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Poland Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Poland

More than anything else, arts and crafts are the main things to shop for on a visit to Poland. Particularly popular items that are widely available include glass and enamelware, hand-woven rugs, silverware, jewellery made with silver, dolls in regional costumes, woodcarvings and clay and metal sculptures. The nationwide chain Cepelia (www.cepelia.pl), with branches in most big cities, is the place to head first - its shops stock a good range of local handicrafts. Another much loved item available widely is amber, especially in the north of the country in and around Gdańsk. This can be sold in many forms, from large lumps to exquisitely carved necklaces.

For more standard shopping experiences, Warsaw and Cracow are the best bets. Both cities have a large number of department and clothing stores, many of which are international chains. Warsaw also has the country's best selection of art on sale, ranging from smart art galleries to informal art markets. Your best bet for art, bric-a-brac, curios and the odd real antique is a chain of shops called Desa Unicum (www.desa.pl). Bear in mind that the export of anything produced up until the end of WWII in 1945 is strictly controlled (though the people at Desa Unicum are very familiar with the procedures and will help with the necessary paperwork).

Polish posters are renowned around the world for their bold colours and striking graphics. They’ve become major collector’s items and the best ones are not cheap, but have a look at specialised shops and galleries in Warsaw and Cracow.

Shopping hours

Mon-Fri 1000-1800/2000 and Sat 1000-1300/1600. 'Night shops' open 24 hours. Supermarkets and department stores are usually open daily 1000-1900.

Nightlife in Poland

Nightlife in Poland is rich and exciting, taking in everything from cultural and artistic exhibitions and performances to good old-fashioned vodka bars where you can eat cheap pierogi (dumplings) and drink one of the many excellent Polish beers.

The best-known theatres in the country are in Warsaw and Cracow, with additional well-established ones in Wrocław, Poznań, Białystok and Zakopane. Musically, the National Philharmonic and a National Opera in Warsaw are the country's most celebrated. In terms of popular music, rock and pop are as big here as they are anywhere in the world and jazz has its loyal followers. But home-grown Polish hip-hop is firmly rooted in the mainstream now and heard just about everywhere in the country.

Cinema is very popular in Poland, and you can find cinemas in all sizable towns. There is a large selection of dance clubs, bars and venues for live music in most towns. Clubs often choose to stay open until the last guest leaves. The best places for clubbing are Warsaw, Wrocław, Cracow and Gdańsk. As well as clubbing, Poles love to spend the evenings in cosy bars and inns, where beer and, of course, vodka is drunk in large quantities. These are also usually venues for live music.

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