Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Poland? Here you will find information on working in Poland, entry visas, Poland hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Poland
- Entry Visa Requirements for Poland
- Foreigner Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Poland
- Poland Hostels
Facts About Poland
Poland is situated right in the centre of Europe, it represents in many ways a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe and this is reflected culturally in its charming mix of modern city skylines and traditional village-based culture. Despite the fact that large areas of Poland were destroyed during World War II, the country has been rebuilt and restored into the strong and rapidly westernising country we see today. You will find Poland a nation very much in touch with its culture – from its traditional art and literature to its classical music.
- Currency: Zloty (Zl) = 100 grozy
- Time Zone: GMT + 1
- Language: Polish
- Telephone Services: Country code +48, International Access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 997 Police, 998 Fire, 999 Ambulance
Climate in Poland
Poland has quite a variable climate. The weather can change rapidly from one extreme to another. In general, the summers are pleasant but there can be heavy rains in some areas; the winters are cold and the higher lying areas are normally covered with a blanket of snow.
Things to see and do in Poland
Like much of Poland, Warsaw, the capital, sustained heavy damage during World War Two. The old town has been thoroughly restored to resemble Warsaw during the 17th and 18th centuries. The centre point of the city is the town square (an excellent example of restoration work), along with the Historical Museum of Warsaw which chronicles the reconstruction of the city. The rest of the city is quite modern in appearance although there are some concrete-block style buildings around.
When the king of Poland travelled from Warsaw to Gdańsk, he would take a specific route which is now known as the Royal Way. There are many beautiful sites along the Royal Way including churches, palaces and the acclaimed National Museum. While in Warsaw you can also find the ZAMEK KRÓLEWSKI W WARSAWIE, which is the Warsaw Royal Castle. This impressive structure dates back from the 14th century and was restored after suffering extensive damage during the war.
Everybody will no doubt be familiar with the infamous and terrible name Auschwitz. This former Nazi concentration camp is situated near Krakow and is now the site of a museum detailing the atrocities committed at Auschwitz. The camp was liberated by the Soviets in 1945, and the main entrance, railway, and gas chambers all remain in the same condition as the Russians found them in. There are several museums located on the site today and despite being a harrowing experience, Auschwitz is an essential stop on many visitors trips to Poland.
Krakow was formerly the royal capital of Poland and it is one of the few cities to survive the last war relatively unscathed. The old town, bordered by picturesque parkland, is full of historic architecture. The main market square dates from the mid-1200s and still hosts a market in the lower part of the impressive cloth hall. The oldest building in the square is also Krakow’s first church, and its copper dome clearly distinguishes it from surrounding buildings. Krakow’s old town is also home to the Czartoryski Museum which has impressive exhibits of European and Asian art.
Located near Krakow, the salt mine at Wieliczka is a World Heritage Site that is very popular with tourists. The mine, made of Miocene salt, has been dug by miners since Medieval times into beautiful detailed rooms and statues. The most extravagant being the great cathedral carved deep in the salt.
Tours and activities in Poland
A good way to get an idea of what to do is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major attractions in Krakow and Warsaw so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
Small group adventure travel
Though part of the fun of backpacking is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Poland are their 14-day Best of Eastern Europe tour and their 15-day Rome to Berlin on a Shoestring tour.
Travel to Poland
If you’re flying to Poland or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights with them compared to the other websites out there. Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Liechtenstein to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates. Another flight search site that can be hit or miss but still worth checking out is Opodo. For our past few trips, it was on their site that we found the flight that we ended up booking.
Travel within Poland
Train vs. Bus
Train and long-distance bus are the standard modes of transport for getting around the country. Buses are the more economical option, nevertheless, they are well-equipped with the usual modern conveniences that expect when travelling in Europe. Train travel, on the other hand, is the fastest way between two cities and the train stations are conveniently located right in the center of town.
It depends on your preference, and certain routes are better suited to one mode of transport than the other. To compare your options for journeys from A to B, you can try Omio. They compare trains, buses (and even flights) so you can decide for yourself the tradeoff between cost and travel time.
Train travel in Poland
Trains are probably the best option for travelling within Poland; Polish State Railways operates the Intercity train network. The network is radial from Warsaw and connects to all the major cities. The country is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. Eurail offers both multi-country passes and One Country Passes. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.
Bus travel in Poland
There are also many bus routes available, most are run by local private companies. The advantage of this is that companies are fiercely competitive over price so you will find bus travel quite cheap, if a little slow.
Renting a car in Poland
If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
Health issues in Poland
There are no particular health risks when travelling to Poland, those who are likely to spend significant amounts of time in heavily forested areas should consult their GP’s about tick-borne encephalitis inoculations. The standard of healthcare is reasonable in Poland, although you will need comprehensive travel insurance if you want to avoid having to pay for medical care. The water is considered safe to drink and normal precautions should be taken when purchasing food.
Entry visa requirements for Poland
A valid passport is required for all, a visa is not required for EU or USA Nationals who are staying for less than 90 days. If you are staying for longer than this period, or if you will be working in Poland you should contact your local Polish Embassy or Consulate for more information.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Poland
EU nationals need only a passport to enter and stay in Poland for up to 90 days. If you intend to work you will need to contact the Polish Embassy before leaving the UK to obtain a work visa. You will need proof of employment in Poland and will be issued a residence visa, which along with the work visa can get you a proper work permit once in Poland.
Teaching English in Poland
Poland is popular for those wanting to teach English as a foreign language. Jobs in major cities, as with other countries, may be particularly competitive and training for a TEFL qualification beforehand can gain you a lot of credit, and usually a greater chance of success.
English teachers are needed all over the country, not only in the major cities. Most work can be found in schools so it is worth asking around and checking local newspapers for vacancies. Alternatively, try organisations such as Berlitz who have language centres around the world and employ English instructors in various countries, including Poland. The Espero Language Centre in Poland offers placements to volunteers wanting to teach English in their centres. No money is given to workers, but accommodation and food are provided: volunteers live with a host family.
Agricultural work in Poland
The Young Farmers’ Clubs International Experience Programme recruits workers who have at least two years’ experience in the industry. Projects run all over the world, including in Poland. Workers must pay for their own travel and insurance but will be paid for the work that they do and so can usually expect to recoup their expenses.
Volunteering in Poland
The Wspólnocie w Wójtówce in Poland is a Camphill Community for adults with special needs. Camphill Communities run volunteer placements throughout the world. Volunteers work in communities with adults with special needs. You will be expected to work 6 days a week and it is usually preferred that you stay for at least one year. Accommodation is provided for the duration of your stay, but you will have to pay for your own meals.
Useful Addresses to find jobs and volunteer positions in Poland
- TEFL is one of the leading organisations for teaching English abroad
- Berlitz is another world-renowned company which teaches English abroad
Poland Hostels and Budget Accommodation
There are plenty of hotels in Poland, of particular interest are the International Student Hotels which are slightly more expensive than youth hostels but provide much better service and facilities. Generally, there is at least one of these in every major city. There are also about 450 Youth Hostels in Poland.
A popular site for backpackers is HostelWorld, and for good reason. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Poland is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful links for travel in Poland
- Polish State Railways operates the Intercity rail network.
- The Polish National Tourist Office provides tourist information and advice for visitors to Poland.
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country and Multi-Country passes available
- Omio – Train, bus, and flight search for all of Europe. Offers online booking and mobile tickets
- Auto Europe and Europcar – Europe’s leading rental car search engines
- Kiwi, Skyscanner, and Opodo – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Poland and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and activities. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions
- G Adventures – guided small group tours, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers
There you have it, the ultimate Poland backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Poland.
- Backpacking in Germany
- Backpacking in the Czech Republic
- Backpacking in Slovakia
- Backpacking in Ukraine
Liked this article? Share it for others who might be after the same information!