The village of Karczew first appeared in the 13th century. In 1548, Karczew was granted its town charter.A favorable location on the Vistula River, which was used for floating goods to Gdańsk led to further development of the town. The 17th and the 18th centuries is the period of the greatest economic development of Karczew.

In 1794 the Polish Army fought a battle against the Russians near Karczew. Since 1795 Karczew was under Prussian rule, since 1807 it transferred to the Duchy of Warsaw, and since 1815 it belonged to the Kingdom of Poland (Congress Poland). In 1831, Polish insurgents defeated the Russian Army in the Battle of Karczew. In 1869 the tsar authorities deprived Karczew of its town rights.

During World War II, in September 1939, the Polish Army, defending crossing on the Vistula, fought a heavy battle against the Germans near Karczew. In January 1945 Karczew was liberated by the Soviet Army.

In 1959 it regained its town rights.