- The capital and largest city of Poland, home to 1.8 million people.
- The global city is a major tourist destination and a major political and economic conduit.
- Severely damaged in World War II, most of the city had to be rebuilt from the ground up.
- Warsaw’s best known resident is none other than Fryderyk Chopin, acclaimed composer and pianist.
- Nicknames: The Phoenix City
- Currency: Polish Złoty (PLN).
- Spoken languages: Polish and German.
- Best time to visit: from April to June for crisp spring weather, or from September to November for the beautiful autumn colors. Summer and winter are best avoided, as the former is the wettest season of the year and the latter the coldest (with temperatures dropping below freezing).
- Arriving via airport: Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW) is served by rail link connecting to the city centre for one-way tickets priced at zł3.40; bus routes with single fare tickets at zł4.40. Taxis charge zł35-50 for rides to the city centre.
WHERE TO STAY
Śródmieście is the epicenter of Warsaw’s activity, placing its visitors smack dab in the thick of historic monuments, cultural attractions and the reconstructed Old Town and Royal Route. Zoliborz is a fine example of what the city would have looked like today had it not been damaged, as most of the buildings are still in their excellent pre-war condition; the neighborhood is known for its wide boulevards and easy access to the city centre.
- ZTM is the public transport authority in the city, operating the tram, bus, metro and urban rapid rail lines. Tickets purchased for the network are valid across all modes of transportation.
- There are 3 types of tickets: time-limit, single fare and single vehicle-and-fare. Time-limit tickets are purchased in time increments with 20 minutes costing zł3.40 while single-fare tickets are valid for 120 minutes from validation, priced at zł4.40. Vehicle-and-fare tickets don’t require validation and cost zł4.40.
- City Travelcards entitle their bearers to unlimited access to the network and can be bought for 1-day (zł15.00) or 3-day (zł30.00) access.
- Taxis should bear the city symbol of the mermaid on both front doors. Meters start at zł8.00 with zł3.00 charged at each subsequent kilometre for daytime passengers or zł4.50 for night fares. Suburban areas are charged twice the regular fare. Call 194 59 or 196 67 to book.
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is 3 AM.
- Piłsudskiego Square is popular among the trendy and fashionable of the city thanks to exclusive clubs and wine bars.
- Nowy Świat features an eclectic collection of dive bars and pubs that attract a mixed crowd.
- Praga is the relaxed, casual scene favored by artists and musicians.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- St. John’s Archcathedral is one of the highlights in tours of Old Town. The Gothic monument was built, among other reasons, to serve as tomb to Polish dukes.
- The Royal Castle is the pride of the city and the former residence of the Polish monarchs. Guarding the entrance to Old Town, the castle was reconstructed from rubble in 1984.
- The Warsaw Uprising Museum serves to educate on the tragic history of the city in World War II through innovative exhibits that captivate all audiences.
- The Jewish Cemetery is one of the largest of its kind and is a memorial to the past, with more than 200 thousand graves.
- Take in Lazienki Park and its impressive lawns and gardens, also home to Lazienki Palace.
- Tour the City Zoo and discover, aside from its collection of exotic animals, the charming parkland and modern playground.
- Walk the length of the Royal Route from the Royal Castle in Śródmieście to the Royal Palace in Wilanów.
- Warsaw is proud of its Classical and Romantic musical influence – several festivals are staged throughout the year to recapture the importance it has played in reconstructing techniques for solo piano.
- Bar mleczny or Polish milk bars are slowly disappearing, but the cafeterias were once integral to the nation’s lifestyle, providing cheap but nourishing food.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Śródmieście has plenty of side-street cafés and stand-alone stalls to suit any palate and pocket.
- Dangerous areas: this strictly policed city has a reputation for being safe for tourists, although caution should always be exercised (especially when walking alone at night).
The Best Warsaw Guide Books:
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Poland (covers the whole country)
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days