9 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Poland

Skansen - Górnośląski Park Etnograficzny, WPKiW, Chorzów, Poland

Check out this practical list of things you should know before backpacking and hitch-hiking in Poland.

Visas

1) No need to worry, you’re within the EU

As a member of the European Union and a member of the Schengen treaty, the same visa rights apply as in other EU countries. EU nationals are not required to get a visa and can stay as long as they like.

Stays of 90 days or less, also do not require a visa for nationals from the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

Other nationalities should check with the Polish embassy in their own countries.

Further information can be found here or here.

Food & Drink

2) Lack of restaurants 

The restaurant culture is not so engrained in Poland as it is in other European countries, perhaps because of the quality of their home cooking. So outside the big tourist cities, be warned that the option may be limited.

3) Don’t drink the water

Rather annoyingly Poland is one those countries where drinking the water is not advisable. Simply pop to the local supermarket and stock up there instead.

9 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Poland

Accommodation

4) Rely on CouchSurfing or camp

In the big cities, there are hostels available but the prices are not the bargain they once were. When in rural areas look to camp, in cities the couchsurfing community is a strong one and finding a bed is never normally a problem.

Weather

5) Be prepared for everything

Due to the influences of a continental climate from the east and a maritime climate from the west. The weather in Poland is very changeable with significant variation from day to day and year to year. Seasons are clearly defined with wet, windy & occasionally sunny springs and autumns, pleasantly hot summers and sometimes harsh winters.

9 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Poland

Transport & Hitch-hiking

6) Hitch-hiking need to knows

There are some toll roads in Poland so either make it clear before you start that you have no money or offer a few Złoty towards the cost. Polish people will generally not ask for any money as they consider hitch-hiking to be free, but it’s still good to know! On Sundays there will be less traffic, as this day is traditionally devoted to rest or church so if you are planning a long journey, Sunday might not be the day to do it.

7) Buses for short distances, trains for long

Buying a ticket can be a frustrating experience for those who don’t speak Polish and it puts a lot of people off from taking the buses. For shorter distances buses are probably your best bet as they will certainly get you there quickly and the price is pretty comparable.The cheapest intercity coach company is Polski Bus which offers rides as cheap as 1 zł, but you have to book in advance for the best deals. Use e-podróżnik search engine to find all intercity bus connections.

For long distance train rides booking your ticket in advance (either online or in person) is advised, although you can normally get train tickets on the go as well. Use the PKP search engine to find train connections, both within Poland and to/from abroad.

9 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Poland

Culture & Tradition

8) Central Europe… not Eastern Europe

Poles see themselves very much as European and dislike the connotation connected with being seen as ‘Eastern’ which they associate with Russia. Thus, it is advisable to refer to Poland as Central Europe, and not Eastern Europe. Although not very offensive, if used, it may reflect foreigners’ ignorance and project a certain disrespect of the history and clearly Latin cultural heritage of Poland. 

9) Traditional Etiquette 

Some men, particularly of the older generation, will kiss a woman’s hand when greeting or saying goodbye. Although, this tradition is rare amongst the young.  It is fairly common practice for people to greet each other dzień dobry (good day) when entering elevators and say do widzenia (good bye) when exiting. Good manners also dictates that women must enter and exit doors first, often leading to a comical shuffle around the lift in order to form the correct queue.

9 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Poland

written by: Jon

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