The Polish capital, Warsaw, is an up and coming destination which is finally starting to get noticed. Combining a rich history with affordable prices, it’s a great place for a city break. If you’re on a budget (or even if you’re not), check out this guide to getting around Warsaw by public transport!
Warsaw’s public transit network is made up of 4 methods of transportation: train, metro (subway), tram and bus. All of them use the same tickets, which can be easily purchased from automatic ticket machines.
Buying your tickets
Ticket machines can be found at all metro stations and most tram stops. On routes without machines, you can often buy your ticket on the tram, but it’s best to plan ahead for the day just in case. Tickets are also sold in some convenience stores.
Tickets are valid for a specific period of time, either 20 or 75 minutes, and cover either Zone 1 only or Zones 1 and 2. The entire city centre, including the Praga district and the airport, is in Zone 1. There are reduced rates for children and young people under 26 years of age; children under 7 go free. 1-day, 3-day and weekend tickets are also available.
Fares as at August 2018 (Zone 1 only) were as follows:
|Age 26+||Age 7-25|
|20 minutes||4.40 PLN||2.20 PLN|
|75 minutes||3.40 PLN||1.70 PLN|
|1 day||15.00 PLN||7.50 PLN|
|3 days||36.00 PLN||18.00 PLN|
|Weekend||24.00 PLN||12.00 PLN|
Weekend tickets are valid from 7pm Friday to 8am Monday. 1- and 3-day tickets are valid for 24 and 72 hours respectively from the date of activation.
A full list of current fares can be found on the ZTM Warszawa website.
How to use the ticket machines
To use a ticket machine, select your language and then follow the prompts. The machines are simple to use as long as you know what ticket you need! Most accept either cash or credit card; machines on trams may only take cash.
Using the trains
Taking the train is probably one of the first things you will do in Warsaw, as it is the cheapest way to get from the airport to the city centre.
On arrival at Warsaw Chopin International Airport, follow the signs for Trains. Purchase your ticket at the machine before heading to the platform. You will need a zone 1 ticket valid for 75 minutes.
The main station for the city centre is Warszawa Centrum, and you can take either train S2 or S3. From Centrum, you can take a metro, bus or tram to your final destination using the same ticket.
Note that, for your final journey back to the airport, there are no ticket machines at Warszawa Centrum selling the local transit tickets you will need for this train. Buy the ticket ahead of time from a metro or tram stop, or pick one up from a convenience store at the station. The ticket machines inside the station only sell tickets for the intercity Polish railway network.
Using the metro
Warsaw’s metro network is relatively small and still growing, however it is modern and immaculate. Tickets are the same as for the rest of the transit network, and it is possible to combine a metro ride with another form of transport on the same ticket as long as you remain inside the time limit.
Buy your ticket, then validate it by inserting it into the entry barrier at the station. You will not need your ticket to get back out through the barrier at your destination, but keep it with you in case of a ticket check.
Using the trams
Warsaw’s trams are probably the simplest and most efficient means of getting around the city. The network is extensive and stations are easy to find; signs above the platforms indicate the numbers of the various lines and when the next tram is expected. Note that the stop for trams going in one direction may be slightly up the street from the stop going the other way, and interchanges may require you to head down an adjoining street.
Most trams have electronic boards and voice announcements indicating the name of the next stop. All trams also have maps showing the names of the stops, so it is easy to keep track of when you need to get off.
When boarding your tram, make sure you insert your ticket into the validation machine to stamp it (this can be skipped if you have made a connection and this is not your first journey on the ticket). Failure to validate your ticket can result in fines.
Using the buses
While Warsaw does have plenty of bus routes, these are probably less useful for visitors simply because the tram network is so clear and extensive. Bus tickets work in the same way as trams: insert your ticket into the machine to validate it on the first stage of your journey.
Recommended transport app for Warsaw
During my stay in Warsaw, I downloaded and used the app Warsaw Public Transport Pro, which I found invaluable. The app has a small charge (currently less than $1.50), but is well worth the investment.
Want to discover more of Eastern Europe? Check out these posts for more inspiration!
Sofia Airport transfer: Using the metro
Best tours in Moldova: Chisinau to Tiraspol & Orheiul Vechi
Auschwitz: a photo essay
Snowshoeing in Europe: Poland’s Tatra National Park
Top things to do in Warsaw: The perfect Warsaw itinerary
Vegetarian in Poland? Here’s how to cope!
Time of change: Russia after Communism
Want to save “Getting around Warsaw by public transport” for later? Pin it!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission if you make a purchase through links on this post. Thank you for your support, which enables me to continue producing great content!
I’m Jill, and I’m a British blogger who has been travelling for more than 15 years, visiting 70 countries on 6 continents. I love to travel both solo and with groups, and to discover the cultures and peoples of the countries I visit. And I love to share a good story or two along the way!