Warsaw Chopin Airport (IATA code WAW), located in the neighborhood of Wlochy, eight miles south-southwest of Warsaw`s Old Town, is the main point of entry for tourists flying into the Polish capital and much of eastern Poland. It is the busiest airport in the country. Many airlines use this airport as a hub, such as Enter Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Small Planet Airlines Poland, Travel Service Polska, and Wizz Air.
Koleje Mazowieckie (KM) offers a train which runs between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. directly from Warsaw Chopin Airport station to Warsaw Central railway station at least once an hour even during slow periods. A one-way ticket costs less than 10 zl. For more information, you can visit www.mazowieckie.com.pl/en.
Most forms of public transport in Warsaw are run by Zarzad Transportu Miejskiego w Warsawie (ZTM). ZTM Bus 175 leaves at least twice an hour from Warsaw Chopin Airport to Warsaw Central railway station between the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. Bus N32 leaves every half-hour between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. from the airport to the central railway station. Both of these buses can be boarded by exiting the arrivals wing and locating the bus stop for 175 (or N32). Public transport passes can be purchased for single trips or for the entire day (priced at under 20 zl). For more information, visit www.ztm.waw.pl/?l=2.
The taxis waiting outside the arrivals terminal at Warsaw Chopin Airport belong to Sawa Taxi (www.sawataxi.com.pl). Simply take the first available cab from the taxi stand. Expect to pay 50-70 zl for a ride to the Old Town, depending on traffic.
Sixt, Hertz, Express, Dollar, Europcar, Budget and Avis rental car companies are all represented in Warsaw Chopin Airport. Car rentals will set you back approximately $40 to $60 per day. Some hotels do not charge for self-parking but others may; please check before you arrive at your hotel so you are not startled.
There is a small but unlikely chance that you will arrive in Warsaw via the city`s newest airport, Modlin Airport (IATA code WMI), about 25 miles north of Warsaw. Koleje Mazowieckie offers transportation from Modlin Airport to Warsaw every hour from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Included in the ticket price is the KM bus from Modlin Airport to Modlin railway station, then a train from Modlin to Warsaw Central railway station. It is priced under 30 zl.How do I get from the train station to my hotel?
Three bus stops are located on the perimeter of the Warsaw Central railway station building, with buses leaving at all hours of the day and night for all parts of the city. The tram stop adjacent to the railway station is called Dw. Centralny and sits on two well-traveled tram lines. The fare is determined by the number of zones traveled; for the bus and tram, nearly all sights in Warsaw (with the exception of perhaps Wilanow Palace) can be visited for the same price as the area falls under one zone. An all-day pass is priced in the neighborhood of 20 zl and can be purchased from a ticket window or an automated machine.
There are two taxi stands accessible from Warsaw Central railway station: one in front of the main waiting area near Aleje Jerozolimskie, and one behind the station (at Zlote Tarasy shopping mall). The meter should start in the neighborhood of 10 zl, with about 5 zl added for each mile traveled.
Note: Keep in mind that only licensed taxis are allowed by law to queue at taxi stands. Locating a taxi stand is your safest bet in finding a licensed taxi in Warsaw, apart from calling the taxi company directly and requesting a cab.How do I get around Warsaw using the train and the tram system?
Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe,or `PKP`) is the company which runs the vast majority of railways andstations in Poland. Trains that stop at Warsaw Central railway stationare not just local trains, but also high-speed trains that travel to Gdansk, Krakow, and even outside Poland. Suburban train service serves the towns within a 50-mile radius of the capital. For more information, visit www.rozklad-pkp.pl/en.
The extensive tram service in Warsaw is managed by Tramwaje Warszawskie (TW), a subsidiary organization of ZTM. There are 27 tram lines running throughout the city, with limited service available overnight. Tickets can be purchased at tram station automated machines (instructions are available in English) or on the tram as you board. Transfers are necessary if you want to get to a number of places around the city; an all-day pass (approx. 20 zl) may be a good investment.How do I get around the city using other public transportation?
Warsaw`s bus system consists of over 200 routes, over two dozen of which are overnight routes only. The system is operated by ZTM, and serves Warsaw and the towns within a 40-mile radius. Tickets are priced by zone (the city center, where most sights are, is considered one zone) and a one-way ticket usually costs about 5 zl per zone. Buy your tickets from an automated kiosk. (English instructions should be available for you to choose on the main touch screen.)
The Warsaw Metro consists of two lines which run north to south on the western side of the River Vistula and from west to east, crossing the Vistula. The subway trains run once every ten minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays (to 3 a.m. on weekends and some public holidays). We recommend sticking with the tram system which is more extensive and just as modern.How do I call/hail a taxi?
Unlicensed taxis are still a problem in Warsaw, so it is not recommended to wave your hand in the air for a taxi while standing on a street corner. For your reference, official taxis will display a sticker with a hologram on the upper right corner of the car`s windshield. The taxi driver`s registration number and the vehicle`s registration number should be in plain view when you enter the car, as should his photograph and his name. The taxi driver is legally obligated to keep the meter in plain sight of the passenger, and to start a new trip upon departure (instead of keeping the meter on and having the passenger pay two fares). Expect to pay 5 zl for every mile traveled, with the base fare falling in the 10 zl range.
In order to put customers in touch with licensed taxi companies, Teletaxi (www.teletaxi.pl) has created a website and an app which lists the names and phone numbers of taxi companies recommended across the country, including in Warsaw.
Note: Some unscrupulous taxi drivers may `allow` you to pay in U.S. dollars, with the trick being that the exchange rate won`t work in your favor. Only pay in zlotys for your taxi and for every other purchase in Poland.I will have a car in Warsaw. Where can I park?
Parking is readily available in Warsaw. Street parking can be paid from a nearby meter for about 5 zl an hour, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After these hours, and on weekends and holidays, street parking is free. Public parking lots are in abundance near major international hotel chains, near Krasinski Palace, next to the Polish Supreme Court, and on the ulica Marszalkowska side of the Palace of Culture and Science. Parking is offered in these lots for under 10 zl an hour.Is Warsaw a dangerous city? Are there any areas I should avoid?
Warsaw is a safe city in an equally safe country. Only one area of town should be avoided after dark: the Praga neighborhoods east of the River Vistula. Tourists will find that their business in Praga will only take them there during the daytime, however, when it is safe to walk openly from street to street.
Take common-sense precautions while on your trip: Keep your wits about you and always look like you know where you are going, even when you may not, so there is no possibility for petty thieves to take advantage of you. Be sure to keep your valuables on your person at all times, and never keep all of your money in one place; split up your cash into various pockets in your clothes.Are there long lines at the museums? Does it make sense to buy a museum pass?
Long lines have been noted at a number of museums in Warsaw, such as the Copernicus Science Centre, the National Museum, the Frederic Chopin Museum, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, and POLIN - The Museum of the History of the Polish Jews. These museums in particular should be visited just as they open, or later in the day, to avoid peak crowds.
The Warsaw Pass (www.warsawpass.com), which can be purchased online and in person for under 200 zl for three days, not only entitles you to free admission at many museums such as the ones aforementioned, but also lets you skip the lines and enter when you want.Can I pay/tip in US dollars?
The currency of Poland is the zloty (abbreviated zl). U.S. dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for zlotys upon arrival. Currency exchange desks (kantor in Polish) and ATMs can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.I don't speak Polish. Will many people speak English?
Once upon a time, Poland had an `English drought`of sorts: the few people who did speak English left the country to work in the UK, Canada and the U.S. Now, there are more English speakers across Poland than ever before, including in Warsaw, where you may be blown away by the high percentage of young people (under 30) who can speak English very well.
The most recent European Union language survey says that 33% of Polish adults can speak English at a conversational level or better, a rate higher than in other Slavic countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Do keep in mind that English may be spoken at your hotel and in tourist areas, but off the beaten path there are definitely fewer English speakers than in the city center. We suggest you get a good English-Polish dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10. To ask someone if they speak English, say `Czy mowisz po angielsku?` (chi moo-vish po ang-gyel-skoo?).Are there any basic Polish customs I should be aware of before arriving in Warsaw?
If you are invited to a Polish person`s home, it is customary to bring a gift, but not an expensive one. Pastries, wine and flowers are fine, but not even-numbered flowers (some superstitious Poles say such a gift invites bad luck or even death!). White and red flowers are also not recommended as gifts, as they are associated with death. Give a more elaborate gift for a name day (feast days of Catholic saints) than a birthday. Turning down a toast is considered bad form; alcohol is served in small glasses and it is customary to finish at least one glass.What time do Poles usually eat? Do I need to make reservations to fancy restaurants in advance?
Supper (Kolacja), usually taken in the 8 or 9 o`clock hour, is a lot lighter than the mid-afternoon dinner (obiad). Informal affairs usually revolve around hot or cold sandwiches, or a simple dish with a main entrée of meat, a big piece of bread, and some form of potato. A dinner party will be more formal and will be served in courses, including a soup, salad, appetizer and dessert.
Most upscale restaurants do require a reservation, and depeding on the restaurant, may require booking weeks or even months in advance. Warsaw is one of only two Michelin-starred Polish foodie cities and scores of restaurants are just waiting for you to try them out.
Note: Anti-smoking laws in Poland prohibit smoking in restaurants and nightclubs unless there is a separate, ventilated `smoking room` on the premises.What are the best areas for shopping?
The streets around the Palace of Culture and Science are very well-known for shopping. If you`re looking for a couture shopathon, then you will fall in love at the sheer number of boutiques and high-end stores along Marszalkowska, Jerozolimskie and Nowy Swiat streets. Nothing can top the experience Chmielna Street offers, however: bars, restaurants and cafés have found a spot on this shopping street, so an entire day of fun can be had without even skipping to another part of town.
Keep in mind that one of the newest shopping malls, one of the largest in Warsaw, is located just behind Warsaw Central railway station. It is called Zlote Tarasy and you can find everything there, from Polish gifts and memorabilia for souvenirs to well-known international brands such as Zara, Sephora and Swarovski.Where can I rent a bicycle in Warsaw?
Warsaw`s city government operates a bike rental system called Veturilo (www.veturilo.waw.pl/en), which has set up over 300 rental spots throughout the capital. A bike can be rented for free for up to 20 minutes, and up to 3 hours for under 10 zl. Bike rentals cannot exceed 12 hours and a rental ends when a bicycle is returned to a rental kiosk and parked (it does not have to be the same area in which your bicycle was rented).