Getting to Warsaw
Arriving by plane
Warsaw Chopin Airport is the largest airport in Poland. It supports scheduled passenger traffic and charter traffic, cargo and general aviation and annually serves more than 10 million passengers, who benefit from direct connections to nearly 100 cities on four continents. But what is most unique, is its location within the city. The airport is located about 10 km from the city centre. And it is also well connected with other districts.
Passengers can use five public transport bus lines 148 — to Praga district, 175 — to the city centre, 188 — to Gocław, 331 — to Ursynów, N32 (night line) — to the Central Station (Warszawa Centralna). A trip to the centre takes approximately 30 minutes (40 minutes during peak hours). Bus stops at the airport are located in the first ticket zone.
You can also reach the city by taxi. The airport authorizes and recommends the services of three corporations: Ele Sky Taxi, Super Taxi, Sawa Taxi. The fare to the centre is 25–40 PLN, depending on the time of day.
In the nearby of the terminal there is an underground train station Warsaw Chopin Airport. It is located on level -1, to the right of the new terminal arrivals. During peak hours, trains leave every 10–12 minutes, off-peak — every quarter. Getting from the airport to the Central Station (Warszawa Centralna) takes about 25 minutes.
The rail operator has launched three lines: Fast Municipal Railway (SKM) S2 and S3 and the Masovian Railways train (KM). This is causing some difficulties with changes in the route and types of tickets.
Fast Municipal Railway (SKM)
SKM S2 line route — Airport – Służewiec – Żwirki i Wigury – Rakowiec – Aleje Jerozolimskie – West Station (Dworzec Zachodni) – Ochota – Downtown Station (Dworzec Śródmieście) – Powiśle Station – Stadion Station – East Station (Dworzec Wschodni) – then the route follows the direction Sulejówek. Note that S2 does not stop at the Dworzec Centralny but the Dworzec Śródmieście. If you want to get to the centre get off at the Downtown Station (Dworzec Śródmieście) and you are in the proximity of the Metro, right at the Palace of Culture and Marriott, Novotel Centrum and Polonia hotels.
SKM S3 line route — Airport – Służewiec – Żwirki i Wigury – Rakowiec – Aleje Jerozolimskie – West Station (Dworzec Zachodni) – Central Station (Dworzec Centralny) – East Station (Dworzec Wschodni) – then the route follows the direction Legionowo.
Lines S2 and S3 are subject to the regular municipal ticket system. It’s a good idea to start your visit in Warsaw buying 24 h tickets. These tickets, once validated, can be used in all trains from/to the airport, as well as in all buses, trams, and Metro (within the city limits). It is probably the best way of getting around. Just keep the validated ticket with you all the time. There are controls.
There are also the Mazovian Railways (KM) trains. You need to double check the route as some of them finish their route at the West Station (Dworzec Zachodni). Most will go further to the Central and East station but make sure your train does. You can use 24 h municipal tickets but if you need a single journey ticket it has to be purchased uniquely for the KM lines. That is because a single journey municipal ticket is not valid in KM trains.
The difference in tickets might seem a little bit confusing. But since you know about it in advance, you shall not get lost in it.
Modlin airport handles charter and low cost airlines. It was opened in 2012. The airport is about 35 km from the city centre. Small but functional terminal does not offer business clients services. There are no business lounges and boutiques nor air conditioning in the main hall. Travellers, however, have all the necessary services and facilities, which can be found in most airports around the world. There is a parking for 600 cars in front of the terminal. It is free for 10 minutes, after 6 PLN for first hour and 4 PLN for every additional hour is charged. There are several private car parks close to the airport. Leaving your car for one day would cost about 50 PLN (approx. €12).
How to get there?
- By train.
- The railway link is the fastest and cheapest way to get to the airport. At Warsaw Central Station take the Masovian Railways train (white and green carriages) to Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki and get off at the Modlin railway station. At the station change for the shuttle bus (leaves every 20 minutes), which takes you to the passenger terminal. A one way train ticket costs 17 PLN and includes the cost of the bus ticket (from the airport you can buy a bus ticket which will be valid for the train too). The train should not take longer than 50 minutes, and the shuttle is another 7 minutes.
- By bus.
- Travel time is subject to traffic in Warsaw and can take an hour. One way journey costs around 33 PLN (prices depend on promotions and start from 9 PLN). You can buy a ticket via www.modlinbus.pl webpage (the earlier the cheaper), at Modlin Airport (the ticket office is opposite arrival exit on the right), or on the bus (if the tickets are not sold out).
- By car.
- To reach the airport by car, follow route S7 to Gdańsk, to the exit Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. Then follow the signs to the airport for about 2 km. Travel time will be approx. 40 minutes and it obviously depends on traffic in the city and on the S7.
- By taxi.
- The fare for a taxi called by phone from the city centre to the airport will be about 150 PLN. We suggest you to try a little bit of negotiation with the taxi corporation when ordering a taxi. There is currently no taxi company at the airport.
Arriving by train
Central Railway Station
If your hotel is in the centre, most likely you will end your trip at the Central Railway Station (Dworzec Centralny or Warszawa Centralna). Station platforms are located at -2, -1 levels with a maze of well indicated underground passages leading to the tram and bus stops. There are plenty of shops, cafés and a number of ticket offices on your way. The Main Hall — with ticket offices and waiting areas — is at level 0. Exit the Main Hall towards the Marriott hotel to the taxi stand, and in the direction of Golden Terraces Mall (Złote Tarasy) to get on a bus.
East Railway Station
Another important railway junction in Warsaw is the East Railway Station (Dworzec Wschodni or Warszawa Wschodnia). It was a run-down place avoided not only by tourists but also residents, but today has changed beyond recognition. If your hotel is located in the Praga district, you will end your train adventure here at this station. Then out into the street to find a tram or bus to your destination (maybe a taxi would be better the first time).
West Railway Station
The last of the major railway stations in the capital is the West Station (Dworzec Zachodni or Warszawa Zachodnia). Now this place is under reconstruction that might cause some confusion and navigation troubles. If possible just do not use this train station. Go one stop further and end your journey at Warszawa Centralna.
Arriving by car
You may have already heard that some of the roads in Poland are not yet in very good condition. And that is true, probably not only for Poland. However we have several thousands kilometres of motorways, while another several hundreds are being reconstructed and renovated. Just a year or two of patience (five maybe).
In Warsaw we are in the middle of an extensive program of road building and reconstruction. There is an extensive work on a Warsaw by-pass as well as two bridges. All this will cause serious traffic jams with many important city centre streets closed. There are big traffic jams on the roads leading to the city centre during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Public transport gets stuck as well, but today there are more and more priority lanes for buses and this helps a lot. The best solution is the tramway systems, because the majority of the lines are separate from the private/public transport lanes and two Metro lines.
If you decide to explore Warsaw by car follow the big-red-blue signs. These indicate the areas of the city. The Palace of Culture and Science still seems to the best orientation landmark as you can see it from all parts of the city. Remember that the speed limit in the city is 50 km/h and some Polish drivers respect it. A little warning, there is an increasing amount of speed cameras in the city, and more are on their way.