When preparing for holidays, numerous issues and questions arise. When is the best time to visit Poland? Will I need visa? What to bring with me…? This section is designed to answer to your pressing queries and help you get ready for your perfect worry-free vacation. The following travel tips provide essential information about travelling to Poland. They include advice on safety, weather, money, public holidays, passport and visa requirements and many other practical issues. Read “Poland travel tips”, pack, come and enjoy the best travel experience!
PUBLIC HOLIDAYSList of all national and public holidays in Poland in 2014.OPENING HOURSCommercial opening hours: shopping centers, restaurants & bars.TIPSGratuities and tipping practises. How much do you tip in Poland?
ENG. LANGUAGEPoles speaking English. Will you be able to communicate in English?WHAT TO BRINGThings to bring on a trip to Poland – travel packing list.FOOD TO TASTETraditional food and Polish cuisine. Tastes that you should absolutely try.
SAVOIR VIVREPolish etiquette. What to do and not to do in Poland.ELECTRICITYWhat you need to know about Polish electricity; plugs and adapters.PUBLIC TOILETSHow to find your toilet? Restroom signs in Poland.
WHEN TO COME
Poland is a country that can be visited all year round. There are six seasons of the year in Poland – in addition to the four typical such as spring, summer, autumn/fall and winter, there are also two seasons described as early spring and early winter. The best time to come is late spring, summer and early fall as the weather is nicest then. The tourist season falls on that period too – normally it starts in May and ends in October. The summer months of June, July and August are the warmest ones. Winter time (December to February) is usually cold and days are short, however it may be really delightful with snow all around.
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Since May 1, 2004, Poland is part of European Union and since December 21, 2007, is part of the Schengen Area – a zone without passport controls on internal borders. It allows for free travel between the 28 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican.
Two members of the EU are not members of the Schengen Agreement: Great Britain and Ireland.
Third-country nationals may enter Poland if they are in possession of a valid travel document and a visa (if required).
Your passport should be valid for at least three months (90 days) beyond the period of stay.
Citizens of the following countries are not required to be in possession of a visa when entering Poland for less than 90 days:
|Albania, Andorra, Antigua Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria|
|Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria|
|Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic|
|El Salvador, Estonia|
|Germany, Greece, Guatemala|
|Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary|
|Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy|
|Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg|
|Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moncao, Montenegro|
|Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway|
|Panama, Paraguay, Portugal|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland|
|United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay|
For further information on visas and entry requirements to Poland please visit:
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Poland is as safe as any other European country. It is not dangerous for tourists. Economic situation is stable and the country is not a target for worldwide terrorism. In general, people are friendly and welcoming. The really basic rule to be applied when travelling is to obey general regulations and use a certain amount of common sense. Special care should be taken of your belongings in crowded places as pick-pocketing occurs in popular tourist destinations, train stations, buses, museums, etc. Don’t leave your belongings unattended while travelling by bus, train or tram.
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Our currency is Polish zloty (zl, PLN). In most places it is impossible to pay with euro or US dollars. Only some hotels and few shopping malls would accept euro. There are numerous ATMs in larger towns so you won’t have any problem with finding one and drawing Polish money. The other option is to use exchange offices. Majority of shops and restaurants accept credit cards. The most popular are VISA, MasterCard and Maestro. American Express and Diners may not be accepted. Do not bring traveller’s cheques as they are not accepted.
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Poland is a relatively inexpensive country, especially for tourists coming from the West. Cities are certainly more expensive than rural areas, with Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Wroclaw being the most expensive ones.
Sample prices of selected goods and services in Poland:
|Goods and services||PLN|
|Petrol (95), 1 litre||5,70|
|Double room in a ***hotel||350|
|Taxi, 1 km||2,20|
|Bus ticket, single fare||4|
|Lunch in a popular restaurant||25|
|Three-dish dinner in a popular restaurant||50-70|
|Pizza in a popular fast food restaurant||25|
|Coffee in a bar||5-10|
|Beer in a pub, 0,5 litre||10|
|National museum ticket||20|
|Train ticket Warszawa – Krakow, Intercity 1st class||135|
|Mineral water, 1,5 litre||2,5|
|Milk, 1 litre||2,5-3|
There are shopping malls, supermarkets and local stores in all big cities and smaller towns. Numerous souvenir shops are located in the streets of the historic old towns.
Among typical Polish products the ones worth recommending are:
– amber jewellery (made of amber from the Baltic Sea)
– articles of folk handicraft such as needlework or pottery (e.g. Boleslawiec pottery)
– Christmas and Easter ornaments (Christmas tree balls, Easter eggs, etc.)
– gingerbread cookies
– Polish chocolate (we recommend the Wedel brand)
– liquors: the most famous brands being Zubrowka (bison vodka) or different kinds of mead
These, of course, don’t close the list…
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|January 1st||New Year’s Day|
|April 21nd||Easter Sunday|
|April 22nd||Easter Monday / “Smigus Dyngus” – on this day young people throw water at each other and have water fights.|
|May 1st||Labour Day|
|May 3rd||Constitution Day|
|June 19th||Corpus Christi|
|August 15th||Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary & Polish Armed Forces Day (celebrating the battle of Warsaw in 1920)|
|November 1st||All Saints’ Day|
|November 11th||Independence Day|
|December 25th||Christmas Day|
|December 26th||St. Stephen’s Day|
Other holidays and special days:
|January 21st||Grandmother’s Day|
|January 22nd||Grandfather’s Day|
|February 14th||Saint Valentine’s Day – on this day lovers express their love by sending Valentine’s cards, presenting flowers or small gifts to each other.|
|February 27||Fat Thursday – a day dedicated to eating sweets and cakes, especially “pączki” – donuts filled with rose marmalade, and “faworki” – crisp pastry fingers sprinkled with powdered sugar|
|March 4th||Shrovetide / “Ostatki” – end of the carnival when big parties are thrown|
|March 5||Ash Wednesday – beginning of Lent; on this day people go to churches and during a special holy mass have their heads sprinkled with ash as a symbol of penance|
|March 8th||Women’s Day|
|March 21st||Truant’s Day – first day of spring; many students illegally leave lessons and have fun|
|April 1st||April Fools’ Day / Prima Aprilis – on this day people play jokes and hoaxes on each other|
|May 2nd||Flag Day|
|May 26th||Mother’s Day|
|June 23rd||Father’s Day|
|June 23rd/24th||St. John’s Night / “Noc Swietojanska” – beginning of summer; celebration relates to summer solstice when nights are the shortest; there are open-air parties, concerts, barbecues; girls let wreaths with lit candles float on water|
|June 1st||Children’s Day|
|October 14th||Day of National Education / Teacher’s Day|
|November 30th||St. Andrew’s Day / “Andrzejki” – on this day people are making prophecy by pouring candle wax by key hole to water and guessing what the wax shape means and what the nearest future will bring|
|December 6th||St. Nicholas Day / “Mikolajki” – on this day Santa Claus is giving small gifts to children|
|December 24th||Christmas Eve|
|December 31st||New Year’s Eve / “Sylwester” – on the last night of the year we celebrate the coming of a new year|
The opening hours of offices and shops are not formally set and may vary. Shopping centers are open Monday – Sunday, usually from 10 am to 9 pm. Local shops open early in the morning (7-8 am) and close at around 6-7 pm. Restaurants tend to open between around 11 am to 11 pm. Bars stay open until late at night, especially on weekends.
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Tips are not mandatory in Poland but they are quite common and always appreciated. You should only give tips if you are satisfied with the service received. In restaurants standard tip is 10% of the bill and it usually means rounding the figure of the bill. In some restaurants a service fee is automatically added to the bill.
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English language has been commonly taught in Polish schools for many years and majority of people, especially in tourist sites, speak English better or worse. You should have no problems with communicating in English, especially with young people. Our guides speak fluent English and drivers have at least basic knowledge of the language.
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WHAT TO BRING
You should be aware that most of our tours involve quite a lot of walking so bringing a pair of comfortable shoes will be strongly recommended. The type of clothes to take depends on the time of your travel. Anyway, the weather in Poland can be a bit fitful so you should also bring some warmer clothes as well as a rain coat.
You do not need to take too much cash with you; there are numerous bank machines (ATMs) easily accessible and handy.
If you take any medicines, you should consider taking them with you.
Don’t forget to take your travel documents and travel insurance. It is always a good idea to make a copy of your passport and pack it separately or keep a scan in your email box. A plug adapter may be useful if your plug has a different shape. Electricity in Poland is 230 Volts, 50 Hertz. If your device doesn’t accept these parameters, you will need a voltage converter. Outlets in Poland only accept plugs with two round pins. And most important – bring a good mood!
Here’s a helpful list of items that you’ll find useful and necessary on your tour: Packing checklist
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FOOD TO TASTE
Polish cuisine is varied and rich in flavors. Surely, during your holidays you will have many opportunities to taste traditional Polish food and local delicacies. Make sure you don’t leave Poland without trying at least some of the following:
– kielbasa – Polish sausage as well as cold meats are very popular and one of Polish favorites.
– ogorki kiszone – Polish-style pickled cucumbers are commonly used as appetizers. The best ones are of course the home-made.
– oscypek – smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk is a regional product. It is produced by shepherds in Polish mountains and is a must taste when you visit Tatra mountains.
– zurek [‘ʒurɛk] – Polish sour rye soup served with sausage and boiled egg, sometimes served in a bowl made of bread.
– barszcz czerwony [barʃʧ̑ ʧ̑ɛr’vɔ̃nɨ] – beetroot soup served with “uszka” – little dumplings stuffed with meat or mushrooms.
– flaki [‘flaki] – spicy Polish beef tripe soup is traditional and tasty, although its name meaning “guts” in Polish may be quite off-putting.
– pierogi [‘pʲjɛrɔɟi] – dumplings stuffed with various fillings: cheese & potatoes, meat, mushroom & cabbage, sweet curd cheese, fruit, etc. It is definitely one of the best recognizable Polish food.
– gołąbki [ɡɔ’wɔmpki] – cabbage rolls stuffed with meat, served in tomato sauce. Other ingredients include groats or rice, onion and spices.
– bigos [‘bʲiɡɔs] – Polish hunter’s stew made from cabbage, diced sausage, dried mushrooms, onion and spices. Very traditional.
– kotlet schabowy [‘kɔtlɛt sxa’bɔvɨ] – Polish pork schnitzel is one of the most popular and usual dinner dishes in Poland. It is a pork cutlet in a coating, served with potatoes and vegetables.
– placki ziemniaczane – potato pancakes is a simple dish made from grated potatoes fried in fat. Usually, they are served with sugar or jam. A bigger version served with meat, beef sauce and vegetables is called “placek po zbójnicku” (brigand’s pancake).
Desserts and sweets:
– pączki [‘pɔ̃n͇ʧ̑ki] – Polish donuts are one of the most typical pastries and most favorite. They are round deep-fried pieces of dough filled with jam, pudding or other sweet filling, served covered with powdered sugar, icing or bits of dried orange peel. A singular form of “pączki” is “pączek” [‘pɔ̃n͇ʧ̑ɛk].
– sernik [‘sɛrʲɲik] – cheesecake with dried fruit, raisins and/or crumble topping can be made in different ways; baked in the oven or prepared without baking. It is made of sweet curd cheese; served hot or cold.
– piernik [‘pʲjɛrʲɲik] – gingerbread is a dark hard aromatic cake. It comes in a form of a big piece of cake or small tasty cookies.
– sekacz [‘sɛ̃kaʧ̑] – tree cake is a regional delicacy from Podlasie region. It owes its name to its characteristic appearance and light and dark layers resembling growth rings of a tree trunk (“sęk” means “knot” in Polish).
– kompot [kɔ̃m’pɔt] – compote is a drink made in summer from fresh fruit and sugar. It is served cold and is a common drink during dinner in Polish homes.
– wodka [‘vutka] – vodka is known as Polish national alcohol. Although its consumption has been decreasing, it is still quite popular and comes in many varieties.
– piwo [pʲivɔ] – beer is the most popular and favorite alcoholic drink in Poland. Brewing traditions here date back to medieval times. Nowadays, numerous local micro-breweries produce multitude of different types of beer.
– nalewki [na’lɛfki] – liqueurs made of fruit, spices or herbs are the stronger drinks. They have distinctive taste and are perfect aid to digestion.
– miod pitny [mʲjut pʲitɲi] – mead is traditional Polish alcohol produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It may be flavored with spices and herbs.
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The rules of Polish etiquette are not especially exotic or extraordinary. However, always some differences can be found in customs and conventional behavior between people of different cultures and it is useful to know some of them. Below you will find a piece of advice:
-When greeting someone, you can just say “Good morning” or “Hello”. People also shake there hands or kiss each other on the cheeks – one or three times.
-Kissing a woman on the hand is considered an old-fashioned custom and is more common among older generation.
-When visiting someone at home, guests usually bring small gifts for a hostess such as flowers, chocolates or a bottle of wine.
-When buying flowers, remember to buy an odd number, because an even number is bought for funerals.
-When entering someone’s house, guests usually take their shoes off. Guest slippers can be offered to wear instead.
-Men do not wear hats or caps indoors.
-A meal does not start without a host.
-It is the host who offers the first toast. The most common one is “Na zdrowie” which means “To your health”.
-Elderly people are treated with respect.
-Younger passengers should give up their seat to elderly passengers or a pregnant woman on public transportation.
-When greeting you should wait for the older person to extend their hand first. When addressing an older person, use titles or surnames and wait to be invited before moving to first names.
-Gentlemen give way at the door and open it for women and let them walk first.
-Asking some personal questions is considered impolite. Do not ask questions such as ‘How much money do you earn?’, ‘How much do you weigh?’ or ‘Why aren’t you married?’
-When yawning or coughing, always cover your mouth with your hand.
The rules may seem numerous, however remember that Polish people are rather tolerant and friendly so they will rather laugh at your faux pas than hold a grudge.
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Electricity in Poland is 230 Volts, 50 Hertz. If your device doesn’t accept these parameters, you will need a voltage converter. Outlets in Poland only accept plugs with two round pins. A plug adapter must be used if a plug has a different shape.
Public toilets in Poland are marked different ways. Sometimes, the signs on doors can come as a surprise for foreigners and leave them puzzled. To prevent a dilemma which door to use, remember that the women’s bathrooms are labeled with a circle and the men’s with a triangle.
Not all bathrooms in Poland still use those symbols. Many switched to universally recognized pictograms of a woman and a man.
Usually, when using a public toilet there is a small fee (around 2 PLN). Often, the charge is to be paid before using the facilities. Free toilets are to be found in most gas stations and in shopping malls.