Travelling for us always comes with a budget, as much as we both love the occasional bit of luxury, like many people it just isn’t sustainable. Setting strict budgets also means being able to afford more frequent trips, so when The Money Shop challenged us to take on their £200 challenge in Warsaw, we not only accepted but we took it one step further.
The challenge: Spend a weekend in Warsaw, Poland for less than £200 including accommodation.
Previously this challenge has been taken on by other bloggers such as Em Luxton in Prague and Gallivant Girl in Geneva, both of which took the challenge as solo travellers, so we thought it would be interesting to take on the challenge as a couple! The Money Shop sent our Polish Zloty to our most local store and flew us out to Warsaw to complete our mission.
£200 British Pounds = 940 Polish Zloty (PLN) (Conversion correct on 17/4/17)
We flew out of Stanstead airport Friday morning and our first expense was reaching the city centre from Warsaw Modlin Airport at lunch time. On arrival, we paid 66 PLN for two express bus tickets, a 45 minute non-stop service right to the city centre. The train is a cheaper alternative to reach the city centre, but this takes nearly two hours, so if you are on a limited time scale, the express is a much better option.
The accommodation was our biggest expense, we stayed in the Hotel Varsovie for two nights which came to a total of 326 PLN for two nights. There was cheaper available, and obviously, a hostel would have brought down our accommodation cost considerably but to completely honest, hostels are really not our thing, especially when packing so much into a city break, a good nights sleep is essential. The Hotel was well located just outside of the Centrale area and included free wifi (an essential when on a city break)
After dropping off our bags we headed straight out to explore the city, Warsaw’s main attraction is the Old Town, terribly a lot of the original Old Town was destroyed during the war but it was restored to its former glory after the war was over, a lot of using the same bricks. The Old Town is filled with many beautifully bright coloured tall buildings and cobbled streets, creating an extremely picturesque area of the city. While we were here we stumbled across a small market, where we purchased two marshmallow sticks covered in chocolate for a total of 10 PLN (£2). Hilariously, DJ had purchased pretty much the same thing in Disney World the week before, except there it cost £5 for one!
Most of Friday afternoon and evening was spent wandering and taking in some of the free sights Warsaw has to offer including – The Warsaw Castle, Old Town Market Square, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After a lot of walking and building up an appetite, we headed to a restaurant called ‘Beef and Roll’ for a late lunch / early dinner, where we got 2 x burgers, 1 x chips, and 2 x 0.5 L beer for 70 PLN – not bad at all for a sit down meal. From here we headed to Si Bar from an evening cocktail and spent 60PLN. Potentially unnecessary purchases but we feel being on a budget should not compromise having a good time and relax.
Saturday morning was our first cost mistake when we decided to have breakfast in our hotel, a buffet which cost us 60 PLN – nearly as much as our dinner the night before – rookie mistake. We could have saved a lot of money by purchasing breakfast from one of Warsaw’s many patisserie, to be honest, it probably would have been a lot nicer too. As it was a particularly cold morning after breakfast we hopped on the metro (12 PLN for 2 x 90-minute transfer tickets) to Ratusz Arsenał stop to visit the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Our entry cost was 50 PLN for two tickets, we spent nearly two hours in here and it a must visit when in Warsaw, it is incredibly moving and emotional but essential to understanding the history and struggles of the Jewish people of Poland.
For lunch, we decided we wanted a traditional polish meal so headed to a restaurant called Zapiecek, there is a number of these dotted around the city, each with queues out of the door at all times! Their extensive list of fresh handmade dumplings made this place a must for us, the Dumplings with spinach leaves and cheese in a warm blue-cheese sauce Dor Blue and Rockford is 100% recommended. Dj went for traditional polish white sausage on a bed of onion and cabbage, washed down with the Polish Tradition of a Vodka shot. This along with two 0.5L of beer came to 76 PLN, incredibly reasonably priced.
After here we headed to join one of the many free walking tours that place around the city, these tours, usually run by students are a great low-cost way of seeing a new city and offer the opportunity to be shown around by a local. The cost is free, but a donation/ tip is suggested at the end of the tour, we gave a tip of 40 PLN – a much cheaper alternative to some of the other tours that take place in the city.
On Saturday we also really wanted to visit the Museum of Neon Lights, but unfortunately, as it was Easter weekend a lot of the main attractions were closing early, so we spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the many impressive catholic churches around the city and the Lazienki Park – which would be a perfect place to have a picnic in the summer!
For evening, we found a place in the Old Town called Same Krafty – if you are a fan of craft ales, it is a great place to go, their ale choices are constantly changing and when we visited they had flavours such as Tropical, Sour Blaster and even Strawberry milkshake – they sound horrible but they were actually really nice. They also serve a wide range of pizzas so we shared a large veggie one with plenty of garlic sauce, in total we spent 50 PLN. Same Krafty is a really cool place to chill in the evenings, it does get quite busy but it is really worth checking out.
On Sunday we were due to fly home just after 4 pm, so with a 45-minute journey back to the airport with the express bus (66 PLN), we had to leave the city centre around 2 pm. So we decided to have a slow relaxing morning to take in the rest of Warsaw, starting with a coffee each and a cake (26 PLN). At this point we had spent 876 PLN, so we had a feeling that lunch was going to, unfortunately, push us over our budget, had the weather been warm we would have purchased something from the local supermarket and sat outside however it was particularly cold so we decided to have lunch at our hotel before heading to meet the airport bus outside the Palace of Culture and Science. Lunch for two inside the hotel cost us 60 PLN.
Total Spend – 972 PLN
An overspend of 32 PLN ( roughly £6.50), not bad at all considering this was two people. We still managed to see the main attractions of the city as well as eat extremely well, at no point did we feel we were compromising any of our trip for the budget. Had we had a bigger budget we probably would have also visited the Warsaw Horror House or one of the many Escape Rooms across the city, but again these are attractions that are not exclusive to the city so were not essential for our trip.
Warsaw is the capital city of Poland but we do feel it is great place for a budget city break, like a lot of Eastern Europe the prices are lower than what we are used to back home, but also, Warsaw has many attractions that are either outdoors or free to visit, leaving more budget for accommodation and meals.
Do you set a budget for a weekend trip? Do you think £200 is enough for a couple to see a city in Europe? Let me know in the comments below.
We were sent to Poland on a press trip, all costs were covered by The Money Shop as part of the challenge, but as always all opinions are our own.