Warsaw Old Town

Warsaw Old Town
Author: Ferdziu, commons.wikimedia.org, CC BY

Monday, 20 April 2015

Fountain Park, Podzamcze

How to spend a summer Friday or Saturday evening in Warsaw? At Fountain Park! Since 2011 a great show combined of computer-controlled fountains, lasers, lights, music and animations on the water takes place each Friday and Saturday, from the beginning of May till the end of September. The breathtaking event is unique for each summer season, this year spectators wil see the "Water Lights" that will have its opening night on May, 1st.
The Fountain Park is the biggest attraction of that kind in Poland, alluring both locals and tourists. Last year around 800 thousand visitors attended the show. That is not surprising given that screenings are prepared with great quality and the complex itself consists of, among others, the main fountain of 2200 sq.m. and two line fountains of 600 sq.m. altogether, as well as 367 water jets. Simultaneously they can jet even 30,000 liters of water per minute!

Each show is 25 minutes long and starts:
  • At 9 p.m. in May and September
  • At 9.30 p.m. in June, July and August
Please note there will be no show on June, 20th due to big summer event - Garlands over Vistula.
Author: Leszek Leszczyński, www.flickr.com, CC BY
The Park is located at the bank of Vistula river, between Wybrzeze Gdanskie, Sanguszki and Bolesc street. It may be easily reached with public transportation (buses no 118 or 185 stop almost in front of the fountains) or by foot from the Old Town.
Free entry! 

The actual show calendar, as well as photo gallery of  previous screenings may be found here .

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Grzybowski Square

Located in the city center, near Swietokrzyska subway station, Grzybowski Square is a perfect illustration of today's Warsaw - where the past meets modernity. 

The Square itself is well known for All Saints' Church which was erected in XIXth century and rebuilt after The Second World War, when it was severely destroyed during The Warsaw Uprising. It is also worth knowing that the Square was widely peopled by Jews at the turn of XIXth and XXth century and was included into the warsaw ghetto during The Second World War. 

Also nowadays, Grzybowski Square is an important spot of many sightseeing tours and constitutes one of the major points of the biggest yearly festival of Jewish culture held in Warsaw - Singer's Warsaw. During the festival small stalls, reconstituted typically Jewish shops or restaurants and variety of cultural events bring back an unforgettable atmosphere of the place. Grzybowski Square is a picturesque place during the whole year, but if you happen to be in Warsaw during Singer's Warsaw you simply must be there. In 2015, the festival will take place between 22nd and 30th of August.

Author: Adam Smok, www.flickr.com, CC BY

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Racetrack Służewiec, Puławska Street, 266

Tired of standard sightseeing? Looking for some adrenaline? Wanting to spend weekend like Warsaw locals? If you answered yes to any of above questions, don't hesitate and book few hours during your stay at Warsaw for a visit at horse racetrack Służewiec.
Source: my archive
It doesn't matter whether you have tried it before or not. Even if you know nothing about horse races, and even if you are not a gambling lover I guarantee that time spent there will be a great fun for the whole family. And maybe at the end of the day you will be not only happy, but also rich.

Races are organized starting from April until November, almost every Saturday and Sunday - with few exceptions that are included in the whole season programme listed at the official site of the racetrack. On each racing day there is usually 8-9 races, one every 30 minutes. The track itself is well organized, offers food and drink zone as well as additional facilities for children. 

Visitors area is divided into few zones, entrance fee amounts to:
5 PLN - zone B
15 PLN - zone A and B
20 PLN - grandstand, second floor
25 PLN - family ticket (2 adults + min. 1 child)

Source: my archive
Before every racing weekend there is programme available online that may be easily printed. It can be bought at entrance gates too. Brochure includes also short description of available bets, so you don't need to have any special knowledge of the subject. The basic bet costs only 3 PLN.

Służewiec racetrack is located in the southern part of the city, at Puławska Street. It can be reached by public transportation: subway line up to Wilanowska station, then bus number 300 (runs every 30 minutes and only on racing days) or tram number 4, 10 or 35 from the city center (you will need to take a 20-minut walk from tram stop to racetrack area though). You can easily plan your trip with jakdojade.pl , that I wrote about here .

Additional attraction resulting from visiting Służewiec are wonderful graffiti pictures painted at long concrete wall surrounding racetrack territory from Puławska Street.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Museums at Night 2015

Planning to visit Warsaw in May? If so, you definitely need to schedule your trip so as to be here on May, 16th! On this day Museums at Night will take place this year. The event attracts more and more residents and tourists every year, it is not surprising though as the city has more to offer year-on-year.

In the upcoming edition 237 institutions have declared their participation so far, including 50 museums and 31 galleries. Beyond the obvious benefits of the event - that is free entrance and long opening hours - Museums at Night enables to visit places that are normally closed for visitors, such as Parliament or Senat premises. Due to great number of attractions, it is good to check the programme in advance and choose 2 or 3 places that are most interesting for us. I'd not recommend picking too many sites as queues should be expected at most popular places.

Full programme of the event wil be available starting from the mid of April here and on the official facebook profile .

Friday, 3 April 2015

How much does it cost?

Warsaw is definitely the most expensive city in Poland, it still however remains cheaper than most European capitals. Personally, I do always check the price range of most important products before going abroad therefore I expect that also some of you, Warsaw visitors, is interested in the subject. In this post I will try to present prices of some exemplary products that may interest an ordinary tourist. All prices are in Polish local currency (PLN) and are actual as per April 2015.
The average exchange rate of EUR/PLN is 4,2. 

Eating outside:
Big Mac - 9,60 zł
Shish kebab (popular street food) - 13-16 zł
Espresso - 8 zł
Capuccino - 12-15 zł
Water (in a restaurant) - 7 zł
Beer (in a restaurant) - 8-12 zł
Burger - 25-30zł
Main course in an average restaurant - 40-60 zł

Bread - 3 zł
Water (1,5 L) - 2 zł
Orange juice (1 L) - 5 zł
Chicken breast (1 kg) - 15 zł
Cheese (1 kg) - 25 zł
Milk (1 L) -  3 zł

Cinema tickets - 25-30 zł
Taxi (1 km) - 1,80-2,50 zł
Public transportation - please refer to  the post

Supermarkets are generally open until 9 or 10 p.m. including Saturdays, and closing a little earlier on Sundays. Within the city center small groceries dominate the mercantile landscape, there are also liquor stores available - some of them operating 24h/day and offering basic groceries products as well.
Payments by card are widely accepted. In some shops and restaurants it is also possible to pay directly in EUR, albeit I strongly advise checking the exchange rate that is offered as it may be significantly different from actual numbers.
Polish zloty - banknotes

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Nowy Świat-Uniwersytet - new subway station

One of the newly built stations of Warsaw second subway line: Nowy Świat-Uniwersytet (Nowy Świat-University), located at The Royal Route, in close proximity to many top tourist attractions.

The platform is located 23 m below ground level making it the deepest station in Warsaw. This modern interior has been designed in violet colors, with subtle lighting and delicately undulant ceiling.
Author:PAP/ Marcin Obara, wiadomosci.onet.pl

Public transportation

Warsaw is well communicated, offers expanded network of subway, trams, buses and local trains at affordable price. For buses there are bus passes dedicated so during rush hours public transportation is much more effective than getting around by car.

In the daytime
At the moment there is one subway line connecting northern and southern parts of the city, however the second line is to be opened in 2015 linking east and west. Current line includes 21 stations and it takes approximately 45 minutes to travel from first to last stop.
Świętokrzyska and Ratusz Arsenał stations are located near The Old Town area while Centrum is best to reach main railway station (5 minutes walk or one tram stop), Palace of Culture and Science, National Museum. If you want to save some money on accommodation but still don't want to waste too much time in means of transport look for places loacted outside the city center but alongside subway line - you will be able to reach city center easily and within 15-20 minutes.

Buses and trams cover the whole city tightly and will be useful for reaching e.g. Warsaw Uprising Museum, Royal Łazienki, Wilanów, Invisible Exhibition (more about it here) or National Stadium. Lines numbers starting with 1, 2 or 3 are regular ones, 4 or 5 - rushed ones, 7 and 8 - suburban. Local trains provide connection with suburbia; there are few operators (SKM, KM WKD) and main rail hub is Warszawa Centralna/ Warszawa Śródmieście (central railway station).

At night.
Buses, trams and trains operate generally between 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. Beyond these hours there are 43 night buses lines running, reaching not only all Warsaw districts but also suburbia. Signage of night buses always starts with "N". It is important to know that they stop on bus stops on demand - you need to wave your hand when you see a bus arriving at a bus stop.

Subway operates from 5 a.m. until:
  • Sunday - Thursday: 12:10 a.m. (last train leaving from Kabaty and Młociny)
  • Friday - Saturday: 2:30 a.m. (last train leaving from Kabaty) and 2:45 a.m. (last train leaving from Młociny)
Warsaw is divided into zones 1 and 2 in terms of public transportation ticket prices. As tickets for zone 2 are significantly more expensive than dedicated to zone 1 only, always make sure that you are buying appriopriate ticket. Most probably you will not need tickets for zone 2 because it covers pretty distant, suburban areas, rarely visited by tourists. As I've written above, buses with numbers starting with 7 and 8 are suburban but unless you cross the border of second zone, you can travel in those buses with zone 1 tickets.

As per March, 2015 types and prices of available single and short term tickets ar as presented below:
  • 20 minute ticket (unlimited number of journeys for a period not exceeding 20 minutes), zones 1 and 2: 3,40 PLN
  • Single fare transfer ticket (unlimited number of journeys for a period not exceeding 75 minutes), zone 1: 4,40 PLN
  • Single fare transfer ticket (unlimited number of journeys for a period not exceeding 90 minutes), zones 1 and 2: 7,00 PLN
  • One-day ticket (unlimited number of journeys for 24 hours from its validation), zone 1: 15 PLN
  • One-day ticket (unlimited number of journeys for 24 hours from its validation), zones 1 and 2: 26 PLN
  • Weekend ticket (unlimited number of journeys from 7:00 p.m. on Friday till 8:00 a.m. on Monday), zones 1 and 2: 24 PLN
  • Group weekend ticket (entitles a group of up to 5 people to unlimited number of journeys from 7:00 p.m. on Friday till 8:00 a.m. on Monday), zones 1 and 2: 40 PLN
All tickets need to be validated immediately after boarding bus/tram/train or at the entrance gate before entering subway platform. For short term tickets validation is to be performed during first journey.

Public transportation is free for people over 70 years old. Unfortunately there is no discount for children, with a single exception for students possessing a valid ISIC card (entitlement to 50% discount).

The easiest way of purchasing ticket is using a stationary ticket machine. They are located in the whole city: at every subway station, Chopin Airport, railway stations, many of bus and tram stops. All machines are able to function in English and it is possible to pay either by cash or by card.
Ticket machines are also located in all suburban trains and part of buses/trams (e.g. you will for sure find one in bus no 175 running to/from Chopin Airport). The tricky part is that you never know whether the vehicle you are planning to board does possess a machine or not (with the exception of bus no 175), so it's better to purchase ticket in advance. Teoretically also drivers sale ticket on board but they offer only one type of ticket, you always need to have the exact amount of money and they may refuse sale if they are too occupied. All in all - they are generally reluctant to do it.
If you prefer eye contact you may buy tickets in one of stationary points of sale: ZTM passenger service points or post offices. Finding a closest tickets sale point is possible here.

Useful links
  • jakdojade.pl - the best journey planner. If you need to find the easiest way of travelling from one point to another in Warsaw use it to schedule your trip, check which means of transport to use and where to change. Available in English.
  • ZTM - official portal of municipial public transportation. timetables, search engine, maps of day and night transportation, ticket tariffs. There is also a subpage that gathers all information regarding getting to/from the airport. Available in English.
Good to know: major colors of public vehicles are yellow and red, it's really difficult to overlook them!

Source: ZTM Warszawa