Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
For current Polish entry restrictions see the Reopen-Europa/Poland, Polish Government Coronavirus and Travel Bans/Poland websites for details and updates.
Poland has now become the worst EU country for LGBT people in Europe according to ILGA-Europe. Staunch Donald Trump ally, president Andrzej Duda, has called "LGBT ideology” more dangerous than communism, and Jarosław Kaczyński, his party leader, says LGBT people are a threat to the state - besieged by a “rainbow plague" - according to the Catholic archbishop of Krakow. “These people are not equal to normal people” says the education minister, and Intolerance and acts of violence have now increased to the highest rates in Europe.
A third of Polish municipalities have adopted resolutions against "LGBT propaganda” or in favor of “pro-family” positions - hostile spaces for anyone other than heterosexuals or those committed to a “natural family.” "LGBT-Free Zones" have been declared, mostly in Southeast regions bordering Slovakia and the Ukraine, and the governing Polish Law and Justice party (PiS) denounces “LGBT ideology” as a foreign import threatening the Polish nation and its Christian values. Attempts to ban pride parades across Poland have usually been overturned by courts, but parade participants have been routinely attacked by far-right activists, in league with international conservative groups. See Atlas of Hate.
The EU has reacted: “There is no place for LGBTI-free zones in the EU or anywhere else” said European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, to CNN, as she rejected town-twinning applications and withheld EU funding for some regions. Poland has also been condemned by Ursula von der Leyen, the EU Commission President.
Not so long ago, in July 2010, Poland’s capital city saw thousands of people converge here for Europride - a coming out party of sorts for gay Poles, who until then seemed to prefer relocating 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, who were quickly surrounded by police.
Changes had come quickly. In 1932 this was the first European country to decriminalize homosexuality. But then came the Nazis of WWII, followed by 70 years of unsympathetic post-war governments, from both the left and the right. By 2010 Clubs in Warsaw and people in the streets had begun to openly show their rainbow colors - but for only a few years, before having to face widespread hostility from the government, the church and much of society.
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. A rail link connects the airport's Terminal A station to Warsaw city center. Taxis and bus line numbers 175 and 188 (N32 at night) can also get you into town. Bus 331 connects with Wilanowska Metro station.
Warsaw’s Central Station (Warszawa Centralna) is conveniently located downtown, so getting here by train from elsewhere in Europe is a snap. PKP, Polish State Railways has an information website in Polish, English, German and Russian. PolRail is another useful site for connections throughout Europe.
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. The ZTM website has all you need to know about the public transport system, in either Polish or English. For more useful tips consult the ExpatGuide for Warsaw.
What to do
Warsaw’s National Museum once 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 before 2020 (and maybe not then), many shops and restaurants happily accept them.
Media & Resources
Replika is the only LGBT magazine in Poland with information on the LGBT social and political situation in both Poland and the world.
Gay.pl has Warsaw listings for local gay-friendly accommodations and other business listings. Queer.pl is another LGBT portal.
The InYourPocket Guide has many useful references for getting around in Warsaw. For expats guides to the city in English, see ExpatsGuide.
Bears of Poland organize Bear Weekends around Poland and other nearby countries. See their website for details (in Polish only). The Mr Leather Poland contest is an annual leather event in Posnan.
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. Gay info sites such as MrHudson, TravelGay, and World Rainbow Hotels have some good options. HotelWarsaw has more online booking options. For rock-bottom prices try the listings at HostelBookers, with dorm beds for as little as 8 euros/night. If planning to use hostels pack a one piece bag sheet for extra savings.
Lonely Planet, Nomad Matt, Rough Guide and Warsaw Tourism, have general tourist information.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Warsaw listings pages.
Clubs, Bars & Cafes
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, sports, naked and underwear nights; open Tuesday through Sunday, 8pm-3am.
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.
Leniviec (Poznańska 7), gay-friendly cafe, all-day home-style meals/ buffets, coffees, cocktail bar.
Lodi-Dodi (Wilcza 23), three levels, Friday/Saturday men-only cruise bar, cinema, darkroom, maze; Friday basement underwear party w/ naked bartender.
Luzztro (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.
Mekka Klub (ul. Chłodna 35/37), Thursday - Sunday gay dance club from 10pm on two levels, weekend after-hours until 10am (Saturday)/ noon (Sunday), summer garden barbeques, foam parties, basement darkroom cruising/playspace, mostly male crowd.
Miedzy Nami (ul. Bracka 20), alternative scene, cafe and store, magazines, books & music store; art gallery space.
MiTo (Waryńskiego 28), downtown gay-popular cafe, art gallery and bookstore; all-day soups, salads, sandwiches, snacks and entrees, veggie options, coffee drinks and deserts.
Na Wspólnej (Wspólna 37/39), gay-friendly cafe breafast and brunch, coffees, desserts, wine bar.
Plan B (Aleja Wyzwolenia 18; placu Zbawiciela), artsy & alternative, gay-friendly mix, electronic dance music, performance art, films, food served until late.
Ramona (Widok 18), retro-style gay-friendly Polish cafe at the Center, soups, salads, lunch entrees, full bar.
Revolution (various venues), monthly or so men-only dance party until 7am, with International DJs and go-gos, dark/play room.
Room 13 Club (ul. Mazowiecka 13), dance club, lively, gay-friendly young crowd, occasional LGBT 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.
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.
CLOSED: BLOK Bar (Aleje Jerozolimskie 57), funky gay weekend dance club; Café Bar Szpilka (Pl. Trzech Krzyży), gay-friendly hip 24-hour bistro food/ drinks; FanTom (ul. Bracka 20a), men-only nightclub, sauna/ sex shop; Touch Club (Sienkiewicza 6, Centrum), gay cocktails, Fri/Sat dance club, performers, singers, drag.
COXY (various venues), was the biggest gay party in town, with international DJs, regional crowd - inactive since summer 2017.
Saunas, Massage & Sex Shops
Heaven Sauna (ul. Waliców 13), dry sauna steam room, massage services, naked nights, darkroom cruising, bar, cabins, videos, WiFi.
Kino Warsztat (ul. Chłodna 39/5), 18+ men-only cruise/sex club, porn, naked nights, darkroom, g-holes, cabins, showers, WiFi. Formerly Mask Club.
Sauna Galla (ul. Ptasia 2), bar, TV room, famous aquarium in the relax room, steam/ dry saunas and darkroom. Loyal regulars and occasional visitors. Men only Monday to Saturday; men and women on Sundays.
Salon EDEN Masażu (ul. Wolska 66), 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 / Gay Shop (ul. Orzechowa 25, Wlochy - and - al. Jana Pawła II 46/48 pawilon 1B), chain of adult stores for gay and straight xxx videos, accessories, toys, lubes - and all the other stuff you'd expect.
For Warsaw Gay Escort Agency companions see local Warsaw media links.
Clubs - other Polish Cities
Krakow: See GayKrakow blogspot
Blue XL (ul. Dietla 85), men's cruise club dark rooms, naked and fetish nights, sex parties, 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.
Ganimedes Klub, Pub & Sauna (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), ongoing gay and bisexual club events, between Berlin and Warsaw, including naked nights, guest porn stars, and live sex shows.
HAH / Heaven and Hell (ul. Małe Garbary 6), gay-friendly mixed club with dancing, drag and burlesque shows, karaoke, and theme party nights.
Scorpio Club (ul. Garbary 62), 18+ men only sex and fetish club with dark room and cabins, dress-code fetish nights, underwear and naked events, theme nights; Mr Leather Poland, BLUF, and other fetish events.
Cactus (Aleksandra Zelwerowicza 18a), leather and fetish men's club, naked, bears, Dark Angels, and Master Colt parties.
Wrocławskie Centrum SPA (ul. Teatralna 10-12), general public gay-popular baths, sauna, fitness, swimming pools, gym workouts.
Articles of interest
The Gay Enemy in Poland’s Culture War, by Marek Strzelecki and Dorota Bartyzel, Bloomberg, March 19, 2019
You don't belong here, by Rob Picheta and Ivana Kottasová, CNN, October 15, 2020.