If you are looking for local craft and gifts in Warsaw the best choice is to stroll around the Old Town with gift shops, little galleries and vendor's stands (in late spring and summer) - all with similar prices. The good option are a few museum gift shops (like that one in the Royal Castle). Add difficult to find gift shops (don't waste your time despite a bit lower prices there) spread all over the city and those in large shopping malls (often as expensive as those in the Old Town).
All over Poland look for Cepelia shops. This state-owned in the communist past company runs shops full of Polish handicraft and gifts :-). It's still a strange company, they have no shop in the Old Town but four put relatively close one to each other in Warsaw downtown: go to Cepelia Art Gallery and Shop in 8, Chmielna St.; in 23, Krucza St., in 99/101 Marszalkowska St. (map here) or go a bit southwards along Marszalkowska to 5, Pl. Konstytucji (Constitution Square), map here. When you visit Russian bazar at the stadium (Stadion X-lecia) on the right bank of the Vistula River go to nearby Cepelia store in 49, Francuska St. (almost Rondo Waszyngtona; map here). Check up-to-date locations of Cepelia shops.
Galeria MP (MP Gallery) is not a fancy shop by design (why?) but at the best location and offers good choice of silver and amber jewelry, glass/crystals as well as other Polish craft and Warsaw gifts. Warning: the shop assistant could speak fluently... Polish and very little English in 2004.
What to buy: I, or better to say my wife, liked a lot some silver and Baltic amber jewelry by Klechov Style from Gdynia (close Gdansk, link below). She liked large in size rings which contained large and only slightly cut dark brown amber stone and thick but simple in design silver rings. Add some linen table clothes with discrete handmade needlecraft.
Amber is most characteristic for Gdansk (often named the world amber capitol) and Baltic seaside of Poland.
What to pay: Good or top quality and artistic value silver/amber jewelry must cost. However, the prices are lower or even much lower than in the Western Europe or the USA.
Top quality rings cost from 130 to over 260 zl (€ 34 - 68). Bracelets and necklaces made of large stones over 350 zl (92 €). The unique and the most expensive are large old amber stones with Carboniferous fossils insects (flies) inside. Did you know that the Baltic amber is 35 - 40 million years old?
Pracownia Kilinskiego (Kilinski's Workshop) is a gallery rather than just a shop in the Old Town so the gifts sold here are of outstanding quality. The selection is so wide that you will be tempted to buy not just one thing, and keep it rather than give away. They have interesting artistic local craft, paintings, jewelry, silver, china, militaria, coins, old maps, tin soldiers, all kinds of fascinating antiques and anything you can think of. What is more, it is also a workshop where they can repair your antiques or jewelry for you. Their specialty is making all kinds of talismans and charms and their clients include the Sheik of Qatar and Eric Clapton, who has apparently said that the charm bought here has helped him in his career. But there is no guarantee of the magical powers of the objects. The shop is much bigger than it looks from the outside. Do go in and browse to your heart's content.
Just remember that any artistic objects made before 1945 cannot be taken out of Poland without special permission. So I suppose you'd better declare the antiques that you bring into the country to be repaired.
What to buy: Whatever catches your fancy.
What to pay: The prices are rather high but the quality of the products is guaranteed. The owner of the shop Jacek Kilinski is an architect and an artist.
I was looking for something I could take back to remind me of Poland, but as I was given gifts ended up just spending my left over currency at the Duty free .
All the gift shops concentrate on dolls, babushka nesting dolls [not Polish, but liked by children], wooden carvings, china , crystal, amber and colourful papercraft.
It was interesting just looking in shop windows where such a variety was available.
Old fashioned wooden toys were a delight, and much appreciated by my grandchildren as a change from the electronic games.
What to buy: wooden toys- amber- picture or painting
What to pay: as little or as much as you can afford
This small gallery with absolutely unique glass and lamps you can not miss. The gallery is run by artists who can tell you very interesting stories about production of their glass. There are beautiful vases, bowls, flowerpots, glasses, plates, candlesticks. Some of the glass and lamps are engraved.
What to buy: You should buy glasses with engraved latin sentence and very inventive lamps.
What to pay: Glasses 8 euro - 45 Euro. Vases 25- 100 Euro. Lamps 130-380 Euro.
'Smyk' is a department store with children's articles in the centre of Warsaw. It sells everything children may need but the soft toy factory is probably the most interesting part of it. The child (or an adult for that matter) can have a teddy bear or another soft toy made to order there, complete with a voice saying a few words, which could actually be daddy's or mum's or the child's. All the accessories, like clothes, shoes etc. are available on the spot to transform the newly-born into e.g. a sportsman or a baby bear. Then the child chooses a name for it, gets a birth certificate and the bear is ready to cuddle and play with.
What to buy: Soft toys
What to pay: ca 60 zloties + the price of accessories
It's a quite large museum shop which offers good choice of books on Warsaw as well as postcards and various gifts. The very friendly shop assistant could speak some English and helped Toyin to choose T-shirts with Poland's coat of arm.
What to buy: Postcards, books and various gifts: T-shirts, figures of medieval knights, mugs with Warsaw landmarks, Poland's flags.
What to pay: Although it's a museum store the prices are average as for Warsaw.
There were street stalls set up along Nowomiejska street, opposite to milk bar (Bar Pod Barbakanem). Hmm... I saw there unbelievable kitchy, fluffy, monkey-like mascots holding Polish national flag which provoked me to think over balance between protection for the image of the national flag and free market with human right to have a choice and own taste.
What to buy: I also saw pretty Warsaw postcards, travel books on Warsaw (in English, French and German) and some small gifts sold there (open my next pictures). I know one VT-er who collects dolls dressed in local costumes and buys them in each country she visits. The dolls on my picture were waiting for her :-). Well, excuse, maybe the dolls were made in China...
What to pay: Average Warsaw (high as for Poland) prices. Some 40 zl (10.5 euros) per doll.
I found a beautifull shop with antiques, gifts, paintings and jewelerry, typestiy and many many more fantastic items. Its located in the centre of the city, near "Palace of culture" . Its located on Emilii Plater st. no 47
What to buy: All items are unique and exceptional. You can find there glass ornaments, typesties, paintings, folk carvings, sculptures, jewelerryn and many many more.
What to pay: They accept credit cards, euro and $
The stall in the picture is one of a few in the Old Town area. It is situated in the arcade of the house where Maria Curie-Sklodowska conducted her research and there is a plaque to commemorate this. The stall itself offers Polish folk costumes, scarves, dolls dressed in folk dresses, amber jewelry and all kinds of gifts. Look at the folk costumes of the Cracow area - my sister and I had such costumes when we were children. It didn't matter that we had never even been to Cracow then. They were symbolic of Poland and were worn for church processions, which we attended with our grandmother.
What to buy: Dolls in folk costumes, brightly-coloured scarves, other gifts
Old Town is home to dozens of little shops and individual merchants selling art, jewelry, souvinirs, books, antiques, etc. Though nowhere near as jammed with shops as the old city in Krakow, there are still quite a few places to browse around here. Like other places I shopped in Poland I was pleased to find that the merchants are not pushy at all, so you can feel free to slowly peruse their wares at a casual pace. Old Town is a good place to shop for gifts and souvinirs for yourself, and it was the only place where I could find a Polish soccer (sorry, football) jersey for my young son.
They are all over the Old Town along with pubs and restaurants. You are more than welcome to stop by and take a look- everything is sold there, from antiques to some folk art pieces! You will find a lot of money exchange points in the Old Town as well, you know- a hidden suggestion....exchange you cash and spend it here! ;-)
What to buy:
Sometimes, looking at some vendors' stands I just wonder: Do tourists really buy these... these... ok, souvenirs?
And than suddenly I recall myself my trips and souvenirs I bought and carried sometimes even thousands kilometers...
Some of them went to my family and friends, some are part of equipment at my home, but there are always few "souvenirs" that I don't know what to do with, and wonder why in fact I bought them...
Well, I think I found answer to my question :)
I only hope I'm not alone with what I do... ;)
PS. Sound it familiar to anyone? ;)
What to buy:
If you want to buy something that will remind you Warsaw or just bring such souvenir for someone else, you will probably have a problem... what to choose.
I must say I was surprised by the huge range of everything with the symbols of Warsaw. You can get from just quite littles (hangings, marks, ballpens etc) through medium size (caskets, small pictures, photographs, valets, dolls in folk dress etc) to quite big ones (paintings, carvings, reliefes)... From things that are worth a little (not to say “nothing”) to really valuable articles such as amber jevellery...
I always wonder how much time people spend on such shopping...
What to buy:
At the Old Town you can find wide rage of carvings and reliefes. From the least to quite big ones. Matters they present are really various. The same refers to the prices...
Sometimes you can see how they come into being, as some of the creators do their job at the place. And sometimes you can order special carving that represents what you need...