How Much Time Does it Take to Travel Across Poland?

By Plane

Poland’s national carrier, LOT, provides regular flights between major cities like Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdansk. You can reach them at 801/703-703 or visit their website at www.lot.com.

By Car

If you prefer flexibility, driving is an option, but be aware that it can be a slow and frustrating experience in Poland. Most of the highways, even those connecting major cities, are narrow and two-lane, often congested with trucks, buses, tractors, and occasionally horse-drawn carts. Plan for at least 2 hours of driving time per 100km (62 miles). It’s also essential to drive defensively since Polish drivers have a poor track record in terms of accidents and fatalities.

In Poland, the normal continental rules of the road apply, such as giving priority to cars on roundabouts and vehicles coming from the right at unmarked intersections. Remember to keep your headlights on at all times. The speed limit on the rare four-lane freeways is 130kmph (81 mph), while it drops to 90kmph (56 mph) on two-lane highways outside urban areas and 50kmph (31 mph) or slower in built-up areas. Speed checks and random sobriety checks are common, so stay cautious. The blood/alcohol limit is 0.02% (approximately one beer).

Here are some sample driving times between major cities, but note that these are approximate and subject to change based on weather and traffic conditions. It’s best to travel during off-peak hours:

  • Prague to Wrocaw: 3 to 4 hours
  • Prague to Kraków: 7 to 8 hours
  • Kraków to Wrocaw: 3 to 4 hours
  • Kraków to Warsaw: 3 to 4 hours
  • Kraków to Zakopane: 2 hours
  • Łódź to Warsaw: 3 hours
  • Warsaw to Gdansk: 5 to 6 hours
  • Poznań to Warsaw: 3 hours
  • Lublin to Warsaw: 3 hours

By Train

The Polish state railroad, PKP, has improved its service in recent years, making train travel the fastest and most convenient method for moving between major cities or covering long distances. If you’re looking to travel by train, PKP maintains a useful online timetable at www.rozklad-pkp.pl (remember to use Polish spellings for city names).

The intercity (IC) trains, marked in red on the timetables, are the best option for reaching major cities in the country. They are slightly more expensive than regular trains and require a mandatory seat reservation. Express trains (Ex), which also require a reservation, are the next best choice. For longer distances, it’s advisable to avoid other types of trains.

Tickets can be purchased at stations or directly from the conductor on the train. However, buying on the train incurs an 8 zloty surcharge. The fares are relatively economical compared to Western standards. For example, a second-class ticket from Kraków to Warsaw costs about 90 zloty. If you’re planning an overnight trip, booking a couchette in a six-bunk car or a sleeper in a three-bunk car is usually possible. Sleeper tickets cost around 120 zloty, so make sure to book in advance.

By Bus

Poland has numerous public and private bus companies that offer extensive coverage, from major cities to the smallest towns. Bus prices and journey times are often comparable to those of trains, making them a useful alternative when train connections are not convenient. In fact, buses are often better than trains for reaching outlying cities and towns within specific regions. The local tourist information office can assist in determining the most suitable mode of transportation or whether the train or bus is a quicker or cheaper option.

In most cities, with a few exceptions like Lublin and Katowice, the main bus station is usually located near the train station. Tickets can be purchased in advance from ticket windows at the stations or directly from the bus driver. It’s advisable to have exact change ready, as drivers may not have enough cash for large bills. Arriving early at the station is recommended to secure the best seats, as lines at bus platforms tend to form early.

By Public Transportation

Most Polish cities boast excellent public transportation systems, including buses, trams, trolley buses, and in Warsaw, a small metro. Each city’s system has slight differences, but the general concept is the same. Single-ride tickets can be purchased from tobacconists and news agents for approximately 2.50 zloty per ride. Remember to validate the ticket in the machines upon entering the tram or bus and keep it until you reach your destination. Public transportation is usually so efficient in Poland that there’s rarely a need to take a taxi.

On Foot

Expect to do a fair amount of walking during your visit to Poland. Cars and taxis are often restricted from the centers of major cities, and public transportation may only get you so close to your destination. Walking is often the most convenient alternative. It’s advisable to buy comfortable shoes and break them in before your trip because you will be doing plenty of walking.

By Bike

Poland’s generally flat terrain makes it feasible to cycle around the entire country if you have enough time and are in good shape. There are numerous cycling trails that crisscross the country, offering scenic routes for exploration. For rules of the road and ideas on good routes, check out the organization “Bicycles for Poland” at www.rowery.org.pl. However, cycling in cities is not recommended. While some cities, like Kraków, have marked bike lanes, traffic can be heavy, and the lanes are not always well-maintained.

Note: The information provided was accurate at the time of publishing but is subject to change without notice. It is advisable to confirm all rates and details directly with the relevant companies before making your travel plans.