Warsaw - Visitor's Guide
The purpose of this report is to give a "print-and-go" report for the first time visitor to Warsaw.
I will also post another more storylike report to read about my own adventures in the city.
If you arrive by plane you will either arrive at the main International terminal "Odloty" or the "Etiuda" Terminal, which is a separate terminal 200 meters away from the main terminal. (Etiuda is mainly used by lo-cost airlines)
If you arrive to Etiuda, Just go straight out of the building. DON’T TURN ANYWAY, just keep walking straight up along the road, and you will reach the main terminal after 150-200 meters of walking.
At the main terminal you have 2 choices to get to the city:
You can either take Bus line 175 to the Central Station in Warsaw, or go by taxi.
I have tried both options and the pro's/cons are as follows:
The bus stops along the way to the city, why it's naturally slower than taxi, but also a lot cheaper.
The bus will cost you 2.50 zloty, and the journey lasts for 40-50 minutes depending on the traffic. At the central station, you jump of the bus, and walk by foot / take a taxi to your hotel.
Remember to directly buy at ticket from the driver after getting on the bus, and afterwards "stamp the ticket" in the yellow little electronic box you can find in the middle of the bus, so that your ticket has been validated. (Reports of ticket-controllants on buses and high violation-fees have been reported by other not so lucky travellers)
If you go by taxi from the airport, choose one that has "Radio Taxi" written on the side. There are also other good taxi companies, but I've never heard about anyone getting ripped from a Radio taxi, and the cost is just slightly more expensive than regular taxi's, so I go for that.
A ride to the city will cost you something like 25-35 zloty, and takes roughly 15-25 minutes depending on the location of your hotel and the traffic.
The taxi is 10 times more expensive than the bus, but because of the relative low cost,(11 USD/9 Euros) and the convenience of getting yourself and your luggage hassle free straight from the airport to your hotel, combined with the faster journey, makes taxi the natural choice for me.
Where to stay:
Warsaw has numerous options, all to suit your budget.
For budget travellers you can check out:
There you can book and find info about numerous hostels in Warsaw, as well as other cities around the world.
For the top notch visitor, I can recommend:
They have a really good offer at 99 Euros for a weekend stay at a double room. And given the standard of the hotel, location and the service included, I'm not ashamed to call it a real bargain.
Getting oriented in the city:
It has been said before, and it can be said again - Warsaw is a really ugly city.
During the end of Second World War, the city was completely destroyed, and afterwards rebuilt in classic Soviet style (grey, big concrete buildings with no charm what so ever)
Nothing (or not noticeable) has been made to make the houses more attractive, and standing at the very center of Warsaw, will make you feel like your stepping into a communist film from the 70's (heck, even the people look depressed, hardly ever smiling - and who can blame them, living in such a ugly surrounding.)
I have included a picture from the main road in the city (Aleje Jerozolimskie) where you can se the inner-city charm of Warsaw by yourself.
One good thing about the city is that it's easy to get oriented. One of the few beautiful buildings in Warsaw happens also to be the tallest, the Cultural Palace, which is located in the very center of the central Warsaw. Roughly speaking, and this is rough, but you can't go wrong with it:
Keeping yourself within a distance of 1000 meters from this building, any given directions will help your find more good restaurants, shops, ATM machines and other necessary things than you can possibly need for a weekend.
To find the exact location of a address, just use:
Understanding the address-system in Poland:
For some years ago, Poland started using a system that means that no family names are written on the outside of the doors of the houses. Instead it only has anonymous numbers.
That means when going for example to S-Studio 2, the address will be:
Jerozilimskie 99/1, Warsaw. The "Jerozilimskie 99" means the street + the street number "99". The ",1" means apartment number one in that specific house.
I think you get the system, I just rather write over-clearly than confusingly short.
Transportation around the city:
Understanding and using public transports in Warsaw is very easy.
A good thing to start with is to buy a three day combined bus-tram (San Francisco type of street trains)-metro ticket. That one you can buy at any little kiosk selling newspapers, and the cost is 12 zloty.
Firstly, busses and trams:
If you keep yourself within 2-3 kilometres distance of the citycenter, you can catch any bus going west or east, and just jump on/off at a bus/train stop close to where you are heading.
If you are going north-south, just take the metro that only has one line going north-south and south-north. You can’t fail/get lost on that one.
The first time you use your ticket, you have to put it into a yellow little machine inside the bus/tram, so it will be stamped from what day/time the ticket is to be valid. Next time you get on a bus or tram, just enjoy the ride.
Taxis are in most cases, together with walking, the most convenient way of moving around. It's not expensive and will quickly take you door-to-door to where you want to go, and saves your time for better things than i.e. standing on a jam-packed bus, stopping every 200 meters.
Get yourself a prepaid celluar/mobil sim-card in any kiosk for 20 zloty, and start booking taxis/calling appointments at low cost and ease.
The following taxi companies are from my experience reliably to give you the right price at your journey, and will pick you up at/to restaurant/nightclub/whatever.
Euro Taxi: 9662
MPT Taxi: 9191
Surprisingly, Poland being a low-wage country, prices are noticeable higher than most western countries on "western" products. (I.e. Perfumes, famous clothing brands, watches, and other quality products) What seems to be cheap is cigarettes and local alcohol. Apart from that I save my money and buy the same quality products at clearly better prices in Germany/France/Switzerland/USA. Still, if you are in need, you will have no problem finding most brand that you are looking for in some of the big gallerias in Warsaw - The products are to be found here, but at higher prices that you are used to.
The internet guide
has some good info about nightlife and other Warsaw things, altout the printed tourist guide for every month (which you can get at most hotels) are the most updated.
The nightlife in Warsaw are quite spread out, why taxi is a good way to move around, and for the younger crowd, there are not really any bigger night clubs that swallows those 2-3000 people masses, but rather clubs suited for 200-800 persons maximum.
I did scout quite a few clubs, and talking to the locals, they told me that for big clubs, you would have to go to some other cities in Poland, rather than Warsaw.
Things of Culture:
The old Town, some 3 kilometres away from the center of town, got some nice restaurant and enjoyable surroundings, with cobblestone alleys and old houses/ruins.
Here also the Strip club ”Loch” is located. But to be frankly - If you are not in desperate need, save your time and money for something else. The quality of the girls, their very business minded attitude and the dance performance are quite under pair with most other big cities around the world. Why not go to some fun club/bar instead and see some freaky polish stuff instead?
The brothels of Warsaw are hidden, and not easy to find if you don't know the specific address + the apartment number where they are located. In the example above, if you are going to S-studio 2, you will find yourself standing in front of an exclusive and locked port-door at the address Jerozilimskie 99. Nothing will tell you that somewhere inside that port there is an S-Studio.
You have to press the port telephone (just press button "1" once and the machine will route your call to apartment one of that building) They will answer/say something in Polish, and you just say "hello" and they will unlock the door. Once inside the door you will find yourself standing in a little inner-garden between 4 houses. Where now to go? - Just go to the first house on your left side, go upside the little stair and apartment 1 are directly on the left inside that house.
Another example, for S-studio 3, you go to the address Niemcewicza 26, finding the right door (I have included a picture of that house so you can see where to enter the house) - The same procedure, call apartment number 14, and step into the elevator and go to the 8th floor.
(make note on the elevator-picture included that floor number 8 has nail polish mark around the button, as a subtle sigh on where to go)
Once you understand the system, you will have no problems finding your way to the love nests, just waiting for your visit
Printing this guide, having it in your pocket, I hope will make it easy and comfortable for you to get a jump-start to your Warsaw visit, and that you also will contribute to the forum, telling your story - to the benefit of known and unknown friends, who yet has to discover Warsaw. Good luck and best wishes on you trip.