and other regional often called osobowy - ordinary passenger train; usually slow, stops everywhere, the cheapest tickets. Great if you are not in rush, but expect these to be very crowded at times. Run by Przewozy Regionalne, or other local carriers like Koleje Mazowieckie, Koleje Wielkopolskie, Arriva RP, Koleje Dolnośląskie, etc.. This depends on the voivodeship.
Cycling is a good method to get a good impression of the scenery in Poland. The roads can sometimes be in quite a bad condition and there is usually no bicycle lane. Car drivers are sometimes careless but the situation is gradually improving as cycling becomes more popular and drivers become more aware. However, it is recommendable to avoid roads leading to/from big cities in the rush hours 7-8am and 3-6pm.
Especially in the south you can find some nice places for bicycling; eg: along the rivers Dunajec from Zakopane to Szczawnica or Poprad Krynica to Stary Sacz or Lower Silesia Zlotoryja - Swierzawa - Jawor.Specially mapped bike routes are starting to appear and there are specialised guide books available so ask a bicycle club for help and you should be just fine. Away from roads which join major cities and large towns you should be able to find some great riding and staying at agroturystyka room with board at a farmer's house, for example can be a great experience.
Don't be surprised when using the Euro Velo routes, which in Poland often exist only on paper and can lead you into difficult terrain long stretches of sand and dirt. It is usually much better to take a road map and plan the route yourself. Fortunately Poland, as most European countries, has plenty of minor roads which are perfect for cycling.
In Poland, the national railway carriers are PKP InterCity (http://www.intercity.pl/en/) and national regional line Przewozy Regionalne (http://przewozyregionalne.pl/). There are several provincial-level carriers that are run by the voivodeships, as well as several Fast Urban Rail systems. The schedule of every train can be found in this official route planner (http://rozklad-pkp.pl/bin...)?.
Train tickets are quite cheap, but travel conditions especially on most cheaper long-distance trains reflect the fact that much of the infrastructure is rather old.
However, you can expect a fast, clean and modern connection on the new PKP IC's routes, such as Warsaw - Katowice, Warsaw - Kraków, Warsaw - Poznań, Warsaw - Szczecin and Wrocław - Kraków. Price difference between the second and first class is not so big, same as the quality difference.
There are no universal train tickets in Poland and combining trains of different companies means that you have to buy separate tickets which usually cost much more than keeping to a single carrier on a long trip. In general the long-distance trains EIP, EIC, IC, TLK are run by PKP Intercity and regional ones are usually owned by different companies. It is sometimes possible to make a long trip across the country by only REGIO trains which belong to Przewozy Regionalne company, and that usually is the cheapest option of all.
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 on-line 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 the trains of one company can not be used on the train of another one. There is one exception in Warsaw, where the ticket of Warsaw Transport Authority can be used on Masovian Railways trains, but only in the area of Warsaw. If you are not sure you can travel with WTA's ticket on Masovian Railways, board through the first doors, find the conductor, and ask him. If your ticket is not valid, he will sell you one.
Timetable search (http://rozklad-pkp.pl/en) in English, but station names of course in Polish, information: +48 22 9436, international information +48 22 5116003.
PKP Intercity (http://intercity.pl/en) serves express connections tickets can be bought on-line and you can show it to the conductor on your smartphone, laptop or similar devices
Przewozy Regionalne tickets for Regio and IR - (https://www.biletyregiona...); the ticket can also be shown to the train staff on mobile devices.
Traffic info about all moving trains (http://infopasazer.interc...) - check, if the train has a delay.
If you travel in a group with the Przewozy Regionalne, you should get a 33% discount for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th person offer Ty i 1,2,3.
If you are a weekend traveller think about the weekend offers, which are valid from Friday 18:00 regional or 19:00 Intercity until Monday 06:00:
for all PKP Intercity trains EIP, EIC, IC, TLK Bilet Weekendowy from 154 PLN, not available on-line - please remember to get your free seat reservation at the ticket office.
for TLK Bilet Podróżnika 74 PLN - please remember to get your free seat reservation at the ticket office.
Bilet Turystyczny*- mini - 39 PLN if travelling only on REGIO; regular version extended by other regional operators - 45 PLN. When travelling also on InterRegio, price increases to PLN79.
-Please note that, if a weekend is extended for some national holiday, the ticket will also extend.
An early booking of the Intercity trains 7/15 days before departure will be rewarded with additional discount 20/30%.There is also a limited amount of reduced tickets in the EIP/EIC trains - see superpromo offer (http://intercity.pl/en/si...).
For some TLK/IC trains you can travel with the offer Bilet Relacyjny - you will get an automatic discount on chosen routes (http://intercity.pl/pl/do...).
Hitchhiking in Poland is on average OK. Yes, it's slower than its Western Germany and Eastern Lithuania neighbors, but your waiting times will be quite acceptable! The best places to be picked up at are the main roads, mostly routes between Gdansk - Warsaw - Poznan and Krakow.
Use a cardboard sign and write the desired destination city name on it.
Do not try to catch a lift where it is forbidden to stop. Look on the verge of the road and there should be a dashed line painted there, not a solid one.
As in any country, you should be careful, there are several reports of Polish hitchhiking trips gone awry, so take basic precautions and you should be as right as rain.
Use only those that are associated in a "corporation" look for phone number and a logo on the side and on the top. There are no British style minicabs in Poland. Unaffiliated drivers are likely to cheat and charge you much more. Like everywhere, be especially wary of these taxis near international airports and train stations. They are called the "taxi mafia".
Because of travellers advice like this and word of mouth, taxis with fake phone numbers can be seen on the streets, although recently this seems to have decreased - possibly the police have taken notice. Fake phone numbers are easily detected by locals and cater for the unsuspecting traveller. The best advice is to ask your Polish friends or your hotel concierge for the number of the taxi company they use and call them 10-15 minutes in advance there's no additional cost. That's why locals will only hail taxis on the street in an emergency.
You can also find phone numbers for taxis in any city on the Internet, on municipal and newspaper websites. Some taxi companies, particularly in larger towns provide for a cab to be ordered online or with a text message. There are also stands, where you can call for their particular taxi for free, often found at train stations.
If you negotiate the fare with the driver you risk ending up paying more than you should. Better make sure that the driver turns the meter on and sets it to the appropriate 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
The prices would vary slightly between the taxi companies and between different cities, and there is a small fixed starting fee added on top of the mileage fare.
When crossing city limits for example, when travelling to an airport located outside the city, the driver should change the tariff at the city limit.
Every taxi driver is obliged to issue a receipt when asked at the end of the ride. You can inquire driver about a receipt rachunek before you get into cab, and resign if his reaction seems suspicious or if he refuses.
In the past, driving in Poland was often described as stressful, frustrating and often time-consuming, due to the poor quality of roads, a lack of motorway-level routes, and the aggressive driving style of the locals. Thankfully, much has changed since the early 2000s, and today, a majority of all the republic's major cities are connected by motorways and expressways thanks to a construction boom fueled by Poland's strong economy and generous EU development funds. As of 2014, there are nearly 3,000 km of completed motorways and expressways throughout the country. However, much still needs to be done, as will be evidenced by construction detours or finding yourself traveling on roads far below capacity for the volume of traffic they are carrying for.
Roads in Poland can be divided into several categories. Red-backgrounded and white-numbered roads are known as national roads droga krajowa, which handle the bulk of the republic's traffic. A subcategory of national roads are motorway-class A roads, which are signed with an A followed by a number. The speed limit on the roads is typically 140 km/h. A second high speed subcategory are expressway-class S roads, whose speed limits range from 100 km/h to 120 km/h. Confusingly, many S-class roads often look and feel like motorways, although there are several S-class roads that are limited to one lane in each direction. Finally there are the standard national roads without an A or S, and are often limited to two lanes between 90 to 100 km/h. A separate category of roads are the voivodeship roads droga wojewódzka, which are roads maintained by the provinces. They are typically lower in importance than national roads, and will be signed on a yellow background with black letters, involving three digits. Voivodeship roads are often smaller than their national road counterparts.
As a rule of thumb, assume 2 hr for each 100 km of travel allowing for unexpected delays. If you're driving through large cities, you can safely double that. When travelling between smaller cities or towns you will routinely encounter slow moving vehicles, such as farm vehicles and tractors, and sometimes bicycles. Drunks, on foot or on bicycles, are a common sight. This includes having them weave through fast moving traffic at night, although this activity is considered highly illegal.
Polish road death statistics are high for European standards and driver behaviour is sometimes very poor in terms of impatience, rudeness and absence of ordinary common sense or foresight. "Dynamic driving style" is potentially expected in certain areas. In practice this means that Poles often drive aggressively and recklessly, push in, "meander" through surrounding cars, routinely disrespect speed limits frequently by a large margin and overtake at less-than-safe distances. Overtaking is a critical and potentially dangerous manoeuvre that is commonly done in a hazardous way in Poland. In heavier traffic it's common to overtake "on 3rd" meaning that at some point during the manoeuvre there will be three cars the overtaken, the overtaking, and the vehicle approaching from the opposite direction next to each other side to side or close to that. An unwritten code is followed to make this possible and "safe". The driver that is driving behind a slower vehicle and preparing to overtake expects that the slower vehicle will move to the right as far as feels comfortable also using the half-lane if it is separated with a dashed line and completely sure to be free of bicycles or pedestrians. The vehicle approaching from the opposite direction is advised or sometimes forced to also slightly move to the side. Such style of overtaking is illegal and unsafe. The above information is intended to explain the reality on the ground and help understand the traffic. Don't do it. If you hit someone or something on the shoulder, you get penalised and the driver who caused you to do it has long since driven off. Particularly reckless drivers will attempt to overtake "on four", when overtaking in both directions is taking place in roughly the same space, but this is rare.
Tailgating can rarely happen. Aggressive driving up behind you and flashing of headlights means "get out of my way". If you're driving on a two-lane road, which will be most of the time, and you are under slight obligation to do so, the law states you should keep to the right most lane whenever possible. Rather don't expect that the driver may throw something out of his window or suddenly step on his brakes once he has passed you, but better let drive faster people, who know aera better than you.
If you leave a safety gap in front of your car, it will be filled by another driver as he is trying to push through the traffic.
Poles work long, so peak time in major cities frequently last till 8pm. Roadworks are common as many new road developments are under way and roads require frequent maintenance due to damage inflicted by winter conditions and as the roads are often built to subpar quality to start with.
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.
Some peculiarities of driving in Poland include:
Speed limits are: 50km/h in city 60 km/h 23:00-05:00, 90 km/h outside city, 100 km/h if lanes are separated, 100 km/h on single carriage way car-only roads white car on the blue sign, 120 km/h on dual carriageway car-only roads, and 140 km/h on motorways / freeways autostrada.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence. BAC limits are: up to 0.02% - not prosecuted by law, up to 0.05% - an offence, above 0.05% - criminal offence up to 2 years in jail. Despite the strict laws, DUI's are a serious problem in Poland, not least as there is ample anecdotal evidence of police officers accepting bribes instead of handing out traffic offence notices. Be especially careful during and after national holidays and late night on weekends on the small roads in the countryside as drivers commonly take to the road inebriated.
There is no right turn at a red light. Exception is when there is green arrow signal in which case you still have to come to a complete stop and yield to pedestrians and cross traffic although the stop rule is seldom respected by Polish drivers. All above does not apply if right turning traffic has separate red-yellow-green signals.
At a 'T-crossing' or crossroads without traffic signs traffic at the right has right-of-way unless your road is a priority route, shown by a road sign displaying 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 can be very confusing so keep your eyes open as this isn't always clear from the structure of the crossing ie. the lower quality, narrower and slower road coming in from the left may have right of way.
Driving with dipped lights on is obligatory at all times.
A warning triangle is a mandatory part of a car's equipment and needs to be displayed some distance back from any accident or when, eg. changing a tire. This does not mean that they are necessarily used every time they should be.
Roads marked droga szybkiego ruchu rapid transit road are frequently anything but that. The rule of roads going through towns and not around them still applies and speed limits change rapidly from the allowable 90 kmh to 70, down to 40 and then up again to 70 within only a few hundreds of metres. Speed cameras in unmarked dark grey pole-mounted boxes are common and the income from those goes to the local council. Radar-equipped traffic police are also frequent but that apparently does little to deter the speeding drivers. In recent years there has been a resurgence in CB radio popularity. The drivers use it to warn each other about the traffic police.
Some drivers flash their headlights to warn those approaching from the opposite direction of a police control nearby you are likely to encounter this custom in many other countries. It may also mean that you need to turn your lights on since dipped headlights need to be on at all times while driving. A "thank you" between drivers can be expressed by waving your hand or, when the distance is too great, by turning on blinkers or hazard lights for one or two blinks.
Hazard lights can be used to indicate failures but also as a way of showing that the vehicle is rapidly slowing down, or already stopped in a traffic jam on a highway.
A recent plague of flashing LED advertising hoardings has been spreading along Polish roads. As well as adding to the already high level of visual pollution these have a more immediate effect of distracting drivers during the day and blinding them at night, as advertisers leave output levels set at "high". Poland has no legislation to prevent this from happening, and the hoardings are placed at or only slightly above the line of sight. This, added to the condition of the roads and the behaviour of the locals, makes driving on rainy nights additionally difficult.
At the gas stations PB means unleaded gasoline and ON means diesel. Petrol and diesel are roughly the same price. LPG is widely available, both at 'branded' gas stations and independent distributors and is about half the price of petrol. Credit cards or debit cards can be used to pay almost at all stations so at independent distributors.
In Autumn or in Spring it is common for small traders to set up their stands with fruit or wild mushrooms along the roads. They don't always stay in places where it's safe for cars to stop and you should be careful of drivers stopping abruptly and be watchful if you want to stop yourself. Wild mushrooms are a speciality if you know how to cook them. A cautionary note: There is a slight possibility that the people who picked the mushrooms are not very good at telling the good ones from the poisonous, so eat at your own responsibility. Never feed wild mushrooms to small children as they are particularly vulnerable. Rely on the judgement of your Polish friends if you consider them reasonable people.
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 100 km, charter buses are far more popular than trains. However, they are more difficult to use for foreigners, because of language barriers.
There is an on-line timetable available. Available in English, it includes bus and train options, so you can compare: (http://en.e-podroznik.pl/) On-line timetables are useful for planning, however, there are multiple carriers at each bus station, and departure times for major cities and popular destinations are typically no longer then thirty minutes in-between.
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. Bus routes can also be recognized by signs on the front of the bus that typically state the terminating stop. This is easier if picking up a bus from a roadside stop, rather than the central depot. Tickets are usually purchased directly from the driver, but sometimes it's also possible to buy them at the station. If purchasing from the driver, simply board the bus, tell the driver your destination and he will inform you of the price. Drivers rarely speak English, so often he will print a receipt showing the amount.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.
In 2011 a new bus company called Polski Bus (http://polskibus.com/en) appeared in Poland with more 'western' approach - you can only buy tickets through the internet and the prices vary depending on the number of seats already sold. They have bus links between Warsaw and most of bigger Polish cities as well as few neighboring capitals.