Welcome to Poland's guide
The goal of this guide is to give you some general view of Poland. We are not aiming at providing you with tones of information about every castle or every town in Poland. What we want is to tell you a few words about what is the best in Poland and in Czestochowa.
Preparation & Arrival
Take it with you
So, you are preparing to have a traineship in AIESEC's ITEP programme. Coming to Poland you should take several things, that you'll need during your visit here. Don't forget to take:
- Valid passport - Without it you won't be able get into out country, or if so - to come back home.
- Valid visa - it is needed if your from some countries, check it!!!
- Insurance coverage - All trainees in Poland must have adequate coverage as a protection in case of illness, disability, accidents, death and liability. As you know your obligation is to specify the insurance company and the number of insurance receipt in the N-5/6 papers otherwise you will not be able to start working.
- Other documents - You should take all AIESEC documents with you. Check in Polish Embassy if you need sth else to come to Poland.
- The International Students Identity Card (ISIC) or Euro<26 Card - It may be useful in some situations. You may obtain reduction of prices or services in some places.
- Few passport size photos - Could be needed for reserve documents.
- Equipment and additional founds which would allow you to experience an unforgettable holidays in Poland - comfortable shoes and clothes ( for hot but also colder days ) ,camera, knick - knacks ( like a sleeping bag ) useful during any expeditions to the country, other cities ...
- Something from your country - Presentations, pictures, material, your national drinks and food, anything that would be connected with your country, culture and nation.
- Good sense of humor - you will need it all time, 48 hours a day and 120 minutes per our.
- Paper copy of this booklet - We'll give one, but it probably won't be colorful. Besides you could need it before we'll meet. Remember to check all documents you need before arrival. Do bring them along.
And check where in Poland is your Embassy (but we should know that).
How to get to Czestochowa?
You will probably get to Warsaw first by you plane. You can get to Czestochowa from Warsaw by:
train - from the Central Warsaw Railway Station to the Main Czestochowa Railway Station - (Czestochowa Glówna) take EX or normal train. You will have to buy a normal price, second class ticket:
Express Train (EX) 45 PLN + 7 reservation
Fast-Train (D) 32 PLN
Passenger-Train (Zug) 15 PLN
You can check the connections to Czestochowa on web-pages:
Call us or sent a mail to inform us what time you'll be at Czestochowa Main Railroad Station (Czestochowa Glowna). We'll take you from there.
private car - if you have such a possibility, so you are independent and rely on your maps. Contact with our Reception Officer, Exchange Vice President or person responsible for you and settle where you'll meet with him. You can try to get to office if you think you are able (option for adventurers only).
bus - try to find "Polski Express" bus station - it's near Main Warsaw Railway Station. Ticket to Czestochowa will cost you approx. 30 zlotys.
You can check your airline's connections at web-pages: www.airres.com
Scheduled flights of more than 750 airlines http://flyaow.com
AIRLINES OF THE WEB - thanks to that server you can find links with about 500 air companies
Last minute flights
Tickets / prices, and hotels, car rental, info about cities
cheap tickets and hotels, cruises
cheap tickets and hotels, cruises
Cheap ways of flying
tickets & searching connections, booking
Cheap ways of flying
airlines, cruises, travel agents
Possibilities of traveling as a courier.
Cheap ways of travelling
http://www.lot.com/ LOT - our national airlines (recommended)
South African Airlines
Royal Air Maroc
http://www.alitalia.com/ Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane
Timetable can be changed so check it out before you come (and maybe book a seat earlier, if necessary).
If you have a problem use the free emergency numbers to call for
help. Please note - there are not many English speaking operators.
POLICE 997, FIRE BRIGADE 998, AMBULANCE 999. When using
a mobile phone dial - 112.
1 ZŁOTY (PLN - zł) = 100 GROSZ (gr).
Coins: 1 gr, 2 gr, 5 gr, 10 gr, 20 gr, 50 gr, 1 zł, 2 zł, 5 zł.
Notes: 10 zł, 20 zł, 50 zł, 100 zł, 200 zł.
All European currencies can be exchanged at Banks or Exchange
bureaus called 'KANTOR'. Usually no commission is charged. Ask
the rate before you change your money. Most supermarkets
accept EURO. The exchange rate is presented at the cashier. Note
that change will be given in Polish currency.
230 Volts AC, 50 Hertz. European type connections, sockets/plugs
Public telephones can be found throughout the city and most
operate with phone cards that can be purchased at kiosks or post
offices. The Kraków city code is 12, country code is 48.
If you want to call a local number proceed with: +48 12 (number)
if you call from a foreign mobile; 12 (number) if you call from
a Polish mobile; 012 (number) if you call from a local phone unit.
SHOP OPENING HOURS
Most shops are open on weekdays from around 10.00 and close
at 19.00. On Saturdays they usually close at 14.00. Most
supermarkets and galleries are open 7 days a week usually
from 09.00 till 22.00, on weekends till 21.00.
Most goods/services are subject to 22% Value Added Tax. There
is also a 7% charge for some goods. Look for the Tax Free Shopping
sign on shop windows. If you follow the procedures (the paper work)
properly and spend more than 200 zł your VAT will be refunded when
you leave Poland. But give yourself time at the frontier to get the
money back. (Does not apply to EU citizens any more).
Still 'quiet a problem' in Poland as public toilets are not easy to
find. Some of them are marked on our city tour maps. We advise
you to use restaurant or hotel toilets. There is usually a charge of
about 2 zł. When following our sightseeing routes you will find blue
WC pictograms on the maps referring to public toilets. That's all
we can do to help you.
Most post offices (Poczta) are open from 08.00 till 20.00. The 24h
post office is at 4 Lubicz St. (close to the railway station) with all
postal services available.
ALL YOU WANT TO KNOW!
Acting reasonably and following basic hygiene rules with some basic
common sense should happily limit most travel problems. If something
happens though it is worth knowing now what to do then. If nothing
very serious happens that requires immediate help the priority here is
to contact your insurance company at their call centre. They will tell you
what to do, they will call help if you need it, they will tell you which
doctor you should to go. It is advisable to be assisted medically by
a doctor who has been recognized and authorized by your insurance
company. That goes for hospitals and clinics too. This will facilitate any
refunding of money paid by you at the time of the medical assistance.
If something serious happens and there is no time but call help,
remember these two toll free phone numbers:
999 Ambulance, 112 general emergency.
If you shop at bazaars, open air markets or farms try bargaining.
Accepting the first price is not a good idea there, but remember
that price negotiations in Poland are far from bargaining as done in
Arabic countries. With a little common sense and good humor you
can still have a lot of fun. Official prices presented in regular shops
are not negotiable but if you are doing a lot of shopping in one
place (clothing or electronic products for example) ask for
a discount or something added even if it is a regular shop. There
is no harm in trying.
Drinking alcohol (including beer) is forbidden in public places
except special areas in restaurant summer gardens. The fine for
drinking alcohol in a bus is 100 zł and is higher in other public
places if you are apprehended. If you are very drunk, violent or
disturbing the peace and are arrested by the police you will be
fined and put in a cell to sleep off your drunkenness. This will not
save you a night in a hotel as this police service is rather expensive
and you will be charged for your night in police custody. Drinking
is strictly prohibited in parks, the surroundings of night shops and
railways stations. We advise you strongly to respect these
The sale of cigarettes and alcohol to under 18 year old people is
A blood alcohol level of 0,2 parts per thousand is the permitted
upper limit for driving. Take note that one beer and you are over
Driving when under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offence.
So Don't Drink and Drive!
Apart from marginal problems, as can be found across Europe,
Polish food services are safe, with hygiene at EU standards.
The only thing you might have problems with is... overeating! A sin
is to dine in fast-food chain bars whilst travelling in Poland instead
of enjoying Polish cuisine. Poland is one of the last European
countries where most of the fruits and vegetables, meats and
or bakery products are based on naturally produced raw materials
which are not highly industrialized in their production or contain
pesticides. You will be able to experience this quality and taste,
real butter, the freshness and colour of the eggs, the unforgettable
taste of homemade bread and meats. So enjoy the taste of good
Polish food whilst here. You won't find it anywhere else!
Any change in your everyday eating habits may upset your
stomach. If the symptoms are light take some general medication
for this problem. If they develop into something more serious see
a doctor. Please refer to our health section.
Unfortunately not very good news here. Polish cities in their
architectonical respect are a challenge for handicapped people moving
around in wheelchairs. One good aspect today is that all new or renovated
buildings and all the new ones being built correspond to the norms and
regulations for access for handicapped people. If a handicapped person
plans on coming to Poland they must be aware that they will need
assistance from another person and that they cannot travel alone.
Any, even the most fantastic trip, can be spoilt by unexpected illness,
contusions, pain or stomach disorders. The most common problem
during long distance trips is jet lag and stomach problems caused by
change of life style, cuisine and often just a change of water. For the
first few days after arrival try to avoid alcohol or strong coffee.
Let your body adapt to the new environment and the challenge of the
stress it was put to and adjust to a new food and daily schedule.
Any stomach disorders that last not longer that one day requires just
a little diet. You can always try a dose of Carbo Medicinalis or Smecta
(consult your doctor!). If you feel strange or if the problem might be
more serious, go to the doctor immediately.
Remember that when travelling you might not have the possibility
and conditions to take care of hygiene. Take note that while travelling
you are in an environment where there may be many different
bacteria and viruses carried by fellow travelers. Travelling is a time
for snacks of eating 'unusual' food at 'unusual' times perhaps
in 'unusual' places. Remember to wash your hands always before
eating! If no water is available be prepared and have special
antibacterial wipes or liquid, all available in pharmacies and travelling
shops. It's also worth considering buying paper covers for toilet
seats. They might be necessary during the trip and will protect you
from unhygienic toilets in railways stations, hotels, restaurants.
There are no required vaccinations when coming to Poland. All the
vaccinations you had at home when children are enough to protect
you from any illnesses you might be exposed to here.
Jaundice - All travelers should be vaccinated against jaundice no matter
where they go. This dirty hands illness of type A that can be transmitted
through food or type B that is transmitted through blood (sexual contact,
haircut, dentist etc.) may be avoided by a simple but important
vaccination at home. The vaccine can protect you for 10 years, so this
long term investment in your travel health seems a smart idea!
Meningitis - In the Polish geographical zone there are no serious or
tropical sicknesses that can be spread by insects. There is however
a special condition which can be caused by the bite of the tick insect
that lives in the trees and in tall grasses and drops on animals or
people. It is very rare that when bitten the virus actually attacks
the human system. If you think that the insect attached to your body
is a tick do not pull it off if you are not told how to do it safely.
Go to the nearest pharmacy, or doctor and they will remove it.
HIV/AIDS - Poland is considered to be a country of low HIV/AIDS
indicator in Europe. Considering these statistics you must be
aware though that AIDS is present in Poland. Sexual education
in Poland is perhaps not as widespread and good as in the west
so these statistics have to be viewed with a little caution. Condoms
are available in most shops, all kiosks and drugstores and petrol
stations. Remember there is no such a thing as a safe sex with
strangers, you may make it safer but never 100% safe.
Traveling across Poland you will find many possibilities of
connections to the internet. Almost all the above three star hotels offer
free internet in their rooms (it may be cable or wireless). Unfortunately
some of the hotels will require a fee for the connection but this is
becoming rare and free internet access is standard nearly everywhere.
If there is no cable or wireless connection but you are in a room
equipped with a phone you can get connected via a modem. The
national internet number is 020 21 22. The user name and password
is ppp. The cost per a 3 minute impulse is the same as a local
conversation. But note! In some hotels the cost of one telephone
impulse may be higher and sometimes too high to be acceptable, So
ask the reception staff before starting up the connection.
ForFor tourists coming to Poland from the West, Poland is a relatively
inexpensive country. The prices of food, hotel rooms, and
domestic communication are not high when compared with prices
in The Netherlands or Great Britain, for example. On the other hand
in big cities the rental prices for houses or offices have already
reached European levels making these rents rather expensive for
the average Polish household. However, even with these rising
prices which will eventually reach those of western Europe, Poland
will remain for some time yet a good quality and attractive, from
the point of view of value for money, place to visit.
It is not possible to say that Poland is a safer country for visitors or
for doing business in than any of the other UE countries. It seems
that in today's world there are few places, havens of peace, where
a traveler can feel completely safe but still there is no real guarantee
that in the most tranquil place in the world something dangerous
or unpredictable may happen. However we can say that in general
this is not the case in Poland. This is not a dangerous country
and it is not unsafe for tourists than any other countries in Europe.
There are just a few of the simple, straightforward common sense rules which if followed will reduce the risk of problems arising for
travelers. Just be that little bit more careful, be aware, be prepared
and most of all, enjoy.
Basic personal security: take special care of yourself and your
belongings in crowded places such as railway stations, popular
museums, popular tourist buses or trams. Watch your luggage and
keep all valuables and documents in inner pockets. . be careful
when paying for tickets in railway stations or museums. These are
high risk pick pocketing moments. . do not keep all your money,
credit cards or documents in one place. . do not manifest your
cosmically super-duper new camera to people who might be
interested in acquiring it when it is obvious you do not really want to
part with it. . avoid offensive groups of young people. If you see
a group of people coming towards you, if they are loud and probably
drunk, avoid them by crossing to the other side of the street. It's not
a cowardly solution, it's just wise. . do not go out at night alone.
. do not take all your money and credit cards with you when going
out. Leave some in the hotel safe. . do not become too intimate with
strangers you meet in a bar or disco. Do not tell everybody which
hotel you are staying in. Be modest when talking about money and
your financial status. . think twice before inviting a stranger to your
hotel room. . try not to travel alone in a train compartment. If it is
possible join a compartment where people are already present.
. note the address and telephone number of your Embassy. Be sure
you know where to go or who to contact in case of an accident
or any other problem.
Theft and accidents should be reported to the police and the hotel
management if the incident takes place in a hotel. Have proper
insurance cover for all events and make sure the paper work for
any loss or accident is correctly completed to be able to claim for
damages when you return home. Prior to leaving on a trip make
sure you understand how and what your insurance covers.
Today in the larger Polish cities a certain respect for different
preferences has been acknowledged. There is a gay community and
practically no one objects. There are occasional campaigns
organized to explain and to make people aware of the minorities
situation and rights they want and need to get. Most people have
heard of the annual Equality Parade in Warsaw (June) and the
counter demonstration which brings out people to protest
sometimes rather aggressively against the gay parade. But every
year the numbers of pro gay supporters, themselves not necessarily
gay, increases. They join the ranks of the gay and tolerance party to
show their willingness to support gay people in their fight for their
rights. But let us not exaggerate. There's no gay bashing in this
country. Do not be afraid of visiting Poland because you are gay.
Just bear in mind when you are here that you are not in
The Netherlands and the situation in Polish cities cannot be
compared to that found in London's Soho or Madrid's Chueca.
It is forbidden to smoke in public places such as railway stations,
airports, department stores, shops, any forms of public transportation,
cinemas, waiting rooms, bus stops (nobody respects that), banks and
all places of a similar public nature. Any violation of the above
restrictions can lead to a fine or ejection from the premises by
security, or both. Smoking is allowed in restaurants, summer gardens,
pubs and clubs if not marked no smoking zone.
The quality and taste of tap water in Poland is not very good. When
boiled, no problem, but drunk directly from the tap it's often quite
strange in taste and sometimes not very good for you. Just have
a bottle of mineral water with you all the time. The good news is
that you can buy mineral water almost everywhere, including small
kiosks, so don't worry you won't dry out.
It has changed a lot since the good old bad days when everything
had to be tipped. Today it is understood that you tip because the
service was good, or you want to tip. So if you were satisfied with
the service leave a tip. However you have to bear in mind that
catering staff, restaurants, clubs, etc are paid a very minimum
wage. So if you think it was worth it, add 10% to the bill as a tip
and try to pay it cash to your waiter or waitress. If the service and
atmosphere has been very good you can even add more.
A tip for handling your luggage, taking it up to your room etc,
or any other small service in a 2, 3 star hotel is 5 zł. In a 5 star
hotel you can tip 10 zł. And the rules are the same, no effort no tip.
When paying for a taxi, round up the bill. Generally taxi drivers do not
expect to be tipped. So if you do the driver will be surprised, and happy.