Poland //

Travel essentials

Costs

Daily budget Basic €25/occasional treat €35. Drink Vodka (50ml shot) €1. Food Żurek soup €2–3. Hostel/budget hotel €10/€30. Travel Train: Warsaw–Kraków €13; bus: €10.

Crime and personal safety

Poland is a very safe country to travel in, though inevitably thefts from dorms and pickpocketing do occur. Safely store your valuables whenever possible and, on night trains, lock your compartment when you sleep. Polish police (policja) are courteous but unlikely to speak English. Your best protection against crime is to take out travel insurance before you go. If you do have anything stolen, report the loss to the police as soon as possible, and be patient – the Polish police rarely speak English, and filling out a report can take ages. The chances of getting your gear back are virtually zero.

Poles are obliged to carry some form of ID with them at all times. You should always keep your passport with you, even though you’re unlikely to get stopped unless you’re in a car; Western numberplates provide the excuse for occasional unprovoked spot checks. It’s also a good idea to make a photocopy of the final, information-bearing page of your passport. This will help your consulate to issue a replacement document if you’re unlucky enough to have it stolen.

Emergencies

Police 997 (112 from mobile phones); fire service 998; ambulance 999

Health

Medical care can be basic and most foreigners rely on the expensive private medical centres run by Medicover (500 900 500, http://www.medicover.pl). For non-prescription medication, local pharmacists are helpful and often speak English. Citizens of the EU are entitled to free emergency healthcare in Poland providing they have an EHIC card, obtainable in the UK from most post offices or online at wwww.ehic.org; and in Ireland at local health offices or online at wwww.ehic.ie. Lengthy courses of treatment (as well as any prescribed drugs) must be paid for, however, so it’s sensible to take out adequate health insurance. North Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders must arrange full insurance before leaving home.

Inoculations are not required for a trip to Poland. Drinking tap water is perfectly safe.

Information

Most cities have a tourist office (informacja turystyczna, or IT), usually run by the local municipality, though some are merely private agencies selling tours.

Phones

Travellers with GSM mobile phones will find that almost all of Poland enjoys coverage – apart from the odd remote mountain valley. Public payphones are operated by a card (karta telefoniczna), bought at post offices and Ruch kiosks, the latter usually marginally more expensive. To make a collect call, go to a post office, write down the number you want and “Rozmówa R” and show it to the clerk. Remember, too, that calls from hotels are usually far more expensive than calls from a payphone.

Internet

Internet cafés are fairly ubiquitous in Poland, and are listed in the Guide where relevant. Usage rarely costs more than 4zł/hr.
http://www.poland.travel/en The official tourist website with general details on Poland’s major sights and visa information.
http://www.thenews.pl Polish radio’s English-language service, focusing on national news and current events.
http://www.culture.pl News and essays on Polish cultural events and history.

Money and Banks

Currency is the złoty (zł/PLN), divided into 100 groszy. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 groszy, and 1, 2 and 5 złoty denominations; notes as 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 złoty.  Major credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are common in cities. Euros are not widely accepted, even in Warsaw.

Opening hours and holidays

Most shops open on weekdays from 10am to 6pm, and all but the largest close on Saturday at 2 or 3pm and all day Sunday. RUCH kiosks, selling public transport tickets (bilety), open at 6 or 7am. Most museums and historic monuments are closed once a week. Entrance tends to be inexpensive, and is often free one day of the week. Public holidays are: January 1, Easter Monday, May 1, May 3, Corpus Christi (May/June), August 15, November 1, November 11, December 25 and 26.