© Michael Hardenfelt 2012

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Warszawa

CITY GUIDE

 

 

 

Metro

At the moment Warsaw has one metro line, but they are working hard to open line number two, which will take you from the left to the right side of the river.

The working line can be seen by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

The Metro is the quickest and most convenient means of transport in Warsaw. Use it whenever possible. It runs every few minutes from 05:00-23:00, Friday and Saturday till 2:30.

Warsaw has an integrated ticket system regarding buses, trams and local trains. See the prices under buses and trams.

Buses and trams

Public transport in Warsaw is quite efficient, and often it is quicker than using a car or taxi. Buses often have their own lanes and the tram rails are separated from the ordinary traffic.

Tickets can be used in buses, trams, the Metro and on local trains (ZKM). They can be bought in kiosks and slot machines at metro stations and major junctions. Sometimes there are slot machines in trams/ trains, but this is something relatively new, so don't count on it.

In emergency cases you may buy a one-way ticket from the conductor at an additional fee. 

Zone 1 covers Warszawa municipality, and zone II the neighbouring municipalities.

Prices for tickets are as follows:

The above mentioned prices apply for a normal ticket (bilet normalny).

Some groups are entitled to transport free of charge, among them:  People who have attained 70 years of age (remember passport), children born before august 31st in the year where they complete 7 years of age, people born in a Warsaw bus or tram.

A discounted ticket (Bilet ulgowy) costs exactly 50% of a normal ticket. Among others the following groups have the right to discounted tickets: Students up to the age of 26 years (remember ISIC-legitimation card. Furthermore children attending school are entitled to the discount, but they have to prove this by showing a Polish school identification card. There is no discount purely on the grounds of age.

Trains

The region has a well-functioning network of local trains, ideal if you want to take a trip out of Warsaw. You find the timetable by clicking on the ZTM link and go to S-lines. 

Furthermore the train is a relatively efficient way of getting around Poland, but notice that the railway grid is worn-out and the speed is moderate.

The following types of trains operate in Poland:

If comfort is important to you, then check what type of train you take before you buy the ticket.

On longer routes there will normally be a WARS (restaurant car) with the train, but you may prefer to make or buy your own sandwiches before the trip.  The restaurant cars in Intercity and Euro-city are excellent.

Taxis

Only use taxis equipped with: 1) the phone number of the taxi central at the sides.  2) A pricelist on the side window. 3) Warsaw's symbol (the Mermaid) on the door.

Maximum prices: Maximum starting price: 6 zl. Maximum per kilometre: 3 zl. Maximum if the taxi stops: 40 zl. per hour (the meter also runs when the taxi stops at a traffic light).

Most companies have fares much cheaper than the maximum prices. The price per kilometre must be shown on the price list on the window.

Night fares and holiday fares are an additional 50% of the normal fare.

Outside Warsaw you pay double price (unless you return with the same taxi). The tariff is activated at the municipality border. 

The taxi-meter will inform you about the tariff:

Taryfa 1: Normal price

Taryfa 2: Night- and holiday tariff

Taryfa 3: Outside town

Taryfa 4: Outside town at night/ holidays.

Taxis can be found at taxi stands, but the easiest is normally to call a cab. You don't normally hail taxies on the street.

Until a few years ago it was quite normal that tourists were cheated when using a taxi in Poland. A big effort has been taken to eliminate this practice, and if you go by the advice I give on this page you will be rather unlucky to be cheated.  There is no reason to tip the driver, but he won't be offended if you round up the amount.

Bikes

Step by step a decent network of bicycle paths have arisen, but they are not always in the best possible condition. The bicycle paths are normally only on one side of the road, meaning that they have two-way traffic.

Cars do not show the same attention to bikes as they do in some Western European countries, and you should be careful when biking.

Quite a few people ride on the pavement. Theoretically this is illegal for adults, but it is socially acceptable. It can be expensive though, if you ride into someone or something.

It is an offence and punishable by law to ride a bike after consuming alcohol and the ban is executed effectively. A malicious rumour has it that it is much easier for the police to catch drunken bikers than motorists, and that they simply try to catch the easiest in order to prove their efficiency.

It isn't that easy or cheap to rent a bike, but a few companies have started lately.

 

Airport

Lotnisko Chopina. Around 10 km. from the city centre. Taxis costs 20-30 zl. From the airport: Only take taxis with a clear phone number to the central and do not accept offers from drivers offering their services in the arrival hall. 

 

Car

Please notice that the city centre and the neighbouring areas have parking meters and you need to buy a ticket Monday-Friday 08:00-18:00.

Some of Warsaw's inhabitants tend to drive rather aggressively, and a change of lane often takes place without previous warning. 

Automatic speed cameras have been installed all over town, and the Police often lies in wait at popular high-speed spots. In spite of this the average speed is well beyond the speed limit of 50 km/ hour.

If you have a major repair it may be worthwhile having it done at a Warsaw garage.

Tips

There is no obligation to give tips anywhere in Poland (except a few restaurants, but it should be clear from the menu if they add a service charge). You may round up in the cab, but there is no reason whatsoever to add a percentage.

If you are seated at a table at a restaurant the waiter will expect a tip, but many people don't give anything, and it is not mandatory. The wage is low though, and tips are important to the waiter, so it would be fair to leave a little extra. Personally I leave an additional 5-10%, if I am satisfied with the service.  A few restaurants may add a service charge when receiving larger groups, but if they haven't informed you beforehand I would personally consider this a reason not to give anything extra at all.

The maids at the hotel will be happy if you leave some small change when you leave, and a page boy will expect 2-5 zl. to carry your suitcase to your room.

If you like to tip, then it will be appreciated anywhere. No one will probably feel insulted if you appreciate their work, but it is not expected.

Electricity supply

220 volt. The wall sockets fit standard continental European plugs. 

Money and credit cards

Senior travellers to Poland will remember how they once exchanged their $ or D-mark into Polish monopoly-money with the cab driver, waiter or at a gate. This is now just a past memory. 

Cash may best be exchanged in small, specialized shops (Kantor). It is wise to check the exchange rate in different places. In the airport, at the railway station and places where a lot of tourists gather together the difference between buy and sales rates may be up to 10%, whereas in most kantors it should only be a few percent. You will normally NOT pay a fee when exchanging money.

Almost all shops, hotels and restaurants in Warsaw accept international credit/ debit cards (In some cases you may have to spend a minimum of 6 or 10 zloty if you want to pay by card), and wherever you find yourself there will be a cash dispenser where you can insert your card and receive Polish zloty. 

Business hours

Local food shops are open from 6-7 a.m. till late evening. Most ordinary shops open at 9, 10 or 11 a.m. and close around 6.00 p.m. 18.00. Many shopping centres keep open till 9.00 or 10.00 p.m.  Many shops close on Sundays, but shopping centres are only closed on 13 special yearly holidays, where it is mandatory to close.

Most cafes are open from early morning, most restaurants open at 11:00 or 12:00, but some of them close quite early.

Smoking

You are not allowed to smoke in airports, at railway stations, offices, hospitals and most indoor areas unless they are equipped with a smoking cabin.

Many restaurants have smoking departments, and you are allowed to smoke in your hotel room, unless it is explicitly forbidden.

Beer, wine and liquors

Beer and wine in supermarkets can be expensive compared to western European prices, but in general it is cheap to drink in bars and restaurants.

Remember that any kind of alcohol must be consumed at home or at bars/ restaurants. It is FORBIDDEN to drink in public on the street or in parks.

Water

The water from the local water supply is generally considered to be unfit for human consumption due to a nasty smell, bad taste and harmful substances. The last few years and a lot of money from the European Union is changing the picture though, and today the water from the tap should be drinkable in most parts of Warsaw, but few of the people I know drink it, unless it has been boiled, and personally I get my drinking water from one of the many water-pumps that obtain their supply from far beneath Warsaw. You may buy plastic bottles with water anywhere, and it will probably stay like this for a long time to come.   

 

 

 

 

 

Timetable for trams, buses and the Metro in English
Startside    Praktiske oplysninger    Gamle by    Nye by    Langs floden    Kongeruten

Rundtur omkring Warszawa    Marszalkowska-gade    Haven på Universitetsbiblioteket    Lazienka-parken    Hoteller    Restauranter

                   

 

The Metro station Centrum. In the background the Palace of Culture.

The Metro logo is seen at all metro stations

Unfortunately the Internet page is only in Polish

A tram in Warsaw

Taxi in Warsaw. Please look for the mermaid at the front door, the red/ yellow stripe (the town's flag), the price label at the rare side window and the phone number to the Taxi Central. This company also advertises the price at the actual door (1,80 zloty per kilometre).

Trains. Timetable in English

Sawa: 22 644 44 44

Mercedes-cars. Not the cheapest

Wawa:22 333 44 44

 

Here is a small selection of taxi centrals. Obviously, there are a lot more companies, and most of them offer good service. It is only because of the lack of space that I don't mention them all at this place.

A survey of biking roads. Press the link, zoom and point at the biking icons to see the biking roads.

Rent a car:

 

 

Automatic ticket machine for trams, metro and buses.

 

Tourist guide in Gdansk, Warszawa and the rest of Poland