After I spent 3 days in Warsaw I left the city by train to Krakow and at the end of my trip I had to return to Warsaw by train.
The main train station (Warszawa Centralna) is located right in the city centre just next to the famous Palace of Culture and Science. The labyrinth of passages and shops in the station is quite confusing and packed with dubious characters. So get yourself out of this place as quick as possible.
I recommend to buy train tickets at a rail agent in town instead of queueing at one of the tiny little booths in the train station.
Take the central station to change trains. Although, I must say it can be quite confusing as to which platform you have to go to. If you have to change to a regional train ie to Malbork like I did in 2006 then you may better change in the station where the train starts as you may get dead lucky to get a seat especially on a weekend on vacation time.
I usually get to Warsaw by fast, safe and comfortable express trains of PKP Intercity (compulsory reservation; check their prices and numerous promotions/savings). There are 3 large railways station located along the east-west line: Western Warsaw Station (Warszawa Zachodnia), Central Warsaw Station (Warszawa Centralna - in the heart of the Warsaw centre), Eastern Warsaw Station (Warszawa Wschodnia) - all three are not my favourite places in Warsaw :-).
I buy train tickets alway 2nd class at the railway station usually just before departure of the train: in 2006 from Tychy it cost in total 78 zl (20.5 euros) one way. The fare is based on distance (km) + seat reservation fee. So, expect to pay similar price from/to Krakow, Poznan or Gdansk. Very rarely (Friday evening from Warsaw, Sunday evening to Warsaw; it happened to me only once) tickets are sold out and one must wait for the next train (1 hour or so). Tickets are available in some tourist offices and at conductor at train (warning: you must find him immediately after boarding the train and pay small additional fee).
Time of travel (hours:minutes) to Warsaw from:
Berlin, Germany 5:40
Wien, Austria 7:28
Bratislava, Slovakia 7:59
Prague, Czech 8:46
Vilnius, Lithuania 9:34
Minsk, Belarus 9:55
Moscow, Russia 20:37
Check up-to date European railway timetable, the link below.
I had some extra time and wanted to save some money, so I took the train into Warsaw. Starting from Frankfurt, Germany, I took the ICE train and changed trains in Berlin. Overall, it took about 10 hours, but it was relaxing and I was able to get some reading done! I packed some lunch so I didn't have buy my meal on the train and all went smoothly.
I bought my ticket online through DB, printed it up at home, and had no problems at all.
And I saved $500 by not flying!
Warszawa Centralna Railway Station is not nice at all. Just have a look at the building! Anyway, there are lots of shops, cafes etc. underground. You can also eat some fast food there. I recommend to be earlier to buy a train ticket as there are long queues and you may be late.
Via the website of the Polish train company (PKP), it was very easy to make a planning.
You can easily find al the connections and the time schedules.
Mostly I used IC trains, because these trains do not stop so often, so travelling time is shorter.
Via the website of the Polish Intercity company: www.intercity.com.pl/en/main, you should be able to make a reservation. But unfortunately it did not work from abroad.
But like in my case a friendly Polish girl (thank you Anna) made these reservations for me, and then did send me the reservation forms.
And the system works. Once you have your reservation, you have a wagon number and a seat number, you just have to present this reservation form at the conductor and pay the money to him.
So no problems standing in line to get a ticket, no language problems at the ticket office.
Warsaw's international aiport is small for a city of its size, however, upon arrival, I had no problem getting through customs and finding the correct bus to take me into the city. I went straight to an ATM and got some cash, but there are also currency exchange counters here if you prefer to use their services. You'll also find a tourist information booth in the international arrivals hall. To get into the city, I located the Ruch news shop and purchased a bus ticket (2.40 zl) for bus #175.
On my way out of Warsaw, I arrived well over 2 hours early and I still barely made my flight. It was absolutely ridiculous how underequipped this airport was. They only had two security screening devices and the lines were insane! Be sure you come VERY early when you are leaving Warsaw.
So I arrived in Warsaw on time (9h50), and as luggage and passport handling went so quick, I was outside the airport building in no time. Then a short ride by taxi, so arrived at Warszawa Centralna around 10h20.
A had a train at 12h05 towards Krakow. So plenty of time to look around. I also went outside the train station, and from there I could already see my hotel for the last night of my Poland trip (Hotel Metropol). From here I also could admire the big building of the Palace of Culture and Science.
So the train from Warsaw to Krakow:
- Warszawa Centralna - Krakow Glowny
- travelling time : 2h55
- travelling distance : 292 km
- price : 85 zl.
The fares I quote here are based on how much we paid for the individual journeys.
Krakow - Warsaw = 63.50zl(2hrs40mins)
Warsaw - Prague = 206.50zl(about 10hrs)
These are one way fares on 2nd class with a seat only. It isn't really necessary to get a sleeper on night trains, we got a cabin to ourselves entirely which made our journey so much more comfortable. You only have to be early to secure a seat. Don't start trotting in only when the train is about to leave!
And don't bother visiting that website www.raileurope.com it is a bloody rip off. You are better off buying your tickets off the station itself!
I took a train from Warszawa Centralna station to Torun and this is one of the main hubs for long distance train travel. It's easy to find right next to the Palace of Culture and Science. The ticket windows here are operated by Polish speaking employees, so if you don't know how to ask for a ticket in Polish, I'd suggest having someone at the information booth write it down for you and take that with you to the window to avoid a miscommunication.
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