Planning a solo trip to Warsaw? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital and largest city of Poland, home to around 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 former resident is none other than Frédéric Chopin, acclaimed composer and pianist.
- Nicknames: The Phoenix City.
- Currency: Polish Złoty (PLN). 5 PLN is approx. 1 Euro.
- Spoken languages: Polish and German.
- Best time to visit: from April to June for the 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 (WAW): you have a few options. Take the shuttle bus to the Palace of Culture (central Warsaw) for 5 Euros (schedule). Alternatively, you can take local bus or urban rail for just 3.40 PLN (see route details). A taxi to Old Town is only 60 PLN (about 13 Euros), so that’s also an option.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Warsaw: Oki Doki Old Town. It’s right in the name – the place is right next to the Royal Castle and Main square of the city. Big and clean rooms, comfortable beds, and multiple communal spaces for socializing (including a cozy garden cafe at the back). This one sells out fast – so book ahead to reserve a spot.
- 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. A standard 20 minute ticket is 3.40 PLN, while a 75 minute ticket costs 4.40 PLN. Consider getting a 1 day or 3 day ticket to make things easier. See details on the official website.
- Taxis should bear the city symbol of the mermaid on both front doors. Suburban areas are charged twice the regular fare. Call 194 59 or 196 67 to book.
- Locals prefer the FreeNow app instead of taxis. It’s a popular European ride sharing service, and works better than Uber in Warsaw (numerous reports of unprofessional Uber drivers attempting to scam riders).
- 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 favoured by artists and musicians.
- Great casual pubs for solo travelers: Klub Wieżyca (old school), Plan B (hipster brewpub), Klubojadalnia Młodsza Siostra (live music), Świetlica, Cuda Na Kiju.
- Cocktail bars: Rakieta Klub, Zamieszanie, and Bar Pacyfik.
- Night clubs: Nowy Berlin, SMOLNA, Jasna 1.
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.
- Great restaurants to try in Warsaw: Stary Dom ($$$ – get the tatar and dumplings), Gruby Josek ($$), Patelnia Patera ($$),
- Bar mleczny (Polish milk bars) are slowly disappearing, but the cafeterias were once integral to the nation’s lifestyle, providing cheap but nourishing food. Some of the best ones still operational: Bar mleczny Marymont and Rusałka.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Śródmieście has plenty of side-street cafés and stand-alone stalls to suit any palate and pocket. Specific recommendations: Stołówka u Chłopaków, Syrena Irena (for pierogis), or one of the Gościniec locations.
- 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).
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days