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Getting Around Warsaw

The best ways to get around Warsaw are on foot and via public transportation. Many top attractions sit within walking distance of one another, while others are easy to reach by metro, tram or bus. Warsaw's public transportation network – operated by Zarzad Transportu Miejskiego – is extensive, offering approximately 200 bus routes and 30 tram, four train and two metro lines. The easiest way to get to central Warsaw from the airport is to use the S2 or S3 train, but once you're downtown, plan on using the metro or trams. Taxis and ride-hailing services are also available, but are not a cost-effective option for traveling longer distances. You may also opt to rent a car, but Warsaw's streets are not the easiest to navigate and offer limited parking in the city center. To get to Warsaw, travelers fly into Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW), which is about 5 miles south of central Warsaw.

On Foot If you're staying downtown, walking is a great way to get around. You won't have to spend any money, and several hotels are located within walking distance of one or more must-see sights, including Old Town, the Warsaw Uprising Monument and the Lazienki Królewskie Museum. However, not all of the city's top things to do are accessible on foot, so you'll likely need to rely on one or more modes of public transportation as well.
Metro

Intersecting at the central Swietokrzyska station, Warsaw's M1 and M2 metro lines travel north to south and east to west to neighborhoods like Muranów, Praga and Powisle. Service starts at 5 a.m. every day and lasts until 12:10 or 12:40 a.m. on weekdays and Sundays or until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

To ride the metro, tram or bus, you must purchase a timed, single fare or short-term ticket based on the zones you will be traveling in. For trips to and from the airport and around downtown, you will only need a ticket that's valid for Zone 1. Timed tickets, which can be used an unlimited number of times on any bus, tram, metro or train within a 20-minute period, are the cheapest option available, costing 3.40 Polish zloty (about $1) per person. Single-fare tickets are valid for unlimited rides on any Zone 1 route within a 75-minute period and cost 4.40 Polish zloty (less than $1.50) per person. And for one or more days, the network offers short-term tickets, which can be used for 24 or 72 consecutive hours and will set you back 15 or 36 Polish zloty (or roughly $4 or $10). Tickets are sold from vending machines at all stations and at post offices and select retailers.

Remember to validate your ticket at the start of your journey. Yellow validator machines, which stamp your ticket with the date and expiration time, can be found in each metro station and on all buses, trams and trains.

Tram & Bus

Trams are a slower but equally convenient option and make stops at some neighborhoods not serviced by the metro, including Old Town, the Diplomatic Quarter and New Town. Trams typically operate between 5 a.m. and midnight daily, though some routes finish service by 10 p.m. Buses are also available and are the best way to reach more removed attractions like the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanow but may get delayed due to traffic. Standard daytime buses (which are numbered from 100 to 599 or have an "E" denoting express routes) generally start at 5 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. every day, while nighttime routes (marked with a "N" before the bus number) are offered from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Tram and bus fares cost the same as metro fares. Keep in mind that exiting a bus or tram often requires pushing a button next to or on the door; drivers typically do not automatically open doors at each stop.

Taxi

Although taxis are often cheaper than those found in other major European cities, Warsaw's cab fares are pricey compared to its public transportation system. Exact rates vary by time of day, but expect to pay 3 Polish zloty per kilometer traveled (roughly $1.50 per mile) for daytime rides and 4.50 Polish zloty per kilometer traveled (or about $2 per mile) for evening rides. All meters, no matter when you hail a taxi, have a base rate of 8 Polish zloty (less than $2.50). Taxis can be hailed on the street, but it is generally easier to reserve one by phone. If you do decide to hail one on the street, be sure it's an official cab service – that is, one with a logo and phone number displayed on the vehicle. You will also find ride-hailing services like Uber and iTaxi operating in and around Warsaw.

Car

Driving in Warsaw is not recommended due to traffic during rush hour, limited downtown parking and subpar streets. But if you're set on having your own set of wheels, keep in mind a few driving customs: Distances are calculated in kilometers (1 kilometer equals 0.6 miles) and speeds in kilometers per hour, signs are in Polish and gas is sold by the liter. International driving permits (which are sold through AAA and DMV.org) are also required for foreigners.

Car rentals are available at Warsaw Chopin Airport and at agencies throughout the city and generally cost $25 to $48 per day, depending on the company and car. Street parking in the city center, which is offered Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., costs 3 Polish zloty (or less than $1) per hour. Meters do not accept credit cards or currency bills, so make sure you have coins if you plan on driving. You'll need to display your receipt in your vehicle's windshield. Guarded parking garages are also available.

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