Backpacking Poland

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Poland? Here you will find information on working in Poland, entry visas, Poland hostels, and much more.

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Table of Contents

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

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

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 KR�LEWSKI 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.

Travel

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. There are rail passes available that allow unlimited travel around Poland for a set number of days, depending on the type of rail pass you purchase. There are also discounts available for those under 26 years of age.

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.

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. You can contact the Polish Youth Hostel Association for further details, see the Addresses section for contact information.

Health

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.

Useful Links

Polish State Railways operates the Intercity rail network.

The Polish National Tourist Office provides tourist information and advice for visitors to Poland.

Entry Visas 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 will be working in Poland you should contact your local Polish Embassy or Consulate for more information.

Addresses

The Polish Youth Hostel Association carries details of about 450 youth hostels scattered throughout Poland:

Polskie Towarzystwo Schronisk Mlodziezowych
Ul. Chocimska
28, 00-791
Warsaw
tel: (22) 849 8128
fax: (22) 849 8354 or 642 8305

The Polish Embassy should be contacted for all visa and immigration related enquiries:

Embassy of the Republic of Poland 47 Portland Place London W1N 3GH Tel: +44 (0) 870 774 2700 Fax: +44 (0) 207 323 4018 www.poland.embassyhomepage.com

Or alternatively you can contact the Polish consulate here in the UK:

Consulate General of the Republic of Poland 73 New Cavendish Street London W1G 7LT Tel: (020) 7 580 0476 Fax: (020) 7 323 2320

While in Poland UK representation can be found at the British Embassy :

British Embassy
Warsaw Corporate Centre ul. E. Plater 28; 00-688 Warsaw Poland Tel: + [48] (22) 311 00 00 Consular/Visa Fax: + [48] (22) 311 03 11 email: ukembwcc@it.com.pl

There are also British Consulates in Katowice, Poznan, Gdansk, Szczecin, Krakow and Wroclaw.

Foreigner Work Permits 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

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 is provided: volunteers live with a host family.

GAP Activity Projects Ltd.

GAP run projects across the world for placements of up to eleven months. Volunteers are expected to pay for insurance and registration fees, but are provided with accommodation, food, and pocket money. In Poland there are opportunities for working as English language teachers, and also in schools for children with special needs. The schools are mainly situated in Laski, Krakow, and Poznan. Placements in Poland start in either September or February; see the GAP website for more details.

Agricultural Work

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

The Wsp�lnota w W�jt�wce 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

National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs
The International Farm Experience Programme YFC Centre National Agricultural Centre Stoneleigh Park Kenilworth Warwickshire CV8 2LG

Useful Links

  • TEFL are one of the leading organisations for teaching English abroad
  • Berlitz are another worl renowned company which teaches English abroad
  • GAP are by far the most popular organisers of year abroad schemes
  • Callan Projects provides a database of links to various Camphill communities around the world

How to Say Common Poland Phrases

Meeting People

English
Polish
yes
tak
no
nie
thank you
dzie
you are welcome
nie ma za co
please
prosze
excuse me
przepraszam
hello
dzien’dobry
goodbye
do widzenia
Good morning
Dzien’dobry
Good night
Dobranoc
I do not understand
Nie rozumiem
Do you speak…?
Czy mowi pan…? (pani to a woman)
English
po angielsku
Polish
Polski
What is your name?
Jak masz na imie?
Nice to meet you
Milo mi cie
How are you?
Jak sie, masz?
Good
dobrze
bad
z’le

Directions

English
Polish
map
mapa
left
lewo
right
prawo
straight on
prosto
far
daleko
near
blisko

Methods of Transport

English
Polish
Where is…?
Gdzie jest…?
How much is the fare?
Ile kosztuje przejazd?
Ticket
bilet
A ticket to…, please
Jeden bilet do…, poprosze
Where are you going?
Doka, d pan(i) jedzie?
Where do you live?
Gdzie pan(i) mieszka?
train
pocia
bus
autobus
underground
metro
airport
lotnisko
train station
stacja kolejowa
bus station
dworzec autobusowy
underground station
stacja metro
departure
odjazd
arrival
przyjazd
parking
parking

Time

English
Polish
What time is it?
Kt�ra godzina?
today
dzis
yesterday
wczoraj
tomorrow
jutro

Accommodation

English
Polish
hotel
hotel
room
pok�j
reservation
rezerwacja
Are there any vacancies?
Czy sa, wolne pokje na dzisiejsza?
No vacancies
Nie ma wolnych pokoi
passport
paszport

Places

English
Polish
post office
poczta
bank
bank
police station
posterunek policji
hospital
szpital
chemist
apteka
shop
sklep
restaurant
restauracja
museum
muzeum
church
kos’ci�l
squre
plac
street
ulica

Shopping

English
Polish
How much does this cost?
Ile to kosztuje?
I will buy it
Kupie, to
I would like to buy…
Ja bym poprosil(a)…
Do you have…?
Czy pan(i) ma…?
open
otwarte
closed
zamknie, te
postcard
kartka pocztowa
stamps
znaczki pocztowe
little
troche
lot
duzo
all
wszystko

Meals

English
Polish
breakfast
s’niadanie
lunch
drugie sniadanie
dinner
obiad
vegetarian
wegetarianin
cheers!
na zdrowie!
The bill please
Rachunek poprosze

Drinks

English
Polish
drink
nap�j
coffee
kawa
tea
herbata
juice
sok
water
woda
beer
piwo
wine
wino

Food

English
Polish
meat
mie,so
fish
ryby
vegetable
warzywa
fruit
owoc
potato
ziemniak
salad
sur�wka
dessert
deser

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Poland Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Poland to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Poland, you’ve come to the right place.

Ciezkowice
Gdansk
Karpacz
Krakow
Lodz
Nowy Lupkow
Warsaw
Wroclaw

There you have it, the ultimate Poland backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Poland.