The medieval capital of Poland was the southern city of Krakow, but Warsaw has been the capital of the country since 1596, and has grown to become Poland’s largest city and the nation’s urban and commercial center. Completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, the city managed to lift itself from the ashes. Today, almost every building in Warsaw dates to the postwar era – with what little remains of the old structures being confined largely to the restored districts of Stare Miasto (the ‘old city’) and Nowe Miasto (‘new city’), as well as selected monuments and cemeteries.
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Chopin Airport (IATA: WAW, ICAO: EPWA) is located in the area of Okęcie in Włochy, around 10 km south the city centre. For many years the airport used to be called just Okęcie, but this reportedly caused confusion and it was renamed.
N.B. Local people may use the name Okęcie to refer either to the airport, or to the residential area and local transportation terminal P+R Al. Krakowska which is on the other end of the airfield. Always ask for the airport (lotnisko in Polish) to avoid confusion.
There are two terminal buildings, until 2010 marked as: Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, now both denoted as Terminal A. The terminals are very close to each other (there is a pedestrian corridor linking them on public side as well as on the secure side), but it’s best to know from which terminal you will be departing. Check-in counters with numbers 100-199 are in (former) building of Terminal 1, 200-299 in Terminal 2.
The Etiuda Terminal was used by budget airlines and for charters, but now it’s closed.
The SKM offers the following connections from Warszawa Lotnisko Chopina:
Koleje Mazowieckie offers direct trains to Modlin, calling at Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Wschodnia, arriving at Modlin every hour.
Regular Warsaw transport tickets issued by ZTM (the local transport operator which runs city buses, trams and the metro) are valid on SKM train services between the airport and Warsaw. There are ticket machines in the terminal as well as on board; tickets can also be bought at the ZTM counter in the public part of the arrivals hall (after customs). ZTM day passes, three-day passes and monthly tickets are also valid on Koleje Mazowieckie trains, but not regular tickets. Note that while there is no Koleje Mazowieckie ticket office at the airport, it is possible to purchase single tickets for KML services from the airport to the city center aboard the train (with a 4 PLN conductor surcharge) or at a vending machine, which is located alongside the SKM one few meters before the entrance to the platform at the airport terminal station. Taking a red SKM train can be a bit cheaper: for example, the cost of a ride to Chopin airport from Warszawa Zachodnia station equals the cost of a regular 20-min city transport ticket (3.4 PLN), while the similar KML train ticket will cost you 5.5 PLN (July 2014).
Currently (Feb 2013) the rail station can only be accessed by leaving the arrivals area of the terminal building, crossing the bus station and walking about 300m in the open. The route is however well sign-posted. It seems that eventually the rail station will be accessed through an extension to the terminal building not yet completed.
In any case, the most you should pay is 3.00 zł (up to 4.50 zł on Sundays; but typically no more than 2.40 zł) per km in the daytime plus an initial fee of no more than 8 zł. The meter should be running and display a tariff number (1 in the daytime, 2 at night and on Sunday, 3 or 4 when leaving city limits or entering 2nd zone) You are entitled to a receipt (which must specify the route used) upon request. The Polish word for receipt is rachunek. There is no obligation to tip the taxi drivers, but most won’t refuse if you offer.
There is also indirect bus connection by Translud – ticket costs 8 zł. Take bus no 2 or 6 from Warsaw Center (next to Domy Towarowe Centrum) to Modlin Twierdza Pętla station. Remember to tell driver of bus no 2 or 6 that you are going to the airport – he will contact with the driver of another bus which will take you from Modlin Twierdza Pętla directly to the airport. Whole trip should be less than 1,5 hour.