Things to do in Poland
In Poland, the national railway carrier is PKP (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe) .
Train tickets are quite economical, but travel conditions reflect the fact that much of the infrastructure is rather old.
However, you can expect a fast, clean and modern connection on the new IC (InterCity) routes, such as Warszawa - Katowice , Warszawa - Krakow , Warszawa - Poznan and Poznan - Szczecin . Consider first class tickets, because the price difference between the second and first class is not so big, but the jump in comfort is substantial.
- Ex (Express) / IC (InterCity) / EC (EuroCity) - express trains between metro areas, as well as major tourist destinations. Reservation usually required. Power points for laptops are sometimes available next to the seat.
- TLK (Tanie Linie Kolejowe) - discount trains, slower but cheaper than the above. Not many routes, but very good alternative for budget travellers. Reservation usually required. Use older carriages which are not always suited to high speed travel.
- Pospieszny - meaning "high speed" but actually far from it; long distance, priority trains, stop only in cities and large towns. You can also buy a weekend Bilet Podroznika
- Osobowy - ordinary passenger train; usually slow, stops everywhere. You can also buy a weekend turystyczny ticket, or a week-long pass. Great if you are not in a hurry, but expect these to be very crowded at times.
- Podmiejski - suburban commuter train. Varying degrees of comfort and facilities. Tickets need to be bought at station ticket counters. Some companies allow you to buy a ticket on board from the train manager, in the very first compartment. A surcharge will apply.
- Narrow gauge - Poland still retains a number of local narrow-gauged railways. Some of them are oriented towards tourism and operate only in summer or on weekends, while others remain active as everyday municipal rail.
It's probably easiest to buy InterCity / Express tickets online (see links below).
Tickets for any route can generally be purchased at any station. For a foreigner buying tickets, this can prove to be a frustrating experience, since only cashiers at international ticket offices (in major cities) can be expected to speak multiple languages. It is recommended that you buy your train tickets at a travel agency or online to avoid communication difficulties and long queues.
It may be easier to buy in advance during peak seasons (eg. end of holiday period, New Year, etc.) for trains that require reserved seating.
Please note, that tickets bought for IC/EC/express/etc. trains are not valid for local/regional trains on the same routes. If you change trains between InterCity and Regional you have to buy a second ticket.
- PKP timetable search ( in English, but station names of course in Polish )
- PKP information: +48 22 9436, international information +48 22 5116003
- PKP Intercity serves express connections ( tickets can be bought online but you'd need to carry the ticket printout with you on the train)
- Polrail Service offers a guide to rail travel in Poland and online purchase of tickets and rail passes for Polish and international trains to neighboring countries.
Travellers under 26 years of age are entitled to 26% discount on travel fare on Intercity's TLK, EX and IC-category trains, excluding the price of seat reservation.
In some Ex and IC trains (but not on main routes to Warsaw) you can buy cheap "Last Minute" ticket (30 min. before departure time). Prices from 13 PLN.
Poland has a very well developed network of private charter bus companies, which tend to be cheaper, faster, and more comfortable than travel by rail. For trips under 100km, charter buses are far more popular than trains. However, they are more difficult to use for foreigners, because they are definitely oriented towards locals.
Each city and town has a central bus station (formerly known as PKS ), where the various bus routes pick up passengers; you can find their schedules there. Tickets are usually purchased directly from the driver, but sometimes it's also possible to buy them at the station.
Buses are also a viable choice for long-distance and international travel; however, be aware that long-distance schedules are usually more limited than for trains.
Polish road network contains fewer highways and more ordinary two-lane roads than is common in western countries. A lot of these roads are far below capacity for the volume of travel they are carrying and the average quality of the road surface is poor.
As long as you keep by the main roads you should get to where you are going fairly easily. As a rule of thumb, assume 2h for each 100km of travel (allowing for unexpected delays). When traveling between smaller cities or towns you will also routinely encounter slow moving vehicles, such as farm vehicles and tractors, and sometimes bicycles.
Poles drive assertively, claim their right of way, routinely disrespect speed limits (frequently by a large margin), and overtake at less-than-safe distances. If you drive below speed limit, you may get tailgated - faster drivers will drive up close behind and flash their lights, asking you to get over to a slower right lane.
Driving in cities can be difficult; city streets are crowded, often narrow, and you need to watch out for trams. When estimating driving time, if you are not familiar with local conditions, it is safe to double your best guess, especially at peaks times. Poles work long hours so peak time in major cities frequently last till after 8pm.
Parking in cities and towns is often allowed on sidewalks, unless of course there is a no parking sign. There is usually no provision for parking on the tar-sealed part of the street so do not leave your car parked at the curb, unless it is clearly a parking bay. Parking meters in cities and even smaller towns are widely used.