Poland lies in a moderate climate zone with all four seasons to be observed during the year.
Summers are generally warm, with average temperatures around 20-25°C (69-77°F). Evenings can get chilly, so it’s good to bring a light sweater.
On the other hand, winters can be pretty cold, with the highest chances of snow from November till February. The average winter temperature hovers couple of degrees below 0°C/32°F.
The warmest region of the country are Silesian Lowland,with the city of Wroclaw being on average the hottest one. On the opposite the north-eastern edge of the country around the city of Suwalki is the coldest part of Poland.
If You are flexible with Your travel dates, make sure to avoid the following Polish public holidays:
During these periods, many people in Poland are traveling to visit their family, friends, to spend few days in a holiday resort or just outside the city. Most companies let their employees to take Friday/Monday as a “bridge” day, allowing for an extended four-day weekend. The motorways are more crowded with higher probability on traffic jams. Public transport services might be substantially reduced during this time.
Traveling by air is probably the most convenient way to get into Poland.
If you fly from outside Europe, your port of entry will be most probably:
- Warsaw Chopin Airport
Other major Polish airports are:
- John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice
- Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport
- Katowice Airport
- Copernicus Airport Wrocła
- Poznań–Ławica Henryk Wieniawski Airport
LOT Polish Airlines is the major Polish airlines, with flights to many countries around the world.
Traveling by car from neighboring EU countries (Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania) is very comfortable, as there are no border controls thanks to the Schengen Agreement.
With Ukraine, Russia and Belarus the border controls are still in place and therefore you can expect some waiting time, which sometimes can be as much as few hours (depending on time and date of crossing).
Traveling by bus to Poland using international coach lines has many advantages. It gives you the possibility to get to all large cities but also to discover smaller towns and villages not reachable by plane or train. This alternative is often used by Poles themselves who are working mainly in Germany or Czech Republic or immigrants who are commuting to work in Poland from nearby countries (especially Ukraine).
The bus connections are established with most European countries. Sindbad with connections from over 300 cities in 28 European countries is of the biggest bus companies in Poland.
A growing and popular bus company called Polskibus.com has international connections with Austria, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Slovakia and Switzerland.
Poland is well-connected by rail with neighboring countries. From Germany there is a Berlin – Warsaw Express train which connects Poznan, Gdansk and Gdynia on its way and an overnight train operating between Dormund, Dusseldorf, Cologne and Warsaw. Additionally from Berlin there is a direct connection to the seaport city of Szczecin.
To the south you get from Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary with PKP InterCity train services connecting Warsaw, Krakow and Katowice with Prague, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest (including all cities in-between).
If you are coming from Ukraine you can take an overnight train from Kiev to Warsaw and from Lviv to Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw.
From Brest, Minsk and Grodno in Belarus and from Moscow (Russia) you have several daily trains to Warsaw. On certain days there is a Transeuropean Express which operates between Paris and Moscow with a stop in Poznan and Warsaw.
From Kaunas in Lithuania there is a weekend train service to Bialystok (Poland).
For more information and direct booking go to:
EU citizens do not required a visa to enter Poland.
Thanks to Schengen Agreement 26 European countries have a passport and border control free zone (except for UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus).
Passport holders of US, Canada, Australia and some other countries are not required a visa to enter Poland for stays under 90 days.
Citizens of other nationalities who are planning to come to Poland as tourists for a period of up to 90 days, have to apply for a Short-Stay Visa (called Schengen Visa).
For more information on the requirements and application procedures visit: http://www.msz.gov.pl/en/travel_to_poland/visa/
Wroclaw, Warsaw, Szczecin, Rzeszow, Poznan, Olsztyn, Lublin, Lodz, Cracow, Katowice, Gdansk and Bydgoszcz have their own airports serving both international (the smaller ones mainly low-cost carriers) and domestic flights. The airports are most of the time situated close to the city centers and reachable from there in less than 30 minutes.
Polish bus network covers nearly every town and village accessible by road. The bus stations are mostly located in the city center, near the main train station and in smaller towns and villages you probably find a bus stop along the main road. The fares are comparable with those for trains but very often you will be able to find good promotions especially with Polski Bus which may take you from Wroclaw to Warsaw for not more than 15 PLN.
Following bus companies are the main ones operating throughout the country:
Very helpful might be: http://en.e-podroznik.pl/ which is a journey planner website allowing you to look for bus and train connections around the country.
Traveling by train is one of the most popular mode of transportation across the country. The main railway operator is PKP (Polish State Railways) which links all parts of the country in a dense network. There are also some few other local carriers that belongs to voivodships or major cities.
The fastest and most comfortable way to get from one city to another is with PKP InterCity which runs all Poland's express trains. This includes:
If your destination is going to be a smaller city or you just want to save some money, PKP Przewozy Regionalne (regional railways) would be the best option. Here you have also a variety of trains to choose from:
- Twoje Linie Kolejowe (TLK) are low-cost express trains for traveling between regions. They stop at most medium size stations. They use older carriages and might get crowded (especially in 2nd class compartments). Tickets come with assigned seating, but if full, you can get a standing ticket for the same price.
- InterCity (IC) run the same route as TLK trains but have more refurbished equipment, with air-conditioning in most of the carriages. Tickets come with assigned seating.
- Regio/Osobowy (local train) slow trains which stops at every station down the line. Tickets are cheaper than for other trains. There is no 1st class and no seat reservations.
Weekend train travel
If you are traveling during the weekend, there are two saver fares called „Weekend Ticket” and „Weekend MAX Ticket”. The ticket is valid from 7 pm on Friday to 6 am Monday allowing unlimited train travel during this time. The first fare includes IC and TLK trains, while the MAX fare includes also the fast EIP and EIC trains.
Prices for Weekend Ticket are 109 PLN and 79 PLN for first and second class respectively and for Weekend MAX Ticket 247 PLN and 154 PLN for first and second class respectively.
It has become a popular mean of transport in Poland as it is often cheaper and more convenient than traveling by train or even by bus. The carpooling websites got much more better recently, providing information not only on the possible routes posted by various drivers, but also provide reviews on the drivers themselves posted by their previous passengers.
The most popular carpooling website, also available in English is BlaBlaCar.
Over the recent few years Poland public transportation has developed very rapidly. Currently all major cities have a dense network of buses and trams that make traveling around very easy and affordable. Smaller cities might have only local buses but those should be sufficient to go around all major city's attractions.
The metro is only available in the capital city, Warsaw. There are currently two lines:
The metro operates from around 5:00 am to 1:00 am at night. During the weekend (on Friday and Saturday night) it stays open until 3:00 am. It runs every 3-4 minutes during peak times and every 7-8 minutes during the remaining time.
Tickets can be bought at ticket vending machines at every metro entrance. Detailed information about different ticket options and the prices can be found on the Warsaw City Transport Management.
Trams are the main mean of transportation in all bigger cities. Currently there are 14 tram networks, serving over 30 cities. Over the recent year, the cities are trying to make the trams much more time efficient and reliable building track that are independent from other traffic means and introducing priority rights for them on main junctions.
Service is fairly frequent, usually every 5-10 minutes during rush hours and 15-20 minutes during off-peak periods. In most cases you can get a ticket at a vending machine at the tram stop or after boarding, in the tram itself. The validation of the ticket needs to be done once you enter the tram in the validation machine mostly situated near the entrance.
Buses are the most common mode of transport, present in all cities and towns. They mostly run at regular intervals during day time and with restricted services in the evening and weekends.
Bigger cities have introduced night buses. They go between 0-5 am and are very convenient if you want to avoid taking a taxi at night.
Bus stop are usually marked by a white and blue sign with a black bus on a it.
In bigger cities you can buy a ticket before boarding in the vending machine where you can pay with cash or a credit card. In smaller towns tickets are sold in kiosks or by the bus driver upon embarking and only cash is accepted.
There are two types of stops:
- a scheduled stop, at which the bus will stop irrespective of demand (in city centers, main routes in smaller towns) and
- a request stop where the bus will stop only on request (you need to hold out your arm at the stop when the bus is approaching) which will be more common on the outskirts of a city/town . This stop sign will be marked as “na żądanie” (on demand).
Taxis in Poland are relatively cheap and easily available throughout big cities. Official taxis are marked with a white and black “taxi” sign. A company name and number should be visible at the rooftop and on the side of the car. The minimum taxi fare is 4-8 PLN (about 1-2 €) as a get on fee and additional 0.40€ to 0.60€ per kilometer. Uber and myTaxi are popular taxi phone apps.
No vaccinations are required for entering Poland.
Medical care is delivered through a publicly funded health care system which is good especially in larger cities but could be less reliable in rural areas. There are many private medical institutions in Poland with a wide range of specialized doctors. Costs, in most cases, are very competitive in comparison to other Western European countries, therefore there are many medical tourists visiting the country to benefit especially from dental services, plastic surgery, neuro- and cardio surgery as well as orthopedic treatments.
Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein can get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which allows to access the state-provided healthcare for free in Poland. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for travel insurance, but any treatment provided would be on the same conditions as for Polish residents. Treatment in private hospitals or costs for mountain rescue or stolen property is not covered by EHIC.
Citizens from other countries have to check if a complementary arrangement for medical care between their country and Poland is provided.
In case of a medical emergency in Poland, dial 112 or 999.
Just like in any other country tourists may be target of pick-pocketing. Be particularly cautious on public transportation, train stations and tourist hot-spots. Thieves usually ask a question, bump into the victim or ask for money of food. When you are distracted, they take your wallet. Crowded summer vacation cities along the Baltic coast (such as Sopot, Gdansk or Gdynia) are places targeted by thieves.
Male tourists will be approached by a few young, pretty girls who after a short conversation, will invite you to have a drink with them in the bar nearby. After a few drinks you will be presented with a bill equivalent to up to several hundred euro. You will be told to pay by the bartender and if not, by a security guy, as the girls obviously will not have money with them to pay.
Therefore, before ordering anything, always make sure what the price is for what you order (not only outside the bar, but also ask about the prices when in the bar as they might vary).
Some taxi drivers might turn on the night or weekend meter during the daytime ride after you get in. Others will try to the take the “short cut” which will be much longer than expected. When paying make sure to count the money in front of the taxi driver, as some of them will try to trick you and tell you that you didn't pay enough (hiding some of the cash you already gave them).
When getting a taxi be sure to choose a legitimate one which has the fares posted on the side door or somewhere else inside the car. Make sure that you ask upfront for an estimated rate to the destination you are going.
Polish Zloty (PLN)
In Poland, service is not included in the prices. While leaving a tip is not obligatory, you can leave a tip of 10% or “round up” the bill.
For example, is a 22 PLN for a coffee and cake, you can leave 25 PLN. Or for a check of 55 PLN, you can leave an additional 5 PLN.
The name for ATMs in Polish is bankomat.
ATMs are widely available in Poland. There are a few independent ATM operators with an extensive network of cash machines (e.g. Euronet, Planet Cash, eCard, Global Cash). Bank-owned ATM networks are also available but on a smaller scale.
Withdrawal fee depend on inter-bank agreements. Contact your bank to see if it is affiliated with any of those operating in Poland. If so, try to use those bank’s ATMs, as it will save you some handling fees.
Except for some small shops, credit and debit cards are widely accepted.
PKO Bank Polski, Bank PKO S.A. and Bank Zachodni WBK are some of the major banks in Poland.
Bargaining is not a custom in Poland. The price on the price tag is the one you should be paying for an item. Exception might be some street or flea markets.
The name of the country “Polska” (Poland) derives from “Polanie” one of the Slavic tribes that begun settling the territory within Poland's current borders from 6th century onward. It was not until the second half of the 10th century until the official Polish state has been established under the Duke Mieszko I. He managed to unite the tribes under his leadership and converted to Christianity in 966. This year marks the establishment and baptism of Poland.
In 1025 Mieszko's son Boleslaw was crowned the first king of Poland and for the next three centuries the Piast Dynasty continued to rule the country. The last Piast King was Casimir III the Great, who left an indelible mark on Poland. The country he was given to rule was fragmented and ruined by Mongol invasions. He decided to build hundreds of castles made of stone and bricks to protect the relatively flat land from future invasions. It is said of him that he found Poland made of wood and left it made of stone.
When Casimir III the Great died leaving no descendants, the throne passed to his nephew King Louis I of Hungry and later on to his daughter Jadwiga in 1384. She married Wladyslaw Jagiello, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. The political marriage became the foundation for the country's wealth and prosperity for the next centuries. The country also grew rapidly in size, after the biggest battle of the Middle Ages, when Poland and Lithuania defeated the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410 and recovered eastern Pomerania, parts of Prussia and the port of Gdansk.
The 16th century brought Renaissance to Poland. Nicolaus Copernicus published his revolutionary theory in 1543, stating that the Earth and other planets orbit the sun and not, as it was believed in his days, the other way around.
Poland, due to its religious tolerance, became home for all religious minorities from neighboring countries. The Jewish community rose and Poland had more Jews by that time than the rest of Europe altogether. On the political side, the country developed into a parliament monarchy with the nobles becoming more powerful and the monarchy growing weaker. In 1572, the Jagiellon dynasty came to an end. The Polish monarchy became elective by an assembly of Polish nobles.
In the 17th century Poland fought wars against Sweden, Russia, Prussia and the Ottoman Turks with some significant defeats and military successes. However, the wars resulted in the country's devastation and a large part of the population was killed. Also the political system was weakened by the ineffective central government where a single member of the Sejm (lower chamber of the parliament) could not only veto any procedures but also dissolve the parliament (!) which totally paralyzed the country's governance.
The next century saw a continuation of political and military decline. Even though some significant reforms were introduced such as the Constitution of May 3rd 1791, which was the first constitution in Europe and second one (after the US) in the world. However it had little effect and The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth disappeared as an independent state after the First (1772), Second (1793) and Third (1795) Partitions of Poland. For 123 years Poland disappeared from maps as a country. It was divided and occupied by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy.
The Congress of Vienna in 1815 allowed the Poles to form the Kingdom of Poland which was created out of the Duchy of Warsaw, however it remained under Russian control. All the other territories confiscated in the three partitions of Poland remained in control of Russia, Austria and Prussia. Independent Poland did not exist until the end of World War I, when on November 11, 1918, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski took command of Warsaw and proclaimed the country's independence known as the Second Polish Republic.
Hitler’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, marked the start of the Second World War in Europe. Soon after. Russian forces invaded the country from the east. As the result of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was again partitioned between Germany and Russia. For the next five years it remained under the brutal occupation of the invading powers. Over 5 million Polish citizens were killed during the war by the Nazis, of which 3 million were Polish Jews and 2 million ethnic Poles. The Soviet Army on the other hand deported over 1 million Poles to Siberia and murdered about 150,000 people including 22,000 military and government officials in Katyn massacre in 1940.
During the Yalta Conference in February 1945 Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt discussed the Europe's post-war reorganization and decided that Poland will be left under Soviet control. The western borders were set by the Allies along the Odra river and the eastern ones were moved to the west and as a consequence the country returned to its medieval borders.
In 1952 Polish People Republic was formed, as a communist satellite country of the Soviet Union where till 1989 Polish United Workers’ Party with the leading role of the Party's First Secretary. It eventually collapsed as a result of an anti-communist revolutionary movement Solidarity in the late 1980s. It led to the foundation of a democratic government, known as the Third Polish Republic. In 1999 Poland joined NATO and in 2004 the European Union.
Poland is located in Central Europe, sharing borders with 7 countries: Ukraine and Belarus to the east, Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Germany to the west and Lithuania and Russia to the northeast. It has also a maritime boundary to the north (Baltic Sea).
With an area of 312,679 square kilometers (120,726 sq. mi.) Poland is the ninth largest country in Europe.
Over 90% of the country’s territory is lowland and lays below 300 meters.
There are two main mountain ranges which are located in the south: Carpathian Mountains along the border with Slovakia and Ukraine, and Sudeten Mountains along the border with Czech Republic. The highest peak is Mount Rysy, at 2499 m (8200 feet) meters in the Tatra Range of the Carpathians, 95 kilometers south of Cracow.
With 1047 km (651 mi), the Vistula is the longest river in Poland, flowing through the center of the country. It also flows through several major cities including Cracow, Warsaw, Torun and Gdansk, before it eventually empties into Baltic Sea. The Oder with 854 km (531 mi) is the second longest river forming a natural border with Germany. Warta with 808 km (502 mi) is the third longest one rising in Upper Silesia.
Poland has one of the highest number of lakes in the world (in Europe, only Finland has a greater density). Masuria Lake District known as the “land of a thousand lakes” has actually more than 2000. It is located in the north-eastern part of the country and is one of the most beloved holidays destination, offering boating enthusiasts, canoeists, hikers and bikers everything they need. Recently it has been chosen by millions of people from all over the world as one the 28 finalist of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
One of the five natural deserts to be found in Europe is located in southern Poland. It has been created by a melting glacier some thousand years ago. It only occupies an area of 32 square kilometers (12 sq mi). The average thickness of the sand layer is 40 meters (131 feet) and reaches up to 70 meters at the maximum.
Spoken by 38.5 million people in Poland, it is the second most widely spoken Slavic language (after Russian). As many Poles have emigrated from Poland to other countries, especially after World War II and during the Communist regime, there are many Polish speakers in countries like the United States, Brazil, France and Germany.
Additionally due to many changes to the Polish borders in the course of the history, some people in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan or Czech Republic also speak Polish as a second language. In total, there are over 50 million Polish speakers around the world.
A few dialects are spoken throughout the country, with Podhale (highlanders) and Silesian dialects being the most characteristic ones. Worth mentioning is also Kashubian, which is an officially recognized ethnic-minority language. It is spoken by over 100,000 people in the Pomerania region (near the Baltic Sea).
Polish is said to be one of the most difficult languages to learn due to its tongue-bending pronunciation and the complex grammar. For example, there are seven cases and all adjectives and verbs are conjugated depending on gender, time or number.
The Poles both love and hate to use diminutive forms, such as: dużo pieniążków (a lot of money), kawusia z mleczkiem (coffee with milk), soczek z malinkami (juice with raspberies). Diminutive forms can also be used with names, for example Alexandra can be called Ola, Oleńka, Olusia, Olunia!
There are a lot of funny idioms in Polish that might sound bizarre to foreigners, such as: „czuć miętę do kogoś” (feel mint for someone) meaning have a crush on someone, „już po ptakach” (it's after the birds) meaning it's too late, „być nie w sosie” (to be not in the sauce) meaning to be upset/ not in a good mood.
|How are you? (formal)||Jak się Pan/Pani ma?|
|How are you? (informal)||Jak się masz?|
|How much?||Ile to kosztuje?|
|Too expensive||za drogo|
|Where is...?||Gdzie jest...?|
|Go straight||Idź prosto|
|Turn left||Skręć w lewo|
|Turn right||Skręć w prawo|
|bill / check||rachunek|
|appetizer / starter||przystawka|
|main course||danie główne|
Due to its rich and turbulent history, Polish cuisine has been influenced among other by those of Germany, Austria, Hungary, France and Israel. It is rich in calories with meat, dumplings, boiled vegetables and heavy cream playing a major role.
A traditional dinner would consist of two to three courses. It starts with one of many Polish soups such as barszcz (beetroot soup), kapuśniak (sauerkraut soup), pomidorowa (tomato soup), żurek (soured rye flour soup) or rosól (chicken broth). For the main course there will be for sure some kind of meat served. The most commonly served meat is pork or poultry. It is usually accompanied by boiled potatoes, buckwheat or Polish dumplings (“kluski”) and some cooked or marinated vegetables. The most popular desserts are cakes, such as jabłecznik (apple pie) or sernik (cheese cake). It was common to have a shot of vodka with the meal, especially during winter season, which helped to digest the heavy food. Nowadays it is only drunk during some family feasts or other celebrations.
Apart from the common Polish dishes, there are some local specialties characteristic only for certain regions of Poland. Listed below are some examples of regional specialties:
Products made from sheep's milk, especially cheeses such as bryndza known for its characteristic strong smell and taste and oscypek, a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk. There is also kwaśnica- sauerkraut and potato soup and the popular placki po góralsku – potato pancakes with goulash.
Located in the south-east of Poland with Cracow as the biggest city, it is known for its sausages Lisiecka and Krakowska usually served as cold cuts. Influenced by Austria during the occupation period, strudel jabłkowy (apple strudel cake) and kotlet schabowy (Wiener Schnitzel) are famous regional dishes.
The region is known for Kluski śląskie (Silesian dumplings) which are made from boiled potatoes and served with gravy or bacon. Wodzionka is a famous Silesian soup made from stale bread, fat (bacon or butter) and water or milk and some seasonings. In the past it was served mainly during winter season when cows didn't have much milk. Another flagship dish is the Szałot - a potato salad with boiled eggs, carrots, peas, ham and sausages.
Specialties from this area are strongly linked to potatoes. One of them are pyzy – potato dumplings stuffed with meat. They are often served with an aromatic roast duck with apples and a red cabbage salad. A popular side dish is also the gzika, which is cottage cheese mixed with cream and served with diced radishes and chives.
A traditional dish from this region is the zupa grzybowa z gąsek (yellow knight mushroom soup). The Yellow Knight mushroom (Tricholoma equestre; also known as the Man on Horseback) is a popular mushroom found in Polish woods. Other famous dishes are Baba Warszawska (baba cake - made from rye bread with chocolate topping and sprinkled with walnuts) and panska skórka (soft, very sweet white and pink candy).
Within the European Union, Polish people marry the youngest (on average 24 years old for women and 26.5 years old for men)
Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site Białowieża Primeval Forest in Poland is Europe’s last ancient forest and home to 800 European bison, Europe’s heaviest land animal
In the summer beer is often served with raspberry syrup (piwo z sokiem) and drunk from a straw. During winter season it is also popular to drink a hot beer with cloves, cinnamon and sweetened with honey (piwo grzane
90% of Poland's youths complete at least secondary education and 50% have an academic degree. Polish education was rated as the 4th best in Europe and the 10th best in the world by the Pearson/Economist Intelligence Unit
One of the Polish superstition claims that in order to graduate from high school, one must wear red underwear to senior prom (studniówka), then wear it again, unwashed, to the final exam