What to Wear & Pack
Warsaw, and indeed Poland, has a continental climate, which means cold dry winters and warm humid summers. Within these two extremes lies a fair amount of unpredictability, so it’s advisable for the visitor to be well prepared according to the season.
It is not uncommon for summer temperatures to exceed 30°C(86°F), so lightweight clothing such as t-shirts and shorts is recommended. Those with a fair complexion should consider good sun protection, particularly if long periods outdoors are planned. There are also frequent brief thunderstorms, so it’s a good idea to carry an umbrella or some form of waterproof covering. Sweaters and/or lightweight jackets are also handy for cloudy days when temperatures are more likely to be around 20°C(68°F). Visitors should also note that churches and holy places don’t approve of very short skirts or shorts.
While winter temperatures hover around freezing point for much of the time, there are periods (sometimes extended) when they can drop to -20°C(-4°F) or even more. For this reason it is important to be adequately equipped with warm coats, hats, jumpers and fleeces. Snow is the norm rather than the exception, so warm waterproof footwear is essential. Note also that it is customary when entering Polish houses to remove one’s outdoor shoes.
Spring can be particularly mischievous, in that a couple of warm sunny days might easily be followed by a brief snowfall, or vice versa. Autumn on the other hand can very often resemble a warm ‘Indian summer’; although cold Northeast winds can very quickly knock the temperature down a fair few degrees. If you’re planning a short visit it’s well worth checking the short-term forecast before you leave (although these can generally only be trusted two or three days ahead). For longer periods you’re probably better off packing to cover all possibilities!