“I woke up sleeping on a train that was bound for nowhere” – Noel Gallagher.
I first arrived into wondrous Warszawa back in March 2005. I was here on tour with the GAWA (Northern Ireland football fans, “Green and White Army”). On that trip, I arrived into Warszawa by train from Berlin in Germany. It was a simple train journey across the border and we classed it as ‘the party train’. Carryouts and songs aplenty and suddenly I had been to Poland for the first time, it feels like a lifetime ago now. Our arrival that day into Warszawa was to Warsaw Central Train station. But which one? You mean there are two central / main train stations in Warszawa? No there are FIVE! Yes 5!!
“Even innocence has caught the midnight train” – Jon Bon Jovi.
Well we arrived correctly into Warszawa Centralna that day. It seemed easy. However, I returned to the city in 2007 and relocated here in 2016. Since then, I have realised that the city of Warszawa has in essence five (5 / Pięc) central train stations. Yes, really! Five CENTRAL train stations. All five are central. All five are train stations. All five have the city name Warszawa In their titles. All five have, in essence the same name – Warsaw Central. So what’s that all about?
“Runaway train never going back” – Soul Asylum.
Also please note that this list of 5 central train stations doesn’t even include the other long distance train stations at Warszawa Wschodnia, Warszawa Dworzec Gdański or Warszawa Zachodnia! These five are just five central train stations, three of which are five minutes walk from each other! Four of which are about 12 minutes walk from each other. Now that has to be confusing for a tourist right? Wacaday. Have a look at these stations…
Yes that is five stations all within 2 kilometres, and four of them all within 500 metres of each other!
“Last train to somewhere, come take a ride” – Scott Gordon.
So here’s a rundown of the five “main train stations” in Warszawa. I hope to make things simpler for you with this post. Buses, trams and hoverboards can wait for another day.
“Here am I, going nowhere on a train. Here am I, growing older in the rain” – Noel Gallagher.
1.Warszawa Centralna (Warsaw Central)
This should be it right? I mean, central station. The centre one. There can only be one. Surely. And yes, to all intents and purposes this is the main and biggest and most well known of Warszawa’s four central stations. Warszawa Centralna is connected by an underground passage to two other rail stations on this list: to the west lies Warszawa Śródmieście WKD railway station, the terminus of the WKD suburban light rail line, and to the east lies Warszawa Śródmieście PKP, served by suburban trains run by Koleje Mazowieckie and Szybka Kolej Miejska!
Warszawa Centralna has 4 platforms and 8 tracks. It has about 20 cafes or restaurants plus many shops. Surprisingly there are no bars that sell alcohol in the train station itself, but the tidy hat-trick of Champions Sports Bar, Bar Frodo And the Hard Rock Cafe are all basically opposite the station. Warszawa Centralna is connected to the Złote Tarasy shopping centre and just to confuse you it is also connected to Warszawa City Centre train station (Warszawa Śródmieście) The train station 2 you’ll read about next.
From Warszawa Centralna you can take international trains to over 30 countries including Lithuania, Monaco, Russia, Bulgaria and Belarus. There’s even one daily train direct to Nice! I’ve taken many border trains from Warszawa Centralna down the years including to Hungary, Czechia, Germany and Ukraine.
Overall Warszawa Centralna is the biggest of Warszawa’s 5 central train stations and the one that I use most often. It is also the starting point for many of my crazy train journeys all over Poland, taking advantage of the cheap weekend train ticket that I wrote about – the marvellous Bilet Weekendowy.
Also please note that officially most airport trains don’t actually stop here at Warszawa Centralna. Though if you head to platform 4, there is usually a train every 30 minutes to Warszawa Lotnisko Chopina, the main airport, also known as Okęcie. The other airport, Warszawa Lotnisko Modlina is much further away, at Nowy Dwór and is actually best reached by bus, though trains do run there.
Finally, and significantly, Warszawa Centralna is open 24 hours, even some of the cafes and food joints. A nearby kebab joint for example is 24/7, 365!
2.Warszawa Śródmieście (Warsaw City Centre)
So right beside Warszawa Centralna or hell even right inside Warszawa Centralna sits another central train station!! Warszawa Śródmieście translates as Warszawa City Centre train station.
However there is one distinct difference. This is used for Warszawa regional city trains and further afield, Mazowieckie Province regional trains to cities like Płock and Nowy Dwór. Yes, there are no cross border trains leaving from Warszawa Śródmieście Station, although perhaps confusingly the tracks overlap and there are platforms of Warszawa Śródmieście both east and west side of the main Warszawa Centralna. From here you can also catch a train to Warszawa Chopin Airport (normally every 30 minutes in daytime hours).
Its a train station I also use frequently to hop around the city. I also returned to here on my trip to Płock.
3.Warszawa Śródmieście WKD
Wait, there is a Warszawa Centralna (central), a Warszawa Śródmieście (city central) and now you find out there is ANOTHER Warszawa Śródmieście (city central) but with the initials WKD after it. How and why?
Well in short, both train stations are correct in that they are both in Warszawa city centre so the name can be Warszawa Śródmieście. Confusingly they are also both used for local trains rather than regional or long distance trains. The reason for this extra station (which has 2platforms) and is on the opposite side of Warszawa Centralna than the other Warszawa Śródmieście? Capitalism and privatisation!! This one is a separate company and they have their own station.
4.Warszawa Centrum (Warsaw Central)
So within about 100 metres of the exit / entrance to Warszawa Śródmieście train station, you encounter Warszawa Centrum train station. The difference? Warszawa Centrum is a metro train station. It’s on Warszawa’s underground system, which as of September 2019 has added three new stations. It’s deeper under the ground than both Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Śródmieście. Plus the trains are different. They are not long distance. The furthest north you can get is Młociny in North Warszawa. The furthest south you can get is Kabaty in South Warszawa.
If you change lines at Świętokrzyska Station, you can go as far east to Warszawa Trocka or as far west as Warszawa Rondo Daszyńskiego. Rondo Daszyńskiego is ironically only a few hundred metres from the fourth and final ” Warszawa Central” station on this magical and confusing list…
As it’s on the metro line, the Warszawa Centrum train station is open usually from 5 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. but later at weekends and less often on holidays. Plus there is also a 24 hour kebab joint nearby!
5.Warszawa Główna (Warsaw Head/Main)
Now for a kind of “red herring”. All over Poland, cities have the word Główna (or Głównie, Główny, Główne) in the title of their main train station. In most towns and cities this represents the central and main train station in that town. Examples? Gdynia Główna, Gdańsk Główny, Poznań Główny…
But not Warszawa. Warszawa likes to do things differently. The head train station, Warszawa Główna is definitely not the main station and in fact, it is no longer functioning as a train station at all!!
My feeling is that years and years ago, this used to be the main train station in the city. But as the city grew, it was deemed a better option to move the main / head station from Warszawa Główna to Warszawa Centralna, two tram stops away and closer to where Warszawa City centre really is. To add to the confusion of red herring Warszawa Główna, is the fact that it is in between Warszawa Ochota train station (which is not really in Ochota and is more central) and Warszawa Rondo Daszyńskiego metro station. Both of which are in central Warszawa, the first of which has only one stop from Warszawa Śródmieście. Warszawa Zachodnia (Warszawa West) train station is the next station along, and is also a stop off for both international and domestic trains.
These days, you can visit this former central train station as it is a fully functional museum now. Old trains are here on disused train lines, photos of vintage Polish trains adorn the walls and the building serves as a dobry reminder of yesteryear.
Finally, to answer the question, why does Warszawa have FIVE CENTRAL train stations?
Your guess is as bad as mine. Nobody really knows. Safe travels!
Here is a video I made outside Warszawa Śródmieście and in between Warszawa Centralna and Warszawa Centrum: