Polish cities such as Kraków and Warsaw may have joined the likes of Paris and Venice as top tourist destinations in recent years, with around 500,000 Brits flocking to the country each year. But unlike its western European counterparts, the laws and customs in Poland are comparably less well-known.
If you are travelling to Poland anytime soon, make sure you know a bit about local laws and customs to make sure your time there runs a little smoother. Here are a few of my top tips from my recent travels in Poland to help you out.
Firstly, drinking in public is illegal. If police catch you drinking or being too drunk in the streets you could be given a hefty fine, or even taken to a ‘sobering-up clinic’ where you will have to stay overnight and pay for the service yourself. If you’re travelling to Kraków, be xtra careful as the locals don’t take kindly to rowdy drunks. The drink-drive limit in Poland is also lower than it is in England and Scotland, at 0.02% alcohol content, compared to 0.08% in the UK. Poland also has some of the best and most affordable bars around, so don’t get caught out! Stick with your mates and keep an eye on each other to make sure none of you get into trouble with the law.
If, like me, you don’t speak a word of Polish, the language can seem a little overwhelming to begin with. But knowing a few key phrases such as Dziękuję (thank you), pronounced ‘Jen-koo-yeah’, and Dzień dobry (hello), pronounced ‘Jen Do-brih’, seems to go down well, especially if you want to try out some of the traditional bar mleczny (milk bars) – pronounced bar ‘mle-chnih’. These are local cafeterias which serve traditional Polish dishes with all the menus and instructions being in Polish.
A bit of a wacky one, but if you ask for a jug of tap water in a restaurant you will often be met with a confused look. While the tap water in Poland is perfectly safe to drink, a lot of bars and restaurants only serve bottled water and you won’t find many water fountains around. Make sure you carry a water bottle around with you to save buying bottled water on the go.
And please remember to take your ID on the train. Ticket inspectors often ask for photographic ID at the same time as your ticket on the train. While you will probably have your passport on you, especially if you are travelling from one city to another in Poland, make sure you don’t forget it if you go on a day trip. Keep a photocopy of your passport somewhere safe too, just in case you lose it. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) advice on what to do if you lose your passport can be found on the government website.
Unregistered taxis in Poland, particularly at airports, often overcharge. To spot an official taxi, look out for the company name and number on the side of the car or on a board on the roof. Ubers are also incredibly cheap, but only available in big cities such as Warsaw – at about £2 a journey!
For more travel advice about Poland, see the Government’s travel advice, where you can also sign up for live text alerts about travel information for Poland. You can also follow on Instagram and or access the Travel Aware campaign for lots more travel related hints, tips and inspiration.