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. 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.
Media & Resources
Gay.pl, and GayGuide.net, both in English, are useful websites for Warsaw with listings for local gay-friendly accommodations and other business listings. Queer.pl and GayGuidePoland are two more LGBT portals.
Bears of Poland meet at Sauna Galla and organize Bear Weekends around Poland and other nearby countries. See their website for details (but in Polish only). LeatherPoland.com has info about local leather events, including the March Mr Leather Poland contest, in the nearby city of Poznan.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Warsaw listings pages.
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.
Bunkier Club (ul. Bialostocka 5), men-only membership fetish bar; naked, sports, leather, army/uniform, and bears nights. Skins and punks welcome too.
Code Red (ul. Twarda 7), men-only gay bar, darkroom glory-holes, erotic videos; open Tuesday through Sunday, 8pm-3am.
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.
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.
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.
Room 13 Club (ul. Mazowiecka 13), dance club, lively, gay-friendly young crowd, Fresh Fruit special parties.
Toro (ul. Marszalkowska 3/5, off Plac Unii Blubelskiej), a bit out from the center dance club, disco, drag shows, outdoor summer patio, and big dark room. Open until 5am on busy nights.
Wild Club (ul. Chlodna 39, lok.3) men's sex club, darkroom, videos; naked, fetish, and underwear parties.
Utopia Club (ul. Kredytowa 9), longtime gay-friendly dance club re-opened at new location, Thursday through Saturday nights mixed crowd, go-gos.
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. Skład Butelek is another party at this same location.
Naked-Party.pl lists men's fetish/naked/leather parties in Warsaw and beyond.
Saunas, Massage & Sex Shops
Fantom Sauna (ul. Bracka 20b, 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.
Salon Masażu (ul. Górczewska 253d), EDEN Team VIP offers Relax-Erotic massage, sports therapy, Lomi Lomi Nui, Chinese Bubble Massage and other therapeutic bodywork by candlelight, with soothing music and oriental scents.
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.
Clubs - other Polish Cities
Krakow: See GayKrakow blogspot
Blue XL (ul. Dietla 85), men's cruise club dark rooms and sex parties, fetish nights, male strippers, open nightly and late on weekends (Friday until 6am, Saturday 'til 8am).
Cocon (ul. Gazowa 21), among the largest gay discos in Poland, Friday/Saturday young mixed crowd, men's darkroom.
Ciemnia (Krowoderska 31), cruise bar with darkrooms for men, naked and sex parties.
KITCH (ul.Dajwór 16), large gay/straight mixed disco, drag shows; hot and sweaty in summer months.
Klub / Pub & Sauna Ganimedes (ul. Piotrkowska 140), Friday and Saturday mixed gay dance club on two levels, drag shows or strippers; Sunday karaoke; every night pub karaoke; men's club sauna, steam, Jacuzzi, cabins, massage and bar, with naked parties and bear nights.
Club Dark Angels (ul. Garbary 54) has ongoing gay and bisexual events at their club between Berlin and Warsaw, including naked nights, guest porn stars, and live sex shows.
Space Club (Grochowe Łąki 6) is another gay option in Poznan.
Cactus (Aleksandra Zelwerowicza 18a), leather and fetish men's club, naked, bears, Dark Angels, and Master Colt parties.
Woda Klub (ul. Zelwerowicza 16/18), former H2O, DJ music pub for gay mixed crowd.
Wrocławskie Centrum SPA (ul. Teatralna 10-12), general public gay-popular baths, sauna, fitness, swimming pools, gym workouts.