Warsaw Old Town

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