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Poland Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Poland in 2022

Welcome to Poland

Poland rarely tops the list of must-see destinations for most people when planning a vacation. However, we recommend visiting this European Union country, as it offers so much, from natural beauty and historical sites to vibrant nightlife and great value for money.

Find out why you should travel to Poland at least once in your lifetime, the best time to go, visa requirements, and more in this ultimate Poland travel guide.

COVID restrictions in Poland

Document checklist for Poland

  • Visa (if applicable)

  • Valid passport (valid for at least six months beyond the length of stay)

  • Passenger locator form

  • Sufficient funds

  • Return airline ticket

Essential Poland travel information

  • Currency - The Polish currency is the Zloty (zł). $1 is equivalent to approx. zł4.8.

  • Daily budget for 1 person - Allow a daily budget of zł210 ($43).

  • Languages - The country's official language is Polish. English is widely spoken, especially in bigger cities.

  • Socket type - Types C and E, 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

  • Time zones - Central European Time (CET): ET +6.

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdańsk.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Old Town Warsaw, and Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Visa information for Poland

Most foreign nationals are allowed to visit Poland for up to 90 days without a visa, for tourist or business purposes, within a 180-day period. Visas are not required for entry and travel within the 26 Schengen countries for foreigners from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, and some others. Use our convenient visa checker to find out more about visa requirements for your nationality.

Citizens of the U.S. are included in the visa-free countries able to travel to Poland currently. However, from May 2023, it will be mandatory for visa-exempt nationalities to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver to visit Poland.

Most other visitors must apply for a Schengen visa to enter the Schengen zone, including Poland, for tourism or business travel.

ETIAS explained

ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is a visa waiver part of the new EU travel agreement. Its purpose is to improve EU security by helping Polish authorities monitor travel within the Schengen area. During the validity of your ETIAS, you are allowed to travel freely between all 26 Schengen countries.

All nationalities that are currently able to travel visa-free to the Schengen area must apply for the Poland ETIAS as of May 2023.

Schengen Visa explained

A Poland Schengen Visa may be necessary if you are not eligible for an ETIAS and cannot enter the Schengen zone visa-free.

Typical costs and budget for Poland

A basic guide to what you'll spend on a daily basis traveling through Poland on an average budget.

  • Daily spending - Around zł210 ($43)/per person/per day on a budget vacation. This includes:

  • Meals - zł52 ($11)

  • Transport - zł19 per day for public transportation ($3.90)

  • Hotel - zł238 ($48), for two people.

A trip for two for one week will cost an average of zł2944 ($605).

Transport and best ways to travel around Poland

Transport in Poland is generally convenient and efficient thanks to a wide network of trains and buses. Here are some tips on staying safe and how to get around.

Train travel in Poland

Take the train whenever possible: it's cheap, convenient, and usually on time. Three types of trains are available: InterCity, Twoje Linie Kolejowe (TLK), and POLREGIO. InterCity trains are recommended for travel between major cities such as Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan, and others. The service is reliable, and assistance is available in English.

Tickets can be purchased online or at stations. It is also possible to buy an Interrail or Eurail ticket to travel by train between major tourist destinations in the European Union.

Bus travel in Poland

Buses are also available for travel around Poland but are less comfortable than trains. In addition, buses are more convenient for trips to the mountains, the Lake District, or local connections to small villages. There are also long-distance buses to other European cities for an affordable price.

Local public transport in cities

Poland's larger cities have a well-developed public transportation system. Getting around a city is easy with buses, trams, or metro lines (Warsaw only). It is common for small towns to have local and regional bus services.

Car rental in Poland

Car travel can be a great way to see Poland, especially if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience. However, the risk of accidents is high due to road quality and dangerous driving practices, so keep that in mind. Also, make sure to get an international driving permit.

Safety in Poland

Poland is overall a safe country for tourists to visit compared to many other countries. While violent crime against foreigners is rare, some racially motivated crimes occur. Always keep valuables out of sight, especially in tourist areas and busy spots such as train and bus stations. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, is a concern wherever you go.

Unregulated taxi companies sometimes operate in airports and train stations and often overcharge. Only use official taxis. Check for the taxi company logo and telephone numbers of operators on car doors and top. Likewise, always check your receipt at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, as tourists may be overcharged on their debit or credit cards.

Safety at Poland - Ukraine land border regions

There is an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Several Russian military strikes took place near the Polish border in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. Do not attempt to enter Ukraine from Poland due to safety concerns.

Weather in Poland

Despite Poland's fascinating history and breathtaking nature, it's not a tropical destination.

Poland has four distinct seasons: Cold, gray winters and hot, rainy summers. Spring and fall offer the best times to visit Poland as the temperatures are moderate and there are fewer crowds.

From October until March, winter is the best time to ski in Zakopane, though, and December offers some of the most atmospheric Christmas markets and festivities.

Popular cities and towns in Poland

Here is some of our expert travel advice on which places to visit in Poland. The 10 best places to visit in Poland range from the colorful city of Warsaw to the fairy-tale-like medieval town of Kraków.

  • Kraków - The gorgeous Old Town of Kraków is mesmerizing, with charming churches and old buildings lining picturesque squares. There's a reason it's called the historical capital of Poland. Many tourists visit Kraków to take a trip to Auschwitz, a deeply moving experience.

  • Warsaw - Where the Second World War almost destroyed the entire city, Warsaw's old town has been meticulously restored. The city's history also makes it an urban mix of architecture and sites, full of art and a plethora of restaurants and bars.

  • Gdańsk - The city's turbulent history contributed to its unique identity. Several beer gardens offer a relaxing atmosphere, and boats depart from the port for tours along the canals. The Baltic coast is easily accessible from here.

  • Wrocław - The fourth-largest city in Poland has a vibrant arts and culture scene, with many festivals and events taking place here throughout the year. As a city with a large student population and bustling nightlife scene, Wrocław has everything you could ask for.

  • Poznan - This fun city buzzes with energy. The old town has lots of interesting historical sites to visit and some excellent museums.

  • Zakopane - This picturesque mountain resort is located on the slopes of the famous Polish Tatras mountains. It's perfect for outdoor lovers and skiers. However, it gets busy in summer and winter, when tourists flock to the town, so stick to the shoulder seasons.

Must do and see in Poland

Here are some of the best things to see and do in Poland:

  1. Browse around the market square in the old town of Kraków, the largest in medieval Europe.

  2. Learn about WWII at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial And Museum.

  3. Relax at the Vistula River Beach in Warsaw.

  4. Visit the UNESCO-listed Białowieża Forest, one of the oldest forests in Europe.

  5. Travel to the center of the earth at the Wieliczka Salt Mine, dating back to the Middle Ages.

Typical Polish food to try

  • Pierogi - These Polish dumplings are made of thin dough filled with meat, sauerkraut, mushrooms, fruit, cottage cheese, or potatoes with fried onions. Christmas isn't Christmas without pierogi, as it's a traditional Polish dish.

  • Bigos - This is a traditional Polish stew that consists of shredded sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, sausages, dried mushrooms, spices, prunes, and onions.

  • Gołąbki - Gołąbki is boiled cabbage rolls wrapped around seasoned meat and rice and then baked with a light tomato sauce. Mushrooms and other types of stuffing are also included in many recipes.

  • Nalesniki - These are the Polish version of crêpes. They're often eaten for breakfast or snacks; you can fill them with whatever you like. The most popular sweet fillings are twaróg (sweet, slightly sour curd cheese), jams, fruit, honey, Nutella, and cottage cheese.

  • *Zapiekanki - This thin piece of bread with mushrooms and other ingredients is a favorite snack among Polish. It's ideal for festivals or quick lunches on the go.

Vaccine information for Poland

While being up-to-date with routine vaccinations is always advisable, it is not mandatory. Only Hepatitis B vaccination is highly recommended for high-risk individuals. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are not required for travel to Poland. For the most up-to-date info about which vaccines to get before you visit Poland, please read more on the website of the CDC for additional information.

Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland

The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, also known as Auschwitz, is the largest of the camps from WWII. Over 2 million people visit the museum each year, located in southern Poland near Kraków. It is a somber but meaningful experience and should not be missed on a trip to Poland.

You have a number of options for getting to and touring Auschwitz-Birkenau. Taking the bus is the cheapest method of transportation, but it is also the longest. There is also a train. However, you may need to walk from the train station or factor in extra transportation and a guide (highly recommended). Make sure to buy your tickets in advance, as only some people are allowed entry daily.

It is the most convenient and expensive to join a tour from Kraków. The cost of transportation and a guided visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau is included in a tour. Joining a tour guarantees you a ticket to Auschwitz if you plan your trip at the last minute.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is free to enter, but guided tours with an educator cost zł75 in Polish or zł85 in other languages. The memorial site and museum are open every day from 8 am to 7 pm June, July, and August, and reduced hours during the rest of the year. The museum can close during official holidays or state visits.

Fun facts about Poland

Poland is home to the biggest castle in the world, called the Castle of the Teutonic Order, in Malbork.

Poland has one of the most diverse environments in Europe, including forests, mountains, lakes, deserts, coastlines, and wetlands.

Wrocław in Poland is home to “Piwnica Świdnicka," the oldest restaurant in Europe. In Poland, everyone has a special holiday for their name, and they celebrate these days as birthdays, often receiving gifts.

Marie Curie Sklodowska, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, was from Poland.

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