The Republic of Poland is located in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine to the east and Russia and the Baltic Sea to the north.
The population of more than 38.5 million occupies an area of about 312,000 square kilometers.
Poland’s landscape is much diversified. The Carpathian and the Sudety Mountains stretch along its southern borders. Lowlands and undulating hills occupy the central part of the country. The northern regions of Poland, including the Pomeranian and Masurian lake lands, are gently undulating, relatively well forested and covered in hundreds of lakes and ending with the sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea coast.
Poland’s national emblem is a white eagle with a golden crown on a red background. The national flag is white and red.
The people of Poland use the Polish Language. Its capital and also its largest city is Warsaw which has a population in excess of 1,700,000 and stands on the longest Polish river, the Vistula.
The major Polish cities are Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Katowice, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin, and Wroclaw. Administratively, Poland is divided into provinces (Voivodships) of which there are sixteen (16) which are then further subdivided into counties and municipalities.
Canadian Entrance Requirements
- A current Canadian Passport, valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to Canada is required for entrance into Poland.
- Canadian Citizens do not require any additional Visa for entrance to Poland. If you hold a passport and nationality for any other country, you may require an additional entrance visa obtained prior to your trip.
- You can fly from the into a number of cities in Poland. As Poland is party to the Schengen Agreement on the abolition of border controls, there are no entry formalities for visitors arriving from other EU countries.
Travel by rail
- The railway network in Poland has been well developed hence most places can be reached by train. Intercity (express) trains run between the larger cities and commuters can reach the smaller destinations by regional or fast trains. Timetables and prices can be obtained at all railway stations and on the Internet.
Travel by coach
- Although a journey by coach usually takes longer than by train, thanks to Poland’s intricate network of coach services, operated by both national and regional carriers, commuters can ultimately reach any location in Poland by road.
- Poland has a moderate climate with both continental and maritime elements. This is due to humid Atlantic air which collides over its territory with dry air from the Eurasian interior.
- Poland has a moderate climate. The average temperature in July is 67°F (19°C). There are, of course, very hot days when temperatures exceed 86°F (30°C). The coldest winter months are January and February, when average temperatures drop to a few degrees below freezing. During exceptionally cold winters, temperatures as low as -22°F (-30°C) have been recorded. With huge snowfalls, the Polish mountains offer good conditions for winter sports enthusiasts.
- Poland is in the Central European Time Zone. Central European Standard Time (CET) is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1)
- The Polish “Zloty”, literally meaning “golden”, is today the currency of Poland. The “Zloty” is a traditional Polish currency unit dating back to the Middle Ages. In the early 1990′s, when the currency underwent re-denomination, the old “Zloty” (PLZ) became the new “Zloty” (PLN).
- Currency can be exchanged in any bank or at an exchange center called a “Kantor”.
- Upon entering the European Union, Poland pledged to adopt the Euro at the expense of her own currency, the Zloty, but the timetable for this change has not yet been set.
- All major foreign currencies may be exchanged for Polish money at a bank or exchange kiosk, (identified by the name Kantor). Over the counter exchange is available at larger hotels, at border crossings or in dedicated outlets across towns and cities. Banks in larger cities are usually open between 8am and 5pm on weekdays and until 1pm on Saturdays.
- Kantors are usually open between 9am and 7pm weekdays and until 2pm on Saturdays. A 24-hour service is usually available in larger major tourist centers such as train stations, border crossings and airports.
- Major traveler’s checks can be exchanged (with a commission) at most of the locations mentioned above, with the exception of Kantors. Eurocheques are accepted in accordance with standard international practice.
- If you want to find out about the current exchange rate of the Polish Zloty, you can use a money calculator.
Banks and ATM’s
- Visitors to Poland may be assured of easy access to banks and cash dispensers, particularly in larger towns. They offer currency exchange, collection of money transfers or cashing traveler’s checks. In Poland, ATM’s, which operate 24 hours a day, offer easy access to your money without the need of going to an exchange kiosks. They can normally be found near banks, rail stations, fuel stations, at airports, supermarkets, in town centers and other locations popular with visitors. Poland has an extensive network of ATM’s (called bankomat), which are connected to all international networks. There are almost ten thousand ATM’s in the whole of Poland, of which over a thousand are located in Warsaw alone. Please consult your bank or card issuer about the charges incurred while using your card abroad.
Paying by Card
- It is hard to get by these days without a piece of plastic in your wallet, particularly while travelling abroad, when it is neither necessary nor convenient to carry traveler’s checks or cash. In Poland, the use of credit cards is widely accepted, particularly in major cities and tourist attractions.
Where Can I Pay by Credit Card and What Are The Advantages of Doing So?
- Cards are accepted virtually everywhere. In supermarkets and most shops, credit cards are the standard form of payment. For foreign visitors they have the added bonus as they eliminate the need to exchange money before coming to Poland.
Which cards are most widely accepted in Poland?
- The most widely used cards are Europay International, MasterCard International, Visa International, and American Express, both embossed and electronic versions.
- Electronic cards (Maestro, Visa Electron) can be used only in cash dispensers and at points of sale equipped with electronic card readers. Embossed cards (Eurocard, MasterCard and VISA) are not subject to such restrictions.
- Please note that Poland is not a member of the Euro currency system and that Poland’s legal tender is only the Zloty.
- During the holiday season, tourist attractions, restaurants and bars are usually open until late. Shops, big and small, and shopping centers open for business very early and stay open until late.
- When visiting museums, galleries or other attractions, you should be prepared that each one of them may have different opening times. In the popular tourist locations, such as Krakow, Warsaw or Gdansk, most attractions are open between 10am and 6pm. In smaller towns, local attractions may be open for a shorter time, maybe only till 4pm or 5pm. For tourist attractions, the opening times very much dependent on the season which means that they normally stay open much longer in summer and during the holiday period.
- Some museums close for one day every week. This is usually the Monday, but you are advised to check all opening times in advance.
Shops and Shopping Centres
- In Poland, you can do your shopping at any time of the day. Food shops and boutiques in the cities are open between 9am and 10am and 6pm and 8pm. Food and alcoholic beverages are also sold in a network of small shops open “24/7″.
- In a number of the larger shopping centres scattered throughout Poland you can buy virtually anything, from food and drinks to electronic equipment, clothes and books. These are normally open between 9am and 10pm.
- You will be glad to know that a holiday in Poland offers excellent value for money. The country welcomes not only those who want to enjoy a reasonably priced holiday but also those who want to be spoiled.
Shops and Markets
- Food prices are relatively low in Poland, especially for locally produced goods. It is even cheaper to do your shopping at farmers’ markets. You will not only buy directly from the producer but also you will be able to negotiate price, which is an accepted thing to do.
- Here everything depends on how you want to spend your time and money. Most bars and cafés playing live music and disco bars sell a variety of drinks and appetizers, thus catering for a wide variety of tastes and wallets. A half-liter glass of excellent Polish beer, depending on the type of establishment, will cost between PLN (Zloty) 5 and 12 (£1.5 and £3.00). Cocktails are usually priced at PLN (Zloty) 10 – 15 (£2.50 and £3.50). Cinemas, theaters, aqua-parks and game arcades are also relatively inexpensive.
- The cost of using public transport in Poland is generally low. Within cities, it is best to travel by bus. While buses in large cities offer quick and easy travel, during rush hours they may be crowded and slow, thus planning ahead is advised. Tickets for adults cost between PLN (Zloty) 2 and 3 (£0.45 and £0.70).
- If you do not know your surroundings too well you may prefer to travel by taxi. Compared with other European countries, Polish taxis are relatively inexpensive. Fares can range between PLN (Zloty) 1.20 and 2 (£0.25 and £0.5) per kilometre. For longer taxi journeys it is advisable to negotiate the fare in advance.
- If you plan to travel by train, make sure to calculate the cost of your journey in advance. Fares depend on the type of train (regular, fast or express) and class. The comfort of first-class travel is not very different from second-class, while ticket prices may vary significantly. Some trains require booking a specific seat (reservations can be made at all main train stations in Poland).
- The number of internet users in Poland keeps growing in leaps and bounds. It is now easy to find a place to log onto a blog or email account while on holiday.
- In cities, apart from inside hotels, internet access is available in many places, the most popular being internet cafes. Some of them are even open 24-hours a day. In smaller towns and cities there are considerably fewer internet cafes but there generally should not be a problem with finding at least one place to log on. Prices vary, so an hour on-line may cost anywhere between PLN 2 (Zloty) and PLN 7 (Zloty). It is also possible to pay for shorter time slots.
- For those who take their computers with them wherever they go, there are hundreds of “hotspots” in big cities that offer free wireless access as well as those found in larger hotels. It is important to note, however, that internet access in some hotels is not included in the cost of the room.
- Poland’s telephone network is well developed and offers all the usual facilities. As the mobile technology is now superseding the traditional copper wire communication, you will find that many people give up home numbers in favor of a cheaper mobile service.
- The mobile network coverage in Poland is on a par with other countries. Regardless of which service provider you are with, you will be able to make and receive calls almost everywhere in Poland. Please contact your network provider to find out about international roaming charges.
- To make mobile calls within Poland, it is often more convenient and cheaper to purchase a prepaid SIM card from one of Poland’s several service providers. They offer the usual services including GPRS and MMS on the pay-as-you-go basis.