centres, at railway stations, airports, in some hotels and in places with a higher numbers of tourists. Official current exchange rates are set by the National Bank of Poland (NBP).
Banks are open from Monday till Friday, few of them also work on Saturday. All banks are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Large banks have their own cash machines and there are also independent cash machine networks (Euronet, Cash4YOU). If you have a card of a given bank, you may use its cash machines free of charge, whereas other card holders may pay a commission.
Payment cards (Visa, Maestro, etc.) can be used in most bigger and medium-size shops as well as restaurants (where you can usually see card logos on the entrance door). In some bigger supermarkets or chain shops, designated cash desks accept payments in euro (apart from zloty, the national currency) at an exchange rate given there.
Cheque transactions are far less common in Poland. This is because the market of e-banking services and charge cards is well-developed. Traveller's cheques are accepted by banks, but virtually are never used as a method of payment in trade. They may be cashed in some bigger banks. You should also remember that banks may charge a commission (ca 1.5%) on the cheque transaction.
If you plan to open a bank account in Poland you should remember that individual banks may have different requirements regarding the documents to be submitted. Generally, you might be asked to present the following documents:
- valid passport or ID,
- residence card or temporary residence card.
Rail services in Poland are provided by a number of public and private operators. Yet, the dominant carrier is the Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Państwowe, PKP) which brings together several companies providing domestic and international transport services. The fastest and most comfortable travel is offered by the PKP Intercity company. The Polish railway industry has been modernizing its infrastructure in order to constantly improve travel duration, conditions and comfort of passengers.
Today, you can choose from ca 100 trains running daily between popular tourist centres, the biggest cities in Poland (Intercity and Express trains) and beyond its borders. Poland has railway connections with many European cities including Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Berlin, Budapest, Moscow and Minsk.
May be purchased online, from ticket offices at all railway stations, in some travel agencies, as well as from ticket machines at some railway stations. You can also buy a ticket from the train conductor, paying in cash or – in all PKP Intercity trains – with a charge card; in this case, the price includes a small extra charge. Children of up to 4 years of age (of any nationality) travel by train in Poland for free. School and university students in Poland of up to 26 years of age as well as PhD students of up to 35 years are entitled to a 51% reduction off the full fare, provided that they hold a valid pupil or student identity card issued in Poland (to be shown at the train conductor’s request). Cheaper family tickets are another available and frequently chosen option, particularly attractive during the summer holiday season.
In Poland public transport services are provided by a number of companies. They provide long-distance cross-country journeys as well as suburban and local services. Tickets may be purchased at bus stations or directly from bus drivers before the journey. Timetables and ticket prices are available at PKS companies websites of each region/city or at private company’s websites.
Timetables are displayed at each bus stop and may also be found at websites of each public urban transport provider. All means of public transport in a given city or town use the same type of tickets which can be purchased from news-stands, ticket machines or in some shops and post-offices. All cities and towns have full-fare tickets (bilet normalny) and reduced-fare tickets (bilet ulgowy), the latter for persons entitled to discounts (e.g. Polish pupils and university students up to 26 years old, PhD students and pensioners).
Third-country nationals holding a driving licence issued in accordance with the Convention on Road Traffic of 1968 are allowed to drive vehicles on Polish roads on the basis of their document for the period of 6 months.
Nationals of the countries which are not parties to the Convention should also hold an international driving licence. Once a residence permit has been issued, both documents cease to be valid and the holder should apply for the Polish driving licence. In order to obtain it, applicants may be required to take a partial state examination – only a written test in English, German or Polish.
Car accident procedures
If you are involved in a road accident, you are obliged to follow certain safety procedures. If it is a minor car collision, you should call the police and move your car so that it does not block the traffic. However, if you are involved in a car accident resulting in casualties, you are obliged to call an ambulance and the police and you have to stay on the scene until they arrive. You must also switch on hazard warning flashers in your car. According to the Polish law, it is mandatory to provide first aid to victims – if you have taken a special training course – or at least to do what you are capable of in terms of securing the place of accident and helping the victims.
Car rental in Poland
Polish rental companies offer many types of cars to rent. You can pick up a car from the airport, what is very convenient. The average price for a one-month rent is 1000 EUR, but you can find a small car for 400 EUR monthly. Sometimes there are some discounts which allow you to pay for the car even less.
Obligatory equipment & documents
- cycling licence or ID – if you are between 10 and 18 years old, you should pass an exam to get a cycling licence; adults are only required to have their ID while riding and they should accompany children up to 10 years old,
- red reflector visible from behind and white position light in front,
- bicycle bell or a different warning signal,
- one brake at least,
- bike helmet – not required, but recommended due to safety.
In Poland, cyclists are obliged to use bike lanes. If not possible, they should ride on the right. Only adults with children up to 10 years old should use the left side of a pavement.
To protect your equipment remember to use a good quality lock and do not leave your bike for more than a few hours in an unknown location.
Translation agencies (agencja tłumaczeń or biuro tłumaczeń)
Numerous translation agencies offer interpreting and translation from and into many languages. You may also need a sworn (certified) translator, because documents translated and certified by them are recognised for official purposes.
It is also worth visiting the Adam Mickiewicz Institute website, where you can find information about Polish artistic projects. You can also buy the "Polish Culture Magazine", bilingual (Polish/English) quarterly which aims at promoting Polish culture abroad and focuses on its most modern - as well as vital - artistic achievements.
Traditional Polish lunch or dinner would not do without tomato soup (zupa pomidorowa) with noodles or rice, beetroot soup (barszcz, also known as borscht) served with a kind of ravioli (small meat or cabbage and mushroom dumplings) or the oldest Polish dish which is rye-flour soup (żur or żurek) served with a sausage and a boiled egg.
During your stay in Poland, you should also try dumplings (pierogi) stuffed with meat, cheese or fruit and traditional Polish cakes such as cheesecake (sernik), apple pie (jabłecznik), poppy-seed cake (makowiec) or gingerbread (piernik). Beer (piwo) lovers will not be disappointed with Polish trademark brews made for centuries, some of them winning awards in international contests.
Poland has plenty of restaurants, bars and inns which offer national dishes and regional specialities, and whose owners try to outdo one another in making the style of the interior as original as possible. In most cities and towns you will find a wide choice of restaurants offering Italian, French, Jewish or Chinese but also Arabic or Mexican cuisine.
Restaurants are open from Monday to Sunday, usually between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. or late night, and Polish pubs only close once the last client leaves. In smaller towns, except for tourist resorts, they open later and close earlier. Bills may include a service charge if you come with a group of people. In restaurants where you are served by a waiter, tips usually range between 5 and 10%, depending on the standard of the place.
Those who are tired of the hustle and bustle of city life may rest in botanical or zoological gardens, or numerous urban and landscape parks.
In each region, city or town, you will find an enormous variety of places worth visiting and events worth attending. Information about such places and events is available on town’s websites and in local newspapers.
You will find almost anything you like in Poland: from rocky mountains, wide beaches, clean lakes and vast forests to world-class monuments. The greatest attraction of the country is its varied, unspoilt and unrestrictedly accessible nature. In Poland there is a large number of landscape parks and protected areas, including 23 national parks, 7 of which are on the UNESCO List of Biosphere Reserves.
This is why Poland is a paradise for active tourists who can travel around on foot, by canoe, on horseback or by bicycle. The best season for this type of holiday in terms of weather conditions is between May and September but Polish summer, usually dry and warm, also invites for trips in October.
Ideal places for all-year-round holiday are numerous seaside and mountain resorts, and – for those who prefer less active rest – spa resorts which have therapeutic springs and spring pools open to the general public.
The choice of accommodation facilities offered is very wide: from standard hotels of worldwide chains in every bigger city, modern hotel complexes, including tennis courts and swimming pools, to small boarding houses or pensions and little cosy hotels, mountain hostels, camping sites and rural agro-tourist farms.
- General emergency number: 112 (information in Polish, English, German, Russian, Slovak, Czech, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Lithuanian or Italian, depending on the call centres)
- Police: 997
- Municipal Guard: 986
- Ambulance Service: 999
- Fire Rescue Brigade: 998