Travel tips

Poland: a travel money guide

How much money should I take on my trip to Poland?

Poland is a country of variety, bringing together cities steeped in history, large swathes of countryside, a warm culture and the best pierogi in the world. While the cost of a trip to Poland is relatively low, knowing what to plan for can be confusing - so we’ve been through all the costs to make this guide on how much to budget for Poland.

At the time of writing, the exchange rate between Pounds Sterling (GBP) and Polish Zloty (PLN or ZL) was 1 GBP : 4.935 PLN.

Food and drink prices in Poland

You’ll never be far from tasty food on your trip to Poland - but it may not be served when you’re expecting it. The day begins with either one large breakfast or two small ones, a large mid-afternoon meal served between 2pm and 4pm, then a late-afternoon snack and small evening meal served between 7pm and 8pm.

A typical Polish breakfast consists of a sandwich with eggs and a little meat, which you’ll be able to find at a local cafe or restaurant for about 5-10 PLN. Mid-afternoon meals are sandwiches from local shops for about 10-15 PLN, or pierogi from local restaurants, a plate of which costs about 15-20 PLN.

Dinner at a cheap restaurant costs around 15-20 PLN, rising to 35-50 PLN for a three course meal including one of Poland’s famous sweet desserts. A high-end meal will set you back anywhere from 70 to 260 PLN.

Traditional Polish food is in abundance at local diners, costing as little as 8-13 PLN. Alternatively head to a ‘Bar Mleczny’ (milk bar) to fill up on warming fare for as little as 12-17 PLN.

Street food is common, high quality, and extremely inexpensive. In Krakow one of the most common dishes is the obwarzanek, a bagel that costs just 2 PLN. It’s also famous for its zapiekanki, a mini-baguette topped with cheese, meat and vegetables sold for 6-8 PLN, which can be bought late into the night in the Kazimierz district.

Tap water is safe to drink everywhere in Poland, so bringing a reusable bottle from home is recommended. Bottles of water are sold at convenience stores for about 4 PLN.

Alcohol prices in Poland

In most places, locally-produced beer and wine are the cheapest alcoholic drinks, but costs in Poland are so low that both local and imported beers are about the same: 5-10 PLN. Local beer, however, is at a surprisingly high quality. At a restaurant, a bottle of wine will cost 30-70 PLN.

At a bar a cocktail will cost 15-25 PLN, but you might raise some eyebrows ordering it. Vodka is the Pplish speciality, and is such good quality that other spirits don’t get a look-in. It’s rarely mixed with anything and is usually ordered by the bottle, then drunk from shot glasses in one gulp. At a bar, a single shot costs about 5-20 PLN; a bottle 90-100 PLN. In a supermarket, good vodka will set you back as little as 15-20 PLN.

Transport costs in Poland

Polish cities are surprisingly accessible: in Krakow, for example, it is possible to walk around the entire centre without trouble. However, they also have excellent public transport systems: bus networks operate in all large and medium cities, trams and trolleybuses in many others, and Warsaw also has a metro system. In most cities, the fare is based on the duration of the ride, with a 60-minute ticket costing around 3 PNL. Some also carry a slightly cheaper ticket for a shorter ride (20-30 minutes) and more expensive tickets for longer rides (90 minutes). You can pay by contactless card (requires only a card scan) or cash, (you’ll be issues with a paper ticket).  If you receive a paper ticket, make sure you validate it at one of the machines near the entrance, as ticket inspectors are plain-clothes and tourists are not exempt!

In Krakow there is a municipal bike system, with stations around the city from which you can rent and deposit a bike. This costs 29 PLN for 12 hours, and you’ll need to register in advance.

Taxis are relatively affordable in Poland’s cities (in comparison to most European cities), and even more so when booked in advance. Each will carry a sticker on their rear passenger window that shows its rates, but most start at 6-8 PNL and rise 2-2.40 PNL for every kilometre travelled. If a taxi doesn’t display a name and phone number, it is most likely a pirate taxi.

Some cities, like Krakow, offer tourist cards which give unlimited access to public transportation (normally for one or three days), and free or discounted access to museums. These can be bought from tourism offices in cities, and cost 120 PLN (for 3 days).

Travelling between Poland’s cities is best done by bus or train, and prices differ depending on the distance. Krakow to Warsaw can be as little as 18-20 PLN by bus.

Cost for activities

Free guided tours can be found in some of the larger cities like Krakow, Gdansk, and Warsaw. They’re a great way of exploring the city, learning about the history, culture and architecture, and saving some holiday money too. Just make sure you tip the guide at the end, as this is expected!

You can easily conduct your own walking tour around Krakow or Warsaw. In Krakow, the Royal Route takes in all the historical hotspots and finishes at Wawel Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral. In Warsaw, the Old Town is home to most of the historical attractions, as well as beautiful architecture from across the centuries.

Without a tourist card, entry to castles and cathedrals in the main cities costs about 24-30 PLN. Entry to museums is about 20 PLN, and to art galleries is about 10-20 PLN.

Two popular day tips operate out of Krakow: the Wieliczka Salt Mine, costing about 140-170 PLN, and Auschwitz-Birkenau, costing about 150-190 PLN. A combo bus tour for both is 350 PLN.

How much to tip

Tipping is part of Polish service culture and is advised in restaurants and cafés. It is optional everywhere else (including taxis) as a mark of good service.

At smaller restaurants and for smaller bills, it is customary to round the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 PLN, otherwise 10% is standard. Tips should be left in cash.

Cash and currency exchange in Poland

As in the UK, the majority of places in Poland accept debit and credit card payments. However, these take longer to process - minutes rather than seconds - so many opt to pay in cash to speed up the process. Some stores only take cards for transactions over 50 PLN. Some pubs and bars are cash-only, as are typical market-stalls and street food stalls.

Local ATMs are dotted across all cities, with those from large banks carrying fairly reasonable exchange rates. However, ATMs can sometimes charge relatively large fees, and their rates aren’t as favourable as those from currency exchange suppliers. Unfortunately there are a fair few dishonest currency exchange suppliers in the cities, which can charge brutal rates and scam customers. Because carrying cash is recommended in Poland, we recommend buying currency in advance where possible.

How much to budget in Poland

Prices are very low wherever you go in Poland, and the same is true for accommodation. Hotels in major cities are likely to cost more than hostels, and both cost more than staying in small cities or the countryside. Preparing your own food will cut down on costs even further, as will using the public transport networks. Eating at good restaurants and staying at high-end hotels can cost as much as it does in Western Europe.

Poland holiday spending per typical day

 

Full board  

Half board  

Self-catering

Breakfast

0

0

10

Afternoon meal

0

10

10

Late-afternoon snack  

15

15

15

Evening meal

0

40

40

Drinks

60

60

60

Museum

25

25

25

Transport

9

9

9

Tips

8

8

8

Total

117

167

177

 

Poland holiday spending per week (excluding inter-town travel)

 

Full board  

Half board   

Self-catering

Breakfast

0

0

70

Afternoon meal

0

70

70

Late-afternoon snack   

0

70

70

Evening meal

105

105

105

Drinks

0

280

280

Activities

600

600

600

Transport

240

240

240

Tips

63

63

63

Total

1008

1428

1498

 

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