Getting around Poland is easy, thanks to well-served airports in a number of cities, plus systems of trains, buses, and ferries. You’ll have no problem reaching the major cities, and once there, transportation in Poland is relatively inexpensive.
Most first-time visitors want to see Warsaw and Krakow, and connections between those two cities are frequent, whether you want to hop a train or a plane. Within cities, public transportation will get you where you need to go, on buses, trams, and even bike systems in Warsaw, Wroclaw, and Krakow.
If you want to head out to the countryside or explore nature, renting a car could be a good choice. From there, your options might include paddling a canoe, climbing on a horse, or hitting the hiking trails.
Flying to and Around Poland
Dozens of airlines serve Warsaw’s Chopin Airport, directly connecting it with numerous cities around the world. If you’re headed to Poland from North America, you can fly nonstop from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto on LOT Polish Airlines. Numerous other carriers offer connecting flights, including British Airways, Scandinavian (SAS), Singapore Airlines, Air France, and Lufthansa. If you’re flying from elsewhere in Europe, be sure to check out budget airlines like Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz Air.
Airports in Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Katowice, Szczecin, Poznan, Bydgoszcz, Lodz, and Wroclaw all have international and domestic connections. Note that Warsaw has two airports, Chopin and Modlin. Budget airlines tend to use Modlin, so if you’re connecting or flying out of Warsaw, be sure to pay close attention to which airport the airline is using.
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Poland by Train
Poland’s rail service is operated by Polskie Koleje Panstwowe (PKP). Speedy InterCity, Eurocity, and Express InterCity trains run between the largest cities, while slower regional or local trains serve smaller towns.
All trains, aside from local ones, offer first- and second-class cars. Fast trains usually come equipped with a dining car, and long-distance trains often have sleeping cars.
Your most likely train trip inside of Poland will be between Warsaw and Krakow, which takes less than three hours on the Intercity train. Be sure to check the duration of any train trip before you book, though, because slower trains can take twice the time to cover the same distance as the faster trains.
You can also travel between Poland and other countries. Poland is part of the Eurail network, and you can include it on a Eurail Pass.
You can purchase individual tickets online, at train stations, and at travel agencies in Poland.
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Poland by Bus
You can connect to and from Poland by bus via numerous European countries and, within Poland, buses serve virtually every town. Bus stations are usually conveniently located in city centers, and fares are generally comparable to train fares.
Buy your ticket at the bus station (rather than from a driver) to better ensure that you’ll have a seat. Most coach companies sell numbered tickets, although some smaller companies will load buses with standing passengers. Micro-buses serve very small villages or isolated areas, and are also found around bus stations. On these vehicles you should purchase your ticket from the driver.
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Poland by Ferry
Poland’s major ports are Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin, and Swinoujscie, with Gdansk being the country’s main port. The most popular ferry routes are from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Crossings last one to two days, depending on the ship and the distance.
Renting a Car in Poland
If you’re sticking to major cities during your trip, there’s no need to rent a car. You’re much better off traveling by train, bus, or plane. But if you want independence to roam the countryside, renting a car will give you the freedom you need. All of the major U.S. and European rental agencies serve Poland.
Polish road conditions vary, ranging from “good” to “look out for that pothole!” There are few motorways, and they all require paying a toll. At some toll points, there is viaTOLL, an electronic toll collection system. When you rent your car, ask if you’ll need to also rent a viaTOLL box, depending on which roads you’ll be traveling.
Here are some things to remember when renting:
– You’ll get the best deal by reserving your car before you arrive in Poland.
– To rent a car in Poland you must be at least 21 years old (or older, for some agencies) and have held your license for one year. If you’re under age 25, you may have to pay a young driver surcharge.
– An International Driving Permit (available through AAA in the United States) is required for non-citizens.
– Most rental companies will allow you to drive a Polish rental car into other European countries — but always inquire first to be sure.
– The majority of cars in Poland are manual transmission; be prepared to pay more for an automatic.
– If you’re going to be leaving luggage in the car while visiting sights, make sure your vehicle has a large enough trunk to conceal your belongings.
– Insurance coverage and collision damage waivers very widely among rental agencies. If you’re planning to insure your rental through your credit card, call your bank before you leave to verify coverage.
– All vehicles are required to use headlights at all times, both day and night.
– Seatbelts are mandatory.
– There’s no right turn on red, unless there’s a separate right-turn arrow and it’s green.
– If you’re off the main routes, don’t let your gas tank get too low. Small-town gas stations generally close at 6 p.m. and may not be open on Sundays.
Ridesharing in Poland
Ridesharing can be an interesting and economical way to travel between cities. Websites such as those below help riders and drivers connect. Check out a driver’s reviews, including the type of car, before signing up for a road trip.
Poland Ridesharing Resources:
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–written by Gayle Keck
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.