Last month, I spent a week in Warsaw, most of which was spent researching at the National Library. But I saved the last day of my trip to explore the flea markets of Warsaw.
As I think I’ve mentioned previously, my MA thesis is about postcards of Warsaw at the end of World War II, and one of my goals of my trip was to come home with some additional examples. Leave it to me to make hunting through flea markets an integral part of a research trip! I ended up buying a bunch right at the last minute, as the second flea market I visited was closing for the day.
Warsaw has a few flea markets, all of which are a bit off the beaten path. The two markets I ended up visiting, the Zoo and Kolo markets, are easily accessible by public transit from the city center, and are worth the short trip.
Visiting Warsaw’s Flea Markets:
I don’t know if it was because I was visiting off season, but I was disappointed at first by the small selection of vendors at this market. Once I started hunting, though, I realized that among the small selection at the flea market were still some real treasures.
The Zoo Flea Market is definitely a bit more upscale, a little more hipster, with a more curated selection offered by the vendors. Especially if you’re exchanging American dollars for Polish zloty, though, the prices are still extremely reasonable. The real strength of the small market was pottery and ceramics.
A couple days previously, I had visited the excellent folklore exhibition at Zacheta (Warsaw’s national gallery of art), so I was inspired to pick up a beautiful hand painted plate that reminded me of those included in the exhibition. I also purchased a sleek white midcentury vase made in Germany.
Visit: The Zoo Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-6. You can get there on any public transit that takes you to the Warsaw Zoo, including the 13, 23, 26, or 32 trams.
Compared to the Zoo Market, the flea market at Kolo is a lot more traditional, and a lot more of an adventure. Don’t expect the vendors here to speak English, so if your Polish isn’t that great, see if you can find a Polish speaking friend to go with you.
You can find literally everything and anything at Kolo. It was here that I finally found my postcards, sold by a sweet older man who was charmed by the fact I came all the way from Philadelphia and spoke passable Polish. He patiently sorted through all of the postcards he was selling to pick out the ones that fit the criteria for my thesis.
It was a good thing that I was already carrying my ceramics from the Zoo market (and had also spent all of my zloty), because I was tempted by so many items at Kolo – especially these interesting carvings.
Visit: The Kolo market is also open on weekends, from 6am-3pm (but many vendors start to wrap things up earlier). Take the 12, 13, or 24 tram to Kolo. (You might have noticed that the 13 tram conveniently goes between the Zoo and Kolo markets, if you want to hit them both like I did!)
Do you tend to visit flea markets and thrift stores when you travel? What are some of your favorites?