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

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Miniature Park, Bracka St. 25

It is a well known fact that Warsaw was unimaginably destroyed during Second World War. Roughly speaking 65% of the whole city was demolished, 84% taking into consideration left-bank districts only. According to estimations, in 1945 Warsaw was covered by about 20 million cubic meters of rubble.  
Sadly, destruction did not miss Polish monuments - approximately 90% of historical treasure located in Warsaw was partly or fully demolished (674 objects).

Since 2010, Warsaw Uprising Museum provides the opportunity of seeing short animation movie The city of ruins (Miasto ruin) that presents destroyed and depopulated Warsaw during spring in 1945. The trailer of the film may be watched on the film's official site.

Although capital's population undertook an immense effort to rebuild the city, it was not possible to reinstate the whole city. The Miniature Park gives an opportunity to see some of historical monuments that were destroyed in the past, mostly during Second World War. All exhibits are made with great accuracy in scale of 1:25. The museum kicked off just in 2014 and is still developing, but the excellent quality of exhibited objects makes it a place worth visiting. Due to its relatively short history, The Miniature Park hasn't gained large popularity yet and it may be difficult to find it in Warsaw guide books.

Source: UD Wola
Duration: approximately 1 hour
Location: Bracka St. 25, DT Braci Jabłkowskich, level -1
(the above location is actual until 01/05/2015. During summer park changes its location. For actual adress please always check the official site of the musuem before visit). 

Tickets prices:
Regular PLN 12
Discount PLN 8

For further information please visit the museum's official site.

Invisible Exhibition, Jerozolimskie Avenue 123a

Operating in Budapest since 2007 and in Prague since 2011 has been also made available for Warsaw audience few years ago becoming one of the most memorable experiences that Warsaw offers. In a complete dark surroundings, during an interactive one-hour journey,  you can find out how to function without sight. Small groups and guides, who are blind or visually impaired, make it an eyeopening and genuine experience. 
If you are looking for alternative attractions, something different from standard must-sees in Warsaw, this is definitely for you.
Duration: 1 hour
Location: Jerozolimskie Avenue 123a, Millenium Plaza
Tours in English available, booking required.

- weekdays: PLN 21 (Regular); PLN 16 (Discount); PLN 13 (Groups)
- weekends: PLN 25 (Regular); PLN 22 (Discount); PLN 19 (Groups)

Please note that above prices are valid for online payments only. For in-house purchases prices are 3 PLN higher.

For more information please visit the official site.

Perfect holiday deal

Looking for a good holiday deal? 
Two days ago
incontrovertible rise in prices.

So, will there be a better time to visit Warsaw than now? I don't think so!

Full article may be found here.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

City sightseeing bus

City sightseeing Warsaw bus is good solution for tourists looking for quick and easy way of moving between most important sites in Warsaw. If your journey time is limited or you don't like long city walks this post is for you.

The ogranizer of tours belongs to City Sightseeing Worldwide group which operates in many cities around the world therefore the service provided is of high quality and probably well known to most travellers. Buses are well identifiable as they are colorful double decker vehicles moving around Warsaw city center. They have a sliding roof and may carry up to 70 people which ensures comfort during the drive.

The route of the bus covers some of important sites in terms of Warsaw tourist attractions although it could be far more expanded, reaching attractions located outside the city center. The list of stops includes ten locations:
Palace of Culture and Science (near Main Railway Station), Pilsudski Square, Chopin Museum, Bank Square, Old Town, Castle Square, University, Foksal, Royal Lazienki, City center.
The full route is presented below:
Another flaw of the bus is its cost: regular ticket price is PLN 60 for 24 hs and PLN 80 for 48 hs ticket which is rather expensive comparing to average prices range in Poland and taking into account that the route of the bus is rather limited and its frequency is one drive per hour. However, as I've already written here, if you decide to purchase Warsaw Pass card the City sightseeing bus line will be for free.

All in all, this is an alternative worth considering and may considerably facilitate moving around foreign city. It is also a good option if you plan to spend only few hours in Warsaw and would like to see the most important spots in a short time. The whole route lasts approximately 1 hour (but is highly dependant on traffic).

For full details, timetable as well as ticket purchase please visit the official site of the line.
Short promotional film of the bus trip may be also found on YouTube: click here

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Where to stay

Warsaw provides extremely vast range of  accommodation for tourists, suiting every pocket. As there is plenty of professional services available on the Internet, I am not going to rewrite here the content as this is not the aim of that blog. What I'd like to do, is to facilitate the proccess of looking for your perfect trip lodging by presenting in this post bunch of links to websites that will enable you to search for the most convenient accommodation, depending on your budget. 

For free
Couchsurfing - there is over 39 thousand of active hosts living in Warsaw or its close neighbourhood logged on the portal, so there is no doubt you will find someone corresponding your needs and eager to host you.

Low cost
Hostelworld, Hostels.com, Hostelbookers - hostels are popular and convenient accommodation for those looking for inexpensive place to stay. Prices per night in Warsaw hostels range from approx. PLN 30 to approx. PLN 100, depending on season and facilities.
Students' hostels (Akademiki) may be an alternative to hostels. They are usually located in more quiet surroundings and not as overcrowded as hostels are. During summer time finding a room should not be a problem, many of those hostels do not even require reservation. However, if you are going to visit Warsaw during school year you'd better ask for a free room in advance.
Airbnb - good choice for tourists preferring more intimate atmosphere or additional facilities such as equipped kitchen. On Airbnb you can find various accommodation offers, including high-standard elegant apartments, but there is also plenty of cost-effective sites made usually available as one room in a flat/house where also host lives.

Medium/High cost
Popular polish portals (available also in English):

International portals:

All the above mentioned portals are my personal subjective choice. I do also recommend using Trivago for easy comparison of hotel prices offered on different booking sites (as well as finding great deals) and TripAdvisor for checking reviews of hotels published by other travellers. Those two portals haven't let me down yet!

If there are any portals, tools you found helpful while looking for accommodation in Warsaw please let me know - I'll be happy to complement the list. As in my opinion good place to stay is an essential component of every fulfilling trip. Do you agree?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene, Solidarności Avenue, 52

The Metropolitan Council of the Holy Equal to the Apostles of Mary Magdalene (Parafia katedralna św. Marii Magdaleny) is a Polish Orthodox cathedral which was opened in 1869. Its stunning architecture and masterpiece interiors make it a must-see in Warsaw, although it is located a bit off the beaten (tourist) track. 

Author: Ejdzej, en.wikipedia.org, CC BY
Author: Jalme.silva, www.flickr.com, CC BY

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Top 100 City Destinations

If you still haven't decided whether to come to Warsaw or not, here is something that may help to make up yours mind. 

Just few days ago, Euromonitor International released its annual Top 100 City Destinations ranking that presents 100 most popular cities in terms of international tourists arrivals, basing on data for 2013. Warsaw was ranked 42nd, outrunning such popular tourist destinations, as San Francisco, St. Petersburg, Sydney or Buenos Aires! Having hosted almost 4 million tourists, Warsaw increased 2012 arrivals by 8.9%.

First three places of the ranking are invariably in posession of Asian mega-cities: Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok that are followed by London and Paris. The only American city in first ten is New York City, ranked 7th.

For full Top 100 City Destinations ranking click here.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

In Your Pocket - free city guide

Those of you who had already an opportunity to visit Europe, especially Central and Eastern regions, probably heard about In Your Pocket city guides series. For those who hadn't, today few words about the idea.

The founders of In Your Pocket series are four men who got stuck in Vilnius, Lithuania, one day in 1991 with no idea on how to spend the evening. This is how they came up with the idea of Vilnius dedicated city guide which shortly developed and spread to other cities of the region. This initial intention remained the main theme of the concept as besides standard information on how to get to the city, where to sleep or what to see there is also wide range of other popular spots presented, such as restaurants, pubs, night clubs, gyms, theaters, cinemas. But, what in my opinion is the most distinctive and most valuable at the same time, is actual information about on-going events, concerts and any other cultural attractions. So, you can easily check what is going on in the city you are planning to visit (which is not always easy if you don't know the town and where to look information about current events) or even adjust arriving dates to events you are interested in.

At the moment, the guide is published for more than 100 cities in over 30 countries, located mostly in Central and Eastern Europe. Among others there is of course Warsaw - that's why I'm writing about it here :) First good news is that the guide is regularly updated every two months in order to provide the most current data. And second good news is that it is available for free, in few formats: it may be downloaded on your mobile device either in PDF format or as an app, printed,  picked up in Warsaw tourist information offices or in some of hotels. You may also ask for a printed copy to be sent to you, however there is an extra cost of EUR 5 for that. 

All in all, In Your Pocket is a great help for visitors looking for some additional attractions. It should rather not be seen as major guide for historical places and typical must-sees, as descriptions provided are basic, but if you want to feel like locals for some time, eat lunch in popular restaurant or go to an interesting concert this is something you should definitely read before your trip.

Current issue of In Your Pocket city guide for Warsaw may be downloaded here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Jewish Cemetery, Okopowa Street

The biggest Jewish cemetery in Mazovian district and second largest in Poland, covers an area of approximately 33,3 ha. It houses over 200 thousands of tombs (matzevah) and is still in use.
Beautiful and mysteriuos, even more afflicting while covered in snow. 

Author: Chris [KrzysztofTe], www.flickr.com, CC BY

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Warsaw Pass

Today few words about an idea that is highly popular in most foreign cities that are typical tourist destinations, especially among European ones, being still in its infancy in Poland though - tourist city card. 

Merely few years ago Warsaw offer was rather not appealing as basic calculations were proving that regardless of sightseeing configuration it was more cost-effective to visit Warsaw without city card rather than with it. Fortunately, city clerks came to their senses and just recently changed the offer radically.

At the moment the card is named Warsaw Pass and is available in three variants, depending on duration:
  • 24 hours (119 PLN /99 PLN)
  • 48 hours (159 PLN /139 PLN)
  • 72 hours (189 PLN /169 PLN)
(reduced price available for youth up to 26 years old and seniors over 65 years old)

The question is, is it worth buying?

Although the price is not the lowest (typical 2 adults + 2 children family spending three days in Warsaw will spend 716 PLN for Warsaw Pass) it is worth considering, especially for museums amateurs. Unfortunately the range of hotels and restaurants available is limited, but it is clear that originators put strong accent on  popular historical attractions and museums.

Having Warsaw Pass, you are able to visit for free (and skip the line):

Royal Lazienki Museum, Chopin Museum, Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN), Viewing terrace at 30th floor of Palace of Culture and Science, Copernicus science center, Copernicus' sky Planetarium, Wilanow Palace, The National Museum in Warsaw, Zacheta - National Gallery of Art, The Royal Castle.

The entrance fee to most of above mentioned places is higher than 20 PLN.

Additionally, buying Warsaw Pass you are entitled to receive a discount at: Museum of Technology (25% discount), Botanic Garden (50% discount) or Railway Museum (25% discount). 

Another argument in favour is that holders of Warsaw Pass can use sightseeing bus line for free (regular price is 80 PLN for 48 hours, 60 PLN for 24 hours) any time as long as the card is valid, as well as receive a discount/use for free some guided tours or renting bikes and segway.

As I said, the range of restaurants and hotels available is not vast, but if you decide to book your room at some place that is a participant of the programme, you will benefit from the card even more. Let's hope the programme will develop and more institutions will engage in it in the near future.

All practical information, including places where to buy Warsaw Pass, may be found at the official site of the programme. You may believe me or not, but the site is available in English only - it seems that authors of the portal did not predict that also Polish tourists - from other cities than Warsaw (there is 38 m inhabitants in Poland) may visit the capital city :)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Free walking tour

When I was walking down the Warsaw Old Town few days ago, I incidentally bumped into a group of a dozen or so people standing in front of Royal Castle and listening to a guide. As I had some spare time I decided to hang with them for a while. And just thanks to that decision made that day you have the possibility of reading that post.

The group turned out to be a bunch of  random tourists sightseeing Warsaw with Free walking tour which is a kind of foundation that aims at promoting Poland and its culture among foreign tourists.

The good news is that walking tours organized by them are for free for everyone interested! You don't need to make any reservation, you don't need to pay anything, you don't need to make any special plans or arrangements in advance. You can just show at the meeting point at certain time and enjoy the tour for as long as you wish.

There are few different tours offered, visitors may choose from:
1) Old Town Warsaw
2) Jewish Warsaw
3) Communist Warsaw
4) Alternative Warsaw
5) Free walking special (only from 1st November to 31st March 2015)
All the above mentioned tours are held in English, and number 1) and 2) also in Spanish which is rather rare occasion for Spanish-speaking tourists to take part in guided tour in Warsaw in their native language.

The meeting point is Sigismund's Column, located in front of Royal Castle, with the exception of Communist Warsaw tour for which Charles de Gaulle statue is the starting point. Old Town Warsaw is held on a daily basis while the other ones every few days so if you're spending in Warsaw more than one day you may be lucky to attending few different routes. According to the organiser, they operate everydaywhitout regard for the weather, public or religious holidays.

If you prefer more intimate atmosphere you may also ask for private or tailor-made trip, they are not for free though: the cost of private is 300 PLN while tailor-made fee is generally 100 PLN per hour. Additionaly, if you plan to visit not only Warsaw it is good to know that guided tours are also organized in Cracow and Wroclaw.

All the necessary data, including actual calendar of tours, may be found at the foundation official site.
I honestly encourage everyone to have a try as this is a great opportunity to see the city from a different perspective, find out about things that are not described in an ordinary guidebook or just ask questions. Remember you don't need to pay for it so there is nothing to lose.

P.S. This is not an advertisement, I was not compensated in any way for this text. I'm writing about it because I see it as a great opportunity for a potential tourist and basing on few minutes spent on the tour I believe they are worth attending. And, number of excellent ratings at Tripadvisor says it all!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sigismund's Column

Sigismund's Column (Kolumna Zygmunta) is one of the most characteristic Warsaw landmarks. Erected in 1644, located in Castle Square, during summer is a vibrant meeting point for capital's youth.

Authors: Marek and Ewa Wojciechowscy, commons.wikimedia.org, CC BY

How to get to Warsaw. Part II.

Continuing this short practical guide about arriving to Warsaw let's concentrate today on remaining means of transport. For those who are not great fans of planes, don't worry - you may visit this interesting city as well! :)

By train.
Train may be good solution for travellers planning to come to Warsaw from different European cities. There is good, direct connection with many capitals, just to mention few: Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Moscow. International trains are generally in good condition, branded as Euro- or InterCity, include buffet car and couchette for longer distances. If you plan to spend some time in other Polish cities (e.g. extremaly popular and beautiful Cracow) then you may consider using trains as well, as they offer good connection in wide range of prices - InterRegio and TLK being the cheapest ones. The search engine of all train connections may be found here.

The main station is Central Warsaw (Warszawa Centralna) located at the crossroad of Jerozolimskie avenue and Jana Pawła II. The building was fully renovated in 2010 and now offers a wide range of services including coffeehouses, bars, boutiques. From the building there is also a direct entry to one of Warsaw's biggest shopping centers - Złote Tarasy (official site). It's worth knowing that the station is open 24 hours a day.
You will find taxi rank in front of the building, as well as city bus station.  There is plenty of bus and tram stops located within a short walking distance, including subway station (Metro Centrum) situated approximately 600 m from the train station. The walk to the historical center would take approximately 30 minutes.

Besides Central Warsaw most of international trains stops usually also at Warsaw Western (Warszawa Zachodnia) or Warsaw Eastern (Warszawa Wschodnia) station. So, depending where you plan to stay it may be more convenient to get off a train on one of above stations. There is also main coach station located next to Warsaw Western station (national and part of international bus lines).

By car.
Road infrastructure has improved significantly over last few years, many dual carriageways and highways was put at public disposal. While considering travel by car you must remember that highways are subject to charge. At the moment fee for cars under 3,5 t amounts to 0,10 PLN/1 km. Calculations for exact routes may be found here (Polish language only). As for petrol, prices are rather not high comparing to other European countries; actual information about average costs is presented on economic web portal wnp.pl. For more data please click here (in Polish).

By bus.
Out of selected locations it is possible to reach Warsaw by international bus lines. The journey will last longer but price can be significantly lower. If you travel from Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, Berlin or Vilnius Polski Bus is highly recommended as if you are lucky you may pay only EUR 1 for a single trip (first seats price)!  To keep updated with all discounts I suggest following the company site on Facebook or signing up for a newsletter at Polski Bus official site.
For travellers from Baltic States, by contrast, as well as Prague and Berlin, Simple Express line is worth considering as they offer competitive prices and - likewise Polski Bus - first seats discounts. Their official site may be found here.
Polski Bus: stops map. Source: http://www.polskibus.com/en/bus-stops
Simple Express: stops map. Source:http://www.simpleexpress.eu/en
 For long-distance journeys to Warsaw from various European locations Ecolines is to be considered as offering the most complex  and diversified connections map, although their prices may be a little bit more expensive (Ecolines official site).

Alternative forms of transport.
For adventures lovers I propose:
- bicycle trip, which is a wonderful way of exploring not only Warsaw, but also smaller towns and picturesque countryland. Apart from its southern regions, Poland is lowland country so unless you decide to come here in winter it may be a very pleasant journey;
- hitch-hiking; Poland is highly used as transit region between Western and Eastern countries (Ukraine, Russia, Bielarus). Therefore it is not difficult to bump into lorry driver eager to enhance their long trip.

For more details please contact me or post a comment and I will do my best to provide an explanation.

Warsaw Traveller. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Central Business District

With this post I'm beginning a new area on the blog which is Warsaw picture selection. I hope that photos presented here will encourage all Readers to visit the city sooner or later ;)

If you have pictures of Warsaw you would like to be presented here please just contact me. I'll be more than happy to share your city-related memories with others!

Today's picture: Central Business District in Warsaw, sunset time. On the right, backlit in blue, one of the most characteristic buildings - Palace of Culture and Science (Pałac Kultury i Nauki).

Author: Artur Malinowski, www.flickr.com, CC BY

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to get to Warsaw. Part I.

I guess that subject of the first post is not surprising as usually (at least this is what I always do while planning my trips) mapping out of how to reach our destination is the first step of every journey. Sometimes it may even determine what place we will decide to visit. So, today I will talk over various means of transport and show all of you that besides Warsaw is usually being considered as a place located outside popular tourist trails it is definitely easly reachable.

By plane.
This is the easiest and the fastest way of reaching the city. Warsaw is well connected with many European as well as non-European cities. You can choose from regular lines, e.g. Polish national airlines PLL LOT (LOT official site) , or low-cost ones, such as Ryanair or Wizz Air. It is good to know that every week LOT offers a special promotion called Crazy Wednesday where it is possible to buy tickets for selected routes (different every week) at special prices. Therefore I recommend following LOT site on Facebook or subscribing to a newsletter in order to keep track of current discounts. 

The important information is that there are two Warsaw airports:
  • Warsaw Chopin Airport (airport official site) which is located within the city (8 km from the city center) and is used by most air carriers. The close proximity makes it easy to get to the city center (approx. 20-30 minutes depending on traffic) and you may choose from:
  1. Taxi - there is always plenty of cars in front of the entrance, however please make sure you are using the licensed taxi service (the tariff should be displayed in the window). The regular fare for transport to the city center is approximately 40 PLN but if you happen to use non-licensed driver your short trip may be significantly more expensive;
  2. Car hire - car rental desks are located in the public area of the Terminal A arrivals hall. The full list of car rental companies available may be found at the airport official site;
  3. Public transport: bus - airport is served by few bus lines, including night bus. Bus fares, timetables and routes may be found at ZTM site who is an organiser of city public transport (ZTM official site). More detailed information about public transport will be also available in the next post on this blog;
  4. Public transport: train - an urban railway service is operated by two companies: Szybka Kolej Miejska – SKM (Fast Urban Railway) and Koleje Mazowieckie - KM (Masovian Railways). At the moment SKM offers two (S2 and S3) and KM one (RL) line linking Chopin Airport with other destinations. Using train is a good idea especially if your destination is not Warsaw but other Polish cities that you plan to reach by train, as SKM or KM will transport you directly to any of Warsaw railway stations. For more information regarding fares, timetables and routes please click here.
  • Modlin Airport (airport official site) which is located 35 km from Warsaw and currently is used by Ryanair. The journey to the city center takes approx. 40-80 minutes and is possible via:
  1. ModlinBus - private operator linking Modlin airport directly with Warsaw, however only one stop in Warsaw is available (across from the main entrance of the Palace of Culture). Timetable is correlated with planes arrival/departure hours and tickets can be bought online on the ModlinBus site (ModlinBus official site). Advanced purchase is recommended as if you are lucky you may buy tickets for 9 PLN (few first seats in every coach), fares reach to the level of 28 PLN (last seats);
  2. Public transport: train - a service is operated by Koleje Mazowieckie - KM (Masovian Railways). It is possible to reach city center (Warszawa Śródmieście), as well as other Warsaw railway stations and Chopin Airport. Modlin railway station is remote from the airport therefore short bus ride is necessary. Buses are labelled and run every 20-30 minutes linking airport with station. Single ticket for the bus costs 5 PLN however if you travel using both bus and train you can buy special Airport ticket that costs 17 PLN and allows you to use public transportation in Warsaw for additional 60 minutes;
  3. Taxi - the available companies include SAWA Taxi or Taxi MODLIN and journey to Warsaw center takes approx. 40 minutes. Fares are fixed and range between 119 PLN - 249 PLN depending on time and destination. Full pricelist may be downloaded here;
  4. Car hire - car rental desks are located in the public area of arrivals hall. The full list of car rental companies available may be found at the airport official site.

Monday, 12 January 2015


If you are visiting this blog it probably means that you are thinking of some trip to Warsaw, or just heard about it, or know nothing but willing to find out a little bit more. For any purpose, I'm really glad you happened to be here.

The purpose of this blog is to bring Warsaw closer to people who would like to know more about this wonderful city which is becoming more and more popular destination among tourists around the world. I'm not a warsaw-born citizen, but I've been living here for over 10  years so I've managed to know the area pretty well.

My idea is to create kind of interactive platform here. So should there be any subjects you would like to be elaborated here, any information you need to acquire please fell free to leave a comment or contact me via: warsawtraveller@gmail.com . I will be happy to answer all questions. If you happen to visit Warsaw please let me know about your impressions, send some photos or just notify you are in the neighbourhood - I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
And last but not least - I'm not a native speaker, so please excuse any language mistakes. I decided that I would like to reach foreign travellers mostly, as Polish people are usually aware of the Poland Capital City beauty, so English language of this site is a must. In case of any linguistic remarks please let me know, I'm working on it all the time!

Warsaw Traveller.