The Polish road system is vast but usually in bad condition, and the high-speed highways that are presently in existence are inadequate. However, public transportation is abundant and reasonably priced: buses and trams in towns, and charter buses and trains for long-distance travel.
LOT Polish Airlines has domestic flights from Warsaw Chopin Airport to Kraków, Katowice, Wrocaw, Pozna, Szczecin, Gdask, Bydgoszcz, and Rzeszów. Sprint Air operates the only other regular domestic flight between Warsaw Chopin and Zielona Góra Babimost Airport. There are no domestic flights to or from the airports of Modlin or Lublin.
Every Wednesday, LOT conducts a 24-hour ticket sale for return flights from Warsaw to other Polish airports, as well as certain internal connections. The cheap flights provided are typically a few months out from the date of sale, and the quantity of tickets and available dates are limited, but if you are preparing ahead of time to visit Poland and/or other European countries, this offer may be appealing.
The national railway companies in Poland are PKP Intercity (Polskie Koleje Pastwowe) [web] and Przewozy Regionalne. There are just a few local carriers that are owned by municipalities or large cities.
Train tickets are reasonably priced, but travel circumstances reflect the fact that most of the infrastructure is very ancient.
However, on the new IC (InterCity) lines Warsaw-Katowice, Warsaw-Kraków, Warsaw-Pozna, and Pozna-Szczecin or RE, you can anticipate a quick, clean, and contemporary connection (RegioEkspress). Consider purchasing first class tickets, since the price difference between second and first class is not significant. The increase in comfort may be significant, but it is also typical to find trains with 2nd class cars that have just been refurbished and 1st class coaches that are ancient and of poor quality.
- EICP (Express Intercity Premium), EIC (ExpressInterCity) / EC (EuroCity) / Ex (Express) – Express trains connect large metropolitan regions as well as important tourist sites. Reservations are often needed. Laptop power outlets are occasionally provided next to the seat. PKP Intercity is the name of the company.
- TLK (Twoje Linie Kolejowe) – Discount trains are slower but less expensive than the preceding options. There aren’t many routes, but they’re a great option for budget tourists. Reservations are required for first class, however there are typically no reservations for second class. Use older carriages that aren’t always suitable for fast travel. PKP Intercity is the name of the company.
- RE (RegioEkspress) – cheaper than TLK and of better quality, although only three of these types are in operation: Lublin-Pozna, Warsaw-Szczecin, and Wrocaw-Dresden. Przewozy Regionalne is the name of the company.
- IR (InterRegio) – Although it is less expensive than TLK and RegioExpress, most routes are supported by low-quality trains. Przewozy Regionalne is the name of the company.
- REGIO / Osobowy – Ordinary passenger train; generally sluggish, with many stops. A weekend turystyczny ticket or a week-long pass are also available. If you’re not in a rush, they are ideal, but anticipate them to be extremely busy at times.
- Podmiejski – suburban commuting train Various levels of comfort and amenities. Tickets must be purchased at station ticket booths. Some companies enable you to purchase a ticket from the train management in the first cabin while on board. There will be a fee.
- Narrow gauge – Poland still has a few small narrow-gauge railroads. Some are geared toward tourists and run just during the summer or on weekends, while others serve as regular municipal rail.
Purchasing InterCity tickets online is definitely the most convenient option (see links below). You may also purchase Regio, RE, IR, and TLK tickets online.
Generally, tickets for any route may be bought at any station. A foreigner purchasing tickets may be a difficult process since only cashiers at international ticket offices (in large cities) can be expected to know several languages. To prevent communication problems and lengthy lines, it is suggested that you purchase your train tickets through a travel agency or online.
During busy seasons (e.g., the conclusion of the Christmas season, New Year’s, etc.), it may be simpler to purchase in advance for trains that need reserved seating.
Please keep in mind that tickets purchased for E-IC/EC/EXpress/etc. trains are not valid for local/regional trains operating on the same routes. If you want to change trains between InterCity and Regional, you must purchase a second ticket.
If you travel with the Regional in a group, you should get a 33 percent discount for the second, third, and fourth passenger (offer Ty I 1,2,3).
If you are planning a weekend trip, consider the weekend deals, which are available from Friday 19:00 to Monday 06:00.
Please keep in mind that if a weekend is prolonged due to a national holiday, the ticket will also be extended.
Travellers under the age of 26 who are studying in Poland are eligible to a 26% discount on Intercity’s TLK, EX, and IC-category trains, discounting the cost of seat reservation.
Early booking (7 days before travel) may result in extra savings.
You may ride on certain IC trains with the offer Bilet Rewelacyjny – you will get an automatic discount (about 20% ) on selected routes.
Poland has a well-developed network of private charter bus operators, which are often less expensive, quicker, and more pleasant than train travel. For journeys of less than 100 kilometers, charter buses are much more common than railroads. However, due of the language barrier, they are more difficult to utilize for foreigners.
There is a schedule accessible online. It is accessible in English and offers bus and rail alternatives for comparison: Online schedules are helpful for planning, although each bus station has several carriers, and departure times for large cities and popular locations are usually no more than thirty minutes apart.
Each city and municipality has a central bus terminal (previously known as PKS) where different bus routes pick up passengers; their timetables may be seen there. Vehicle routes may also be identified by signage on the front of the bus, which usually indicate the last stop. This is more convenient if you pick up a bus from a roadside stop rather than the central depot. Tickets are typically bought directly from the driver, although they may also be obtained at the station. If you want to buy from the driver, just get on the bus, tell him where you’re going, and he’ll tell you how much it’ll cost. Drivers seldom understand English, therefore he will often issue a receipt with the whole price. Buses are also an option for long-distance and international travel; however, long-distance timetables are often more restricted than those of trains.
In 2011, Polski Bus, a new bus operator in Poland, debuted with a more ‘western’ approach – tickets may only be purchased through the Internet, and prices fluctuate based on the amount of seats previously sold. They offer bus connections between Warsaw and the majority of the larger Polish cities (as well as few neighboring capitals).
While Poland’s road network continues to lag behind that of many Western European countries, particularly its western neighbor Germany, significant progress has been made in the 2010s, with the opening of many new motorway segments and the refurbishment of some long-neglected thoroughfares that were used far above capacity.
Traveling East-West is now usually considerably simpler, with the A2 (E30) connecting Berlin, Pozna, and Warsaw, and the A4 connecting the southern main metropoles of Lower Silesia, Silesia, Lesser Poland, and Podkarpackie (which continues as the E40 into Germany all the way to Cologne, and then further to Brussels and terminates in Calais in France).
Traveling from north to south throughout the nation is still inconvenient since the main roads are either under construction or receiving significant repairs and improvements as of 2014. Most big and medium-sized cities have ring roads that enable you to avoid them even on lower-level roads, as do smaller towns that are immediately connected to major highways. Having said that, there are still a number of roads that aren’t fit for the traffic they’re intended to handle and are in disrepair.
Speed limits and traffic code peculiarities
Speed restrictions in the city are 50 km/h (60 km/h 23:00-05:00), 90 km/h outside the city, 100 km/h if lanes are divided, 100 km/h on single carriageway vehicle-only roads (white car on blue sign), 120 km/h on dual carriageway car-only roads, and 140 km/h on motorways / freeways (autostrada).
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a severe crime. BAC limits are as follows: up to 0.02 percent – not prosecutable under the law, up to 0.05 percent – an offense, and beyond 0.05 percent – a criminal offense (up to 2 years in jail). Despite stringent regulations, drunken driving is a significant issue in Poland, not least because there is anecdotal evidence of police officials taking bribes instead of issuing traffic tickets. Be particularly cautious on tiny rural roads during (and after) national holidays and late at night on weekends, since drunken driving are frequent.
At a red signal, there is no right turn. Except when there is a green arrow light, you must come to a full stop and yield to pedestrians and cross traffic (although the stop rule is seldom respected by Polish drivers). All of the above does not apply if right-turning traffic has its own (red-yellow-green) light.
At a ‘T-junction’ or crossroads without traffic signs, traffic on the right has the right-of-way unless your road is a priority route, which is indicated by a road sign with a yellow diamond with a white outline or a yellow sign with a black outline of the crossing with the priority flow in bold. This may be extremely perplexing, so keep your eyes open since the structure of the crossing does not always make this obvious (i.e. the lower quality, narrower and slower road coming in from the left may have right of way.)
Driving with dipped headlights is required at all times.
A warning triangle is required as part of a car’s equipment and must be shown some distance away from any collision or while, for example, changing a tire. This does not imply that they are always utilized when they should be.
Roads labeled droga szybkiego ruchu (rapid transit road) are often not. The rule that highways should travel through cities rather than around them still applies, and speed restrictions vary quickly from the allowed 90 km/h to 70, down to 40, and back up to 70 within a few hundred yards. Speed cameras (often in dark gray or yellow pole-mounted units with appropriate signage) are widespread (and the income from those goes to the local council or government.) Radar-equipped traffic cops are also present, although it seems that this does nothing to discourage speeding vehicles. CB radio has seen a revival in popularity in recent years. It is used by drivers to alert one other of road dangers and speed traps.
Driving in cities
Poles work long hours, thus peak hours in large cities often extend beyond 20:00. Roadworks are widespread since numerous new road projects are in the works, and roadways need regular upkeep.
Parking on sidewalks is common in cities and towns, unless there is a no-parking notice. There is typically no parking available on the tar-sealed portion of the roadway, therefore do not leave your vehicle parked at the curb unless it is clearly marked as a parking space. Parking meters are commonly utilized in cities and even small villages.
Communicating with other drivers
Some motorists flash their headlights to alert people coming from the other way of a close police station (you are likely to encounter this custom in many other countries). It may also indicate that you need to switch on your lights since dipped headlights must be turned on at all times when driving. A “thank you” between drivers may be communicated by waving your hand or, if the distance is too large, by putting on blinkers or hazard lights – usually, a fast left-right-left sequence for the blinkers and one or two blinks for the hazard light.
Hazard lights may be used to signal problems, but they can also be used to signify that the vehicle is slowing down or has stopped in a traffic congestion on a highway.
Gas and service stations
Pb stands for unleaded gasoline (Pb is the periodic table symbol for plumbum, or lead) and ON stands for diesel fuel (olej napdowy in Polish). Petrol and diesel are approximately the same price and are in line with pricing across the European Union, with Poland being one of the cheapest EU nations in this respect. LPG is readily accessible, both at branded gas stations and via independent distributors, and costs about half the price of gasoline. CNG is not widely used, although CNG filling stations may be found in large cities and other areas where CNG-powered vehicles operate or natural gas is produced or stored. Ethanol-based fuel (E85 or E100), which is popular in Sweden, is nearly impossible to get.
Electric vehicle charging stations are few and far between, and are generally restricted to the largest cities, where they can be found in large shopping malls and other prominent locations where they serve mostly PR purposes, as there are no incentives to own or drive an electric car in Poland, and the electric car fleet is minuscule.
Orlen, Lotos (two Polish oil firms), Shell, Statoil, BP, and Lukoil are the biggest gas station chains in Poland. Some grocery companies, such as Tesco and Auchan, have a network of petrol stations located near their shops. Most gas stations take credit or debit cards, but you may encounter a non-branded local station that does not accept cards. The majority of drivers fill up their cars and assist themselves at petrol stations, but some do have employees. Shell is the only chain that regularly offers attendants at all stations; nevertheless, since many drivers do not want to use their services, you may have to signal that you would for them to assist you. You are expected to tip the gas station attendant with modest change, such as 2 or 5 z depending on the services provided.
It is usual for tiny merchants to put up booths along the highways with fruit or wild mushrooms in the autumn or spring. They don’t always remain in locations where vehicles can safely stop, so be wary of drivers who stop suddenly, and be cautious if you wish to stop yourself. If you know how to prepare them, wild mushrooms are a speciality. A word of caution: it’s possible that the individuals who selected the mushrooms aren’t very adept at distinguishing between the edible and the deadly, so consume at your own risk. Small children are especially susceptible to wild mushrooms, so never give them to them. If you believe your Polish friends to be sensible, you may rely on their judgment.
Only those connected with a “company” should be used (look for phone number and a logo on the side and on the top). In Poland, there are no minicabs in the manner of the United Kingdom. Unaffiliated drivers are more likely to deceive and overcharge you. Be particularly cautious of these cabs near international airports and railway stations, as you should be anywhere. They are known as the “taxi mafia.”
Taxis with false phone numbers may be spotted on the streets as a result of traveler advise like this (and word of mouth), but this has lately reduced – perhaps because the authorities have taken notice. Locals may readily identify fake phone numbers, which cater to the unwary tourist. The best suggestion is to ask your Polish friends or your hotel concierge for the phone number of the taxi company they use and contact them 10–15 minutes ahead of time (there is no extra charge). That is why, unless there is an emergency, residents will only hail cabs on the street.
Phone numbers for cabs in every city may also be found on the Internet, as well as municipal and newspaper websites. Some taxi firms, especially in bigger cities, allow you to book a cab online or by text message. There are also stands, which are often located at railway terminals, where you may call for their specific cab for free.
If you haggle the fare with the driver, you risk paying more than you should. Make certain that the driver activates the meter and sets it to the correct fare (taryfa):
- Taryfa 1: Daytime within city limits
- Taryfa 2: Nights, Sundays and holidays within city limits
- Taryfa 3: Daytime outside city limits
- Taryfa 4: Nights, Sundays and holidays outside city limits
Prices vary somewhat across taxi companies and between cities, and a modest set beginning charge is imposed on top of the distance cost.
When driving over city boundaries (for example, to an airport situated outside the city), the motorist should change the tariff at the city boundary.
When requested, every taxi driver is required to provide a receipt (at the end of the ride). Before getting inside the taxi, you may ask the driver for a receipt (rachunek or paragon) and quit if his response is suspect or he refuses.
Cycling is a great way to get a feel for the landscape in Poland. The roads may be in poor condition at times, and there is typically no hard shoulder or bicycle lane. Car drivers are reckless, but most do not wish to murder bicycles on sight, as seems to be the situation in some other nations.
Rainwater drainage on both city streets is often deplorable, and in the country, it is just non-existent. This implies that puddles are large and frequent, and potholes make them much more dangerous.
Bicycling is popular in the south, particularly along the rivers Dunajec (from Zakopane to Szczawnica), Poprad (from Krynica to Stary Scz), and Lower Silesia (Zotoryja – Swierzawa – Jawor). Specially planned bike routes are beginning to emerge, as are specialist guide books, so contact a cycling club for assistance and you should be OK. Away from main city and large town highways, you should be able to discover some excellent riding, and staying at agroturystyka (room and board at a farmer’s home, for example) may be a fantastic experience.
Bike sharing systems (system roweru miejskiego) are available in all major Polish cities, with a developing network of bicycle segregated cycling facilities (bike lanes and bike paths are the most common). It is a self-service system where you may hire a bike 24 hours a day, seven days a week from early spring to the end of fall, with rental rates based on local tariffs. The first 20 minutes of a rental are typically free. The charge for the following 40 minutes is 1-2 z, followed by 3-4 z per hour. Nextbike is Poland’s largest system operator. You must register online to get an account, make a pre-payment (typically 10 z), and then hire bikes in all locations where this system is available (including towns in Germany and other Central European countries).
Hitchhiking is (on average) safe in Poland. Yes, it is slower than its Western (Germany) and Eastern (Lithuania) neighbors, but your wait times will be tolerable! The major highways, mainly those linking Gdask, Warsaw, Pozna, and Kraków, are the ideal locations to be picked up.
Make a cardboard sign with the name of the chosen destination city written on it.
Do not attempt to catch a lift where it is prohibited to stop. Look for a dashed line, not a solid one, painted on the road’s edge.
As in any nation, you should use caution; there have been many instances of Polish hitchhiking excursions gone wrong, so take basic measures and you should be OK.