Reaching Warsaw is relatively straightforward as the city is well served by air, rail, and road, both domestically and from other European destinations. But it’s worth bearing a few things in mind, especially if you’re flying with certain budget airlines or coming in by car.
Flying to Warsaw
The Polish transport infrastructure is good and improving all the time. In addition to recent airport and railway upgrades, there are bold new plans to turn Warsaw into a key transport hub for Eastern Europe.
Read on for advice on what to expect when you arrive in Poland, via air, road, or rail, including the difference between the two airports that serve Warsaw.
Warsaw also makes a great base for visiting other Polish cities.
Reaching Warsaw By Air
Most air passengers will arrive via Warsaw’s Chopin Airport (also known locally as “Okęcie”) and, where possible, this is where you want to land. But Ryanair flights arrive at the more compact Modlin, which is further away.
The flights serving Warsaw Chopin are a mix of low-cost and flag carrier airlines, so it’s usually possible to pick up a cheap ticket provided you book early enough. You may find, however, that the range of departure airports is quite limited compared to Kraków. Flights tend to originate from major transport hubs only. That said, Warsaw Chopin is an international airport, with Poland’s own LOT Airlines serving Beijing, Dehli, Tokyo, and North America, amongst other destinations.
As with any flight, prices to Warsaw and availability can vary enormously. Use a comparison site like 12go and start looking roughly three months ahead of your departure. You’ll often get a better deal if you can be flexible when you travel.
Warsaw Chopin Airport
Warsaw Chopin Airport
Warsaw Chopin is a smart, modern airport, located less than 10km outside the city, with excellent transport links. There are daily flights from a handful of other Polish cities, most noticeably Kraków. British Airways runs services from London-Heathrow, as does the Polish airline LOT, whilst Wizz Air flies from Birmingham, Leeds / Bradford, Liverpool, and London-Luton. However, Ryanair only has a very limited set of flights, none of which are from the UK, using Modlin Airport instead, and easyJet does not serve Warsaw at all.
Most European capitals are served by a low-cost or flag carrier and North American travellers can fly direct from Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York-JFK, and Toronto-Pearson – all via LOT. Visitors from the Middle and Far East are served from the major transport hubs, including Beijing-Captial, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Doha, Dubai-International, and Tokyo-Narita.
See our full guide to Warsaw Chopin for full information, including details of how to get from the airport to the city centre.
Chopin Airport To Warsaw City Centre Map
This map shows the distance and route by road between Warsaw Chopin Airport and the city centre. Note that Warsaw is also served by Modlin Airport, which is further away – see below.
Warsaw Modlin Airport
By comparison, Modlin Airport is served almost exclusively by Ryanair flights (at time of writing) from Alicante, Amman–Queen Alia, Barcelona, Bari, Beauvais, Bergamo, Birmingham, Bologna, Budapest, Charleroi, Dublin, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Helsinki, Leeds/Bradford, Lisbon, Liverpool, London–Stansted, Madrid, Málaga, Malta, Naples, Paphos, Porto, Riga, Rome–Ciampino, Sandefjord, Stockholm–Arlanda, Tel Aviv, Tenerife–South, Thessaloniki, Tirana, Treviso, Valencia, and Vienna, as well as seasonal flights from Athens, Burgas, Cagliari, Chania, Copenhagen, Corfu, Faro, Glasgow, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Pescara, Rhodes, Rimini, Trapani, Zadar, and Zakynthos.
Warsaw Modlin is located 40km north of the city. It has a single runway and fairly new terminal building, that serves just under 3m passengers per year. Both departures and arrivals are generally only in the afternoons.
The airport is small, so facilities are limited. In addition to duty free, you’ll find a Relay and 1Minute convenience store, as well as a Bank Pekao ATM. Avoid the Planet Cash and Euronet ATMs. There are also a number of restaurants and coffee shops. Free WiFi is available.
Modlin Airport does not yet have a train station, so the most convenient way to reach the centre of Warsaw is via private hire. A driver will meet your flight in Arrivals, holding up a sign with your name on, making you feel like a VIP, then drive you direct to your accommodation. The service really is door-to-door and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
There is a taxi rank outside the terminal building on the ground floor. You can expect to pay around 159zł (roughly 35€).
Flixbus run a coach service throughout the day, which takes an hour to reach the Zachodni bus station to the rest of the city. It’s a short train ride from there to the centre of the city. Check 12Go for times and prices, but expect to pay about 40zł (8€).
The closest railway station is Modlin, 5km from the airport, reached via airport shuttle, which leaves the terminal every 20-30 minutes. You can buy a single ticket, sold in the Arrivals area and covering both shuttle and train, for 20zł (less than 5€). The train from Modlin to Warsaw Centralna (Warsaw Central) takes roughly 40 minutes.
There are also a number of car rental companies based in the airport – see Reaching Warsaw By Car below for more information.
Modlin Airport To Warsaw City Centre Map
This map shows the distance and route by road between Modlin Airport and Warsaw city centre. Note that Warsaw is also served by Chopin Airport, which is much closer – see above.
Reaching Warsaw By Train
As the name suggests, the main station in Warsaw is Warszawa Centralna, which can be reached from most parts of Europe, and directly from neighbouring countries Germany, Czechia, and Austria, and most major cities in Poland.
The station is located right in the centre of town, next to the the Palace of Culture and Science and the Złote Tarasy shopping mall – making it a really handy point of arrival. The layout is across three levels, and accessible 24 hours a day, with ticket offices and machines, waiting areas – with charging points, free WiFi, and places to eat, and luggage storage facilities – also open over 24 hours. There’s a fee for using the toilets.
Thanks to Warsaw’s excellent integrated public transport system, you’ll easily be able to get to your accommodation from Centralna. See Getting Around In Warsaw for more details.
It’s also worth noting that international trains may also stop at other Warsaw stations and that a huge rail infrastructure project is currently underway which will, no doubt, change the city’s international network.
Berlin to Warsaw takes just under 6 hours, with 4 daily departures. Prague to Warsaw takes 8 hours, with 2 daily departures. Vienna to Warsaw takes just under 8 hours, with 3 daily departures, and an overnight train is available.
Poland also has an excellent intercity network to Warsaw from most other major cities. The network is comfortable and reasonably fast. It’s also cheap, depending on the type of train you choose. The 289km journey from Kraków can be done in less than 2.5 hours on the faster trains, at a cost of 35€ for a second class ticket. The slower trains take an hour longer but cost only 14€ one-way. You can work out routes and costs via the comprehensive network website. See Other Polish Cities You Can Visit From Warsaw for suggestions.
Please note: the Polish rail network is run by a number of companies and you should be aware that tickets are not interchangeable. Assume that a ticket is only valid for the particular journey you bought it for. Other than that, the whole system is fairly easy to understand.
The fastest trains are operated by PKP InterCity and are marked on timetables as EIP (Express InterCity Premium). You need to buy these tickets in advance – up to 30 days ahead – as seat reservations are compulsory. But you can buy online from outside Poland. First and second class tickets are available. Snacks are available on board the trains.
The same firm also runs a budget intercity service, marked as TLK (Twoje Linie Kolejowe) on timetables. As with the EIP trains, these also need to be booked in advance. The service is second class only and you shouldn’t expect any snacks on board. Any routes marked with IC (InterCity) will be considerably slower but no cheaper, and can be ignored.
Regio also run some express services (marked REG on timetables), which might be worth considering, and there are more localised operators, such as Koleje Małopolskie, who run the service to the airport.
In practice, the choice is actually very simple. Just put the route you want into the online timetable and choose the price and journey time that suits you best.
Warsaw Airport train and coach stations
Reaching Warsaw By Coach
Although you may be offered additional stops closer to the centre, the Warsaw bus station is Zachodnia, about 3km to the west of Centralna.
As with trains, a number of operators serve Warsaw. Flixbus has a massive network across Poland and into the rest of western Europe, and Sindbad is good for northern and eastern Europe. Tickets can be bought from 12go.
These days, coaches are generally safe, spacious, and comfortable. Poland has a reputation for bad roads but this really depends on the route, which drivers will anticipate. For comparison, an overnight coach from Kraków will take roughly 4.5 hours, rising to just under 5 hours during the day, whilst Berlin to Warsaw takes roughly 9 hours.
Costs vary wildly depending on distance, time of day, and demand for tickets. However, you can almost certainly get from A to B very cheaply, if you’re prepared to put up with the extra journey time.
Similarly, where you buy tickets will vary, depending on where you are. I’ve found 12go a reliable service for collating the fastest routes with reasonable prices. By bundling in bus and plane routes, you are able to work out the best trade-off. The phone app is excellent but note that mobile tickets aren’t available for every journey.
Most coaches will have a toilet, especially on longer journeys. Otherwise, they will make fairly regular stops. Don’t assume that snacks and refreshments will be available on board, although it’s likely that you’ll also stop at services every few hours.
Reaching Warsaw By Car
The Polish capital is directly connected to all neighbouring capitals via a handful of major roads. The A2 and A4 routes in from the west offer direct five-to-six-hour drives from Berlin, Dresden, and other key German cities. Be prepared for toll charges and possible delays as you cross the border.
You can also take the A4 from Prague, with the same caveats as above, taking about 7 hours – but expect roadworks in the Czechian leg of the journey.
The 7-hour journey from Vienna comes via the A1, crossing two country borders. The same route from Bratislava takes 6.5 hours and 8.5 hours from Budapest.
Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, eastern access to Poland has been severely limited, although Talinn, Riga, and Vilnius in the north are still easily accessible routes into the country.
Warsaw is also well connected domestically from Poland’s major cities. See Other Polish Cities You Can Visit From Warsaw for an overview.
There are a number of car rental companies operating in Poland. Quickly check availability and compare prices to hire a car using the search box below.
You’ll need a valid driving licence and registration, proof of ID (such as a passport), and a Green Card to confirm that you are fully insured. You are required by law to carry a warning triangle and fire extinguisher, and the car needs headlamp beam deflectors and a sticker to identify country of origin. The alcohol limit is so low that drinking should be completely avoided by drivers. Seatbelts are compulsory and there are heavy spot fine for all traffic violations. Finally, it is compulsory that all motor vehicles use dipped or headlights or daytime running lights, day and night, all year round.
Unlike the centre of Kraków, which is heavily pedestrianised, Warsaw is pretty car-centric, with big roads carving up the city. Whilst you will find paid parking, these will be rare around the major attractions. The best advice is to check if you accommodation offers a parking space, then leave the vehicle there and make the most of the excellent public transport.