadn’t hit the top heights.

Day #4 – Warsaw Uprising, Wooden Shacks, Wine Stalls, Market Halls, Ruin Pubs

Starting the day with culture before fun, the Warsaw Uprising museum was as good as hoped. Thought provoking, sprawling, and placing a snapshot in time in its wider context without losing the poignancy of individuals or moments. If you just want to look at a big plane, you can do that too. I also wanted to visit the Fotoplastikon, the oldest stereoscopic theatre in Europe, but I, and others, failed to gain entry despite stalking the courtyard and ringing the bell over and over. They also weren’t picking up the phone. A trip up the magnificent Palace of Culture and Science would do instead, and afterwards I found myself near-ish another starred drinking venue on my map – Karczma 🇵🇱.

Karczma – a throwback rustic country diner – by the main station in the capital city seemed perversely backwards enough to hold some interest, and on approach I could barely believe this surviving shack, no doubt an eyesore to the property developers whose apartment blocks dwarf it, still stood, let alone a business operating in it.

With kindly service, basic Polish pub grub and very well tapped beer (if still macro industrial Polish lager) at a very good price, this venue was naturally charming in its refusal to bend or break. It really delivered and I could see why it has attained almost cult status locally.

Shortly after I left it was apparent the future remains uncertain for the business, which is a small tragedy. A venue like this will not be returning to Warsaw, that’s for sure.

The closest place nearby was the flipside of the coin. Uwaga Piwo 🇵🇱 was meticulously clean, modern and with a range of cutting edge craft beers, making use of the ex-industrial space creatively with a series of machines you could wander around to look at. It was also empty, soulless, sterile and fairly unfriendly/disinterested. Attached to a shopping mall, it felt more like drinking in the bar of a bowling alley than a pub. No doubt some readers would still rather come here. Dare I say it’s less good than these photos make it look?

Revamped market halls are often good spaces to find bars/drinks businesses when they are on the up, and for a change of scene we decided to visit Niewinność Wine Bar 🇵🇱 in Hala Gwardii, one of at least 3 branches of this business in the capital. The friendly welcome was appreciated, really helpful, personal and curious too, making me feel right at home and helping me decide. This business serve several wines from the barrel, all of which were well outside the UK’s normal distribution and ecosystem. The stall has been made more bar-like with plants, bunting and an extension from what is a tiny little retail unit. While overall it didn’t quite meet the criteria for our guide as a venue, any wine buffs could do a lot worse than popping here.

The whole day so far had been schizophrenically changing styles and vibe so why stop there? Our next venue, back into downtown, was Café Paragraf 🇵🇱. A survivor from the socialist era, purposefully pickled in aspic, 6 decades and counting have passed as fashions have swung away from their favour and back again. An intriguing narrow venue with a smoking room behind the bar and strong ‘1990s high street solicitors reception area’ vibes, a glass of ‘Belfast’, a nitro keg dark beer (brewed in Poland) was the ideal retro choice. I was unaware this beer had such cult status in Warsaw as it is barely visible in any other city I have visited in Poland (which at the current count stands at 19). While there was a lurid appeal, I don’t think I would return here unless I was with friends to hangout and chat with.

After a break and a rest, it was time for a final evening in Warsaw. I took a 2nd trip to W Oparach Absurdu 🇵🇱 to see what it was like at night. The answer? Very nice.

The next venue was a little out on a limb, always a chance of adding further mileage for little reward, but you have to try these things. Or maybe I just have to try these things then tell you about them? To się wytnie 🇵🇱 is a genuinely alternative venue that is part of the arts and cultural scene with live gigs (including an ambient act who were playing when I arrived) and community events. When I arrived at this unmarked venue which more resembled a squat, I tried the door (which was wedged open with a mat) to find a busy bar room with people sat around the live act, and a small bar to the back. Friendly and welcoming, there was a spread of drinks and snacks for guests, but I thought it best to actually invest in the business and went to the bar.

During my research I also discovered a courtyard cluster of vaguely alternative leaning bars in the Praga district along 11 Listopada. Several bars including a club share outside space meaning there is a fairly open atmosphere of mingling and wandering which I personally really like.

The first bar of these was Skład Butelek 🇵🇱, one of those sepia-toned vintage places with first floor clandestine rooms and a cool ground floor bar area. This got the evening off to a great start. I was surprised at the time of night there were still some families knocking around, who presumably arrived earlier and had forgotten to leave.

Things were really hotting up now after a vaguely underwhelming previous day, and peaked at Chmury 🇵🇱, the neighbouring bar to Skład Butelek and Hydrozagadka. Chmury ticks so many boxes. It’s fun, it’s cool, there’s a great outdoor area and a funky, distracting interior of lampshades and Twin Peaks décor, street food, surprisingly good range of craft cans and far more besides. The atmosphere was bubbling up nicely as there was an event coming up next door, so this was the pre-club drinks spot. It was my favourite venue in Warsaw and it looked like I’d saved the best til last.

Our next stop, Łódź, isn’t a long trip away from Warszawa Zachodnia station, so after a lie in we got going in a leisurely fashion. This proved a decent decision as Łódź didn’t exactly prove a showstopper of a city. Unlike most of the historic cities which are based around a central square, Łódź is based on one huge, long thoroughfare, Piotrkowska over 4km from end to end. Low-rise and actually not particularly modern/industrial, the city has an inheritance of 19th and early 20th century architecture that is crumbling away. On arrival not many bars were open yet, but we started at the retro nostalgia bar 07 Bar 🇵🇱.

This is a trend lots of businesses have tried to seize on, but this one did a reasonable job, particularly upstairs where there are views of the main streets and a nicely curated selection of vintage furnishings.

The next stop didn’t exactly fill us with huge excitement in advance, but ended up being an enjoyable visit, Piwoteka Narodowa 🇵🇱. On entry the impression was ‘so far so craft beer bar’, a large venue with spacious seating widely set apart from each other, and a good selection to choose from. On further inspection I noted 2 cask handpumps and inquired if either was in business – yes! This is a moment of excitement as true cask beer is very difficult to come by on the continent, but Poland has more than most, a positive cultural exchange from the influx of Poles in the mid-late 00s to the UK, many of whom came home with a taste for the stuff. After enjoying that I was invited by a group a girls to hang out with them for a couple of hours which was a really nice was to spend the afternoon.

After a break (needed after working our way through the menu), I emerged fresh(er) to explore the evening bar scene, beginning at the basement venue Biblioteka 🇵🇱. One of those decent cellar venues with exposed vaults, and the predictable quasi library décor. Mainstream but welcoming and versatile, really the only shortcoming was the last generation choice of drinks. Improve that and you’ve got a very strong venue on your hands.

Next up, an unfortunately pretty quiet bar Chmielowa Dolina 🇵🇱. It wouldn’t be uncharitable to say it hasn’t got what’s necessary to produce a sense of comfort and atmosphere in the absence of people. What’s worse, the service was pretty surly too, as though I’d offended them by walking in the room.

Still, some people seemed to be having worse evenings than me:

Running out of options, we tried Jabeerwocky 🇵🇱, which I really didn’t like. Grey, start, bad acoustics, really nothing to get into at all.

To inject some fun into proceedings I ended the night at Pijana Wiśnia 🇵🇱 🍒 This chain bar has become a bit of a cult venue, specialising in cherry liqueur. Well-financed with eye-catching décor – barrels and textures made from glass and red lights accentuating. If you have a group of friends together it’s a very good venue.

Day #5The trip comes to an end in Poznań

It was April 24th and with over 3 weeks away and 150+ venues visited it was time to draw things to a close. A long train journey retracing steps to Poznań where we revisited Piwna Stopa 🇵🇱 and Dragon Pub 🇵🇱 before heading to the airport.

There we go.

8 new cities covered in 24 days, 54 new entries to our guide across 7 countries!

The top finds were:

Czarny Tulipan, Toruń 🇵🇱

Chmury, Warsaw 🇵🇱

Jazzland, Vienna 🇦🇹

Gutruf, Vienna 🇦🇹

Valhalla, Zagreb 🇭🇷

Loos American Bar, Vienna 🇦🇹

W Oparach Absurdu, Warsaw 🇵🇱

Pub Gambrinus, Maribor 🇸🇮

Proletaryat, Poznań

back to Poland

Wrocławska 9, 61-838 Poznań, Poland
  • Quality and/or choice of drinks – 6/10
  • Style and Décor – 9/10
  • Character, Atmosphere and/or Local Life – 8/10
  • Amenities, Events & Community – 6/10
  • Value for Money – 9/10
  • The Pub-Going Factor –  8/10

Soviet-themed bars have quickly become a staple part of the Eastern European bar scene. It must be due to the tonnes of old communist bric-a-brac that has been purloined from flea markets over the years. It’s remarkable how quickly this ephemera has been regurgitated, often in an apolitical way. Now, shorn of the memory of state repression, paranoia and hardship much of the era’s junk has been re-purposed and exhibited, capturing people’s nostalgic fondness for the idealism, optimism as well as the iconography of the era. Ideal for adorning a moody Polish bar such as this one in Poznań.

Proletaryat isn’t exactly lined with volumes of Das Kapital; instead you’ll note a large bust of Lenin staring at you out on the street. Enter to find a display of fairly impressive social realist paintings, disproportionately large portraits of Lenin and Marx, hung in front of rich crimson paint, with emblems and military insignia thrown in. The central bar area also expands further into an interesting looking  terrace-style back room where the cool kids hang out, that seems a little separated from the central premise.

There may be a vague leftist feel to the crowd here (perhaps its just the students) but in the main it does seem to be led by decoration rather than a hotbed of any political grouping.


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That said, the decoration is impressive nonetheless, it’s a very stylish place to go for a drink, without being particularly pretentious. The crimson and lamplight works well for a shady atmospheric slow sup, while at night it gets more raucous and one of those truly buzzing city centre bars where the lack of space and abundance of booze creates its own head of steam. This is a great example of decoration that allows a venue to work well in different ways at different times.

The location down one of the main city centre streets means it feels in the middle of the action – which in Poznan is pretty bloody active. You can expect to witness the type of revelry usually preserved for English city centres on an evening. It was quite an eye-opener, but I had previously been warned about it by some Poznanites (Poznanians?) during a separate trip to Wroclaw (another excellent city). The levity  doesn’t emerge from English stag parties or boys-on-tour either – in Poznan it’s mainly locals doing their homespun thing. Wodka i piwo can be a dangerous combo.

Aside of the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere, Proletaryat offers its ‘own’ beer as well (from what I can gathered, this is brewed elsewhere at Browar Czarnków and labelled accordingly), which is cheap even by Polish standards nowadays. The jasne (light) and ciemne (dark) beers are both fresh and well balanced. Not the finest ever brewed but tasty certainly and designed to knock back in volume. Apparently the vodka is served with a pickle here if you are interested in going native.

Any pub crawl around Poznań would be improved by a stop off at Proletaryat, as despite the increasingly familiar concept of the Soviet-themed bar, a good concept doesn’t stop being good just on account of its familiarity. Besides, they do a decent job of and it feels like its own thing rather than a cookie-cutter version or a clone-bar. If you haven’t been to one of these type of places before, then go at least once for the novelty value. If you already have and enjoyed it, then this bar is not to be missed!

Here I am: