Warsaw, located on the River Vistula (WISŁA), is the capital of Poland and the largest city of the country with around 1.8 million residents, which makes it also the 8th largest city in the European Union. The history of the city begins in the 13th century, when it was officially founded by the Dukes of Mazovia. The city began to flourish in the 16th century with the transfer of the capital from Krakow. The second bloom came with the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Before World War II, Warsaw was known for its elegant architecture and urbanism. Unfortunately, it was almost completely destroyed during the hostilities and nowadays is a mixture of districts re-constructed in myriad historical styles (e.g the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site), and created after the War in socialist realism and contemporary architectural trends.
Warsaw is a major centre of business, science and education. Suffice it to mention that The Warsaw Stock Exchange is the largest in Central and Eastern Europe and that the city hosts some of the finest institutions of higher education in Poland, including University of Warsaw, Warsaw University of Technology, Medical University of Warsaw or Fryderyk Chopin University of Music. The total number of students in the city is approximately half a million, which is around 30% of the city population.
Polish cuisine is amazingly varied and rich in flavours. To start with, you should try a bunch of Polish soups. The most typical include sour rye soup (ŻUREK), served with white sausage and egg, sauerkraut soup (KAPUŚNIAK), and beetroot soup (BARSZCZ), usually accompanied with delicious patties (PASZTECIKI) stuffed with cabbage ir meat.
Classics among the main courses are dumplings (PIEROGI), dough wrappers with a variety of savoury or sweet fillings, hunter stew (BIGOS), made with boiled sauerkraut, spare ribs, and special seasonings or breaded pork chops (KOTLET SCHABOWY), best with potato purée and a mix of lettuce. Polish cuisine has also a large offer for vegetarians and vegans. No-meat cuisine enjoys an increasing popularity in Warsaw, and there are a lot of restaurants serving exclusively plant-based food.
As a dessert we recommend the traditional Polish doughnuts (PĄCZKI), typically with a fruit jam stuffing, which are freshly fried and sold still warm in every cake shop and bakery in the city.
Countless museums, art galleries, theatres, and cinemas provide extensive cultural services to residents and tourists in Warsaw. Among the places that are definitely worth visiting you can visit the Museum of Warsaw , the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Warsaw Rising Museum, the National Museum and The Fryderyk Chopin Museum.
Warsaw is full of cafes, bars, art zones, and trendy clubs. For social activities, check Poznańska street (especially near to Wilcza street), and Plac Zbawiciela, or take a stroll through the historic streets of Praga District and visit Praga Koneser Centre. We also recommend the Elektrownia Powiśle Mall, which is a beautiful example of recent renovation of industrial zones in Warsaw.
There are over 70 parks in Warsaw, which makes it one of the greenest cities in Europe. Warsaw’s Łazienki Park is one of the largest palace and park ensembles in Europe. Pole Mokotowskie is a large park located close to the city centre with a much more modern character. Królikarnia is a small, cosy park with the 20th century art gallery located in it. We strongly recommend the wild Vistula banks – a very rare example of natural spaces located in the centre of the European city – with a stunning view over the Old Town and the skyscrapers in the city centre.
Poland is among the countries that use Central European Time (GMT + 01:00). This time zone applies to the majority of Europe, including Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and many other countries.
The weather in Warsaw in autumn is relatively mild, with average highs of 10°C (49°F) and lows of 0°C (32°F). The average temperature is 3°C (37°F) in November. You can expect rain or even snow showers, but it may also be sunny and dry.
The official language of Poland is Polish. Some important Polish phrases that might help you during your stay you can find HERE. Polish may seem very complicated for foreigners, but you should have no problems with communication with local people, especially young and middle-age Poles.
The national currency of Poland is the Polish ZŁOTY (zł or PLN) which equals 100 GROSZY (gr). Coins : 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 gr, and 1, 2, 5 zł. Notes : 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 zł. You can exchange your money at banks or exchange offices (KANTOR). The current exchange rates you may check HERE. Note, however, that you should be able to pay using your standard debit card in most of the places.
The are code for Warsaw is 22, whereas the country code is 48. When calling internationally to Warsaw from a mobile or a local phone unit, dial +48 22 or 22, respectively, followed by the rest of the number.
In case of emergency, call Police (997), Fire Brigade (998) or Ambulance (999) for help. When using a mobile phone dial 112.
Public transport in Warsaw is ubiquitous, serving the city with buses, trams, metro, and urban rapid rail lines. The easiest way to find the best transport between any two points in the city is to use website applications (e.g. ). Ticket machines are located in most vehicles, near bus stops, and in metro stations. There are also several applications that allow you to buy one way and short-term tickets. We recommend to buy a 3-day (72h) ticket which costs 36 zł (ca. 8 euros) for Zone 1 (within the city’s borders). In the public transport in Warsaw the ticket must be validated only once and is also needed to pass the metro gates. (i.e. the same tickets are valid for buses, trams, and metro) To get onto the bus or tram you can use any door you like. For more information please visit HERE.
Most shops are open on weekdays from 10:00 to 19:00. On Saturdays they ussually close at 14:00. The shops are closed on Sundays, except pharmacies (APTEKA), small groceries, and gas stations.
Most post offices (POCZTA) are open from 8:00 to 20:00. Stamps, used on letters or postcards, can only be purchased at post offices.
If you are interested in further information about important sightseeing spots in Warsaw, check the very well prepared tourist information website of the city HERE.