Blog Article / 13 March 2021
Top facts you need to know before coming to Warsaw - answers to web's most search questions
Are you considering Warsaw as your next travel destination? Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions on Google, such as “Is Warsaw worth visiting”? “Is Warsaw safe?” or “How many days do I need to visit Warsaw”? To put it briefly, you are about to learn all things you MUST know before travelling to Warsaw in a nutshell! Below we are sharing the essential Warsaw travel tips and facts which will convince you that the Polish capital should be on top of your travel bucket list!
How many days do I need to visit Warsaw? | Places to visit in Warsaw
Before coming to Warsaw, one of the first question you are probably asking is what to visit. You obviously need to know the city’s absolute must-visit places before planning the length of your trip. This is our subjective program recommendation.
Visit Warsaw in one day
If you only have one day to visit Warsaw, we recommend starting in the Old Town. Everyone who is coming to the Polish capital needs to take a picture in the Castle Square in front of the Royal Castle and Sigismund's Column. Then, you should see the Old Town Market Square with the city’s symbol – Warsaw Mermaid. Once you have enjoyed the lovely streets of this historical district, you can move on along the Krakowskie Przedmiescie street – it is the most representative part of the Royal Route. Here, you will see the Presidential Palace, the Warsaw University, the Copernicus Monument, and the Holy Cross Church, where the heart of Frederic Chopin rests. If you walk further ahead, you will reach Nowy Swiat street, where many trendy pubs and restaurants are. We recommend reaching the famous crossing with Jerusalem Avenue, where you will see the Warsaw Palm. Another site we encourage you to visit is the Royal Lazienki Park – the most popular park in Warsaw with the iconic Frederic Chopin Monument and the glorious Palace on the Isle. You also need to see the modern city center with the amazing skyscrapers and the Palace of Culture and Science. We strongly recommend getting up to the observation deck on the 30th floor. Also downtown, you can walk on the area of the former Warsaw ghetto and see the remains of the ghetto wall, for example on Sienna street.
You need to know that Warsaw is proud to have one of the most amazing museums in Poland. We suggest visiting at least one of them. The absolute top choice is the Warsaw Rising Museum, depicting one of the most important events in the city’s history. It includes many multimedia exhibitions and a lot of original footage from World War 2. For example, you will get to see a spine-tingling film depicting the demolished capital right after the Warsaw Uprising. A visit to the museum will be a great experience for those who would like to know what World War 2 looked like in Poland. The Museum is free on Sundays. The other recommendation from us is the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN). It includes fascinating exhibitions, including reconstructed streets of the Jewish district! The place is free on Thursdays. Other museums we suggest visiting are Copernicus Science Centre, Museum Of Life under Communism, the chambers of the Royal Castle, and Polish Vodka Museum. Take a look at the full list of Warsaw museums to visit.
Visit Warsaw in 3 days
We encourage you to take a 3-day city break in Warsaw, as you will have more time to experience the Polish capital in more detail. After visiting all the must-sees in the centre on the first day, we recommend heading to the Warsaw suburbs to see the glorious Palace in Wilanow. It is a stunning baroque residence of King Jan III Sobieski, which is often compared to the French Louvre. We encourage you to visit the palace inside – the magnificent royal chambers are really worth it! Also, we urge you to enjoy a walk in the beautiful royal gardens. The scenery is truly mesmerizing! The second and third day is also a great time to try out some thematic tours (read below). Why not cross the Vistula river and discover the mysterious Praga district? This artistic area combines the pre-war and communist era vibes. This is also where the National Stadium and Warsaw zoo are located. Later on, we recommend a cultural evening in the Old Town with the music of Frederic Chopin. His masterpieces are played live by the most talented Polish pianists!
TIP: If you are spending 2 or 3 days in Warsaw and are planning to visit multiple museums, is a great idea to buy Warsaw Travel pass. It costs from 129PLN (the equivalent of around 30€) to 189€ (the equivalent of around 45€) depending on the number of days and gives you skip-the-line entrance to the best museums in Warsaw! You can also combine the travel pass with public transportation ticket! There are three time options – 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours. You can buy the pass online or at Warsaw Tourist Information in the Culture Palace.
To sum up, a 3-day city break in Warsaw is definitely enough to see its best sights and feel the atmosphere of the city. However, there are also many places near Warsaw to visit! The Polish capital can be a perfect overnight base for a longer stay!
Guided tours in Warsaw
Every major city has favorite subjects or themes, which is often incorporated into sightseeing. Warsaw has them too. As the Polish capital has been greatly affected by World War 2, many thematic walks focus on war sites or specifically on certain events and people. For example, you can join the tour focusing on the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 or the Ghetto Uprising of 1943 or expeditions including sites of the most spectacular battles and armed actions of the Polish Underground. Also, there are many walks in the footsteps of Warsaw Jews, during which you can visit the Warsaw ghetto and see memorials dedicated to the ones who lost their lives during the Holocaust. Another theme that reoccurs in Warsaw is the Communist era. Although most Poles are happy this period is behind us, many of us still feel a little bit of nostalgia looking back at those times. You can feel the spirit of Warsaw from the late 40-ties until the late 80-ties during communist tours. You can even ride the city in a vintage car or bus! Also, many routes focus on famous Poles, so if you are a fan of classical music, science, or poetry, those tours may be of interest to you. An example is Frederic Chopin tour, but also city walks which include monuments of scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus or Madame Sklodowska Curie. If you are embarking on a pilgrimage to Warsaw, you will find many amazing churches and places connected with the Polish Pope John Paul II. If you do not have a specific subject in mind, just feel free to join the general walking tour including the most important city sights.
Is Warsaw a good overnight base? | Places near Warsaw to visit
There are many fascinating sites near Warsaw that we recommend visiting. In a small town called Zelazowa Wola, located around 50 kilometers west of Warsaw, you can visit the birthplace of Frederic Chopin! A few kilometers away there is a church in which he was baptized. It is a great idea for a half-day trip. You can also prolong the tour and visit the pearls of the Masovia region – the aristocratic palace in Nieborow, the ethnographic park in Maurzyce, where you will see how people lived in a typical Polish village in the previous centuries, as well as a town called Lowicz, where you can see amazing examples of the Masovian folk art. On the other side of Warsaw, around 80 kilometers to the north-east, you can visit the former Treblinka Nazi death camp. There is a museum, as well as an impressive memorial on the grounds of the former camp. Warsaw is also a great overnight base for a one-day trip to Wolf’s Lair – the mysterious Hitler’s war headquarters. Another tourists’ favorite is the Bialowieza National Park. Located just 3 hours away from the capital, it is one of the last primeval forests in Europe, where you can see what our continent looked like hundreds of years ago. Since there are no direct train or bus connections from Warsaw to Bialowieza, it is the best idea to book a Bialowieza guided day trip. If you are looking for a fun day full of attractions, the best choice is the Suntago Park of Poland – the biggest waterpark in the country, located just a 45-minute drive away from central Warsaw.
Moreover, the capital is very well connected with other major Polish cities. Thanks to PKP intercity trains, travel from Warsaw to Krakow takes around 2,5 hours. Also, you can reach Gdansk from Warsaw in around 3 hours, Lodz in 1 hour, Poznan, and Wroclaw in less than 4 hours. Check our budget tours by train to these cities. When it comes to travel from Warsaw to Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, there are several ways to reach this destination. Since there are no direct trains between Warsaw and Auschwitz (you need to transfer in Krakow) and hardly any public buses, we recommend an all-inclusive Auschwitz tour by car or minibus. Travel time from Warsaw to Auschwitz by car is around 4 hours, plus extra time for stops.
What is the best season to visit Warsaw? | Weather in Warsaw
Many people are wondering what the best time to visit Warsaw is. Contrary to popular belief, Poland is not as cold as they say. Although lately, the thermometers in Warsaw have shown -15 degrees, such extreme cases are rather an exception than a rule. The average temperatures in wintertime fluctuate between – 3 degrees to 3 degrees. So, it is definitely a good idea to visit Warsaw in December, January, and February. These months are recommendable for another important reason – the Christmas decorations! Warsaw at Christmas is truly fairytale-like. Surrounded by the gleaming lights which decorate the main streets, you feel as if you have been transferred into another world. The best Christmas illuminations can be seen in the Old Town, along the Royal Route (Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Lazienki Park), and in the Wilanow Palace, where the Royal Garden of Lights will take your breath away! Also, the traditional Christmas market at the Main Market Square is where you need to go! The Christmas decorations and Christmas market start at the beginning of December and are there to admire usually till the first days of February. To sum up, we do recommend traveling to Warsaw in winter!
What about other seasons of the year?
If you are planning a travel to Warsaw in October or November, be sure to bring an umbrella, as it may be quite rainy. On the other hand, the temperatures are higher than in winter and, if you are lucky, you can spend a sunny and pretty warm vacation even in these months. Moreover, the parks in Warsaw in October, when the leaves are colorful, are simply magical! It is then that you can admire “the Polish golden autumn”. Also, in the fall some museums offer what is commonly known as “free months”, for example, Free November in the Royal Castle – when you can visit the magnificent royal chambers without paying for the entrance tickets!
Needless to say, spring and summer are perfect months to visit Poland. Compared to the countries in Southern Europe, it is not as hot and stuffy, but it is still warm and sunny outside. The average temperatures are between 14 and 25 degrees. As we previously mentioned, there are many public parks in Warsaw, so when the spring comes, it is green and beautiful all around!
Which time zone is Warsaw in? | Time in Warsaw
Warsaw is located in the Central European time zone, together with cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Madrid, and Rome. That means you need to add one hour if you come here to London. If you arrive from New York, you need to add 6 hours, and if you are in Los Angeles, Warsaw is 9 hours ahead of you. On the other hand, if you come here from Moscow, you need to deduct 2 hours, and if you are in Tokyo, the time difference is 8 hours.
In November, December, and January days are the shortest. In these months, the sun sets between 3 pm and 4 pm. However, remember that Christmas lights are there to lighten up your mood 😊 Days start to get significantly longer in February and March. In April the sun sets after 7 pm. May, June, and July are the longest months when you can watch the sunset after 8 pm. On June 21st – the longest day of the year, it does not get dark until around 10 pm!
Is Warsaw expensive to visit? | Currency and prices in Warsaw
The currency in Warsaw is zloty. The equivalent of a cent is grosz. The exchange machines are located in numerous places in Warsaw, but we recommend using those in the city center rather than the ones at the airport, where the exchange rate is usually less beneficial. In general, the Polish capital is considered a “value for money” type of city. You can have a decent dinner for two at an equivalent of around 20EUR! You will book a double room at a good 3* hotel at around 60-80EUR per night.
What is the easiest way to fly to Warsaw? | Warsaw airports
Warsaw has two international airports – Warsaw Chopin airport and Warsaw Modlin airport. We recommend the first one, for several reasons. It is actually the main airport of the capital and is much bigger compared to Modlin. You will find most of the major airlines here, such as Lufthansa, AirFrance, Wizzair, LOT Polish Airlines, British Airways, Alitalia, and KLM. Another advantage of Chopin airport is its proximity to Warsaw center - only around 8 kilometers! It is very well connected with the city. You can take one of 5 public bus lines, which depart/arrive directly at the terminal. Lines 175, 188, and N32 (night line) will take you directly to downtown. Also, you can take the train, which will quickly take you to Warsaw Central Railway Station (the Main station of Warsaw located right in the city center). You can buy the tickets for bus or train at the passenger service point, in tickets machines or newsstands. They must be validated on board. Of course, taxis are available as well. Travel from Warsaw airport to the city center takes 15-20 minutes by car. If you want to avoid hassle at the airport, it is best to prebook a private transfer with a chauffeur waiting for you in the arrival hall.
Modlin, On the other hand, is located around 40 kilometers from central Warsaw. Despite this, many people still prefer to use it as flights from/to this airport are often cheaper. The popular discount airline Ryanair will take to Modlin, but not to Chopin airport. There are several ways in which you can use public transportation here. The first option is train. You need to take the shuttle bus, which takes you to Modlin train station. Then, you get on the train, which goes directly to Warsaw Central Railway station. The good news is, you do not need to buy two separate tickets. With one airport pass, you are eligible to travel on the train and the shuttle bus. The journey takes from 40 up to 60 minutes by train and additional 10 minutes by the shuttle. Another way to get to/from Modlin airport is by direct airport bus. It runs between the airport and Plac Defilad, a few steps away from the Palace of Culture and Science. The journey takes around 40-50 minutes. The easiest way, of course, is to take a taxi or a door-to-door private transfer.
Should I rent a car in Warsaw? | Public transportation in Warsaw
Contrary to countries like the USA or the United Kingdom, in Poland, there is no habit of renting cars if you come here as a tourist. Especially in Warsaw, there is no need to have a car - as previously mentioned public transportation in Warsaw is very well developed. There are two metro (subway) lines, which go from north to south and from east to west. They meet at Swietokrzysta station, which can be called one of the major communication hubs in Warsaw. Another important metro station is, of course, Centrum (M1 line). It is located right in the middle of Warsaw downtown and will take you to the Palace of Culture and Science, the Warsaw Central Railway Station, and the popular shopping mall Zlote Tarasy. If you want to go to the Old Town, get off at Nowy Swiat - Uniwersytet Station (M2 Line). For the Vistula Boulevards and the Statue of the Warsaw Mermaid, get off at Centrum Nauki Kopernik (M2 line). As the name suggests, this is also where the popular Copernicus Science Centre is located. Another stop worth mentioning on the M2 line is the first one on the east side of the Vistula river - Stadion Narodowy (The National Stadium). If you want to go deeper into the Praga district and see Zabkowska street, Koneser center, Praga Cathedral, or Orthodox Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, get off at the next station - Dworzec Wilenski.
Another great way to move around the city is by public buses. Unlike some other cities, the bus net in Warsaw is very widely spread and the routes are very well connected with one another. Also, the buses run very frequently, so in most cases, you do not need to wait more than ten minutes to catch the right one. Buses can take you directly to the Castle Square (pl. Zamkowy stop), Polin Museum (Nalewski-Muzeum stop), or Wilanow Palace (Wilanow stop).
The trams in Warsaw are another convenient way of public transportation. They stop at the Old Town (Stare Miasto stop), in the city center (Centrum stop), or at Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego stop).
Check the exact pricing of public transportation tickets.
TIP: It is enough for you to buy one ticket – it applies to buses, trams, and metro. Always be sure to check when it expires. Ticket controls happen pretty often in the Polish capital.
Is it easy to rent a public bike in Warsaw? | Warsaw by bike
Renting a bike in Warsaw is definitely a great idea! The bike routes are very well developed (their total length is more than 675 kilometers)! You can get from one point of the city to the opposite end without leaving the bike path! There is a wide net of public bikes in the capital. Veturilo is the official bike provider. There are over 300 bike stations with a total of 4,500 bicycles. The Veturilo season starts on March 1st and ends on November 30th. To use the bike, you need to sign up and pay a minimum of PLN 10 of the registration fee. The most convenient way to use Verturillo is to download an app. After registering, you will be sent a text message and an e-mail with a PIN code, which together with your phone number will be your identifiers in the system. Renting a public bicycle is very inexpensive and, to make it even better, the first 20 minutes of rental is always free! Check the exact Veturilo pricing.
Where to eat and stay in Warsaw? | Hotels and restaurants in Warsaw
Warsaw is quite large, so we suggest staying in the central parts of the city – either in the downtown near the Central Railway Station or in the Old Town. These two areas are actually where most hotels and hostels are located. Their standard ranges from the budget multi-bed type of accommodation to top-notch 5* hotels. If you are traveling on a shoestring, many great hostels with reasonable prices and decent standard can be found near the Old Town area (contrary to popular belief). Also, private apartments are extremely popular among the tourists who come to Warsaw. Airbnb is increasingly popular in Poland, so do not hesitate to use it while searching for nice accommodation in Warsaw.
In terms of eateries, you definitely need to visit at least one traditional Polish restaurant, where you will find the best Polish specialties. Schabowy, Zurek, and Polish dumplings (pierogi) are an absolute must in Poland! We recommend Polish food tasting, where you will be served several Polish dishes during one set. You can find a whole lot of typical Polish restaurants in the Old Town and Krakowskie Przedmiescie area. If you want to try something off the beaten track, there are many great places in Warsaw we encourage you to try out. You can find almost every type of cuisine in the Polish capital, from sushi to Italian and Indian food. We suggest using TripAdvisor to search for these.
Is Warsaw safe to visit?
Warsaw is the biggest city in Poland. Its population is nearly 2 million people. Despite this, it is generally considered a safe place to visit. The crime levels and the rate of homeless people in Warsaw is lower than in some other major European or US cities. Of course, just like in every metropolis, there are certain areas of the city that are more dangerous than the other. In Warsaw, you should rather avoid parts of the Praga district at night, especially Praga Polnoc. It is always a good idea to keep your eye out for pickpockets, especially on public transport. Also, you may need to watch out for taxi scams – drivers sometimes take advantage of tourists’ lack of knowledge about the city. Other than that, you should not worry, even if you are travelling alone.
Warsaw visitor centers
If you have already arrived in Warsaw and you do not know where to go, it is a good idea to visit one of several visitor centers. The most popular one is located in the Palace of Culture and Science – you cannot miss it ;) The other one is situated in the heart of the Old Town – in the Castle Square, just opposite the Royal Castle. In these travel information centers, you can ask for directions, buy Warsaw travel guide books and Warsaw travel maps, exchange your money, buy souvenirs, or even book trips!
Author: Monika Kwiecień AB Poland Travel
Posted on: 13th March 2021
Photos come from the collection of Warsaw Tourism Organization
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