As the capital of Poland, Warsaw is a popular destination for vacations as well as business. But whether you are in town for pleasure or for work, it is a good idea to get to know the public transport system in the city. There are metro stations all over Warsaw and two metro lines, especially in Warsaw City Centre. It is a convenient way for visitors to travel and you can get your tickets at one of the ticket machines in any metro station.
The public transportation system is easy to get in the entire City Centre as well as the surrounding areas. One great thing to know is that if you are a student, you can get an international student identity card to get a discount of 50%. No matter where you go to school, you can get this discount at any of the metro lines, ticket machines, and metro stations.
Another interesting thing about public transportation in Warsaw is that they have night buses running all night long. Although fares on the night buses are the same as during the day, it is good to know that you can get around in the city after the sun goes down. You will not have to worry about getting a ticket beforehand since they have a ticket machine at all stations and even post offices around central Warsaw.
The public transit network in the Polish capital of Warsaw consists of four different modes of transportation. The bus, tram, subway (metro), and train. All of these local transport options use the same tickets, which you can buy at any station or automatic ticket machine. However, they are typically crowded during rush hours from seven to nine in the morning and three to six in the evening.
The Warsaw Chopin Airport is where to start when getting around Warsaw's City Centre. Right there at the airport, you can find rental car agencies as well as trams, buses, taxis, and rideshare options. There are also ticket machines so you can get a valid ticket before heading off to the metro station.
Whether you are headed to the Palace of Culture and Science, the Arkadia Shopping Mall, or out to dinner and a show, you cannot bring large bags. Find the nearest Warsaw luggage storage locker and drop your shopping bags and backpacks off before you head to your destination.
How to get around Warsaw by train
The SKM (Szbka Kolej Miejska) train, also known as the light rail or rapid rail, has been running since 1936. There are four routes running through Warsaw. These are the S1, S2, S3, and S9 and they each run on different parts of the city. You will have to check the map for more details.
The SKM Urban Rapid Rail lines are notated with the letter S followed by a number. These are painted red, yellow, and tan colors and run in two zones. If you want to travel outside the city limits, use tickets that are valid in zone two.
Rapid Transit (Metro)
Warsaw is the first city in Poland to have an underground rapid transit system, also known as the Metro. It has two lines, which are M1 and M2 with a third line in the works. These lines typically run from 5 AM until 1 AM on weekdays and on weekends they run until 3 AM.
The M1 line runs from the southern neighborhood of Ursynow at the Kabaty Station to Mlociny in Warsaw City Centre. The M2 runs from the Rondo Daszynskiego station just west of the city to the Dworzec Wilenski station in Praga. The stops are all marked by a large letter M on a yellow sign.
How to get around Warsaw by bus
Warsaw has an extensive bus system dating back to 1920 and is the most popular mode of public transportation in the city. The system consists of 170 routes covering approximately 1,617 miles with about 1,700 vehicles. The MZA covers most of the routes with over 1,200 vehicles. The rest are run by Mobilis, PKS, Arriva, Europa Express, and KM Loamianki.
You can get a ticket from a kiosk around Warsaw or one of the ticket machines in the city. Tickets are valid along all bus routes but must be validated immediately after boarding the bus or tram. To do this, just punch your ticket at one of the brown or orange boxes nearby and keep your stub.
Buses numbers 101 through 399 are standard lines with those from 300 to 399 activated during rush hours and special times. These buses stop at all of the public stops along all of the routes with just a few exceptions. The 180 route runs from Old Town and Royal Route to the Jewish Center in the north to Wilanow Palace in the south and is the preferred choice for tourists.
Those buses numbered from 400 through 599 are considered fast lines because they do not stop at all of the stops. Also, those listed as 400 through 499 only run at specific days of the week or at special times such as a rush hour.
The Express bus lines run through specific cities and the city center with only a handful of major stops. You can recognize these because they have a letter E along with the bus line number such as with E.155. It is important to check the official bus map to make sure your stop is on there before boarding.
Buses that run along zone lines outside of the city have the numbers 700 through 899. These include seasonal and special lines with special or selected stops along the routes. Check the maps for specific details before getting on the bus.
Planning a late night out? If you need a bus that runs after 11 PM, you should look for the buses marked with the letter N followed by its number. For example, N299 is a night bus that runs along the standard route and N450 would be a night bus that runs on the fast line.
Local L Lines
Those buses that have routes in the surrounding cities are marked with the letter L. Most of them only run in zone two so it is best to check the map before boarding any bus. These lines are marked in blue for easy identification.
The tram is a fantastic public transport option for anyone in Warsaw who wants to get somewhere fast and not be affected by street traffic. It has been in service since 1866 although it was run by horses until 1908. However, the train was destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising and had to be rebuilt in 1945.
The Warsaw Tram runs 865 cars on 171 miles of tracks with four depots in and around Warsaw. They typically run between 4:30 AM and 11:30 PM. There are approximately 20 different routes with other lines that open during special occasions such as All Saints Day. You can get tickets at any kiosk or ticket machine along the lines.
Trams are numbered from one to 79. Those numbered one through 39 cover the basic connections. Lines 40 to 49 run at certain times of the day or week, typically during rush hour. Those trams with other numbers run on substitute or special lines. Substitute bus numbers can be identified by the letter Z before the number as in Z.52.
Getting Your Tickets
Tickets are valid for use on all tram, bus, and metro modes of public transport and can be bought at ticket machines at stations, some tram and bus stops, and other popular areas of the city. In addition, you can purchase a ticket on trams and buses using a card or exact change.
Single-fare tickets are good for zone one with unlimited rides any time during a 75-minute timeframe. You can get these as well as short-term and time-limited tickets at any carrier or ticket kiosk. You can also buy public transport tickets at passenger service centers and some newsstands in and around the city limits and at underground stations. Tickets can also be purchased using a mobile phone
If you are just in town for the weekend, the weekend ticket is good for an unlimited number of trips any public transport mode from Friday evening until Monday morning. In fact, you can get a group weekend ticket and use it for unlimited rides all weekend for up to five people. This is great if you are in town with your family.
The line operators issue tickets as well but they also use tickets valid by ZTM in the form of 90-day, 30-day, 24-hour, 3-day, weekend tickets, senior tickets, and tickets for children from families with three children.
How to get around Warsaw by car
If you would like to drive yourself around Warsaw, feel free to rent a car at one of the local car rental companies. From the airport, you can find several rental car stations including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and Sixt as well as RentCars.pl, Dolcar, and Car4Rent.
Luckily, they drive on the right side of the road just like in the US and the speed limits are posted in the same manner. However, local drivers are notoriously difficult and known to drive erratically. Bus drivers know they have the right of way and will pull out into traffic unannounced so be aware of buses as well.
Taxis are easy to find either with an app, a phone call, or at a kiosk or taxi stand in more popular areas. The airport is always filled with taxi drivers waiting for passengers to walk out the doors. Although these are a reliable and fast way to get around, they are expensive – much more so than renting a car, using rideshare apps, or taking public transportation.
Can I get around Warsaw by foot?
Walking through Warsaw is a nice way to get a good look at the historical buildings, sites, and memorials as well as the shops and attractions you may pass by otherwise. You can explore on your own, use an app or audio tour, or you can take a guided tour for a more in-depth visit.
Additional Modes of Transportation in Warsaw
Lime Scooters offer three modes of transportation you can rent. These include electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds. It is so easy to get one of these and you can do it any time of the day or night using the app on your phone. Just download it and find the nearest available bike, scan the QR code, and you are on your way.
Veturilo Public Bikes
Another bike-sharing system, this one uses traditional bicycles as well as electric bikes and they have more than 4,500 bikes with 300 stations to get them from. In fact, it is the largest bike-sharing system in the country and the fifth-biggest in Europe. You can rent them for one, three, or five hours and do it all by phone on your app.
During the summer, from August until April, you can also get around Warsaw by boat. The city offers a ferry service across the Vistula River free of charge. There are four sites where you can catch the ferry. The fastest ferries are available on weekends until 8 PM and they take approximately five minutes to get across.
Public Transport in Warsaw
You will find that the public transport system in Warsaw is much better than in most big cities in the US and it is easy for anyone to use. From the train to the scooter, being able to get around so easily means you get to visit more attractions as well as shopping and dining spots.