So, you’re searching for the best party cities in Poland. Read on, reveler. This guide hops from the resort towns on the Baltic coast to the mountain villages of the Tatras in the south, all with the aim of revealing the cities that know how to let their proverbial hair down.
There are some names you’ll certainly expect. The capital of Warsaw is there, for example, offering modern districts that pulse with life and sprout sky bars in skyscrapers. You’ll learn about the nightlife in Krakow, a city that’s said to have more drinking options per square meter than just about anywhere in Europe.
But there’s a good chance that some of the best party cities in Poland we’ve listed will come as a slight surprise, too. Who would have expected such a pulsating evening scene from a long-lost ski town in the Carpathians? Who would think to head to a regional capital out in Lower Silesia for their stag do this year? Let’s begin…
No list of the best party cities in Poland could possibly skip out on Krakow. Of all the towns in the land of steaming pierogi dumplings and gingerbread, this is the one you need to come to first to let loose after the sun goes down. Don’t just take our word for it – the stats don’t lie. Rumor has it that Krakow boasts the highest number of pubs and clubs per square meter than anywhere else on the continent.
It’s best to take this one neighborhood by neighborhood:
- The Old Town – The Krakow Old Town is the legendary heart of the city. It’s been there for over 1,000 years and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site way back in 1978. These days, the Gothic churches are interspersed with smoky underground jazz joints (Harris Jazz on the Main Square is the best) and EDM-pumping alt clubs (check out Szpitalna 1).
- Kazimierz – My personal favorite party district in Europe, Kazimierz is the old Jewish Quarter of Krakow. It oozes character, with paint-peeling walls and crooked alleys leading from one bar to the next. The nerve center is Plac Nowy, where there are more bars than you can shake a shot at. It’s also great to explore around Jozefa Street, and be sure to hit Singer bar at midnight, when dancing on the tables is the norm.
- Podgorze – Across the river south of Kazimierz, the area of Podgorze has been a hipster haunt for some years now. It’s a bit too gentrified to still own that moniker in earnest, but there’s a great range of wine bars that overlook the water, boho coffee joints that sell craft beer, and even hidden techno clubs if you know where to look for them.
Krakow parties all year round. Yes, the peak is the summer, when the iconic Krawl Through Krakow (one of the first ever pub crawls in the world, you know!) draws 300-400 people each night. But winter can be fun too, as the crowds descend into cozy subterranean pubs to glug drams of artisan vodka.
Expats in the know over in Krakow look to Wroclaw for their real party nights. It’s known colloquially as Wrocvegas, because it channels a sort of escape-from-the-Rat-Race sort of vibe. It’s fueled, as are most of the best party cities in Poland, by a resident population of some 130,000 students. Yep – 130k! That gives it the highest ratio of students to residents in the country. It’s bound to be wild, eh?
Sure enough, the Wroclaw Old Town is a hodgepodge of rollicking pubs and clubs. There’s the retro throwback at Przedwojenna, which is done out like some vintage pre-war drinking hole. There’s sleek Szklarnia, a cocktail joint with expert mixologists. There’s bopping Casa de la Musica, a pretty famous spot to dance the evenings away with a mojito in hand.
Wroclaw really comes into its own in the early summer months. That’s before the university holidays but while the weather is good. The town is spread over an archipelago of small islets on the Oder River. Some are packed with history – like Ostrow Tumski, the cathedral island. Others are dedicated party zones, like Słodowa Island, which seems to be immune to Poland’s stringent outdoor drinking rules. At least as far as we can tell.
Warsaw is the sprawling, boisterous, uber-modern capital of Poland. When it comes to the nightlife, we’ve heard good things and we’ve heard bad things. Personally, we think Warsaw trumps every other spot on this list if you want a hit of proper, modern, big-city partying. The town is the commercial and economic hub of the country, counting a population of 1.7 million – that’s more than double the next largest town of Krakow!
Unlike over in Krakow (see above) and Gdansk (see below), the Old Town of Warsaw isn’t the main place to know about when it’s time to clink beers. The historic district here was totally razed in WWII. It’s since been rebuilt in astounding fashion but it’s more of a sightseeing area than a place to party, though there are some great bars within.
Much more lively is the district of Praga. Super cool and tucked over on the less-busy right bank of the Vistula River, it’s known for its ragged junk bars and upcycled style. We particularly like the DADA-esque W Oparach Absurdu and stylo BRAĆ polskie wina. There’s also the intersection of Chmielna and Foksal streets on the western banks, which hosts gin bars, bistros, microbreweries and loads more.
Gdansk certainly deserves a place on this list of the best party cities in Poland because it’s kinda’ three for the price of one. Yep, Gdansk is the hub of the Tri-City conglomeration of northern Poland. You can whiz between the urban centers of Gdynia to the east and Sopot to the west. Of those, it’s Sopot that often reigns supreme on the nightlife front…
Set along a powdery beachfront on the Baltic Sea, Sopot is hailed as one of the liveliest beach resorts in the region. It’s got a pumping main street with chain bars, Irish pubs, and curious attractions like the Crooked House (don’t try figuring that one out after a few shots of vodka!). From there, a promenade runs along the sea with even more in the way of open-air beer bars and whatnot.
Back in Gdansk’s central area, there’s plenty, plenty more to keep you going until sunup after you’ve returned from the Sopot beaches. The three or so blocks between the Green Bridge and Tkacka Street are the epicenter of it all. They host the themed Tiki Jungle bar, for those Aloha-inspired longballs. They also host Wiśniewski, a place 100% dedicated to the local cherry vodka tipple – careful, it’s potent!
There’s one time of the year when the southern mountain town of Zakopane goes into overdrive. As the snows spread over the Tatra ranges along the Slovak border around two hours’ drive south of Krakow, this one lives up to its rep as the so-called Winter Capital of Poland. Skiers come from miles around to whiz down the slopes of mountains like Kasprowy Wierch and Szymoszkowa, fueling an apres scene that can go on all night long.
The nerve center of little Zakopane is the long street of Krupowki. It’s about a kilometer long and riddled with more highlander taverns, karaoke bars, jazz joints, and microbreweries than you could need. Our advice? Start the evening with a smoked ocyspek cheese (a local delicacy) from one of the street stalls there, then make for Piano Bar, a hip dive with a garden out back where everyone shares stories of their favorite ski runs.
We also love the Cafe Tygodnik Podhalański. It’s hidden at the top of an elevator in one of the high-rises off the main drag. Go there to be rewarded with local IPAs and head-on views of the Tatra Mountains. At the other end of the spectrum is the gritty shot bar at Meta Seta Galareta, a local’s favorite that gets packed out at about 2am.
To be honest, it’s a bit of a myth that Zakopane is only energetic in the winter months. Yes, it’s at its busiest when the ski slopes open between December and March. But hiking and mountain climbing are also HUGE here – the town has given the world some of the best winter mountaineers, ever. That main strip along Krupowki is buzzing no matter the time of the year, and summer means open-air beer halls and whatnot spilling onto the sidewalks.
The best party towns in Poland – our conclusion
There’s no doubt about it – Poland is one downright hedonistic destination. I remember jetting in back in 2013 to find that a big beer cost just $1 and bars didn’t really know the meaning of the phrase “closing time.” Most of the locals will tell you that the mainstay party town is the southern city of Krakow. It might have a UNESCO core, but it also packs in the highest concentration of bars and drinkeries of any city in Europe.
Krakow is just the starter for die-hard revelers in these parts, though. From there, you could hop south to the mountain town of Zakopane to live it up in highlander taverns in the company of skiers. Or you could ride those brand-new high-speed railways north to Warsaw and Gdansk; cities that throb with mega clubs, moody vodka bars, beach bars, and a whole load more.