Arriving in Warsaw

While Warsaw is generally well linked with both the outside world and the rest of Poland, both road and rail networks are undergoing major regeneration work, in part thanks to Warsaw's recent hosting of the Euro 2012 football championships. Improvement work also extends to the city's airports, and for the time being travellers more used to the streamlined transport links of the west may find both patience and nerves severely tested.

By Bus

If you come to Warsaw by bus, odds are you'll be landing at the main bus station on Al. Jerozolimskie, while budget options like PolskiBus drop passengers off at Dworzec Autobusowy Metro Wilanowska, a short distance from the Metro Wilanowska stop. 

By Car

Warsaw is located in the heart of the country and has extensive road links with other major Polish cities. Having said that the competition on the road's front isn't fierce. Roads leading into Warsaw tend to be of decent dual carriageway standard, though once you enter the city limits Warsaw traffic can become a serious problem - particularly during the week. Most major hotels are located in the central area and you should be heading in most cases for the Central Train Station (Dworzec Warszawa Centralna) and its neighbour, the Palace of Culture (PKiN). Parking in the central area is generally available on-street where there are standard parking charges payable at roadside machines. Most major hotels will offer some form of off-road guarded parking.
Be warned that Polish roads and Polish drivers are not the best especially if you have driven in western Europe.

Indeed, Poland is one of Europe’s leading nations in road fatalities, a statistic that will surprise few who have had the pleasure of using the roads here. A lethal combination of poor road surfaces, networks unsuited to the volume of different traffic and, most of all, drivers who have no consideration for anybody else result in the common sight of mangled car wrecks around the country.
Police seem unwilling to control irresponsible driving, and don’t be surprised to see cars shooting through red lights, cutting each other up and staking a claim for the Formula 1 championship.

The speed limit is 50km/hr in cities (60km/hr between 23:00 and 05:00), 90km/hr outside urban areas, 120km/hr on dual carriageways and 140km/hr on motorways. Seat belts must be worn at all times and it is illegal for drivers to use hand-held mobile phones. Following the letter of the law all cars should be equipped with a first aid kit, warning triangle, fire extinguisher, rear mud flaps and right and left hand outside mirrors. Flouting the rules will cost you 200zł (for using a mobile), 100zł (not wearing a seat belt) and up to 500zł for speeding. The legal limit for drink driving is 0.2‰ blood/alcohol level. Put simply, if you’re driving, don’t drink.

EU citizens may use their home driving licenses as long as they are valid, however citizens of countries that didn't ratify the Vienna Convention (tsk, tsk Australia and America) will find their licenses invalid (though that hasn't stopped anyone we know from driving their girlfriend's car). Carry your license and passport at all times when driving. 

Since April 2007 it has been compulsory for headlights to be switched on at all times. 

Arriving By Plane

Getting in and out of Warsaw by plane improved drastically in recent times. The capital's main air hub - Chopin Airport - got a modern overhaul, while budget carriers moved in at the new Modlin Airport just northwest of the city. That was until winter came and the Modlin runway cracked apart (bravo). It has now finally been repaired, but the wise men at WizzAir prefer to remain at Chopin, while Ryanair recently resumed their flight schedule at Modlin. 


Getting to Warsaw City Center and Beyond

Stuck in a tin can in a forest somewhere in Poland? Have no fear, there is a large selection of services to choose from so have a look and choose wisely. 

Arriving By Train

Warsaw's main train station, Centralna, is a hulking metal giant that sits conveniently in the city's center and is the main hub for trains arriving in the capital. Additionally passengers may disembark at the smaller Warszawa Wschodnia on the eastern side of the Vistula river between Praga Północ and Praga Południe districts, and Warszawa Zachodnia on the border of Ochota and Wola districts to the west of the city.  

Train Smarts

The Polish rail network is generally in decent shape even if the rolling stock is by and large something you may have travelled on in Italy some years ago. Certainly better than Britain’s railways; you’ll find most trains run on time, are cheap, and don’t crash. Travelling times are generally pretty slow even on Intercity trains with limited high-speed sections of track throughout the country. That is being remedied but in turn this is causing increased travelling times on many lines. Tickets are by western standards very cheap with a first-class ticket to Kraków from Warsaw for instance setting you back about 150zł (about €40).

The state-owned Polish rail network PKP run several types of trains. Express InterCity Premium (EIP) are the fastest and most comfortable trains which PKP offer. Express InterCity (EIC) trains offer reliable first and second class compartments both of which include electrical sockets and even limited Wi-Fi service. InterCity (IC) trains are modern, comfortable and relatively cheap and will get you to wherever you need to go, safely.  EuroCity/EuroNight (EC/EN)  are the perfect choice for rail trips around Europe. EuroCity - are quick connections to major European cities and EuroNight - are fast international night trains. Cheapskates looking to cut costs should opt for the markedly cheaper Twoje Linie Kolejowe (TLK) which has second class seats that often require no seat reservation and first class seats that do. For more information on train times and prices check the very useful www.rozklad.pkp.pl, which has an English option. There you can book a ticket without the hassle of queuing at the station.

If you find yourself faced with long queues in the train station then you’ll be pleased to hear you can hop on the desired train (excepting all EIP trains!) and buy a ticket direct from the conductor. You’ll pay a small surcharge for this (approx 15zł), and credit cards are now accepted. Travellers are expected to greet others in their compartment with a curt ‘dzień dobry’, and it is taken as given that a male passengers will help females or the elderly with any heavy baggage.

Those travelling by train should hold no fear, though you may have the misfortune of sharing a compartment with a woman who has no qualms with silencing errant children with a thump to the head. Or even worse, sharing a compartment with rowdy army discharges or football fans on their way to or from a match. Upgrading to first class for a cursory fee is usually enough to avoid these pitfalls.

Finally most stations throughout the country are appallingly lacking in signs denoting the station name and it's surprisingly easy to miss your stop. Communicating with your fellow passengers can save a lot of time and frustration.

Arrivals         Przyjazdy
Departures   Odjazdy
Platform        Peron

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