Poland is a beautiful country with a troubled history and a variety of attractions. While Warsaw is the capital city, Kraków is often considered to be the cultural capital- both cities guarantee an unforgettable experience.
Like much of Europe, Polish weather can be quite changeable, however winters are usually very cold and snowy, while summers are moderately warm but rarely hot, with fine sunny spells. The wettest month is usually July.
Poland celebrates a number of public holidays throughout the year. Most shops and businesses will be closed for Easter (including the Saturday before), All Saint's Day (1st November) and Christmas Eve, although some shops and restaurants will be open on Christmas Day.
At the beginning of May, two public holidays fall on the 1st and 3rd, and very few businesses open on the 2nd.
The main airports in Poland are Warsaw's Frederic Chopin Airport (WAW) and John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice at Kraków.
There is an extensive rail network, with fast connections on modernised routes between larger cities.
Driving is on the right, and dipped headlights or daytime lights must be on at all times. Speed limits can vary by time of day as well as type of road; check carefully as fines can be made on the spot and demanded in cash.
International and inter-city coaches are available between major cities.
The official language is Polish, but many Poles will also speak some Russian and German.
English is widely spoken in larger cities, especially by younger people, but you may find the following phrases useful (Rough pronunciation in brackets):
Hello : Witam (vee-tam)-Formal or Cześć (cheshch)- Informal
Goodbye : Do widzenia (do veedzenya)
Do you speak English? : Czy Pan mówi po angielsku? (Che pan moovee po angee-elsku)
Please : Proszę (proshewn)
Thank you : Dziękuję (joon-koo-yoon)
The currency throughout Poland is the złoty (plural złote or złotych) which divides into 100 grosz (plural grosze or groszy). The Euro is accepted in some larger stores, and is expected to be introduced nationwide within the next few years.
The domestic electricity voltage is 230V with a European plug, however adaptors are readily available.
The telephone country code for Poland is 48. Polish telephone numbers start with a 0, which should be dropped if calling from a mobile phone or from overseas. To call another country from Poland, dial 00 (you should hear a tone between the zeroes) and then the code of the country you are calling.
In an emergency, you can dial 112 (the unified European emergency number) or one of the three numbers below:
999 - Ambulance
998 - Fire service
997 - Police
It is illegal to export goods older than 55 years that are of any historic value- if you intend to do so you need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Toilets for women are marked with a circle on the door, and toilets for men are marked with a triangle