Getting to Poland in a flash
- Poland is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed andimplemented the treaty.
Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.
In addition to the ordinary Schengen visa waiver, citizens of South Korea, the United States of America, and Israel are permitted to spend up to 90 days in Poland without a visa, regardless of time spent in other Schengen countries. Time spent in Poland, however, does count against the time that would be granted by another Schengen state.
Regular visas are issued for travelers going to Poland for tourism and business purposes. Regular visas allow for one or multiple entries into Polish territory and stay in Poland for maximum up to 90 days and are issued for the definite period of stay. When applying for a visa, please indicate the number of days you plan to spend in Poland and a date of intended arrival. Holders of regular visas are not authorized to work.
Ukrainian citizens do not require a separate visa for transit through Poland if they hold a Schengen or UK visa.
Most of Europe's major airlines fly to and from Poland. Poland's national carrier is LOT Polish Airlines, a member of Star Alliance, operating the Miles&More frequent flyer programme with several other European Star Alliance members. Most other European legacy carriers maintain at least one connection to Poland, and there are also a number of low cost airlines that fly to Poland including WizzAir, EasyJet, Germanwings, Norwegian and Ryanair.
While there are many international airports across Poland, and international air travel is on a constant increase, Warsaw's Chopin Airport (WAW) remains the country's main international hub. It is the only airport offering direct intercontinental flights - LOT flies to Beijing, Toronto, New York and Chicago, while Qatar Airways and Emirates offer flights to their hubs in the Middle East, which allows connecting to their rich international networks. Most European airlines would also offer a connection to Warsaw, allowing you to take advantage of connecting flights via their hubs.
Warsaw is the only city in Poland that has to two international airports - Modlin Airport (WMI) is located close to Warsaw and normally used by low-fare carriers.
Other major airports serviced by airlines providing intercontinental connections include:
- Kraków (KRK) - via Vienna, Rome, Moscow, Berlin, Helsinki, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich and Warsaw.
- Katowice (KTW) - via Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Warsaw.
- Gdańsk (GDN) - via Berlin, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Oslo and Warsaw.
- Poznań (POZ) - via Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Warsaw.
- Wrocław (WRO) - via Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Copenhagen and Warsaw.
- Rzeszów (RZE) - via Frankfurt and Warsaw.
- Łódź (LCJ) - via Copenhagen (due to proximity to Warsaw Chopin Airport, there are no flights to Warsaw from Łódź).
Smaller regional airports offering international flights include:
- Bydgoszcz (BZG) (Great Britain and Ireland with Ryanair; Lufthansa started a Frankfurt route in March 2015 with 4 flights a week)
- Szczecin (SZZ) (intercontinental connections via Warsaw)
- Lublin (LUZ) opened in late 2012, serviced by Wizz Air and Ryanair.
All of the above airports are also served by low-fare point-to-point carriers, flying to European destinations. The most popular connections out of Poland's regional airports are to the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Norway, where sizable Polish minorities generate sustainable demand for air traffic. Flights are thus frequent and one can purchase a ticket at a very favorable rate.
As the number of flights and passengers has significantly increased since 1990, a new terminal has been opened at Warsaw Chopin airport which significantly increased the airport's capacity and viability as a transit hub. Also the airports in Katowice, Kraków, Poznań, Wrocław, Łódź and Rzeszów have been expanded to increase their standards and capacity.
Direct connections with:
- Berlin, EuroCity "Berlin-Warszawa-Express (BWE)", 4 trains per day, 5,5 hours, Berlin-Gdańsk
- Koeln, Hannover, Warsaw, EuroNight "Jan Kiepura", everyday, 13 hours
- Bratislava, night train, every day
- Budapest, night train, every day
- Kiev via Lviv, Night Train, 16 hours
- Vienna, Night Train "Chopin", every day,9 hours, EuroCity "Sobieski", everyday,6 hours, EuroCity "Polonia", every day, 8 hours
- Prague, Night Train "Chopin", EuroCity "Praha", every day,9.5 hours
- Paris, Strasbourg, Night Train "Ost-West", every day, 17 hours
- Moscow, Night Train "Ost-West", every day, 20.5 hours
- by regional trains: Berlin-Kostrzyn (1h15m, every hour), Berlin-Szczecin (2h, 2 direct daily, but many with one change in Angermünde), Dresden-Wrocław (3h, 3 daily)
You can enter Poland by one of many roads linking Poland with the neighboring countries. Since Poland's entry to the Schengen Zone, checkpoints on border crossings with other EU countries have been removed.
However, the queues on the borders with Poland's non-EU neighbors, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, are still large and in areas congested with truck traffic it can take up to several hours to pass.
There are many international bus lines that connect major Polish cities, with most of major European ones.
- Voyager website that allows you to find most international bus connections (Eurolines, Ecolines, PPKS, Visitor, Inter-bus and more).
- Eurolines (from: A, BY, B, HR, CZ, DK, GB, EST, F, D, GR, NL, I, LV, LT, N, RUS, E, S, CH, UA), biggest European bus network.
- PolskiBus.com Comfortable low cost bus company provides point-to-point services to and from Berlin, Vienna, Prague and Bratislava. It's the cheapest option for travellers who plan ahead.
- Simple Express
- bus4us.eu website that allows you to rent a bus for an organized group of travellers. The website provides a whole range vehicles, ranging form cheaper buses to luxurious coaches.
- From Sweden: Ystad (7–9 hours, 215 zł) by Unity Line; Karlskrona (10 hours, 140-220 zł) by Stena Line; Nynäshamn (18 hours, 230-270 zł), Visby (13.5 hours, 170 zł), Ystad (9.5 hours, 230 zł) by Polferries.
- From Denmark: Copenhagen (9–12 hours, 220 zł), Bornholm/Rønne (5 hours, 125 zł) by Polferries.
- From Germany: Rostock (~15 h) by Finnlines.
There are more and more ports along Polish coast, at least at every river mouth. Bigger marinas are located in Szczecin, Łeba, Hel, Gdynia and Gdańsk. Gdańsk has two yacht docks: one next to the old market square (), which is usually quickly overloaded, and one in the national sailing center next to the city center, close to the Baltic sea. The newest yacht dock is located on the longest wooden pier in Sopot (). Although there are many sailors in Poland, marine infrastructure still needs to be improved.
From Czech Republic
In local, express and fast trains (not IC or EC!), it is possible to buy a special cross-border ticket ("bilet przechodowy" in Polish) which is valid between the Czech and Polish (or vice versa) border stations and costs only CZK15 or 2 zł. You can buy it from the conductor on the train (or completely ignore it if the conductor does not emerge before you reach the other border station, which happens) and to your advantage combine it with domestic tickets of the two countries (the one you buy before departure and another one you may buy if your train stops for an amount of time in the first station after the border and you have time to quickly reach for the ticket office - or you buy the other domestic ticket at the conductor with a low surcharge).
In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the ZVON transport system:
The railway between Harrachov (Czech Republic) and Szklarska Poręba(Poland) in the Krkonoše/Karkonosze mountains has been out of order since World War II and was reopened in summer 2010. In January 2013, there were 5 trains a day. The ride takes about half an hour.
After a several-year-long period of electrification, there are now several trains a day again between Lichkov(Czech Republic) andMiędzylesie(Poland). Yet, if for instance you arrive by the last train of the day which terminates before the border, you may try walking to the other side. From Międzylesie, you can follow the traffic directions to Brno and reach the border by following the road and passing through the villages of Smreczyna and Boboszów. Soon after you've crossed the border, make a sharp right turn at the cross road and walk the rest to Lichkov. The terrain is quite flat there. This is a little detour and takes some 13 kilometres, but while the railway is somewhat shorter, you should not follow it because it goes through a dark forest and you would risk collision with night cargo trains, and of course the law.
The Polish train station of Głuchołazyis served by Czech trains passing between Jeseník and Krnov and can be reached with a domestic Czech train ticket (with "Gluchlolazy" as the destination). You can also get a ticket starting in that station or a return ticket in advance, but you cannot buy Czech tickets in the station itself. There are no more Polish trains departing from Głuchołazy to inner Poland, only buses from the city (1,5 km walk-away from the station).
There are very few connections a day between Bohumín(Czech Republic) andChałupki (Poland; once called Annaberg and at the three country border of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland), but it is easy to cross the border on foot if you miss your connection. Bohumín is a major Czech train station and Chałupki a terminal of trains to inner Poland. Between the two places, you are passing through the Czech settlement of Starý Bohumín, situated right at the border which is briefly formed by the river Odra in this place, which you cross by an old pedestrian bridge. The walk is on a completely flat terrain, almost straight, goes almost exclusively through inhabited places and is short in distance (5 kilometres).
The divided city ofČeský Těšín (Czech Republic) / Cieszyn (Poland) is a very easy spot for border crossing. If you reach one of them, you can walk to the other very comfortably and at a short distance (20 minutes from one station to another). It's the river Olše/Olza in the city centre that forms the border. The train stations in Český Těšín and Cieszyn have good connections to other destinations.
In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the ZVON transport system.
While the main railway connecting Lithuania and Poland is now crossing a piece of Belarus (which cannot be entered without a visa by most), there is fortunately a minor line left that connects the two countries directly. The border stations are Šeštokai(Lithuania) andSuwałki (Poland). There are only a few passenger connections a day and you need to change trains at the border, because of the different rail gauge used in the two countries. A popular alternative of crossing the border, if you are going on a longer distance, is to use the bus between Vilniusand Warsaw.
Written by The Travel Valet
Photo courtesy of Foto Polska