The Warsaw city authorities (tel. 194-31 or 22/474-11-42; www.warsawtour.pl) maintain a helpful network of tourist information agencies at entry points to the city, including the airport, central train station, and the Old Town. All are open daily; operating hours are as follows: Warszawa Centralna Train Station, May to September 8am to 9pm, October to April 8am to 7pm; Fryderyk Chopin Airport, May to September 8am to 9pm, October to April 8am to 7pm; Rynek Starego Miasta 19/21/21A (Old Town), May to September 9am to 9pm, October to April 9am to 7pm. MUFA Warsaw Tourist Information Center (Zamkowy 1/3; tel. 22/635-18-81; www.wcit.waw.pl) is privately run, therefore it also sells tour packages, and is located at the square outside the Royal Castle in the Old Town. It's open weekdays 9am to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 6pm, and Sunday 11am to 6pm.
You can pick up walking-tour itineraries such as Warsaw City Breaks and Jewish Warsaw at any tourist office. You'll almost always find an English speaker on hand to help with general directions and hotel advice, and provide maps and brochures. If you're planning to use public transportation, get the free ZTM (www.ztm.waw.pl) map of tram and bus routes. Warsaw is blessed with a number of English-language publications that include cultural listings, restaurant reviews, and general information. Look out particularly for the comprehensive bi-monthly Warsaw, in Your Pocket (5 z) and the monthly Warsaw Insider (9.90 z), both are free of charge in most hotels.
Warsaw is cut in two by the Vistula River (Wisa), but nearly all the interesting things to see and do lie on the river's western side. The heart of the city, and where you'll find most of the hotels, restaurants, and nightlife, is the central district known as Sródmiescie. With its huge avenues and acres of space between buildings, it's not particularly pedestrian-friendly. But trams scoot down the rails at an impressive speed and can whisk you around in a few minutes. The center of Sródmiescie is the intersection of Al. Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Ave.) and Marszakowska Street. The Old Town (Stare Miasto) lies about 1km (1/2 mile) to the north. The best way to find it on foot is to follow the "Royal Route," which intersects with Al. Jerozolimskie. The Royal Route was the journey taken by Polish royalty to travel from the Royal Castle in the Old Town to the Wilanów Palace in the south. This stretch passes along Krakowskie Przedmiescie, Nowy Swiat, Plac Trzech Krzyzy, and Al. Ujazdowskie. To the south of Jerozolimskie, along the Al. Ujazdowskie, beginning at Plac Trzech Krzyzy, you'll find Warsaw's embassy district and some of the city's swankiest shops, cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs. Farther to the south lie the enormous residential districts of Mokotów and Ursynów, the bedrooms for half of the city's 2 million people. Across the Vistula from the Old Town is the up-and-coming district of Praga. This area has long been one of the poorest districts in Warsaw but is starting to see something of a revival, primarily led by artists attracted by Praga's rock-bottom rents. The new National Stadium for the UEFA Euro Cup 2012 is also located here and is expected to be up and running in June 2011.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.