Warsaw Backpacking Travel Guide

Information on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks, sights to see, activities and more.

Search for Warsaw hostels at Hostelworld and budget hotels at Agoda.com

About


Warsaw, the capital of Poland is located on the Vistula river roughly equidistant from the Baltic Sea in the north and the Carpathian Mountains in the south. During the Second World War, it was almost completely razed. A huge Warsaw rebuilding effort was then undertaken by the remaining residents with oversight by the occupying Soviets. Warsaw also had one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, which for the most part perished during the war, making Warsaw an important place of Holocaust remembrance.

Today, Warsaw is a bustling metropolis and the EU's ninth most populous city. It has a mixture of new and old in its eclectic architectural mix. While sprawling, it is quite easy to navigate for tourists with good public transit and most important sites quite close to each other.

Hostels


Hostel Oki Doki

Nice hostel in a good location. Beds are comfy and the lockers beside the beds are huge. Showers and toilets are clean and the entry is controlled by a daily changing pin-code. The staff are very friendly and fun to be around. The bar is a great place to meet others - fellow backpackers are easy to hang out with and there is a good social vibe. Definitely a place to meet people.

Fest Hostel

Fest hostel is in a good location in a quiet street away from traffic noise, although you do need to walk a bit a from the nearest metro station. The WiFi works well and throughout the hostel even outside the door in hallway. The kitchen is equipped with almost everything that one would need. Marcin is one of the nicest hosts I've come across and you should stay here just for the breakfast, it's awesome.

Dream Hostel Warsaw

A really good hostel, definitely one of the best in Poland. Everything was very clean and the showers were great. The staff are very kind and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed how the staff also played games with us in the common area. There is a bar in the common room where you can order breakfasts in the morning or have a drink in the evening chatting with other guests. Each room has; individual lockers; individual light at each bed; individual outlet; clean ironed linen; free Wi-Fi; and an electronic lock on the door.

Sights and Highlights


Free Walking Tour

Joining a free walking tour is always a great first activity in a new city. Freewalkingtour.com have every aspect of Warsaw covered with 9 different tours available, 7 of which are free and 2 that are paid tours. Their two main tours are of the Old Town of Warsaw and of Jewish Warsaw. They are run daily at 10:30am and 2pm respectively. The meeting point for these tours is Sigismund's Column at the southern end of the Old Town. Head to Freewalkingtour.com/warsaw/ for a complete list of meeting points and start times for the rest of the tours.

Warsaw Uprising Museum

The Warsaw Uprising Museum is a museum dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The museum collects and maintains hundreds of artifacts, ranging from weapons used by the insurgents to love letters, to present a full picture of the people involved. There are many exhibits over several floors, containing photographs, audio and video, interactive displays, artifacts, written accounts and other testimonies of how life was during the German occupation of Warsaw, the uprising and its aftermath.

The museum is closed on Tuesdays. On other weekdays it opens at 8am and on weekends it opens at 10am. The price of entry is 20zł however it is free to enter on Sundays.

To Eat


Polish Milk Bars

Polish milk bars (Bar mleczny in polish) are cafeterias that offer cheap meals. They are historically very popular with students as they offer very affordable yet fulfilling meals. You have the following options in Warsaw; Prasowy, Rusałka, Bambino and Bar Familijny. All are located centrally. I wouldn't worry about being too selective, the service and quality of food is going to be similar at all of them. Just find the closest one to wherever your accommodation is.

For Drinking


Piw Paw

With almost 100 varieties of beer on tap, and around 200 more in bottles, Piw Paw is the ultimate destination for beer lovers in Warsaw. The range is mostly made up of Polish craft beers, but other micro breweries from around the world are also represented. Customers can sample any beer before deciding on which brews they want to have a full glass of. They also serve cider from the barrel.

Hoppiness Beer & Food

Another multi-tap bar in the city centre. They offer 12 changing taps, dozens of bottled local and international beers. They also serve some great food like burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. I recommend this place not only for beer lovers, but also for those who simply want to relax in a nice bar with some good food.

The Alchemist Gastropub

The Alchemist is another cool bar. It features a self-service draught beer system that allows you to pour your own beer from the 'beer wall'. If you often visit bars and wish you could pour yourself your own beer, this is the place for you. Delicious modern pub food, paired with decent local craft beer, good prices and friendly staff.

 

Transportation


Local

Warsaw has an extensive public transport network and due to the spread out nature of the city you may well find yourself wanting to use it. The best online resource is at ZTM Warszawa. You can find a very useful journey planner on the ZTM site. A lot of other good info on catching public transport can be found at wikivoyage.org/wiki/Warsaw#Public_transport including ticketing info.

Gdańsk

There are trains travelling back and forth between Warsaw and Gdańsk all day. Train tickets can be purchased at intercity.pl/en/. Ticket prices vary according to the speed of the train and how far in advance the booking is made. Tickets can be as low as 12€ for some trips but most tickets seem to be around the 25€ mark. The fastest train journey is 2hrs 40mins. A bus journey with Polskibus will cost around 6€ but the journey will take about 4 hrs 35mins.

Poznan

There are bus routes between Poznan and Warsaw operated by both Polskibus.com and LuxExpress.eu for similar prices (7€) and journey times (5hrs). Polskibus operate three trips a day while LuxEpress only one. You can also buy train tickets at at intercity.pl/en/. You will save at least a few hours by taking a train, but it also costs a lot more. The sweet spot is probably taking one of the 3 hour trains which you can find for about 15€.

Wroclaw

Wroclaw and Warsaw are connected by both trains and buses. Train tickets can be purchased through intercity.pl/en/. If purchased ahead of time you can find tickets for as low as 10€. For the express trains purchased at the last-minute the price will be closer to 40€. The fastest train journey is 3.5 hours however one of the slower trains (4.5 hours) are sometimes a lot cheaper.

Wroclaw is also located on the Prague to Warsaw bus route run by Polskibus. Tickets to Wroclaw are between 5-10€ and take between 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours. Take the bus if you want to save money. Buses run every few hour throughout the day.

Krakow

There are trains travelling back and forth between Warsaw and Kraków all day. Train tickets can be purchased at intercity.pl/en/. Ticket prices vary according to the speed of the train and how far in advance the booking is made. Tickets can be as low as 12€ for some trips.

A bus journey with Polskibus will cost around 8€ but the journey will take about 5 hours. Twice as long as the train.

(Header image wieżowce by Klearchos Kapoutsis under CC BY 2.0)

1 comment

  1. Comment by Sarah

    Sarah Reply October 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Nice recommendations! I can also add one of my personal favorite spots for drinking and eating – Bubbles Bar. It is such an unique place, with tens of great champagnes and wines. But it is not only a bar, they’re also a restaurant, actually an amazing one. Their food is creative, fresh and delicious. It is in my opinion one the best culinary spots in the entire capital.

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