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.
Warsaw (all airports code: WRW) is served by a total of two airports: Chopin Airport (IATA: WAW) (also known as 'Okecie') for major airlines. Modlin Airport (IATA: WMI) was opened in July 2012 and it handles the low cost traffic. Łódź Airport (IATA: LCJ) is also conveniently accessible from Warsaw.
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Warsaw has two (2) airports:
Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport
Chopin Airport (IATA: WAW, ICAO: EPWA) is located in the area of Okęcie in Włochy, around 10 km south the city centre. For many years the airport used to be called just Okęcie, but this reportedly caused confusion and it was renamed. N.B. Local people may use the name Okęcie to refer either to the airport, or to the residential area and local transportation terminal P+R Al. Krakowska which is on the other end of the airfield. Always ask for the airport (lotnisko in Polish) to avoid confusion.
There are two terminal buildings, until 2010 marked as: Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, now both denoted as Terminal A. The terminals are very close to each other (there is a pedestrian corridor linking them on public side as well as on the secure side), but it's best to know from which terminal you will be departing. Check-in counters with numbers 100-199 are in (former) building of Terminal 1, 200-299 in Terminal 2.
The Etiuda Terminal was used by budget airlines and for charters, but now it's closed.
Getting to/from Chopin Airport (WAW)
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.
Warszawa Dworzec Centralna (Main train station) 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.
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...). Some machines in busses also accept cards (175 had them, not sure if all airport busses do). 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.
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.
Warsaw Modlin International Airport
Modlin Airport (IATA: WMI, ICAO: EPMO) was opened in June 2012. It's located near a town Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki 40 km north from Warsaw. As of March 2014 only Ryanair operates flights to/from Modlin.
Getting to/from Modlin Airport (WMI)
Koleje Mazowieckie operates direct connections between Modlin, Warszawa Centralna and Chopin Airport. From the airport terminal you need to take shuttle bus to the railway station and get on a train to Warsaw. A combined ticket for bus and train costs 19 zł.
There is a direct bus by Modlinbus  from the airport terminal to the center of Warsaw (east side of Palace of Culture and Science, northern exit of Metro Centrum). Prices from 9 zł if bought online in advance.
There is also indirect bus connection by Translud  - ticket costs 8 zł. Take bus no 2 or 6  from Warsaw Center (next to Domy Towarowe Centrum) to Modlin Twierdza Pętla station. Remember to tell driver of bus no 2 or 6 that you are going to the airport - he will contact with the driver of another bus which will take you from Modlin Twierdza Pętla directly to the airport. Whole trip should be less than 1,5 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 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.
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 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.
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. 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. The stops can be found here: . 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.
Important note for travelers
Since December 21, 2007, Poland is part of the Schengen Area, a zone without controls on internal borders which comprises of 28 countries. Third-country nationals may enter Poland if they are in possession of a valid travel document and a visa (if required). Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 includes the lists of third countries whose nationals must possess valid visas to cross external borders, and of countries whose nationals are exempt from this obligation.
When crossing the border third-country nationals are also obliged to justify the purpose and conditions of intended stay and prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence, both for the period of intended stay and for return to their country of origin or transit to a third state into which they are certain to be admitted, or are in a position to acquire such means lawfully.
Moreover, they must not be listed as persons who have been refused entry, and they must not be considered a threat to public policy, national security or the international relations of any of the Schengen states.
The visa application should be submitted to and examined by the relevant consular post in accordance with its territorial competence.
- Poland uses the standard European grounded socket. Special information on Poland: Poland has 220 volt electricity, meaning unless your computer or appliance is dual voltage or designed for 220 volts, you will need a converter or transformer. The cycles (Hz) are 50 per second.
- Polish is the official language.
- The currency of the Republic is the Polish Zloty (zł or PLN).Each zloty can be divided into 100 grosze (gr). The denominations in circulation are:
- notes - zl10, zl20, zl50, zl100, zl200
- coins - zl1, zl2, zl5, gr1, gr2, gr5, gr10, gr20, gr50
- Banking hours are different according to the bank and its branch location. Most branches open at 9am or 10am, which is after the normal 7am start for manual workers and 8am start for office workers. However, many bank branches will stay open until 6pm on a weekday.
- Using a credit card in Poland should not be a problem, and nor should using VISA/Maestro debit cards. You may come across remote, small businesses which do not accept them, but the majority of businesses will especially in the cities.
- All types of medication are available in well stocked pharmacies all over Poland.
- Telephone: Country code is +48. Telecards can be purchased from Post Offices, kiosks and souvenir shops.
- Poland is a full member of the European Union.