Warsaw has a superb public transport infrastructure that’s easy and cheap to use. Here is an overview of what you need to know.
Warsaw airport bus
Warsaw’s public transport system is excellent. The vehicles are all modern, the same ticket can be used on virtually every route, and there’s very little friction. In fact, it seems designed to get you to any central location within 15 minutes.
Public transport ticket machine
Many bus and trams stops have ticket machines. You’ll also find them at all Metro and train stations, as well as on board the buses, trains, and trams themselves. They have language options and are fairly intuitive to use, but we provide a general walkthrough on our How to Get to Warsaw Airport from Warsaw City Centre guide. You can pay with card or contactless, and some also accept cash.
You can use the same ticket on buses, trams, and Metro lines, as well as some trains – see below. Most single journeys can be done with the basic 20-minute ticket that costs 3,40zł. There are also 75-minute tickets for 4,40zł and 90-minute tickets for 7zł. You can change vehicles as often as you like, as long as you don’t exceed the time limit.
Ticket validation machine
You need to validate you ticket at the start of your journey. On trains, trams, and buses, this is done by inserting into one of the yellow machines you’ll find on board. This date stamps the ticket, effectively starting the clock on your journey. There are spot checks with fines, and the cost of using public transport is so reasonable, that you may as well buy a ticket.
The Metro is a little different, as it is the only part of the transport system with a barrier. You validate the ticket once you use it to open the barrier. Note that you don’t need to use your ticket to leave the station. You just walk through the barrier and the gates will open.
If you intend to travel a lot, there are also travel passes and weekend tickets. See what’s available on the ticket machine.
Personally, I use the Jakdojade journey planner. You can download the app to your phone then use it to plan journeys and buy tickets. It’s really easy to use. The only snag is that you need to add a minimum amount each time you top up the account, rather than link it to your debit card, so it only makes sense as a ticket vendor if you intend to travel a lot.
The validation system with these digital tickets is different too. You scan a QR code on the vehicle (or Metro ticket barrier) and this starts the clock on your ticket.
Scan this QR code to validate digital tickets
Buses and Trams
The 175 bus from the airport
The bus network is extensive with something like 200 routes operating through the day and 40 buses through the night. Day buses run regularly, every 10 minutes or so for the main routes, from about 5am to midnight. Night buses are usually hourly and cover the most important routes. The buses tend to be punctual and many stops have a digital departures board that updates in real time.
The stops have a logical naming system, with a stop 01 on one side of the road, and stop 02, going in the other direction. These extend to the tram stops, so you’ll find situations such as Centrum stop 01, 02, 03, and 04. This means you need to know the name and number of the stop you are planning to travel from, otherwise you may end up going the wrong way!
Warsaw bus interior – note ticket and validation machines
The vehicles are modern with digital information updated onboard in real time – although I have found that the stops are sometimes out of sync, so keep your eyes on where you are! You can often buy a ticket at a stop, with card, contactless, or cash, and there are machines onboard, which are card and contactless only.
Bus information display
Most buses have two or three entrances and there’s no need to show you ticket. Just get on and validate.
Even though the services are frequent the buses are often busy and you may find yourself standing a lot of the time.
Trams are run by the same company as the buses and Metro service, and run pretty much the same times as well. You can also use the same ticket on all three. There are roughly 20 routes criss-crossing the city.
Warsaw tram interior
As with the buses, the trams are new vehicles, but they get full at key points during the day, so you may have to stand up. You can enter via any door, and don’t need to show your ticket. Just make sure you validate in the yellow machine. There are onboard displays with upcoming stops that update in real time.
Warsaw Metro station
The Metro has two lines. The M1 runs from Młociny in the north, through Centrum, to Kabaty in the south. The M2 runs from Bemowo in the west, through Nowy Świat-Uniwersytet, and the stops for the Copernicus Centre and the National Stadium, slightly to the north, to Bródno on the eastern side of the river. Both lines intersect at Świętokrzyska.
Warsaw Metro station
The Metro stations are underground and can be spotted with the big letter M and often a canopy somewhat similar to the classic French Metro stations. All stations have a public toilet and there are lifts.
The Metro also uses the same ticket as the buses and trams. Instead of validating on board, however, you do have a ticket barrier instead. Just walk through when you leave the station. There’s no need to put your ticket into the barrier again!
Warsaw Metro interior
Services run at similar times and frequencies as the buses. As with buses, the carriages can get crowded during rush hour. There are no night services, except for Fridays and Saturdays when they run every 15-20 minutes until roughly 3am.
The S3 airport train
Trains are a little more complicated than the other forms of public transport, as only a small section of them are part of the local network. These routes are S1, S10, S2, S20, S3, S4, and S40. S2 and S3 serve the airport and the others are largely suburban trains. You can use the same ticket on these trains as the buses, trams, and Metro, as long as you stay within the same time limits and zones – pretty much the same thing.
Warsaw local train interior
You still need to validate your ticket. Again, see our How to Get to Warsaw Airport from Warsaw City Centre guide for more details.
Local train information screen
Any other train is run by a different company with different rules, and I would ask at the station ticket office if you intend to catch any of these.
Taxis in Warsaw are plentiful and cost about 8zł to flag then an additional 2zł per km during the day, or 4zł at night or at weekends and on public holidays. Make sure the cab has a meter, that it is turned on, and that it has been reset when you first get in. You can hail them in the street or pick one up outside most transport hubs. ELE TAXI has an app you can use to order and Bolt is another popular alternative to Uber.
Bicycles and Scooters
As with most cities these days, you can find rental bikes and electric scooters out in the streets. Warsaw has a strange geography. It is mostly flat but occasionally you’ll encounter a very steep hill, particularly near the western bank of the river. There has also been a growth of cycle paths in recent years. Nevertheless, the city was rebuilt with six-lane roads and has some very gnarly traffic.
If you do fancy your chances, you can download the Veturilo app for bikes and take it from there. It has a map with how many bikes you’ll find docked at each station. The first 20 minutes for any kind of bike is free, then prices go up on a sliding scale. See the Veturilo site for details.
A number of firms offer scooters for hire, including Bolt and Lime. My advice is to download the appropriate app when you find a rental scooter and take it from there. Prices generally start at less than 1zł.
Warsaw Chopin Airport car hire
The same caveats apply to driving in Warsaw as riding a bike. The roads are very wide and the traffic can get pretty scary at times. Similarly, a parking spot might be difficult to come by if your accommodation doesn’t offer one.
There are a number of car rental companies at Warsaw Airport, clustered in one corridor between Arrivals 1 and 2. Quickly check availability and compare prices to hire a car using the search box below.
You must have the appropriate insurance to drive in Poland, so check with your provider before you travel to make sure you understand what it covers and what the procedures are in an emergency. The phone number of the National Emergency Road Service in Poland is 9637, but your insurance provider might insist you use a private contractor. You’ll also need an international driving licence, ID (such as passport), car registration and ownership papers, and valid MOT. Familiarise yourself with the rules for driving in Poland as there are spot fines if you are caught. All vehicles must be equipped with a fire-extinguisher, warning triangle and first aid kit.