Warsaw

warsaw.jpg
 

Arrival

From airport to Warsaw

By train

The airport train station, Warszawa Lotnisko Chopina, opened on 1 June 2012. Trains depart every 10-12 minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes otherwise. Both the Szybka Kolej Miejska (SKM; Warsaw's S-Bahn-like suburban railway system) and Koleje Mazowieckie (Mazovian Railways or KML; the provincial local train operator) operate trains to and from the airport.

The SKM offers the following connections from Warszawa Lotnisko Chopina:

Line S2 through Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Śródmieście (walking distance to Warszawa Centralna), Warszawa Stadion and Warszawa Wschodnia to Sulejówek Miłosna - trains every 30 minutes off-peak during day.
Line S3 through Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Wschodnia to Legionowo Piaski. This is an "express" train which skips the local train stations between Warszawa Zachodnia and Warszawa Wschodnia, including Warszawa Stadion - trains every 30 minutes off-peak during day.

Koleje Mazowieckie offers direct trains to Modlin, calling at Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Wschodnia, arriving at Modlin every hour.

Regular Warsaw transport tickets issued by ZTM (the local transport operator which runs city buses, trams and the metro) are valid on SKM train services between the airport and Warsaw. There are ticket machines in the terminal as well as on board; tickets can also be bought at the ZTM counter in the public part of the arrivals hall (after customs). ZTM day passes, three-day passes and monthly tickets are also valid on Koleje Mazowieckie trains, but not regular tickets. Note that while there is no Koleje Mazowieckie ticket office at the airport, it is possible to purchase single tickets for KML services from the airport to the city center aboard the train (with a 4 PLN conductor surcharge) or at a vending machine, which is located alongside the SKM one few meters before the entrance to the platform at the airport terminal station. Taking a red SKM train can be a bit cheaper: for example, the cost of a ride to Chopin airport from Warszawa Zachodnia station equals the cost of a regular 20-min city transport ticket (3.4 PLN), while the similar KML train ticket will cost you 5.5 PLN (July 2014).

The rail station can be accessed directly through an extension to the terminal building which has been completed.

Beware of occasional thieves who like to operate on these lines.

By bus

Four bus lines operate between points in the city and the airport from 4:40am to 11:00pm. At all other times, night bus N32 runs between the city centre and the airport. Single-fare tickets for the bus cost 4.40 PLN (effective 2013.Jan.1) from any kiosk; or buy one from the bus driver or vending machine in the bus (this is more risky - you will need exact change for the driver, or coins - not notes - for the machine; driver may refuse to sell ticket if he is late, the machine may be broken...). You can also buy tickets from the ticket machine at the bus stop (which accept coins, notes and credit cards) or from the ZTM counter in the public area of the arrivals hall (not the Tourist Information counter, but near it).

Bus 148 operates between the airport and Rondo Wiatraczna in Praga Południe, on the eastern side of Warsaw. This bus passes by the Imielin metro station.

Bus 175 operates between the airport and Plac Piłsudskiego, crossing through the city center and stopping at the central railway station, Centrum metro station and the historic city center, including Nowy Świat and the University of Warsaw. The trip takes 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic. Buses operate every 7 minutes during rush hour. This bus used to have a bad reputation for pickpockets; although it's better now, caution is still advised. There are announcements for two tourist spots in English: Warszawa Centralny is announced "Central Railway Station;" and Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) is announced "The Old Town."

Bus 188 operates between the airport and Gocławek Wschodni in Praga Południe, passing through to the south of the city center. This bus passes by the Politechnika metro station.

Bus 331 operates between the airport and the Wilanowska metro station in Mokotów. While this bus is particularly useful for passengers connecting to long-distance bus services operated by PolskiBus, as the bus stops at the terminal where PolskiBus buses stop, this bus only operates during peak hours.

Beware of occasional thieves who like to operate on board, especially on the 175 line.

By taxi

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. 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.

In any case, the most you should pay is 3.40 zł (up to 5.50 zł on Sundays; but typically no more than 3.40 zł) per km in the daytime plus an initial fee of no more than 9 zł. The meter should be running and display a tariff number (1 in the daytime, 2 at night and on Sunday, 3 or 4 when leaving city limits or entering 2nd zone) 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.

Warning! Some of the "official" taxi-despatchers (dressed in yellow wests) outside the terminal building deliberately points you to some "alternative" taxis some 15 meters away from the "normal" taxis. The price for this trip to Radisson Centrum hotel (which should have been 35-40 Zloty at most for a Friday night) was charged with almost 97 Zloty on the taxameter. It seems there is some kind of "deal" between at least one of these taxi despatchers and some pirate taxis in WAW airport, so if the taxi despatcher tries to point you to other taxis than the ones you are queing up for (along with the "local" Poles) then either refuse to be sent away to the other taxi or ask the price in advance. As this scam was done by people I regarded to be "official" led to the fact that I did not discover this fraud before it was too late... It has been confirmed from several sides that a taxi transfer should not cost more than 40-45 Zlotys, and it is irritating to start off your vacation being overcharged for a taxi trip. (Had this experience late SEP 2013, so quite recent)

Currently the best alternative is so called "Uber" - usually both drivers and their cars are much better than official taxi companies and they won't try to cheat you. According to recent experiment greater majority of the official taxi drivers will cheat you - drive the longer routes or charge you more than they should. Foreigners who are not familiar with city routes are especially vulnerable and should avoid taxis.


Getting around

By car

Parking

There is a paid-parking zone in the center of the city. This applies Mon-Fri 8AM-6PM. Parking costs 3.00 zł for the first hour. Subsequent hours cost more although there is no hour limit. 0.60 zł is the minimum payment. You can pay with coins (10 gr and above - after you have inserted the minimum amount, the meter will give you the exact number of minutes you pay for) or with the Warsaw City Card (not the tourist card).

Taxis

The maximum base fare (taryfa 1) is 3.00 zł/km and applies to journeys within the city (zone 1) on weekdays. The cheapest companies charge between 1.40 zł/km and 2.00 zł/km. 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 8 zł initial fee (closing 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 the 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. Be suspicious especially regarding the taxis close to the Plac Zamkowy (the Old Town).

Attention! Legal taxi drivers never approach you, even if they flash something that looks like professional id. Do not trust people in airport halls, at train stations, coming to you and asking if you want a taxi and grabbing your luggage to 'help you'. You may end up with ridiculously high bill or travelling around city. Safe and legal taxi drivers wait in prepared spots. Always ask one how much it will cost you before getting in (approximately).

Warsaw train stations are not further than few kilometers from strict center of the city (Gdański and Centralny are almost in the middle). Gdański train station is connected with metro line, which will take you for around 50 cents (reduced fare, around $1 for a full fare ticket) to the strict center (around 8 minutes). Centralny is few hundred meters from metro and in strict center.

Airport Okęcie is also within city limits.

Airport Modlin is far from the city, but taxi should have fixed price around 100 PLN to the center of Warsaw. Airport shuttle and bus connecting to direct train are available.

Public transport

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 introduced few years ago, the Rapid Urban Railway (Polish: Szybka Kolej Miejska or SKM) which is becoming more and more popular. Travelling to districts like Włochy, Ursus, Rembertów or Wesoła by SKM instead of bus can save you a lot of time.

Metro

Warszawa Metro station

Warsaw's metro system 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 operates until 3 am. Trains and stations are clean and neat. The system currently consists of two lines: M1 and M2. M1 line was designed to carry commuters from the densely populated new districts at the northern and southern outskirts into the city centre. As a result, the M1 line does not go to many tourist destinations, however several stations will take you in a general vicinity of some attractions. M2 line (its initial segment of 7 stations completed in 2015) links the centre with the right bank of the river Vistula (i.e. Praga).

Buses

Buses operate usually from 5.00 to 23.00 (except night buses), 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:

NormalExpeditedSuburban

All-Day Service1xx5xx7xx

Certain Hours Only (Usually Peak)3xx4xx8xx

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.

  • 180, the Warsaw Sightseeing Route between the Powązki Cemetery and Wilanów.

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 to attract the driver's attention.

Sometimes (all-year in air-conditioned buses and trams, October-March in every bus or tram), the doors will not open automatically. To open it, locate the button drzwi (blue) and press it.

City-bus Solaris on Warsaw street

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 from the centre 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. T

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.

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.

Trams

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.

Trams have 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. 

There is a special route  T  operated by historic cars from pl. Narutowicza.. Note: 'T' only runs in July and August.

The tram services can end as early as at 10PM, but most routes are served until midnight.

Tickets

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. Tickets for 24-hour and more are valid also in the suburban trains (usually painted in green and white) and Rapid Urban Railway within the relevant zone limits.

Tickets can be purchased in kiosks, ticket machines and any shop that displays the Sprzedaż biletów ZTM ("WTA tickets sold here") stickers for around 3-6 Euros depending on the type of ticket. For buses and trams, the single-ride ticket can also be bought on board from the driver. In Rapid Urban Railway (SKM) you can buy a ticket from train attendant or (in new trains) in the ticket machine. There is 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.

Timed (24-hour or weekend) tickets are probably the simplest way of paying for public transportation, if you 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 tickets, especially as they are valid for all modes of transportation, including night buses. You may choose a 24 hour ticket, or a three day ticket. Additionally, there are one month and three month travel cards for those who are staying in Warsaw for a longer time.

Ticket pricing

The ticket system is quite simple, all you need to know is that you will probably travel only in the 1st zone (this even include the airport), so:

  • the cheapest full-fare ticket is 3.40 zł for an unlimited transfer 20-minute ride

  • for a longer ride there is a "single" ticket for 4.40, valid for 75 minutes if travelling with transfers, or to the last stop on the line, if travelling without them

  • a 24-hour ticket is 15 zł (May 2016) (valid true 24 hours from validation)

  • a weekend ticket is 24 zł (May 2016) (valid from 19 o'clock on Friday till 8 o'clock on Monday)

  • a group weekend ticket is 40 zł (May 2016) for a group of up to 5 people (valid from 7:00 PM on Friday till 8:00 AM on Monday)

  • for a longer stay you may consider 30-day or 90-day travelcards

  • ISIC (international student ID card) holders under 26 years are entitled to use 50% fare versions of all tickets

  • Seniors: From 65 years you can get a one-year-ticket for 50 zł, from 70 years you ride for free (with an identity card, what shows your date of birth)

Note that the tickets and prices above can only be used for travel within city of Warsaw (zone 1), except the 20-minute one. For suburban travel outside Warsaw, a more expensive ticket covering zones 1 & 2 is required. 

Ticket rules and pitfalls

Immediately validate your ticket after boarding the bus or tram (in a yellow validator), or at the subway station gate. Timed tickets only need to be activated once, on your first journey, except in the underground where using a ticket is required to open the entrance gate to the station. Exit gates open without a ticket.

Tickets are not checked by a driver. They may be randomly inspected in a station or in a bus/tram (by plain-clothed inspectors with portable ticket/card readers), so it is up to you to have a valid (activated) ticket. If you buy a ticket from a driver, you still have to activate it.

If one validator is out of order, look for another. A steady yellow light means that only the plastic card reader is working. If all the validators in a bus glow red - they may be locked, likely because an inspection is underway (and you are lost...).


Shopping

More to follow


See

Most of the major sightseeing attractions are located in Centrum area, which encompasses seven districts, however, the most important district for sight seeing is likely to be considered Śródmieście. The other districts all have something else to offer too, but the further from Centrum you journey, the less likely you're to find much of anything that is of any major interest, although Wilanów's palace and Kabaty forest are interesting enough.

Itineraries

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.

Museums

  • Warsaw Uprising Museum Interactive museum that documents the historic struggle of the Poles during WWII. The Uprising should have lasted only 3 days but lasted more than 2 months. The brief 3-D film that simulates flying over the destroyed city is powerful. http://www.1944.pl/en/

  • Center for Modern Art (Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej)

  • Royal Lazienki (Lazienki Krolewskie) http://www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl/en,home.html

  • Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw - located only a few minutes walk from the Central Railway Station the Museum invites to step into the world of contemporary art by Polish and international artists. Guided tours every Sunday at 2 pm. Free entry http://www.artmuseum.pl/en

  • National Museum in Warsaw (Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie). National Museum in Warsaw is home to over 800,000 exhibits of both Polish and worldwide art. They represent all epochs from antiquity to contemporary times, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, illustrations, photographs, numismatic items and objects of applied arts.

  • The unique the Faras Gallery presents the only permanent European display of artefacts of the Nubian culture and art from the early-Christian period, the Medieval Art Gallery houses unique sculptures, panel paintings and artefacts from all regions historically related to Poland, the Gallery of the 20th and 21st Century presents paintings, sculptures and drawings from 20-30's and works of film, photography, performance from the last 40 years. The visitors can also see the Poland's largest painting “The Battle of Grunwald” by Jan Matejko (426 x 987 cm).

  • Especially cherished exhibits are paintings reclaimed after being stolen from the National Museum in Warsaw during World War II including; “Jewish Woman Selling Oranges” by Aleksander Gierymski and “The Negress” by Anna Bilińska.

  • The State Ethnographical Museum in Warsaw (Panstwowe Muzeum Etnograficzne w Warszawie)

  • Heavens of Copernicus (Niebo Kopernika) Thanks to its equipment, quality of shows and design, the Heavens of Copernicus is one of the most modern and original planetariums in Europe. It offers sky displays, film projections, lectures and meetings.

  • POLIN (Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich) Museum of the History of Polish Jews was opened in 2013. This highly interactive museum is situated in a modernist building created by award-winning Finnish architects on the site of the former Jewish ghetto. A gem of the collection is the thoroughly restored interior of the 17th-century wooden sinagogue in Gwoździec (former Polish territory, now the western part of Ukraine). Allow at least a couple of hours to see the whole permanent exhibition.


Do

Explore

Warszawa Old Town

Go on a Tour of Warsaw - the Old Town and surrounding districts are sufficiently compact to allow a number of excellent walking tours through its history-filled streets. You'll see amazing things you would otherwise miss. Details are usually available from the reception desks of hostels and hotels.

Explore old Praga to get more shady (but safe) insight into old Warsaw. Find charming art cafes and galleries hidden around Ząbkowska, Targowa, Wileńska, 11 listopada, Inżynierska streets. In night, there are lot of vibrating clubs on these streets.

Warsaw Craft Beer Tour. This Warsaw Craft Beer Tour is a 3-hour walking and drinking tour through 3 of the coolest craft beer pubs that allow you to taste 9 different types of craft beer. It is great for craft beer lovers, groups, bachelor and stag parties. 

Multimedial Fountain Park 

Copernicus Science Center. Copernicus Science Centre conducts modern science communication through interactive exhibitions addressed to different groups of recipients (adults, adolescents and children), shows and workshops on scientific themes, debates and discussions as well as activities from the borderland of science and art. The mission of the Centre is to inspire curiosity, assist the independent discovering of the world, help to learn and inspire social dialogue on science. It is one of the largest and most modern institutions of this type in Europe.

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.

Festivals

  • Warsaw Film Festival (Warszawski Festiwal Filmowy)

  • Warsaw Summer Jazz Days.

  • Jewish Culture Festival - The Singer's Warsaw (Festiwal Kultury Żydowskiej - Warszawa Singera)

  • 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 for free. It's a great opportunity to wander around with your date of friends, as many people do, and grab an ice cream cone from one of the many cafes that stay open late. Most museums and galleries will stay open past midnight. Noc Muzeów usually occurs around mid-May.

Sports

Warsaw is not internationally known for its sports teams or for any of its sports venues, although that may change in 2012 as Warsaw, and Poland as a whole with Ukraine, has improved their sporting infrastructure and stadiums as the hosts of the European Football Championship in 2012. Renovation of the Legia football team's stadium has finished.

Despite all the emphasis on football, no traveller to Warsaw should be so naive as to think that football is the only sport to do in Warsaw. There is a mixture of both professional sports teams for spectators to visit and participatory sports for travelers to participate in.

  • Legia Warszawa, ul. Łazienkowska 3, football team from Warsaw.

  • Polonia Warszawa, ul. Konwiktorska 6, football team from Warsaw.

  • Warsaw Eagles. An American football team in Warsaw.


Food & drinks

Finding an unique place to eat is easy, as there are no international chain restaurants present here, as in Western Europe.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget 30 zł or less
Mid-range 31 zł - 60 zł
Splurge 61 zł and up

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 7-13 zł a kebab. Other cheap alternatives are milk bars, which are discussed later in the section, and Vietnamese restaurants.

Don't leave Warsaw without trying out Poland's most famous dish - Pierogi, which is kind of a dumpling, with the most various stuffings (e.g. meat, cottage cheese or strawberries). You can also try an learn how to make these in one of cooking school for tourists.

Fast food

Tourists on budget 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 few Burger King restaurants. The prices charged in most of these restaurants can be expensive by Polish standards.

Milk bars

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.

Drink

The best way to meet locals and expats and make new friends if you just arrived in town is to attend language exchange meetings organized by Tandem Warsaw International Community [53]. No matter what is your native language or the languages you've learnt, they certainly have a weekly meeting for you and keep you busy every day of the week. All meeting are free of charge and held in inexpensive places, the organization is basically an informal consumer association.

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.

Speak easy
If you're looking to mingle with real Varsovians, there's a well-kept, secret row of nameless, dark bars located off of Nowy Świat. Actually...this is how it used to be 3 years ago though. Times change, people switch places, but Nowy Świat bars are still an area to pop in before your night out. They are reportedly good for those wishing to participate in the more decadent side of Varsovian night life. In truth, the places attract a younger crowd who want to socialize over a beer (usually 10 zł for a half liter). If you'd like to give one of these bars a try, walk through the gateway at Nowy Świat 22. You'll find a few small buildings with bars tucked away. The number one tip about visiting one of these bars is go early if you want find a seat. You won't be able to find one after 10PM. Try 'Ciechan Miodowy' there - a supahipsta honey beer!

Bars

You are likely to find most bars in different areas of Warsaw center. One of the places to be for an afternoon beer is area called Pawilony in the gate at Nowy Świat 24 St (next to the Palm Tree). To also somewhat famous bar areas belong Parkingowa St with it big mural on an actual parking lot, Zbawiciela Square with the super famous Plan B where a lot of locals bring their international visitors. Old Town area is mainly visited by uninformed tourists that don't do their research and get stuck there by midnight with no idea what to do next. Area of Palace of Culture and Science got more buzzy with its two cool bars barStudio and Cafe Kulturalna and between them there is summer pop-up garden where you can enjoy a drink outside under the communist souvenir. Other cool bars are hidden in different streets and it's sometimes better to join a pub crawl, exploring the nightlife in a group of travelers between a number of bars with local guides that ensure you don't be a victim coming in to the scam bars. Besides you meet a lot of cool people that want to party on this particular night.

In the warmer months, Warsaw's nightlife moves outdoors into the newly created area of boulevards by the Wisla river where heaps of people come every weekend. On the side of the National Stadium there is a place called Temat Rzeka (Topic River) which is a bar with famous city beach where it is legally a noman's land and only here you can drink your own alcohol. Amazing comparing to fact that it's pretty much center with an awesome view!

Clubs

Clubs are plentiful in Warsaw and are a very popular way to spend nearly every night out.

The most popular nice and chic clubs are on ul. Mazowiecka in Śródmieście. Note that you will definetly be denied entrance if you wear sport shoes, no matter how expensive they are. Inconspicious black shoes will normally do the trick.

Student clubs are popular and usually moderately priced, but can be hit or miss. Normally, the centrally located Hybrydy is a good option for night out. Other student clubs, like Stodoła or Remont in Śródmieście, and Park in Mokotów, are less predictable and quality isn't necessarily a concern for these clubs' patrons. If the point is to get drunk, then these are the place to go for a cheap drink. Beware of certain bouncers (for example in Park), they are not the talkative kind if they suspect you of something.

In addition, there are clubs in Wola and Mokotów as well as several popular and down-to-earth clubs in the Praga districts.

It's a matter of knowing where to look because Warsaw has an abundance of musical and club delights, they just need to be find out. The thumb rule is stick to people born in Warsaw, who usually know what and where to go this weekend. Those, who came here during their studies or later will most likely take you to Mazowiecka like places. Not bad if you're looking for one-nighter, but you'll not meet real Varsovians there.

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. Chain-wise, Costa Coffee (named Coffe Heaven before) [54] and W Biegu Cafe are the big players. Starbucks [55] just setup shop in Poland, opening its first store in Warsaw in April 2009. 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.


Practical info

Wifi

Free wi-fi is available in most of the Old Town, as well as in several cafés and restaurants, including McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Starbucks, Coffee Heaven, and W biegu.

You can also rent portable WiFi hotspot. It gives you unlimited internet access anytime, anywhere in Poland for about 3 €/day. VoyageWiFi serves this option.

Computers / Internet Cafes

Internet cafés (Polish: kawiarenka internetowa) are rare in Warsaw.

  • Tourist Information Center, (Palace of Culture and Science Building, just opposite the Central Train Station). You can use the computers with internet for 30 minutes for free.

  • Arena, Booth 2001D, Centrum metro station building (500m north from Central Train Station at ul. Marszałkowska, across hotel Novotel), ☎ +48 (22) 620 80 32, . 7am-12pm. 20+ machines. 5 zl/hour, pay as you go.

  • Cafe NET, Booth 2010C, Centrum metro station building (500m north from Central Train Station at ul. Marszałkowska, across hotel Novotel). 7am-12pm. 20+ machines. 6 zl/hour, prepay.

  • Verso, Freta 17 (Stare Miasto - Old Town). Photo and printing shop in which there are 3 computers for public internet access. 5zl/hour; 1zl/5 minutes.

Telephones

The area code for Warsaw is 22, and it must be dialed even when making local calls. When calling internationally to Warsaw, dial the country code, +48, followed by the rest of the number. There is no necessity to use "0" at the beginning of the telephone number. When dialing from a mobile phone, you must dial any number as if it was an international number.

Pay phones are very rare and it is therefore best to rely on other means of communication. Pay phones are only operable using calling cards that can be bought at post offices.

Pre-paid SIM cards with Polish phone numbers cost as little as 5zł and can be purchased from just about any major carrier. Many kiosks sell them.

Stay safe

Warsaw is generally a safe city. 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 is generally 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.

Violent behaviour is very rare and if it occurs it is most likely alcohol-related and at night. While pubs and clubs are generally very safe, the nearby streets may be scenes of brawls, especially late at night. Try to avoid confrontations. Women and girls are generally less likely to be confronted or harassed since the Polish code of conduct strictly prohibits any type of violence (physical or verbal) against women.

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, which runs from the airport to city center, is reportedly infamous for pickpockets and sometimes snatch-and-run thefts.). Thieves also occasionally operate on the trains from the airport.

Just like in any other major European city, football hooligans can be a problem before or after large football events. Naturally, it's best to avoid them, because they might be violent. At the same time, all major sport events are monitored and controlled by special police units, so unless you find yourself in the middle of the confrontation between hooligans and the police, you should be fine.

In 2011, the 11 November Independence March resulted in some violence between the right, the left and the police forces. While this should not discourage travellers from coming to Warsaw for the Independence Day celebrations (or for the march itself), it is worth noting that this event has become extremely politicised and may at times turn violent. Just use common sense, as you would in the case of any political marches in Europe.

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.


In general

History

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 dates 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, plus midwar modernist districts Ochota and Żoliborz.

Warsaw Uprising

In 1939 the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany cooperated in the invasion and occupation of Poland only to strike against one another in 1941. A thriving European capital, Warsaw was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1939, and was the scene of two major uprisings: - the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 (by remaining inhabitants of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto), and - the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 (by Polish resistance forces).

After five years under Nazi occupation, in 1944 the tide of war started to turn against the Third Reich. Soviet forces were approaching from the East, and so the leaders of Polish resistance movement confronted the choice of either liberating the capital or allowing for dubious Soviet 'liberation'.

The Uprising formally began on August 1, 1944 at 5PM. Fighting continued until October 5, 1944 when the Home Army and its allied organizations surrendered. In the first days of fighting, Nazis murdered about 60,000 civilians, including women and children. In total, the Uprising claimed lives of 180,000 civilians, and 18,000 insurgents. Polish fighters were outnumbered and outgunned as they hardly received any support from the Allies(the Soviet Union denied them airfields on the territories it controlled). The Soviet Union purposely allowed the Warsaw Uprising to fail.

Notwithstanding the terms of surrender, Nazis destroyed over 85% of Warsaw. Out of almost 1,000 historically and culturally important buildings only 64 survived. Polish soldiers were sent to concentration camps. Some of Warsaw's civilians were sent to concentration camps, others to Germany for forced labor or to different Polish cities. Once the entire city was turned into ashes, its inhabitants killed, its leaders killed or imprisoned, Soviet forces entered the city to establish a puppet government that would control postwar Poland for the next 50 years.

Post-World War II

Capitalist insult
The building at Nowy Świat 6/12 served as the headquarters for the Central Committee of the Polish Communist party until 1991 when some creative anti-communists decided to make the Communist Headquarters the home for the Warsaw Stock Exchange and The Banking Finance Center. The Warsaw Stock Exchange has since moved to the building directly behind the Communist HQ, but the irony remains.

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 bar mleczny (lit. 'milk bar') 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). Europe's largest outdoor marketplace, once located around the old stadium, has disappeared as the new National Stadium has arisen for the Euro 2012 football championships.


Surroundings

  • Kampinos Forest (~15 km, take the 708 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. There is Kampinos Forest, Biosphere Reserve in the vicinity of the capital. If you are seeking peace, you will probably find it there.

  • Konstancin-Jeziorna (~20 km, take the 700 bus) – A spa town with a spacious park. Famous for its clean air and high housing prices.

  • Radziejowice (~40 km)- Jozef Chelmonski lived in modest manor house with a piece of farmland. He spent last twenty-five years of his life in rural Mazovia. Nowadays, in the chambers of neoclassical palace you can see many of Chelmonski works. They are so epic because he was painting with a great sense of color, He successfully replicated the natural beauty of that region. Bonfire among the nostalgic Mazovia scenery will be an interesting experience. Plains wide and flat as a table, small patches of forests are characteristic features of landscape.

  • 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.

  • Kazimierz Dolny (~150 km, less than two hours by TLK train to Puławy, then half an hour by bus) – A Renaissance town with a picturesque marketplace, it is a hub for painters and Boheme.


We thank the contributors of Wikitravel for the information : a list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel.