- Warsaw is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
Warsaw  (Polish: Warszawa) is the capital of Poland and, with 1.7 million inhabitants, its largest city. It is located on the Vistula River (Polish: Wisła), roughly equidistant (350 km, 217 mi) from both the Baltic Sea (Bałtyk) in the north and the Carpathian Mountains (Karpaty) in the south.
The medieval capital of Poland was the southern city of Krakow, but Warsaw has been the capital of the country since 1596, and has grown to become Poland's largest city and the nation's urban and commercial center. Completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, the city managed to lift itself from the ashes. Today, almost every building in Warsaw dated to the postwar era - with what little remains of the old structures being confined largely to the restored districts of Stare Miasto (the 'old city') and Nowe Miasto ('new city'), as well as selected monuments and cemeteries.
A thriving European capital, Warsaw was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1939, and was the scene of two major uprisings during the war - the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, and the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The former involved the remaining Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto, which had already largely been emptied by the Nazi extermination policies of the Holocaust, and was ended by the annihilation of the Ghetto by Nazi forces. The latter involved the Polish resistance forces, known as the Home Army (Armia Krajowa, or AK), rising up against the Nazi occupation of the city in hopes that the city could be liberated by Polish forces instead of the facing dubious Soviet 'liberation' from the east. The Soviet Union had cooperated with Nazi Germany in the invasion and occupation of Poland in 1939.
After five years under brutal occupation, with the tide of the war turning against the Third Reich, the leaders of the Polish underground resistance (the AK) made the decision to launch a total effort to dislodge the Nazis from the city of Warsaw. With over 45,000 troops already in Warsaw, the AK and several allied organizations took up strategic locations around the city and launched the Uprising. Across Poland, there were roughly 400,000 troops involved in the resistance. The Uprising was scheduled to begin on August 1, 1944 at 5PM. However, in the the city center, and the districts of Wola and Żoliborz, fighting broke out before the planned hour.
Fighting continued until October 5, 1944 when the Home Army and its allied organizations surrendered. Despite its successes and valor, the Polish fighters were outnumbered and outgunned. The Home Army was unable to continue its fight without the help of the Allies. America and Britain did very little to support the Uprising, other than dropping some supplies over the city (the Soviet Union refused to allow the use of airfields in territory under its control). The Soviet Union took a multifaceted role by allying themselves with the Home Army to win victories against the Germans in other Polish territories, then disarming and imprisoning the Polish soldiers. The Soviet Union purposely allowed the Warsaw Uprising to fail by abandoning the Home Army and Varsovians so it could install a puppet government in postwar Poland.
After the surrender, the German army, despite its agreements under the surrender treaty, systematically destroyed over 85% of Warsaw in retaliation for the uprising, including the historic "Old Town" which was rebuilt after the war. Of 987 historically important buildings, only 64 were left untouched by the Germans. Polish soldiers were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Warsaw's civilian population was "evacuated" with some being sent to concentration camps, or sent to Germany for forced labor. Others were sent to different Polish cities.
In the first days of the fighting, Nazi forces indiscriminately murdered about 60,000 civilians, including women and children, in the district of Wola. In the end, the Uprising cost 180,000 civilians their lives, the lives of an additional 18,000 insurgents, the capital its glory, and the Polish nation its long-desired independence. The only thing that persevered was the Polish spirit.
Post-World War II
The city was rebuilt in the immediate aftermath of the war, and the monolithic gray apartment blocks that characterize much of the city (especially its outer areas) are a relic of the Stalinist utilitarianism that dominated the rebuilding efforts. A typical example of the Stalinist architecture is the monolithic Palace of Culture (palac kultury), with its clocktower, which remains Warsaw's tallest building.
Since the fall of communism in 1989, Warsaw has been developing much more rapidly than Poland as a whole. You wouldn't recognize the city if you saw it ten years ago, and more changes are constantly taking place. Warsaw has long been the easiest place in Poland to find employment, and for this reason many of the Polish inhabitants of the city are first or second generation, originating from all over the country.
Even though much of Warsaw seems to imitate western cities, there are many peculiarities to be found here that you will not find in western capitals. Examples include the communist-era 'milk bars' that remain in operation (essentially cheap cafeterias for no-frills, working-class traditional Polish dining, which have remained incredibly popular in the face of westernization), as well as Europe's largest outdoor marketplace, following in the footsteps of the traditional Slavic bazaar, which is located in the region of Warsaw on the east bank of the Vistula by the Poniatowski bridge (near the stadium).
Warsaw has four seasons, although, it may, at times, seem like it has two seasons – winter and summer. The summers are cool to warm with temperatures varying from the low-50's (Fahrenheit) to mid-70's (Fahrenheit). Temperatures in the fall can vary wildly. One day, you may experience sub-freezing temperatures and the next day you could experience temperatures in the 60's (Fahrenheit).
Winter in Warsaw can be incredibly cold. Be sure to bring warm clothing, coats, scarves, and gloves. The average high in January is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Warsaw Convention Bureau  is the official tourist information agency in Warsaw and can provide visitors with information regarding hotels, attractions, and events. They also have maps for travelers. Unfortunately, the bureau's website isn't well designed and doesn't provide all that great of information, though, it can be helpful. They operate three locations in Warsaw.
There are a few other organizations that are useful when planning or looking for information about a trip to Warsaw. The City of Warsaw  has a lot of useful information on its website and would be a good place to get some information. Destination Warsaw  has some useful information, but seems to trump up its members' products, restaurants, and services over others. It's main goal is the promotion of Warsaw as a destination abroad. Warsaw Voice , an English language weekly newspaper, maintains a good calendar of events  on its website.
A wise investment may be the Warsaw Tourist Card , which can either be purchased for a 24 hour period or three days. The card will get you into museums for free or for a discount. It also doubles as a ticket for public transportation in Warsaw. You may also be able to get discounts at galleries, sports facilities, shops, restaurants, and discounted tours, car rentals, or accommodation. The card can be purchased at the tourist agency's offices around the city, some hotels, and a few other locations.
As is the case with most major cities, Warsaw is situated on a river. The river's name is Vistula (Polish: Wisła) and it crosses the city vertically, dividing it into two parts, usually referred to as the left bank (Polish: lewy brzeg adj. lewobrzeżna Warszawa) and the right bank (Polish: prawy brzeg adj. prawobrzeżna Warszawa).
Historically, the right bank was the first one to become populated, during the 9th or 10th century. However, the present city's central district, called Śródmieście (the Inner City) lies on the left bank. The Old Town is fully contained within the borders of the city center.
The central point of the city is located at the intersection of Al. Jerozolimskie and ul. Marszałkowska, near the entrance to the Metro Centrum subway station. It is good to know that the Palace of Culture is a landmark visible from almost any location in Warsaw. Should you ever get lost in the city, just walk toward the Palace of Culture and Science.
The quarter delimited by Al. Jerozolimskie, ul. Marszałkowska, al. Jana Pawła II and ul. Świętokrzyska, contains the main railway station Dworzec Centralny and the Palace of Culture and Science .
Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport  (IATA: WAW, ICAO: EPWA) is located in the area of Okęcie in Włochy, some 10 km south of the center point of the city. For many years the airport used to be called just Okęcie, but this reportedly caused confusion and it was renamed.
There are three terminals: Terminal 1 is the "default" terminal; Terminal 2 is the newly-built terminal which handles all arrivals and some departures jointly with Terminal 1; the Etiuda Terminal (check-in counters E1-E8) is used by budget airlines and for charters. Although they are only some 500m apart, it's best to know from which terminal you will be departing. As all arrivals are handled in Terminal 2, Etiuda Terminal only deals with departing passengers and has a few basic facilities.
For those traveling on international flights, you’ll need to pass through a passport control station before going through security. As of the end of March 2008, you do not need a passport for countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement, though you do need some proof of ID. Getting through security isn’t too difficult, but the queues, while they may be small, will likely take a fair amount of time because there are only a few screening points.
Before passing through security in Terminal 1, buy your duty free items, newspapers, and food and drinks because there are no shops or restaurants in the boarding area. The Etiuda Terminal has two shops and a small snack stand for those waiting on their flights.
Getting to/from the airport
A bus ride on route 175 to and from Warszawa Centralna and to and from the Frederic Chopin Airport will, on average, take 30 minutes, although in rush-hour traffic the time can be up to 45 minutes. Depending on weather, traffic can be at a complete standstill and traveling a few meters may take upwards of 20 minutes, so be sure to assess traffic conditions and leave early enough to make sure you don’t miss your flight. The bus is also the cheapest way to get to and from the airport. Buy a ticket before boarding and validate it immediately on board.
The three main bus lines are:
- Bus Route 175 ul. Żwirki i Wigury (Novotel Warsaw Airport) - ul. Raszyńska - pl. Zawiszy (Hotel Sobieski) - Al. Jerozolimskie (Holiday Inn, Marriott) - City Centre - Marszałkowska (Novotel Warsaw Centre) - ul. Świętokrzyska - Krakowskie Przedmieście (Hotel Europejski, Hotel Bristol, Sofitel Victoria). This service goes to the city center, passing near some of the most popular hotels on its way as well as the main train station and passing near the old town.
- Bus Route 188 ul. Żwirki i Wigury - ul. Wawelska - al. Armii Ludowej / Trasa Łazienkowska- M -Politechnika. This service goes to deep Praga Południe on the right bank, passing through to the south of the city center. This is a better choice if you just want to get to the metro.
Avoid the taxi drivers soliciting customers inside the terminal, as they severely overcharge. Instead, use one of the companies recommended by the airport authorities (Merc Taxi, MPT Radio Taxi, Ele, or Sawa Taxi). They are slightly above market average in terms of prices and stop near the exit from Terminal 1. You can also order a taxi from another corporation by phone (there is no surcharge). A typical fare to a hotel near Warszawa Centralna station is around 40 zł at night, less in the daytime (June 2008).
In any case, the most you should pay is 3.00 zł (up to 4.50 zł on Sundays; but typically no more than 2.40 zł) per km in the daytime plus an initial fee of no more than 6 zł. You are entitled to a receipt (which must specify the route used) upon request. The Polish word for receipt is rachunek. There is no obligation to tip the taxi drivers, but most won't refuse if you offer. See the Taxis section for a more in-depth explanation of taxi fares.
By other means
Some hotels offer a shuttle to/from the airport, while some will send taxis for you.
- There is a privately owned bus operating , but considering it departs as rarely as every 45 minutes, it won't usually get you there much faster than the normal bus. The ticket costs 10 zł or €3 (~= 12 zł) or $3 (~= 9 zł).
- For those travelling on from Warsaw to another town serviced by Polski Express  there is a stop at the airport and a bureau where you can buy tickets. The routes and timetable are here: .
Warsaw has three stations for long-distance trains:
- Dworzec Centralny or Warszawa Centralna (Warsaw Central) ul. Emilii Plater
- Dworzec Wschodni or Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East) between ul. Kijowska and ul. Lubelska (on the right bank)
- Dworzec Zachodni or Warszawa Zachodnia (Warsaw West) Al. Jerozolimskie near Rondo Zesłańców Syberyjskich
Unless you really know what you're doing, the best option is Dworzec Centralny (Warszawa Centralna) station, as it has best connections with all the places in the city. All long-distance trains pass through this station and all stop there. It is the only long-distance station underground. It isn't the last station on the route!
Trains running eastwards start at Warszawa Zachodnia, stop at Warszawa Centralna and then at Warszawa Wschodnia, while trains heading westwards make the same trip in the opposite direction (except that they don't always stop at Warszawa Zachodnia). The same is true for arriving trains. Tourists often find it confusing that the main train station (Warszawa Centralna) is not the last station on the route.
The Berlin-Warszawa Express runs from Berlin to Warsaw daily and is quite inexpensive if booked in advance. Students get discounts as well. It's a fairly comfortable six hour trip. Schedule are available on Intercity's website  and tickets can be booked through Polrail Service .
If you don't have a reservation, you may get a better seat by boarding the train at its point or origination. During peak season, you may not be able to get a seat at all.
There is no central station for suburban trains, but the most important one is Warszawa Śródmieście (in close proximity of Warszawa Centralna and Metro Centrum). Some destinations you can reach from there are Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Łowicz, Milanówek, Mińsk Mazowiecki, Otwock, Piława, Pruszków, Radom, Siedlce, Skierniewice, Sochaczew, Sulejówek, Terespol, Tłuszcz, Wołomin, Żyrardów.
Suburban trains going north depart from Warszawa Gdańska (Metro Dworzec Gdański). From there, you can go to destinations like Ciechanów, Działdowo, Mława and Nasielsk.
Similarly, suburban trains going east depart from Warszawa Wileńska (ul. Targowa near Al. Solidarności, also a shopping mall there). Some example destinations include Małkinia, Tłuszcz, Wołomin.
Warsaw Commuter Railway
WKD  (Polish: Warszawska Kolej Dojazdowa) is separate train service that runs from a distinct platform at Warszawa Śródmieście WKD to Grodzisk Mazowiecki, a city some 50 km west of Warsaw through Pruszków, Milanówek, and Podkowa Leśna.
Unlike most European capitals, Warsaw has no real bypass, so all transit traffic is routed through the city streets. The following streets, which constitute a circle with the radius of some 10 km (six mi) from the city centre, can be considered an ersatz ringroad: Trasa Toruńska-Trasa Armii Krajowej-al. Prymasa Tysiąclecia-Al. Jerozolimskie-ul. Łopuszańska-ul. Hynka-ul. Sasanki-ul. Marynarska-ul. Rzymowskiego-ul. Dolinka Służewiecka-ul. Sikorskiego-al. Witosa-Trasa Siekierkowska-ul. Marsa-ul. Żołnierska.
Four European "E-roads" lead to Warsaw: E30 (A2), E77 (7), E67 (A8), and E372 (17). The E-numbers are usually displayed on signs but it is best to know the national road numbers too, which are the numbers in parentheses.
What follows is a list of streets you will find yourself on when approaching the city from different directions:
- North-West: Wyb. Gdyńskie or "Wisłostrada" in Bielany and then in Żoliborz (along the left bank): 7- E77 Gdańsk (DK) (RU) (S)
- North-East: ul. Radzymińska in Targówek and then al. Solidarności in Praga Północ 8- E67 Białystok (BY) (LT)
- South-West: al. Krakowska in Włochy and then ul. Grójecka in Ochota 7 - E77-Kraków (SK) 8 - E67 Katowice (CZ)
The cities listed above are the ones displayed on signs in the city. The abbreviations in (parentheses) show you which neighboring countries can be reached with a road. If you are coming to the city, follow the blue-on-white Centrum signs. One exception is when you are coming from the north-east: follow the Praga sign unless you are driving a lorry.
Driving distances to other cities:
In Poland - Białystok 190 km (118 mi); Gdańsk 390 km (242 mi); Kielce 180 km (112 mi); Kraków 290 km (180 mi); Olsztyn 210 km (130 mi); Poznań 310 km (193 mi); Siedlce 100 km (62 mi); Toruń 210 km (130 mi); Poznań 310 km (193 mi)
Car Hire operators are available in the major towns and cities across Poland. At the Frederic Chopin airport in Warsaw you will find Avis, Hertz, Budget and Sixt. Telephone numbers can be found in the free magazines located in hotel and cafe lobbies. Also refer to the individual companies websites too. It is a legal requirement for you to carry your driving licence, insurance documents and the vehicle registration details at all times. If the Police stop you, they are likely to impose a fine.
Regional and long-distance bus connections in Poland are traditionally called PKS. Once it was a legitimate abbreviation for the state-owned monopoly. Now, however, bus routes are operated by completely independent companies, some of which has chosen to retain the old PKS as a part of their name. In Warsaw, there's PKS Warszawa  but PKSes from various other cities also operate. Most PKS buses arrive and depart from either of two major terminals:
- Dworzec PKS Warszawa Zachodnia, Al. Jerozolimskie(near Rondo Zesłańców Syberyjskich). The bigger of the two, next to the railway station by the same name, buses going west of Warsaw. Most buses arrive at Dworzec PKS Warszawa Zachodnia. To get to the city center from here, walk to the other side of Al. Jerozolimskie and take a bus: 517, E-5 (peak hours only), 405 (peak hours only), 127 , or 130 to Dw. Centralny (one bus stop short of Centrum). During the night, buses N35 and N85 run to Dw. Centralny (main station) every 30 minutes beginning at 23:52.
- Dworzec PKS Warszawa Stadion, al. Zieleniecka(near Stadion X-lecia). For buses going east of Warsaw.
There is also a competitor to post-PKS companies, the Polski Express . It serves the most popular destinations, such as Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Częstochowa, Elbląg, Gdańsk, Gdynia, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Lublin, Pabianice, Płock, Szczecin, Toruń along with some holiday resorts, such as Kudowa Zdrój and maritime Kołobrzeg, Krynica Morska and Ustka. The departure point is at al. Jana Pawła II near Dworzec Centralny (there are also shuttle services from and to the airport every half an hour)
The public transport system in Warsaw is generally well-developed, with some 200 bus routes and 30 tram lines. The route descriptions on the tram stops are easy to follow (although bus stop notices are more complex) and the tickets are cheap. It can be painfully slow, however, to travel between destinations far from the city center.
There is also a modern underground line going from south to north on the left bank, and a recently-introduced Rapid Urban Railway (Polish: Szybka Kolej Miejska or SKM) which has proved to be a big disappointment.
Warsaw's subway system, called Metro, opened in 1995 and is one of the newest underground railway systems in Europe. Operated by Metro Warszawskie sp. z o.o.  it runs daily from early morning until midnight at 3-10 minute intervals. On Friday and Saturday, Metro runs until 3 am. Trains and stations are clean and neat. The system currently consists of only one line, which was designed to carry commuters from the densely populated new districts at the northern and southern outskirts into the city center. As a result, the subway does not go to many tourist destinations, however several stations will take you in a general vicinity of some attractions. A second route is planned, which is supposed to link the center with the right bank of the river Vistula (i.e. Praga) with a segment containing 7 stations now expected to be completed in 2013 at the earliest.
Buses operate usually from 5.00 to 23.00, but you should always check the schedule. The intervals can be anything from as little as 5 minutes (crowded routes during peak hours) to nearly 2 hours (certain suburban routes). Usually, you will wait 20 minutes at most.
Warsaw has well-developed night bus communication, that will take you basically to every part of city. Most buses start and finish at the back of Central Railway Station (Dworzec Centralny). They start every 30 minutes, hour by hour, at XX:15 and XX:45.
Bus route numbers consist of three digits. Only the first digit has any meaning, the latter being merely ordinal. Here's the key to understanding Warsaw bus route numbers:
Other than that:
- Nxx are night routes.
- 2xx are local routes.
- 9xx are special routes, which operate only a few days in a year.
- E-x are express routes, which link the farthest districts to the city centre, call at very few stops and operate during peak hours only.
- Z-x are routes in place of trams.
There are a few routes that are of certain interest to tourists:
- 148, 175 and 188 operate to and from the airport.
- 100 , a circular route that links some of the most interesting tourist attractions and is often served by a double-decker. Get in at Castle Square for the best seat.
- 180 , the Warsaw Sightseeing Route between the Powązki Cemetery and Wilanów.
A map of the tourist routes is available here: .
Requesting a stop - certain bus stops are request-only (Polish: na żądanie):
- If you want to get off, press the stop (red) button. In certain old buses, the button is located above the door (and it's not red).
- If you want to get on a bus, wave your hand (or star-jump, or do whatever it takes to attract the driver's attention).
Sometimes, the door will not open automatically. To open it, locate the button drzwi (blue) and press it. Then you have 15 seconds until the door closes back.
Night buses operate on 38 routes: N01 to N95 . The first digit indicates the area of Warsaw the bus travels to. All parts of the city are covered, but travelling to distant locations is particularly time-consuming. All buses operate at 30-minute intervals and depart from their central stop at Dw. Centralny 15 and 45 minutes after the hour, which facilitates changing.
When travelling on a night bus, it is essential to know the location of your bus stop at Dw. Centralny. There is a map  that will help you.
All night bus stops except Dw. Centralny and Centrum are request stops. Signal well in advance as some night bus drivers may be too busy accelerating to notice.
There is also a map of all the night bus routes: .
Note that not all bus stops that have Centrum in their name are in the city center. For example, there is a bus route 525 that goes from Centrum (the real city center) through Centrum Optyki in Praga Południe to Centrum Zdrowia Dziecka in Wawer. This is always clear from the route map so please read it carefully.
Although trams are not faster than buses unless there is a heavy traffic jam, they may have some appeal for a tourist as it is easier to predict where they are going - they usually go straight ahead and only rarely turn. However, it may be worth travelling by tram in the city centre during rush hours. Because of Warsaw's dreadful congestion problems it can take 20 mins for a bus to get to the next stop which is only a few hundred metres away.
Trams have two-digit numbers below 50 (for the curious, the 50+ numbers were used by the long-lost trolley buses). Trams with numbers above 40 operate during peak hours only. A map of tram routes is available to assist you in planning your journey: .
There is a special route T operated by historic cars from pl. Narutowicza. You can see the route on a map here: . Note: 'T' only runs in July and August.
The tram services can end as early as at 10PM.
Although there are many carrier companies, tickets are issued and controlled by the single Warsaw Transport Authority (Polish: Zarząd Transportu Miejskiego or ZTM)  and are valid for all means of transport except the trains.
Tickets can be purchased in kiosks and any shop that displays the Sprzedaż biletów ZTM ("WTA tickets sold here") stickers. For buses and trams, the ticket can also be bought on board from the driver. From 2 June 2008, along with the other fare changes, there is now no extra charge for buying tickets from drivers, though they can refuse to sell you a ticket if the bus is over 3 minutes late.
The ticket system is quite complicated, but as a tourist you shouldn't need to trouble yourself about knowing all the details. What you need to know, however, is that a single ticket costs 2.80 zł and there is a 50% concession for ISIC (international student ID) card holders, such tickets cost 1.40 zł. The same prices apply for a 40 minute travelcard where travel is allowed however you want as long as it is in the 40 minute time limit.
Immediately validate your ticket after boarding the bus, subway, or tram. Travelcards, however, only need to be activated on your first journey, except in the underground where touching in and touching out (or inserting a ticket) is required to open the gate to the station.
Travelcards are probably the simplest way of paying for public transportation, if you're spending more than a day in the city and want to see as much as possible. If you will be taking a bus, subway, or tram at least three times in a given day, it's best to buy one of these cards, especially as they are valid for all modes of transportation, including night buses. There are several options for purchasing travelcards, but the most sensible way for most travelers would be either a 24 hour ticket, a three day card, or a one week card. Additionally, there are one month and three month travel cards for those who are staying in Warsaw for a longer time.
24 hour travelcard – Valid for 24 hours after being validated. The card costs 9.00 zł (normal ticket) or 4.50 zł (50% reduction). 3 day city travelcard – Valid for 3 days after being validated. This card costs 16 zł (normal ticket) or 8 zł (50% reduction). One Week city travelcard – Valid for one week after being validated. This card costs 32 zł (normal ticket) or 16 zł (50% reduction).
Note that the tickets and prices above can only be used for travel within Warsaw. For suburban travel outside Warsaw, a more expensive ticket covering zones 1 & 2 is required.
The maximum base fare (taryfa 1) is 3.00 zł/km (although no corporation charges more than 2.40 zł/km) and applies to journeys within the city (zone 1) on weekdays. Taxi drivers can charge 150% of the base fare (taryfa 2) at night or on weekends and public holidays, and 200% of the base fare (taryfa 3) for journeys into the suburbs. Watch out for blue rectangular signs saying taxi 2 strefa (Taxi Zone 2), they can charge 300% of the base fare (taryfa 4) at night and in the suburbs or on weekends and public holidays).
In addition, they can also charge you 6 zł initial fee (slamming the door), 40.00 zł an hour for waiting for you if you you are not in the first zone, and for getting back to the boundary of the first zone if you left in zone 2. There are no surcharges for additional passengers (normally up to 4 should fit), or for luggage.
They cannot charge you for anything else. There is no obligation or custom of tipping the drivers. The driver is required to give you a receipt on request. The full route must be written on the receipt. If the route was suboptimal, the fare can then be challenged. Call City Guard (Polish: Straż Miejska) at 986 (+48 22 986 from a mobile phone) should there be any problems.
The aforementioned prices apply only to officially registered taxis. Others (non-taxi carriers) may charge you whatever they feel like, so they are best avoided.
A legal taxi will have its number displayed on the front door under the window (black digits on white), on a TAXI sign (not TAX1 or TAKI), on a sticker with the base fare displayed on the passenger (rear) door window, and on the driver's ID card visible inside the cab.
Considering that the strict city centre is a flat area whose sides measure only some 2 km, it is a good idea to take a stroll through it. There are two streets that serve the purpose of a promenade,ul. Chmielna (Hop Street), which is fully pedestrianized and ul. Nowy Świat (New World Street), which is closed to traffic on summer weekends
If you start your walk from Metro Centrum (this is a popular place where people arrange to meet one another), you can get to the other side of ul. Marszałkowska through the underpass. The round building adjacent to the intersection is called the Rotunda. It is a bank branch and the pavement in front of it is another popular meeting place. Going along the ul. Marszałkowska you'll pass some department stores and after 500 m or so, turn right into ul. Chmielna. At the end of it, turn left into ul. Nowy Świat and go straight ahead. This street, which then changes into Krakowskie Przedmieście, will lead you to Castle Square and Old Town.
Walking is a great way to explore the city, but please stay alert while crossing the streets. Be aware that in Poland drivers are allowed to turn right even at a red light. Also, unlike some other countries, it is not legally OK to walk across the street at a red light, even if there is no traffic.
There is a paid-parking zone in the center of the city. This applies Mon-Fri 8AM-6PM. Parking costs 2.40 zł for the first hour. Subsequent hours cost more although there is no hour limit. 0.40 zł is the minimum payment. You can pay with coins (must be exact amount - the parking meters give no change) or with the Warsaw City Card (not the tourist card).
- Touring Warsaw's Old Town (Stare Miasto) was ruined during World War II and rebuilt and restored shortly thereafter. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with its impressive Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski).
- The Royal Road (Trakt Królewski) was originally a track linking the Royal Castle to the Royal Palace in Wilanów (Pałac Królewski w Wilanowie), some 10 km farther. There are many points of interest along the route, and there's a Poster Museum (Muzeum Plakatu) in Wilanów as well.
- Łazienki Royal Gardens (Łazienki Królewskie) . These are vast and beautiful gardens. See the Palace on Water (Pałac na wodzie), the Old Orangery (Stara oranżeria) and the amphitheatre. Entry to the park is free. The museums have small fees.
- Botanical Gardens (Ogród botaniczny) . There are two of them, the small one next to Łazienki (entrance from Al. Ujazdowskie) and the big one in Powsin.
- Field of Mokotów (Pole Mokotowskie). A large green area with a pond and a few pubs, next to the metro station Pole Mokotowskie. Many students are hanging around there on hot days.
- Saski Garden (Ogród Saski) is between ul. Marszałkowska and pl. Piłsudskiego. There you will find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza), the only remnant of the Saski Palace.
- Skaryszewski Park (Park Skaryszewski) is the biggest park in Warsaw.
- Kabacki Forest (Las Kabacki) is the only forest that can be reached by metro (travel to the south terminus). No surprise, it's quite crowded these days. The Park of Culture in Powsin is within a 30 minute walk. For a better forest, travel to Puszcza Kampinoska.
Most museums are closed on Mon and often have free admission once a week. Visitors must usually enter at least 30 min before closing time.
- National Museum(Muzeum Narodowe). Located in Śródmieście.
- Centre for Contemporary Art (Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej) Al. Ujazdowskie 6 in Pałac Ujazdowski near pl. Na Rozdrożu, .
- Zachęta National Gallery of Art (Galeria Zachęta) pl. Małachowskiego 3 near pl. Piłsudskiego, .
- The Warsaw Uprising Museum. A well managed and interesting museum, you shouldn't miss this museum if you're in Warsaw. The museum is in Wola.
Concerts and performances
Warsaw is home to several professional musical and play companies. Being the capital city means the Polish National Opera  and the Warsaw Philharmonic (also, National Philharmonic)  call Warsaw home. There are a number of other companies, including play companies and theaters that will likely be of interest to travellers.
- Warsaw Film Festival(Warszawski Festiwal Filmowy), .
- Warsaw Summer Jazz Days.
- Jewish Culture Festival - The Singer's Warsaw(Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej - Warszawa Singera), (email@example.com), .
- Warsaw Autumn(Warszawska Jesień), .
- Old-Polish Music Festival(Festiwal Muzyki Staropolskiej).
- Garden Theaters Contest(Konkurs Teatrów Ogródkowych).
- Noc Muzeów(Long Night of Museums), . Noc Muzeów is a fun night that sees thousands of people turn out to spend the night wandering around Varsovian museums and galleries. It's a great opportunity to wander around with your date, as many people do, and grab an ice cream cone from one of the many cafes that stay open late.
- Legia Warszawa, . The soccer team in Warsaw.
- Polonia Warszawa, . The other soccer team in Warsaw.
- University of Warsaw(Uniwersytet Warszawski), ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, ☎ +48 (0/22) 552 00 00, . The University of Warsaw is Poland's largest university and offers a large variety of courses and programs to choose from. University of Warsaw currently has some 50,000 students enrolled.
- Warsaw University of Technology(Politechnika Warszawska), Pl. Politechniki 1, ☎ +48 (0/22) 234 72 11, . The biggest Polish technical university.
- Warsaw School of Economics(Szkoła Główna Handlowa), Al. Niepodległości 162, ☎ +48 (0/22) 564 60 00(firstname.lastname@example.org), . Poland's largest economics school.
- Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego, . Originally an agricultural school, this is now a rapidly expanding university.
- Collegium Civitas, Plac Kultury i Nauki, 12th floor, Plac Defilad 1, ☎ +48 (0/22) 656 71 87, . This is a private school located inside the Palace of Culture of Science. Majors include Sociology, Political Science, American Studies, International Relations, and Human Rights and Genocide Studies. For those interested, some programs are conducted in English.
- Akademia Medyczna, . A medical college.
- The Academy of Arts(Akademia Sztuk Pięknych), .
- Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego, ul. Dewajtis 5, ☎ +48 (0/22) 561 88 00(email@example.com), . This is a well-known Catholic university.
- Leon Kozminski Academy, ul. Jagiellońska 59(Located in the Praga Połnoc district), ☎ +48 (0/22) 519 21 00(firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +48 (0/22) 814 11 56), . This is a private school specializing in law and business management majors.
- Clark University, ul. Łucka 11, ☎ +48 (0/22) 656 36 65(email@example.com, fax: +48 (0/22) 656 36 15), . This is a branch of the U.S.' Clark University. This branch offers M.A. degrees related to business management.
- Institute of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 32, ☎ +48 (0/22)' 5521530, . Part of the Warsaw University. 1200 zł for a standard course or 1800 zł for an intensive one.
Home to many international companies, Warsaw has an excellent job market for potential expats. Of course there are several immigration hurdles, but landing a job should not be overly difficult if you have the right skill sets.
If you're a backpacker and looking for short-term employment this may be somewhat more difficult, as you are legally required to have a work permit. You could possibly find short-term work in the hospitality industry, or possibly as an ESL teacher or tutor students in English.
If you'd like to work in Warsaw, or Poland for that matter, but don't want to do all the hassle of finding a job opportunity, there are some employment recruiting agencies you can use in your search for a job. Just a few are:
- Adecco Poland, Al. Jerozolimskie 123A, ☎ +48 (0/22) 529 76 40, .
- Randstad, Al. Jerozolimskie 56c, ☎ +48 (0/22) 462 25 00, .
It is not essential to buy the local currency before you arrive. Warsaw has many accessible ATMs (labeled bankomat) where cash can be withdrawn. Remember that you may be charged by your home bank for the transaction though. To get started, 300 zł should suffice for taxis, coffee, beer and and a few meals.
Credit and debit cards
Visa, MasterCard, Visa Electron, and Maestro as well as some other obscure cards are widely accepted and if they're not then there's usually plenty of ATMs available (Polish: bankomat). AmEx and Diners' Club are less popular and may not be accepted. There may be a minimal purchase value for card payments, usually 10.00 zł or so in shops, but can be 20.00 zł, or even 50.00 zł in bars.
Shopping malls and markets
Most people nowadays do their shopping in the malls (Polish: centrum handlowe pl. centra ~, often abbreviated CH). These are usually located in the suburbs (with some notable exceptions) and open until 10PM. Apart from shops, malls also have entertainment areas with cinemas, bars, etc. Some also have sports facilities.
Immediately, the two malls likely to be of interest to travelers are:
- Arkadia. Located in Śródmieście – One of the more popular malls in Warsaw.
- Złote Tarasy(Golden Terraces). – Also located in Śródmieście, adjacent to the Centralna train station, is a very modern and popular mall.
Eating in Warsaw is not the treat it would be in Paris or London, but with that said, eating here can be fun and interesting mostly because Poland lacks large numbers of chain restaurants. Finding a unique dining experience is feasible daily.
For those on a budget, there are many kebab shops sprinkled around Warsaw, especially in Śródmieście, which offer decent food and portions for the fair price of 5-10 zł a kebab. Other cheap alternatives are milk bars, which are discussed later in the section, and vietnamese restaurants.
Grease lovers will be happy to know there's no shortage of fast food in Warsaw. The most popular brand names are of course McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut, but there are also a few Subway sandwich shops and even a Burger King, which is somewhat a surprise after being nudged out of the market a few years back by McDonald's. The problem with these fast food joints is that the quality and not-very-generous portions are valued far above what should be paid for a meal.
Remnant of the communist era, milk bars (Polish: bar mleczny, bary mleczne) were originally created in the sixties to serve cheap meals based on milk products. After the fall of communism, most of them closed down but some survived and still bear the climate from the old days. Almost everything inside looks, feels and smells like in the 1980s. Milk bars attract students and senior citizens, because of the low prices (soup and the main course together may cost as little as 10.00 zł). The food served by milk bars can actually be quite palatable. Even if you can afford more expensive meals, milk bars are interesting because they offer somewhat a view of life before democratization in Poland.
Old Town and areas like pl. Trzech Krzyży, ul. Nowy Świat, ul. Chmielna, Krakowskie Przedmieście in Śródmieście are saturated with cafés. Coffee typically costs about 10.00 zł. Beer can cost anywhere from 5.00 zł to 15.00 zł for half a liter (the supermarket price being about 2.50-3 zł). Drink prices in clubs can go up to 50.00 zł (and possibly more). Drinking alcoholic beverages in public places is prohibited, but this is often ignored by locals with regard to public drinking in parks.
Clubs are in no shortage in Warsaw and are a very popular way to spend nearly every night out. There are several clubs littered about on ul. Mazowiecka in Śródmieście, which are actually quite nice for the most part and where the chic head.
Student clubs are of course popular and usually moderately priced, but it can be a roulette picking one. Normally, the centrally located Hybrydy is a good option for night out. Other student clubs, like Stodoła or Remont, located in Śródmieście, and Park, located in Mokotów, are less predictable and quality isn't necessarily a concern for these clubs' patrons. If the sole point is to get drunk, then these are some of the better places to go for a cheap drink.
Warsaw's music scene can sometimes be disappointing, but it's a matter of knowing where to look because Warsaw has an abundance of musical delights, they just need to be fettered out.
Tea and coffee
Throw stereotypes out the door. For Poles, one of the most important staples to quench their thirst is not wódka or beer, but rather tea and coffee. As such, you're likely come across dozens and dozens of cafés. There aren't any Starbucks in Warsaw, yet, but Poland does have its own version – Coffee Heaven , but, as with Starbucks, its coffee products are a let down. The real treat of Warsaw, however, are small cafés that are littered about Warsaw. For the most part, a good cup of tea or coffee can be had for 5-10 zł a cup. A small tea kettle is between 20=30 zł.
Being the new up-and-coming city in the EU has meant that Warsaw has seen an influx in investment by hotel companies and will continue to see growth of the hospitality industry, especially as Poland is slated to co-host the European Football Championship in 2012 and a Polish city will be one of the 2016 European Capital of Culture cities. For travelers, there is no shortage of budget, mid-range, or splurge accommodation options in Warsaw. Most appealing hotels and hostels will be found in either Śródmieście, Wola, Mokotów. For the business traveler, there are plenty of hotels near the airport too. There are also campgrounds in Włochy, Wawer, Wola, Ochota and Mokotów.
The area code for Warsaw is 22 - when calling from abroad, prefix it with +48 22.
- Central Post Office, ul. Świętokrzyska 31/33, . Open 24/7.
Overall, Warsaw is not as well connected to the internet as other major central and western European cities, but that doesn't mean you can't get access to internet. Internet cafés (Polish: kawiarnia or kawiarenka internetowa) can be found throughout the central part of Warsaw, however, some can be found in other districts too. Wi-fi is becoming increasingly accessible for travelers too. Some cafés, restaurants, and offer free wi-fi for guests.
The area code for Warsaw is 022 and, as of the present, you'll need to use the area code even when making local calls. When calling internationally to Warsaw, dial +48 22 followed by the rest of the number (dropping the leading 0 in the process). When dialing from a number that does not share the Varsovian area code, you'll need to keep the initial 0. When dialing from a mobile phone, you will dial any number as if it was an international number.
Pay phones are few and far, so it's best not to rely on making phone calls from pay phones. If, however, you're an antiquities hunter and manage to find a pay phone, you'll need to use a card to make calls from the pay phone. These cards are available at post offices.
If you want to purchase a SIM card in Warsaw, you can buy a pre-paid SIM card from just about any major carrier and you'll have a Polish number. SIM cards should cost about 30 zł a pop and you just add credit when needed. Going this route might be a wise investment if you'll be traveling around Poland.
In general, the problems that plague many visitors to Warsaw are alcohol related, be that a hangover or a possible run-in with the police (Polish: Policja). The city center has a strong police presence and is generally a very safe area. The Praga districts are reputed to be dangerous, but this seems to be more hype than reality. Of course, it would be wise to exercise a little extra caution, if you're in an area you do not know well. The bus and rail stations can be a magnet for homeless and drunkards, who for the most part will leave you alone. There are, however, some problems that are not widespread, but, unfortunately, happen too frequently and travelers should be forewarned.
Pickpockets can sometimes be a problem and you should be careful to hold onto your belongings when in a large crowd or on buses (Number 175 is reportedly infamous for pickpockets). At bars and clubs, a good rule of thumb, is the cheaper the door entry and the more lax the bouncers are about letting people in, the more likely you're going to want to keep extra care of your wallet, passport, cell phone, and camera. Make use of hotel room safes to help ensure your valuables are not stolen. Also, if you have a car, try to park in a guarded parking lot and do not leave any valuables in plain sight.
Visitors not knowing Polish may also be the target of "bar girls," especially in Underground off of ul. Mazowiecka on days where there isn't a cover charge. Be cautious if you encounter a girl speaking English who will offer you a drink or a cigarette. She will then ask you to walk her to her car parked outside of the club and then explain how her friend still inside of the club has her car keys. Then she will ask if you would like to share a cab back to her place for 70 zloty and then go back to the club. Doing so puts yourself in danger because it isn't known where she lives and is setting yourself up for possible harm or other scams.
Soccer hooligans can be a problem in Warsaw, so it's best to avoid them, because they seem to only understand two things - soccer and destruction. Visitors will particularly want to avoid Łazienki Park when there's a soccer match, as the Legia stadium is located near the park.
In case of emergencies, call emergency services. The number for the police: 997, firefighters: 998, Ambulance: 999. The common European emergency number 112 works too.
- International Christian Fellowship, ul. Pulawska 114(Corner of ul. Pulawska and ul. Maczewskiego. In the Mokotów district), ☎ +48 (0/22) 844 7996(firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +48 (0/22) 844 7996), . Mass is held every Sunday at 5PM. . This is a non-denominational church with Protestant leanings. Anyone and everyone is welcome and if you're a newcomer you're likely to be greeted by people who notice a new face in the crowd. You may even be invited for coffee after the service. The congregation is made of Brits, Germans, Poles, Americans, and Aussies, and other nationalities.
- Nożyk Synagogue(Synagoga Nożyków), ul. Twarda 6, ☎ +48 (0/22) 652 28 05(email@example.com, fax: +48 (0/22) 652 28 05), . Ever Shabbat services begin 15 minutes before sunset. Shabbat morning services begin at 9:30AM(Weekday services at at 8AM and 9AM on Sunday). . This is Warsaw's only Orthodox Jewish synagogue that is still in operation. (52.235,21.002)
- Warsaw International Church, ul. Miodowa 21b(Metro: Ratusz), ☎ +48 (0/22) 842 23 51(firstname.lastname@example.org), . Worship service and Sunday School every Sunday at 11AM.
- Islamic Center of Warsaw, ul. Wiertnicza 103, ☎ +48 (0/22) 88 56 276.
There are no laundromats in Warsaw. However, for travelers, including budget travelers, most hotels will offer laundry cleaning service, for a fee. Most hostels offer this service (which they often do not charge for) or they will make washers and dryers available to guests. Otherwise, you can find a full-service laundry shop at just about any mall, but you're going to pay a good more than you would at a laundromat. The premier full-service laundry shop is 5 à Sec .
- 5 à Sec, ul. Złota 59, Floor -1(Inside Złote Tarasy), ☎ +48 (0/22) 222 01 00(+48 (0/22) 222 01 01), . Hours: Mon-Sat, 10AM - 10PM. Sun, 10AM-8PM.
- Copy General, Al. Jerozolimskie 56 c, ☎ +48 (0/22) 652 26 30(+48 (0/22) 624 14 93, email@example.com, fax: +48 (0/22) 652 26 60), . Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Need to print something or make copies of a document? This is your solution. Copy General will give guests a flash USB drive to save documents and print them from one of their computers. The only problem is, if you need to print something from the internet, you'll need to save the document to a hard drive before you come because Copy General does not have internet access on its computers.
- Belarussian Embassy(Ambasada Białorusi), ul. Wiertnicza 58, ☎ +48 (0/22) 742 09 90(+48 (0/22) 842 52 02, firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +48 (0/22) 742 09 80), . Mon-Fri, 8AM-4:15PM.
- Canadian Embassy(Ambasada Kanady), ul. Jana Matejki 1/5, ☎ +48 (0/22) 584 3100(email@example.com, fax: +48 (0/22) 584 3192), .
- Irish Embassy(Ambasada Irlandii), ul. Mysia 5, Sixth floor, ☎ +48 (0/22) 849 66 33(fax: +48 (0/22) 849 84 31), . Hours are 9AM-1PM and 2PM-5PM.
- Russian Embassy(Ambasada Rosji), ul. Belwederska 49, ☎ +48 (0/22) 621 34 53(+48 (0/22) 621 59 54, firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +48 (0/22) 625 30 16). (52.21053,21.02765)
- Spanish Embassy, ul. Mysliwiecka 4, ☎ +48 225 834 000(+48 225 834 001, email@example.com, fax: +48 226 225 408).
- U.K. Embassy(Ambasada Wielkiej Brytanii), ul Emilii Plater 28(Inside the Warsaw Corporate Centre), ☎ +48 (0/22) 311 00 00(+48 (0/22) 696 005 696, firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +48 (0/22) 311 02 50), . Mon-Tue, Thur-Fri 8:30AM-2PM, Weds 8:30AM-Noon.
- U.S. Embassy(Ambasada Stanów Zjednoczonych), Aleje Ujazdowskie 29/31, ☎ +48 (0/22) 504-2000(Emergencies during business hours are 8:30AM-5PM): +48 (0/22) 504-2784), . If you have an emergency outside of normal embassy business hours, dial the first phone number and ask to speak with an Embassy Duty Officer.
- Kampinos Forest (~15 km, take the 726 bus) – A wild and beautiful primeval forest, often called the green lungs of Warsaw, and an ideal choice for a day off from the noise of the city
- Konstancin-Jeziorna (~20 km, take the 700 bus) – A spa town with a spacious park. Famous for its clean air and high housing prices.
- Krakow (~300 km, in just under 3 hours by hourly IC/Ex trains) – The former capital of Poland, this was the European City of Culture in 2000.
- Lublin (~200 km) – A medieval city with a well preserved old town, it is now the largest city and main tourist attraction in eastern Poland.
- Żelazowa Wola (~50 km) – The birthplace of Frederic Chopin.
This page was last edited at 02:50, on 19 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Andrew Haggard and Ian Sergeant, Wikitravel user(s) Lysy, Edmontonenthusiast and Gilliam, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.