Best way to get around is by public transport. By London standards, it's incredibly cheap. A central zone one-day travel card currently* costs 9 zlotys - ₤2. Which you can use before 9:30am if you so wish. An both-zone one-day travel card costs 14 zlotys - ₤3.10. To put this into perspective, a pre-9:30 one day travel card for zones 1-4 (roughly the same radius of travel as Warsaw's central zone) costs ₤10, while zones 1-6 (a similar radius of travel as Warsaw's central and outer zones) costs ₤15. So Warsaw's five times cheaper (while wages are but three times lower). If you buy a quarterly ticket, Warsaw's seven times cheaper.
Here's my quick guide to Warsaw public transport in plain English.
Warsaw's public transport authority is ZTM, which operates buses, trams, the Metro and some local rail services (SKM). ZTM travelcards (from one- to 90-day validity) are also good on Koleje Mazowieckie (Mazowsze Province trains) and WKD (the suburban light rail line heading out to Grodzisk Mazowiecki and Milanówek rather than the alcopop).
There are but two zones; the first zone extends to about a ten-mile (16km) radius from the city centre, the second about 15 miles (25km) from the centre.
The key thing to remember, when visiting Warsaw, is that whatever ticket you choose - from 20 minutes to 90 days - you need to validate it on your first journey using it. As soon as you get on your first bus or tram or SKM train, head for the bright yellow ticket validator. If you have a card ticket (20-minute, one-day, three-day, seven-day or single journey), put it into the slot face-up. The machine will make a whirring sound, then emit a double-beep, and a green light will show and your ticket will re-emerge. When you remove it, you'll see an expiry time and date will have been printed on the reverse.
A travel card for a longer period (30 days, 90 days) has to be acquired from the ZTM office. This can be done on-line (you need to submit a digitised photo of yourself). You can also customise the design of the card as you want it (here, for example, is mine). Sadly, the English version of the web page is so badly translated, I shudder to think how someone not knowing Polish could possibly work out how use it.
Bus stops - ones with a green outline around the number of the bus are request stops - you need to flag down buses to stop them. If your destination stop is 'na żądanie' (request), you'll need to press the red button in good time (green button on the old Ikarus buses). Newer buses will require you to press a blue (sometimes red) button by the door to open it once the bus has come to a halt at a bus stop.
Information given at bus stops and on buses is precise and generally (outside of rush-hour korki or jams) buses run to time. Trams cut through traffic jams, although woe betide tram passengers should one tram break down on a busy line. Tram jams of 10-15 stationary trams are a dramatic sight to behold.
It's been two years since paid parking came to Powiśle and I gave up driving to work on a daily basis. I'm much wealthier for it. A tankful of petrol, which I would use up in a fortnight's commuting, costs as much as a quarterly ZTM travelcard (196 zlotys). The travelcard is so cheap it's no problem when I have a day off or else I use my bike.
Coming back to practical issues to do with getting around Warsaw - many city centre roads are closed. Świętokrzyska and Prosta (building of second line of Metro), Nowowiejska (upgrading tram tracks), Targowa (ditto), Sokola - to do with building the National Stadium.
Above: Most Poniatowskiego, behind it, across the river to the left, the new National Stadium, under construction. Ul. Targowa is being dug up, so trams routes north of Rondo Waszyngtona are being diverted Below: Ul. Nowowiejska (lit. 'Newvillagey Street) also bereft of trams.
And, as I've mentioned, Dworzec Centralny aka W-wa Centralna, the Central Station, is currently being modernised - total chaos - (allow an extra 10-15 minutes to find your way to the platform as passageways and staircases are closed - below).
Dworzec Wschodni aka W-wa Wschodnia, the Eastern Station, is also being refurbished. Ironically, Dworzec Zachodni aka W-wa Zachodnia, the Western Station, seems to be left as it is - a museum letting you the public experience at first hand how the communist system used to humiliate citizens by not offering them information or service.