How to use public transportation in Warsaw: buses, streetcars, metro and trains
Public transportation in Warsaw

How to use public transportation in Warsaw: buses, streetcars, metro and trains

You can move around Warsaw on foot — many interesting places are located nearby. However, choosing a hotel far from the center is not a big deal: the public transport system is very convenient, with a single ticket for metro, streetcars and buses. I will tell you where and how to buy a ticket, what is the best way to travel and how to save money.

Tickets and discounts

In Warsaw, there is a single ticket for all public transportation. It is a small ticket with a validity period and a ticket zone: strefa 1, strefa 2. The first zone includes almost the whole city (including Chopin Airport), the second zone includes the outskirts and suburbs.

Ticket options:

  • By time. A ticket for 20, 75 or 90 minutes costs 3.40 zł, 4.40 zł and 7 zł respectively.
  • Per day. Unlimited number of trips within the city within the first (15 zł) and/or second zone (26 zł).
  • Weekend. You can ride around Warsaw from Friday (19:00) to Monday (8:00) within both zones. It costs 24 zł. This is a very advantageous option for tourists who like to explore not only the city center.
  • For a group. Designed for 3—5 people. Active from Friday (19:00) to Monday (8:00). Cost 40 zł.

The ticket must be validated the first time you use it. On the back of the ticket you will see the expiry time and the route. There are no turnstiles on buses and streetcars, but when entering the metro on the M1 line, you can use the wicket (to the right or left of the turnstiles) to avoid punching your ticket again.

Single ticket for public transport in Warsaw
Single ticket for public transport in Warsaw

Where and how to buy a ticket

Until 2018, the single ticket was sold in special vending machines and from drivers of ground transportation. Now, passes are sold only in vending machines located in passageways:

  • at Chopin and Modlin airport;
  • at the bus and train stations;
  • in the subway;
  • near crosswalks;
  • at ground transportation stops.

Ticket machines are also available on board, but not on all routes. It is better not to risk it and buy in advance. There are ticket controllers and they are strict about travel time: they check tickets almost immediately after the passenger gets on the bus or train.

Ticket machines are modern, with a touch screen and menus in several languages, including Russian. To buy a ticket, you need to select a time, zone and pay by card or cash.

Ticket machines at the Central Station
Ticket machines at the Central Station

How to figure out the routes

An easy way to create a route is to use the Warsaw public transportation portal or a service with a route map of Poland. To search, you need to select the place of departure and destination. You will need internet and geolocation. The site will show you convenient transportation, connections and travel time.

Warsaw streetcars

The first conks in the Polish capital appeared in 1866, and electric trains in 1906. From 1950 to 1970, the streetcar was the main means of transportation, and later the construction of the metro became a priority.

Warsaw streetcar
Warsaw streetcar

Streetcars run on a schedule from 5:00 to 23:00. During rush hour the interval is 5 minutes, at other times — 10—15 minutes. At the stops there is a scoreboard with information about waiting times.

Streetcars #1—39 are regular, #40—49 run during rush hour, #50—79 run only on special days. You can see all streetcar routes on the scheme. The fare zones are also marked here.

Scheme of streetcar routes and fare zones
Scheme of streetcar routes and fare zones

Warsaw Metro

This youngest mode of transportation in Warsaw was opened in 1995. The first line was the blue M1 branch from north to south. In 2015, the M2 line (red line) was opened. It crosses Warsaw from east to west.

The subway is convenient to use during rush hour. Streetcars and buses run on dedicated lines, but from 4 p.m. the number of passengers is off the scale. and at the same time the subway is practically empty. This is due to the fact that underground transportation does not reach all points in Warsaw.

Detailed instructions for the subway in Warsaw

Entrance to the Warsaw subway
Entrance to the Warsaw subway

Warsaw buses

It is a round-the-clock transportation in Warsaw: day trips run from 5:00 to 23:00, night trips from 23:15 to 4:45. The routes cover the center and the outskirts. For example, at night you can get from the Old Town or Kraków suburb to the Western Station (from here Flixbus buses run to many European cities).

Buses have their own numbering. Buses with numbers from 1 to 399 run daily in different directions, they are regular transportation. It makes stops along the entire route. Buses 400 through 599 run during rush hour or special events and have fewer stops.

All routes cross the station «Warsaw Central», which is located in the center (metro Świętokrzyska and Centrum).

  • Night buses are marked with the letter N. They have a different timetable from the day buses, running every 20 minutes.
  • Express trains are marked with the letter E and run from the center to the suburbs. The driver only makes stops on demand.
  • Buses 700—899 are intercity routes, they run between Zone 1 and Zone 2. Before the shift change, the informer in the vehicle will announce «przystanek graniczny».
Warsaw buses
Warsaw buses

Warsaw trains

There are three train stations in the Polish capital: Central, Western and Eastern. Central is the most popular station. It is where the train to the airport leaves from, and where buses from other countries arrive.

City trains belong to the SKM company. Trains with the letter S and the route number (S1, S2, S3) are public transport, and payment in the first and second ticket zone is based on the general fare. Ticket machines are available at stations and on trains.

Tourist buses

Tour buses operate on the Hop on Hop off principle. They travel around Warsaw’s key tourist spots and stop at places of interest. At any time you can get off and walk through a park, visit a museum and then get on another bus.

Tourist buses in Warsaw run from 10:00 to 15:40. Tickets are valid for 24, 48 and 72 hours. You can choose the route — blue or red. The buses have an audio guide with commentary in Russian.

Warsaw bus Hop-on Hop off
Warsaw bus Hop-on Hop off

It is convenient to travel around Warsaw by public transportation, especially with a single ticket. It’s fast, comfortable and economical if you need to get everywhere.