Travelling to Warsaw

Wed, 24 Apr
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Warsaw is both Poland's capital and its largest city, with over 1.7 million people living there which serve to make it the 9th most populous in the entire EU. Located somewhat east of the centre of Poland, on the banks of the river Wisła, it is an important destination for anyone with even a passing interest in European culture and history.

Warsaw has endured a turbulent past and so has a reputation of something of a "phoenix-city" due to its continual regeneration from various conflicts. It was rebuilt from the rubble of World War II in which 85% of its buildings were destroyed and today its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Since 1989, Warsaw has modernised far more rapidly than a lot of the rest of the country, to the extent that it is now considered an Alpha grade global city.

How to Get to Warsaw

Flying into Warsaw Chopin Airport

Warsaw Chopin is an international airport located in the Włochy district of Warsaw, located roughly 10 kilometres from the south of the city centre. As the biggest airport in Poland it handles approximately 300 scheduled flights every day. There is now just one terminal which handles passengers, Terminal A, which replaced the previous two-terminal setup. In 2013, Warsaw Chopin Airport was the 40th busiest airport in Europe.

Getting from Warsaw Chopin Airport to the City Centre

Passengers can take either the train or bus for travel to and from the airport.

The two companies that offer train transport: Szybka Kolej Miejska SKM (like the S-Bahn in Germany) and Kolej Mazowiecka KML (Mazovian Railways). The SKM services S2 and S3 both pass through the centre of the city.

Four bus routes go to and from Chopin Airport, routes 148, 175, 188 and 331. Route 175 passes by Warszawa Centralna railway station and the city centre.

There is only one night bus service to and from the airport: route N32.

The entire trip takes 30–45 minutes, depending on traffic. Buses depart every ten minutes.

For safety reasons Warsaw Chopin Airport recommends 3 licensed taxi companies: EleSky Taxi, Super Taxi and Sawa Taxi; they are located directly by the exit of the terminal. Taxi tariffs should be clearly displayed in the car window. The taxi fare from the airport to the city centre is approximately 40 zł.

Chopin Airport offers travellers 3700 parking spaces (P1, P3, P4). In front of the terminal is only pick up and drop off.

Flying into Warsaw-Modlin Airport

Modlin Airport was opened in June 2012 and is located near the town of Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki, 40km to the north of Warsaw. As of March 2014 only Ryanair operates flights to and from Modlin.

Getting from Warsaw-Modlin Airport to the City Centre

Koleje Mazowieckie KML operates a train from Warsaw to Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. There is a shuttle bus service between the airport and the train station. A combined ticket costs around 12 zł.

There is direct bus, operated by Modlinbus company, from the airport to the Warsaw city centre. This costs around 29 zł. A cheaper option also exists, for around 8 zł you can get a combination ticket for the Translud bus. To take this one, take bus no 2 or 6 from Warsaw Center (next to Domy Towarowe Centrum) to Modlin Twierdza Pętla station. Then there is a change onto another bus which will take you from Modlin Twierdza Pętla directly to the airport. The whole trip should take less than 1 and a half hours.

Modlin Airport recommends two taxi companies: Sawa Taxi and Taxi Modlin. The journey time to Warsaw city centre is about 35-40 minutes. From the city centre it should cost 150 zł in the daytime and 200 zł at night.

To get from Warsaw to Modlin Airport by car you need to take the S7 for Gdańsk and after crossing the river take the national road 62 for Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. At the airport passengers can leave their cars parked in two different areas: PA1 for short stay parking and PA2 for longer stay parking.

Trains to Warszawa Centralna

Warsaw's main train station is located right in the heart of the city, in fact it's directly across the road from the famous Palace of Culture and Science. Mind out that you don't miss your stop, as the station is not at the end of the line!

Getting from Warszawa Centralna to the City Centre

The station is right in the middle of Warsaw; nevertheless should you need to get to other parts of the city, a selection of bus, tram and tube stops are located outside.

Toll parking is available around the station.

Trains to Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East)

The Station is located in east Warsaw, near to the Polish national stadium. Both national and international trains pass through it.

Getting from Warszawa Wschodnia to the City Centre

A whole host of options for further transit are available:

Trams: 3 (Gocławek), 7 (P+R Al.Krakowska), 22 (Piaski)

Buses: 120 (Olesin), 123 (Dworzec Wschodni (East Station)-Lubelska or Kijowska), 146 (Falenica), 147 (Wiśniowa Góra), 156 (Subway Młociny), 169 (Bródno-Podgrodzie), 315 (Stara Miłosna)

Night buses: N02, N03, N71.

Taxis are located outside by the main entrance.

Trains to Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West)

Warszawa Zachodnia is located next to the bus terminal of the same name, on the border of the Ochota and Wola districts. There is easy access from the bus station by way of an underground tunnel.

Getting from Warszawa Wschodnia to the City Centre

Buses: 127, 154, 158, 172, 182, 184, 187, 517, 523, 717 all stop there.

Night buses: N35 and N85 (to Warszawa Centralna every 30 minutes beginning at 11:52pm).

The taxi rank is actually underneath the bus station. A ride into town shouldn't cost more than 25-30 zł.

Parking spaces cost about 4 zł per hour.

Buses to Dworzec PKS Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West Bus Station)

Most international buses will arrive here - the aforementioned bus station next to Warsaw West train station.

Getting from Dworzec PKS Warszawa Zachodnia to the City Centre

See the equivalent section from Warszawa Zachodnia train station.

Driving to Warsaw

Warsaw is well connected to the motorway network:

  • from the north: Route E77 (from Gdańsk)
  • from the east: Route E67 (from Białystok), route E30 (from Terespol)
  • from the south: Route E67 (from Wrocław), route E77 (from Kraków)
  • from the west: Route E30 (from Poznań)

Driving right into the city centre is possible, though the whole of the centre of Warsaw is a toll parking zone. This rule applies from Monday to Friday (8 am - 6 pm). On weekends and public holidays parking is free. One hour of parking costs 3 zł.

The speed limits are: 50 km/h in city (60 km/h 23:00-05:00), 90 km/h outside the city, 100 km/h if lanes are separated, 100 km/h on single carriage way car-only roads (white car on the blue sign), 120 km/h on dual carriageway car-only roads, and 140 km/h on motorways / freeways (autostrada).

Driving with dipped lights on is obligatory at all times, and wearing your seatbelt is mandatory. Some stretches of motorway are tolled- it is possible to pay in PLN, Euros and US Dollars. Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content as small as 0.2 percent – the outcome of drinking a small glass of beer – is considered over the limit in Poland and is a criminal offence. If you're travelling with a US license, be sure to take an international license with you. Poland is one of the few countries in Europe requiring US persons to travel with an international license in order to rent a car.

Driving conditions can become treacherous in winter.

How to Get Around in Warsaw

Public Transport in Warsaw

The public transport network in Warsaw covers the whole city by way of buses, trams and metro. There is currently only one metro line, although a second one is under construction. All services are managed by Zarząd Transportu Miejskiego (ZTM).

  • Public Transport Provider: Zarząd Transportu Miejskiego (ZTM)
  • Cost of a Ticket: A short trip ticket (valid for 20 minutes) costs 3,4 zł. A single fare transfer ticket costs 4,4 zł for 75 min or 7 zł for 90 min.
  • Discounted Ticket Types: There is a 50% discount for students of undergraduate, engineering or master’s programs, students of teacher-training colleges as well as of social worker-training colleges. You need to have a valid student ID for the discount to be valid.
  • Availability of Public Transport at Night: There is a night bus service. Routes are marked with an N and run a reduced schedule compared to during the day.

Cycling in Warsaw

Cycling in the city is a pretty common mode of transport, with bike rental stands dotted around quite often. The most popular route is on the left bank of the river, from Młociny to Powsin.

  • Official Municipal Bike Provider: Veturilo

Rental Costs:

  • Initial fee - 10 zł
  • 1 to 20 minutes - 0 zł
  • 21 to 60 minutes - 1 zł
  • Second hour - 3 zł
  • Third hour - 5 zł
  • The fourth and each additional hour - 7 zł
  • Fee for exceeding 12 hours hire - 200 zł

Taxis in Warsaw

It is highly recommended to use a taxi with the symbol of Warsaw on both front doors (the mermaid). You can order the taxi by phone (ask for the taxi's number so that you take the correct car).

  • Base Minimum Fare: 8 zł
  • Cost: 3 zł per km (4,50 zł at night)

Walking Around Warsaw

In general, Warsaw is a very pedestrian-friendly city- much of the Old Town is pedestrianised and there is limited traffic in a lot of central areas. Going by foot is also the best way to explore the landscaped parks such as Park Ujazdowski and Park Łazienkowski with all their pretty details.

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About Warsaw

Home to over 1.7 million people, Warsaw is the wide-spread capital of Poland. Modernised glass buildings tower the city, once one of the most diverse in the world, whilst authentic points of interest remind us of its historical past. Warsaw is an easy to navigate capital, that gained a place on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites during the 1980's, after the town was restored to its original state. It's an enjoyable place to visit for those who are intrigued by the cities historical past. From tombs, museums and churches, there is something to peak anyone's interest.

Quick Guide to Warsaw

  • Must Know: Driving around Warsaw isn't the most practical way to get around, Metro, tram and bus lines operate at regular intervals. They all exhibit the same ticket system, allowing you to reach anywhere in the city.
  • Must See: The Warsaw uprising museum is a breath-taking building, that is dedicated to the uprising of 1944. With written reports, interactive exhibits and much more, this is an exciting and educational point of interest.
  • Must Do: The Jewish Warsaw bike tour allows you the opportunity to view the remains of the cities Jewish past, whilst working your way up to the modern day Jewish community, all from the seat of a bike.
  • Did You Know: The symbol of Warsaw is a mermaid. It is believed that a charming mermaid once roamed the city, before one day being unjustly captured by a selection of residents. A fisherman's son, overhearing the mermaid, decided to free her. In return, she offered a promise to protect Warsaw.

Walking Around in Warsaw

Warsaw is a wonderful city for walking as the city center, or Old Town, is fairly compact and the ground is level. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants in the city if you need to take a break from walking. Start your journey at the Royal Castle, which was once home to the Polish Royal Family. The castle was completely destroyed in WWII, but was carefully rebuilt and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those that are interested in Polish history should take one of the guided tours of the castle. Across from the castle, you will find St. Anne's church, where there is a narrow staircase to the top of the church tower. The climb is worth the effort for birds-eye views of the whole city. A short walk away, you will find the Barbican, which is a historic fortification that was once part of the city's walls. There is a small monument there to children who died in the war. Next, head towards the historic Jewish Ghetto, where you can learn about the treatment of the city's Jewish residents during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. There are a number of interesting museums and memorials to explore here.

Public Transport in Warsaw

The city center of Warsaw has an extensive public transport system that makes it easy for visitors to travel to all the attractions in the city. The bus and tram system provide multiple routes that criss-cross the whole of the city center, and English maps are available at all tram and bus stations. There is a subway or metro system that offers two lines across the city with one running from north to south, and the other line running east to west. Each line of the subway has a number of stations, making this a quick and efficient means of travel in the city center. Public transport tickets include all three methods of transport and the tickets are available at all metro, bus, and tram stations. A few of the newer buses and trams have ticket machines onboard. The machines take credit cards, debit cards, and coins for the exact amount of the fare. Visitors can purchase tickets that are valid for twenty minutes, one hour, and one day depending on their travel requirements. Those over seventy, and children under the age of seven, travel for free on all Warsaw public transport - but proof of age is required.

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