Poland is a country that is too frequently missed off a lot of backpacker’s agendas- including mine if Joe hadn’t pushed me on it. Poland was somewhere that I’d never looked into and never really liked the look of it (despite knowing nothing about it… I know how judgmental of me). You’re going to need to trust me on this one-Poland is AMAZING! The landscapes are absolutely stunning, the national parks are something from a fairy tale and the cities are incredibly rich in culture and history. I almost forgot the best part- Poland is so so so so CHEAP, one of the cheapest countries in the whole continent. If you want to find a way you can travel incredibly cheaply- Eastern Europe is the way to go, you’ll be able to experience a higher standard of living, better food and best of all stay for longer if you add countries like Poland to your trip.
So what now…
Places to See
- The Tatra Mountains & Morskie Oko
- Warsaw Old Town & Jewish Cemetery
- Auswitz & Schindler’s Factory
- Palace of Culture & Science
- Wielicza Salt Mines
Local Currency- Zloty
As I’ve previously mentioned- Poland is ridiculously cheap in all aspects; food, accommodation, attractions and transport. With prices that rival certain countries in South East Asia, Poland should definitely be on your go to list. If you’re visiting in peak times (the summer months) then, as per every country, the prices will inflate a little bit. That being said you can expect to pay around £3.50 a night for a decent dorm room in Krakow in the height of Summer.
Big Spender-£30 p/p a day. This would include staying in luxury hostels, eating in restaurants at least 2 meals day, visiting all top attractions and experiencing the nightlife.
Sensible Thinker-£15-£20 p/p a day. This would mean staying at good hostels, eating out for at least one meal a day, visiting some top attractions and sometimes experiencing the nightlife.
Shoestring-£10 p/p a day. This is more my style- I like to save as much money as humanly possible. I stayed in some OK hostels, as cheap as they were they were clean and comfortable which is good enough for me. I cooked in the hostel kitchen for 90% of my meals, only visited 1 or 2 attractions and didn’t have a mad night out whilst there.
How to get around
The best way to get around Poland is either by train or by bus. If you’re planning on interrailing (I did and couldn’t recommend it enough) then you’re in luck- the train links in Poland are great! The trains actually run on time, the carriages are comfortable and there is some great scenery to look at whilst travelling. Having said that; the trains don’t run everywhere and more often than not you’re hopping on a Polksi Bus. This is in no way a bad thing; tickets are extremely cheap, the buses are VERY luxurious- they even include free wifi, and they are very frequent too. Win Win.
- Make sure you do a walking tour– check with your hostel for information on walking tours- but only do the free ones. I found the free ones are the most informative, entertaining and engaging as they have to work harder to get a tip from you. We experienced walking tours in both Warsaw and Krakow and they were absolutely fantastic. In Krakow there are actually a number of free ones to choose from and they are available in multiple languages.
- Vodka! Can I say anymore? You’re in Poland, the home of Vodka you simply have to try some. You will find bars selling this spirit absolutely everywhere in Poland and you can’t really go wrong. Try finding Wodka Cafe Bar for flavoured shots and make sure you bring home some Zubrowka with you- it’s delicious!
- Make friends with the locals– Some Polish people, especially the older generations are known to be, well a little cold. But once you get chatting to them they are actually some of the friendliest, loving people you will come across. You’ve got to remember all they’ve been through, I’m sure we would be a little hard faced too!
Things to look out for
- If you are interrailing then make sure you check at local train stations if you need a seat reservation. Unfortunately you can no longer just hop on and off whatever trains you fancy- you need a reservation. Depending on your journey these usually will only set you back a few quid, but DON’T get caught without one or you’ll be charged a nasty fine.
- I know it’s easy to get the mind set ‘Poland’s cheap so let’s buy everything’- it’s extremely easy to do. Make sure you stick to your set budget, it can be quite overwhelming being in a country where you can afford things you wouldn’t usually be able to, but if you want to save as much money as possible you need to hold back. Of course enjoy yourself but keep an eye out, you don’t want to have to go home early because you’ve burnt all of your savings on Vodka (trust me, it’s very easily done).
- I found Poland to be a VERY safe country, and heard no tales of pickpockets or scam artists whilst I was there. But it obviously goes without saying to be cautious whenever you’re in a busy area- but I wouldn’t go as far as looking like an idiot wearing my backpack on my front.
Best Time to Visit
I have been to Poland on two separate occasions and two VERY different experiences. The first was in June-30+ degree heat whilst I was backpacking, the second was for a New Years celebration with friends in -20 degree icy weather. Both were absolutely fantastic so I leave the decision to you.
Poland is a very extreme country- it is very hot in the summer and very very cold in winter. In the Summer time there are plenty of festivals, beautiful parks to lounge in, outside bars and cafe’s to spend your days. In the Winter there is snow EVERYWHERE and believe me when I say it’s picture perfect. The country turns into a winter wonderland, and although extremely cold if you wrap up it’s extremely worth it.
Best Vegan eateries
- Vegab in Krakow have the nicest vegetarian kebabs I’ve ever tasted
- Vegan Pizza (aptly named) serves incredibly tasty pizzas in Warsaw. Note the menu isn’t- at least when I was there in English. However the waitresses are really helpful and will translate for you. Everything is good there so just point to anything and enjoy
- Nova Krova in Krakow serve THE NICEST burgers. Opt for a seitan patty and some root vegetable fries- they’re amazing.
|Good morning!||Dzień Dobry!|
|Good evening!||Dobry Wieczór!|
|Welcome! (to greet someone)||Witam!|
|How are you?||Jak się masz?|
|I’m fine, thanks!||W porządku, dziękuję!|
|And you?||A ty?|
|Good/ So-So.||Dobrze/ Tak sobie|
|Thank you (very much)!||Bardzo dziękuję!|
|You’re welcome! (for “thank you”)||Nie ma za co!|
|Hey! Friend!||Hej! kolego!|
|I missed you so much!||Bardzo za tobą tęskniłem/ tęskniłam!|
|What’s new?||Co nowego?|
|Nothing much||Nic nowego|
|See you later!||Do zobaczenia później!|
|Good bye!||Do widzenia!|
This country is unexpectedly beautiful, extremely cheap and remains to be one of my all time favourite countries I’ve been to.