Warsaw Tourism Information
The city of Warsaw, the capital to Poland, is the major gateway to the country. The city went through some very turbulent times from 1939 with the start of World War II and the occupation by the Russian military which nearly eliminated the city, and even the country, from the maps. The Nazi Regime also left dark marks in the country. Today it's possible to visit some of the Nazi camps established there for the purpose of mass extermination of groups of unfavourable individuals, including Jews, homosexuals, and the disabled. In the 20th century, a communist regime with close ties to Moscow ruled until the 1990's, when communism's collapse brought down the regime and the country got it's independence, as well as most of Central and East Europe.
However, despite the history, the city has come a long way now, and currently its one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to visit. It prides itself to have a lot of interesting architecture, beautiful palaces and gardens, culture, history, and not forgetting a live past which is still present in many monuments and buildings around the city.
The main tourist season of Warsaw falls between May and September, when the climate is most favourable. Each July and August, the summer weather in Warsaw attracts crowds of visitors from Poland and beyond. Warsaw's summer climate is also a time for partying and festivities, with the International Street Art Festival each July filling the city with street performers and food stalls. Sunny summer weather causes highs of 27°C, although the evenings can feel at little more mild at around 18°C to 22°C.
The autumn climate approaches in September, although temperatures hold steady at 18°C. From December to March, the climate is at its coldest and overnight frosty weather becomes commonplace, along with some snow. January is the coldest month in Warsaw, when daytime temperatures reach not more than 5°C but it can get bitterly cold at night, and reaching as low as -10°C at times. However, this is getting each time more rare, with the global warming.
The best time to visit is naturally, either side of the Summer, for quieter and less crowded places to visit. Also it can get quite hot and dry during the Summer. The months from April to June and September to October provide the best comfortable weather.
Being the capital of the country, helps a lot when travelling towards Warsaw, as it's one of the best connected capitals from many other European countries by either road or air.
When arriving to Warsaw by air, the are two airports:
- The main one is Warsaw Chopin, (WAW) which handles all domestic and international traffic, the national airline LOT operates from here and many other European and overseas airlines. It's easy to transfer by public transport to the city centre. Take bus 175 from outside the arrivals exit. Buy tickets at the transport information stand within arrivals or use the machines next to the bus stop. The journey takes approximately 40 min and can leave you in the heart of Warsaw as well as passing by the main train station. (At night take Bus N32 from 23.00 to 05.00). Another alternative is to take the train. It costs a little more, but only takes 25 minutes into the city centre. Trains operate approximately every 15 minutes. All services from Warsaw Chopin Airport (S2, S3, RL) go to the city centre where you can connect to other domestic or international trains.
- The other airport is Warsaw Modlin (WMI), situated 40 km out of the city. It serves low cost airlines, and it's destinations can be national or international but you will not find any flag carriers. To get to the airport, you will need to take a bus from Plac Defilad, opposite the entrance to the Palace of Culture and Science). The transfer is very fast, it only takes 40 minutes. Tickets can be bought online, at Modlinbus from PLN 9.
If you need to transfer between Chopin and Modlin airport you can take the RL train, (see image below) which offers the best connection (including a bus transfer to the terminal)
Once in the city, Warsaw has an excellent integrated transport system, including metro, trams and busses. You can also get day passes, weekly or specific tourist cards which give discounts at the main attractions and sights, plus free unlimited transportation during the length of the card. For more information and plan a trip visit the Warsaw Transport page.
When travelling, remember to have a valid ticket, as all means of transport have an easy get on and off method without having to show your tickets each time you board.
The metro, trams and busses are open access, so you will need to validate tickets before boarding, using the machines on platforms or inside the busses (unless using a pass). Fares are about 4.40 PLN for a single 75 min ride, 15 PLN for a day ticket, 36 PLN for a 3 day ticket or 24 PLN for a weekend ticket (From Friday to Sunday).
✔️Tip: It's useful to get day passes, as not all sights in Warsaw are in the city centre.
Below you will find the transport maps for Warsaw available for download:
Warsaw reflects it's widely varied architecture, a remembrance of the city's long, turbulent history, from Gothic churches and neoclassical palaces to Soviet-era blocks and modern skyscrapers. The city's Old Town was restored after heavy damage during WWII. Its heart is Market Square, with pastel buildings and open-air cafes. You will find the the symbol of Warsaw is the Mermaid Monument in the centre of the city. There are many buildings and sites to see which will make time pass by quick. However coming to Warsaw now is not all about History and culture.
The city has modernised tremendously in the last decade, giving tourists a modern take on shopping and entertainment options. Also not to forget is to taste some authentic Polish cuisine restaurants and try the typical dumplings. In the evening, Warsaw has a live night life, with plenty of bars and clubs where to enjoy good cocktails and popular music. (Both traditional and modern).
The highlights of the city are listed below:
- Old Town,this is where most tourists choose to start their tour of Warsaw. The Old Town was painstakingly rebuilt, with the reconstruction of the historic centre only completed as late as 1962. The area's inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List speaks by itself as there's lots to see around you. What comes to your attention first is the The Old Town Market Square. It dates back to the 13th century where it used to be the centre of Warsaw’s public life, hosting political speeches and executions. The buildings around it were wooden at the time, but what you can see nowadays dates back the 15th century. Today the market square offers a wide range of good restaurants and cocktail bars as well as street art and souvenirs. In the centre you will see the famous Mermaid Monument. Around you can also visit the Literature Museum and the Historical Museum of Warsaw. (see below). The historic centre is also home to numerous churches, including St. John’s Cathedral and St. Anne’s Church.
- Warsaw Historical Museum, it focuses on the culture, art, and history of Warsaw. The Historical Museum has evolved from a modest branch of the National Museum into a distinct institution that spreads in to 11 houses in Warsaw’s old town and beyond. The museum demonstrates Warsaw’s dynamic changes and houses rare items from World War II and the 1944 uprising. The main exhibition is located in the Old Town building, whilst temporary exhibitions can be found in various other places.
- ·The Royal Castle, was reconstructed in the 1980s after the World War II bombing. The castle dominates the big Castle Square that marks the end of the historical Royal Route and the entry into the old town. It used to serve as the residence of the royalty between the 16th and 18th centuries, and since the last century it has been functioning as a gallery for the portraits of the Polish kings. Located at plac Zamkowy 4.
- Palace of Culture and Science, this is one of the symbols of Warsaw's skyline, like the Eiffel Tower is for Paris. Originally commissioned by Stalin as a gift from the Soviet people’ the 231 metre structure actually takes its inspiration from the capitalist world, namely the Empire State Building. Over 5,000 workers were ferried in from the Soviet states to build it. It took them just three years to complete the Palace. The palace appears a faceless monolith. Under Stalin’s orders architects travelled around Poland’s key cultural sights, from Wawel to Zamość, observing Polish architectural traditions, hence the numerous crenellations, courtyards and motifs.The building boasts over 3,300 rooms most of which are conference facilities or offices. Besides the theatres, bars and museums (Museum of Technology) on the ground level, visitors can access the viewing terrace on the 30th floor.
- Multimedia Fountain: Should not miss this playful fountain located right at the foot of the castle.It's fountain complex has 367 water jets which create a light, sound & music show after dark (in season every Friday and Saturday). Free to watch and enter.
- The Grand Theatre, the theatre square has been the symbol of Polish performance culture for the last 200 years. The Theatre was inaugurated in 1833 with a production of Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’. Located at Plac Teatralny, aleja Solidarności 71.
- Warsaw Uprising Museum, is the most popular museum. You’ll learn about the city's doomed rebellion against the Nazis in 1944. Packed with interactive displays, photographs, video footage and miscellaneous exhibits this is guaranteed to leave a deep mark on all visitors.
- Łazienki Park, the name Łazienki means baths and is derived from the park’s centrepiece and best-known attraction, the Palace on the Island. The palace was originally built in the 17th century as a private bathhouse for Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski, owner of the adjacent Ujazdów Castle. Located at ul. Agrykoli 1.
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dedicated to the unknown soldiers who have given their lives for Poland. At one point the Saski Palace (Fryderyk Chopin’s family’s first home in Warsaw) was located here but was destroyed in 1944. What's left from the ruins is the arched arcade and the tomb. Now, the tomb contains urns from every 20th century battlefield where Polish troops fell in battle. An eternal flame burns by the tomb, watched over by a military honour guard. There's a change of guards everyday at noon.
- Wilanów Palace & Gardens, it's one of the most beautiful palaces you can find in Poland. It's made up of a series of individual gardens, the park includes a two-level Baroque garden, a Neo-Renaissance rose garden, a classical English landscaped park and the so called English-Chinese landscape park. The gardens have been restored to their appearance during the time of King Jan III Sobieski. Entering the park and the gardens is free, however to the palace you need to pay around 5 PLN, but on Thursday's its free of charge. (Still need a ticket though to enter). Located in Wilanów. Get bus 116 from the city centre to Wilanów (last stop).
✔️Tip: Doing all the tourism in Warsaw by yourself can be quite daunting at the beginning as there is so much to see. There are lots of narrow streets and alleyways which have interesting facts, plus getting to the Jewish quarter takes some walking around. Therefore take a FREE tour guide in Warsaw, which will take you around the most important sites and landmarks of the old town. The tours are very informative, creative and helpful. They are prepared by students, either local or foreign, who show you the city and reveal the best history knowledge, curiosities and facts which you wouldn't know going solo. Visit the website Freewalkingtour.com/warsaw for more info and know where they meet. Arranged every day, Summer and Winter.
This famous scientist (1867-1934) was a scientist and two-time winner of the Nobel Prize, who was born in Warsaw. She was the first female professor in the history of the Sorbonne and the French government decorated her with the Legion of Honour and is the only person not born in France, who is buried in the Paris Panthéon.
The life of Maria Skłodowska-Curie was closely connected with Warsaw and Paris. Her youth she spent in the Polish capital. From her studies at the Sorbonne until the end of her life she lived in France, but visited Warsaw often and there are many places in this city, which are reminiscent of her. The most important of them are the museum in the house where she was born and the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology.
The entrance is 11 PLN and is located in the old town at ul. Freta 16. Visit the Maria Curie Museum for more info and tickets.
The explosion of bars and clubs in Warsaw over the last few years means that you are never far from a fresh beer or decent nightspot. On the other hand, it's still easy to find yourself alone in a deserted bar. Local knowledge and trends, will help to make the most of your evening and nights in Warsaw! Plus knowing some locals will add to the appeal in getting the kind of places you like.
New venues have certainly found a home amongst the posh eateries and glamorous nightclubs around Pl. Piłsudskiego and Pl. Teatralny; keep in mind, however, that clubs in this area have such strict door policies. Warsaw's young arty crowd prefer nevertheless the down to earth districts across the river: Stara Praga and the fashionable and increasingly gentrified Saska Kępa.
Opening hours should only be treated as rough approximation; in practise many bars and clubs will stay open well beyond the official closing time, however they may also close early if the managers decide the business is low.
Shopping in Warsaw has changed dramatically in recent years with many familiar Western shops and chains now making a presence in many shopping centres, making the experience more international and helping for more competition, alongside the Polish favourites. Countless old shopping centres from Warsaw's long communist period have now made way for more glamorous, modern department stores, such as Marks & Spencer on Al Jerozolimskie.
A variety of large supermarkets and Western-style shopping centres have also made it more popular to shop in these venues. In fact, the recently opened five-floor Arkadia mall, close to the Rondo Babka traffic circle, is amongst Europe's largest.
However, if it is traditional Polish souvenirs and handicrafts that you are after, then you won't be disappointed, particularly if you visit the enormous Russian Market along the Ulica Waszyngtona, which is the largest of its kind in the whole of Europe.
Staying in Warsaw is cheap and affordable for any kind of budget. The city centre has many luxury and high end Hotels which are convenient for short stays but to be practical you can find plenty of non-chain hotels close to the city centre, either by a short trip on the tram or bus and this will bring prices down substantially. Good prices in Warsaw for Hotels should be not more than €25 per night. Additionally you can find plenty of hostels and shared accommodation if you're on a tight budget. However it's not hard to find some comfort in Warsaw as quality-price is very good.
💭Suggestion! Recommended hotels in Warsaw are Aramis, and Atos hotel. They are located 20 min by bus from the centre of Warsaw, ( bus 116 to the centre), and have the advantage they are closer to the airport, (Bus 148 to the airport) with night services also operating. They offer affordable prices, free WiFi and comfortable rooms with private bathroom. Aramis is 1 star (basic rooms), whilst Atos is 2 star. (More modern and nicer rooms). (see image)
Warsaw has a lot of culture and history attached to it so it can't be seen quick. If you choose to go in the Summer, then going out in the evening is a pleasure to enjoy its lively atmosphere. To see the main sights and attractions and travel around the city, would be comfortable to stay in Warsaw for 3 nights.
However in the Summer, a long weekend would be ideal. If you are travelling around the country, then make sure you give the city a little extra time, it's definitely worth it!
Warsaw Photo Slide 📷