Fly into Warsaw, the capital of Poland, and you could land at either one of its two international airports for your layover. The Warsaw Chopin Airport is ten kilometers from the city while the Warsaw Modlin Airport is over forty kilometers away. If you're flying with one of the more economical airlines operating throughout Europe then you're more likely to be landing at Modlin, while other long haul international airlines will fly you into Chopin.
Only Chopin Airport has good public transport services which run frequently into the city center and are relatively low cost. The train is the swiftest and takes around twenty minutes. Modlin doesn't have a train station but does run a shuttle service from the airport into Modlin from where you can catch a train to Warsaw. Other than the train, there are two coach companies operating services from Modlin to Warsaw but these are not very practical if you're only on a short layover. Whether you’re in Warsaw for a long or a short time, it’s a good idea to drop off your bags at a Warsaw luggage locker to make the most of your time.
6 hour layover in Warsaw
A short stopover of six hours is time enough to go into the city if you fly into Chopin Airport, but not if you fly into Modlin. There are still things you can do from there though so long as you don't go too far. Whatever you decide to do, and whichever airport you landed at, always keep in mind you'll need between two to two and a half hours to get through the check-in and security procedures for your ongoing flight, so calculate on having only about three hours free.
- Modlin Fortress is a formidable 17th-century structure surrounded by the Narew and Vistula Rivers about ten minutes drive from the Modlin Airport that's historic as well as being exceptionally scenic.
- There are several places of interest close by the Modlin Fortress, so grab a cab and get the driver to chauffeur you around the area. Taxi fares are extremely cheap so it won't cost you much at all.
- If you flew into Chopin Airport, drop your bags at a luggage storage service and head into the city by train to Warsaw Central Station. You'll have just enough time to squeeze in an exploration of the area around the station before you need to get back to the airport to begin the check-in procedures for your connecting flight.
8 hour layover in Warsaw
With an eight-hour Warsaw layover looming before you, the best thing to do is put on some comfortable shoes, drop your bags at a luggage storage, and go exploring the city’s Old Town on foot. Warsaw has a surplus of palaces and there are several in the Old Town which will leave you agog at their grandeur. You'll find a maze of cobbled streets, plenty of monuments, and the impressive St John's Archcathedral.
- Rynek Starego Square is the spot in Warsaw's Old Town to sit down on a cafe terrace, weather permitting, and do some people-watching.
- If you find the Old Town too claustrophobic and too full of tourists, take a stroll along the Vistula Boulevard instead. The riverside walkway is open, spacious, and peppered with street food kiosks so you can walk and eat while enjoying the fresh air.
10 hour layover in Warsaw
Make sightseeing on your layover in Warsaw more fun by going mermaid hunting. No, it's not an aquatic activity so you won't need any diving gear. The mermaid is the emblem of Warsaw and is represented in various forms throughout the city, so keep an eye out wherever you go and you're bound to spot more than a few. The largest mermaid is in the Rynek Starego Square in the Old Town, so that's a good starting point for your search.
- On a ten-hour layover, you'll have time to go into the Royal Palace and see for yourself the ornateness of the decor and the artworks by well-known masters that adorn the walls.
- When your layover in Warsaw falls on a Friday or Saturday evening, you'll be able to catch the amazing water and light show in the Old Town's Multimedia Fountain park. It's a spectacular not to be missed.
12 hour layover in Warsaw
On a twelve-hour layover in Warsaw you'll have enough free time to discover more about the man who Chopin Airport is named after. Find out about Chopin's life and works by visiting the Chopin Museum in the Ostrogski Palace. It's an interactive museum where there are also occasional live performances of classical music.
- See the best of Warsaw by taking a combined tour that takes you to the city's main sights and concludes with a relaxing ninety-minute sail down the Vistula. Book it with the right company and you'll ride around the city in a funky-looking Nysa van. That makes it all so much more fun.
- On a summertime evening layover, you can get a real feel for Polish life by heading to the Nocny Night Market. It's a bustling affair that takes over an old railway station and is full of food stalls offering all types of cuisine that are open until late. There's lots of live music too.
24 hour layover in Warsaw
When you're on a long layover in Warsaw, you may want to consider heading out of the city to visit Auschwitz. It's not a trip for the fainthearted in more ways than one, because as well as being mentally harrowing, it will take up around fifteen to sixteen hours of your layover. If you're only going to be in Poland once, though, it really is something you should do.
- To see some of the Polish countryside, a tour that goes to the Bialowieza National Park is a great option. It'll take up around ten hours of your Warsaw connection but you'll still have time to explore Warsaw itself after getting back from hiking through the forests.
- When you just want to chill out on your Warsaw layover then head for the beaches along the Vistula River Boulevard. You'll need the sun to be shining for that, so cross your fingers and hope the Polish weather is on your side.
- Hire a Segway or bicycle and ride down the Royal Route. If you decide to walk this palace-lined street it'll take you around one and a half hours. It's well worth the exercise especially in winter, if you wrap up warm, when it's illuminated with thousands of tiny lights.