The primary means of transport for budget travellers in Poland is by train, and the PKP railway system runs three main types. Express services (ekspresowy), particularly IC (intercity) or EC (eurocity), stop at major cities only, and seat reservations (miejscówka; 10–12.50zł) are compulsory. “Fast” trains (pospieszny) are less costly, but not necessarily slower. The cheapest services (osobowy) are less predictable – some are quick, while others stop at every haystack. Seats come in two classes, with first-class simply meaning a six-rather than eight-seat compartment; it’s rarely worth the extra cost. InterRail passes – including the “one-country” pass – are valid, though you’ll still have to pay for seat reservations. The main city stations are generally termed główny; departures (odjazdy) are printed on yellow posters; arrivals (przyjazdy) on white; peron means platform. You can check times and ticket prices on the PKP timetable online (w rozklad-pkp.pl).
Inter-city buses operated by PKS, the national bus company, are slow, and are not necessarily cheaper than trains; only in the southern mountain regions are they the fastest way to travel. With a predominantly flat landscape and accommodation never more than 50km away, Poland is a tempting place for cyclists. There are repair shops in many cities and you can transport bikes on most trains. Note, however, that due to poor roads and dangerous driving, Poland is one of Europe’s leading nations for traffic fatalities.
Everything you need to know before you set off.
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