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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

How To... Get To Poland - Transit

My dear travellers,

Once you choose the perfect time / season to visit Poland, one must figure out the means of transport. Now it depends where you are located, but there are a couple of options - generally the most comfortable and the fastest way to get here is by plane.
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The ticket prices vary a lot depending on the starting point, the route, the season and the day of the week - but that is not new if you have traveled before ;) As I was saying before, the high season for Poland is summer - between  June and August - and during December - around Christmas. The rest of the year you might find the tickets a bit cheaper ;) so I eagerly encourage you to come in spring or autumn time - the weather is much nicer and calmer, no storms or heat waves, no huge number of tourists.
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PLANE / FLIGHTS:
If you are thinking of a transatlantic and long haul flight, I really suggest going through a European hub, maybe London or Munich? And have maybe  day or two there as well ;) the tickets get cheaper this way and you get to have a nice break between flights. For Europe flights there are a bunch load of choices - especially if you wish to travel low cost! Especially if you come from London - check out easyJet and Ryanair - as there are many Polish people living there ;) Just search in time and make sure you get the best deal - booking in advance helps!

For example, if you travel from my home town in Romania, from Iasi, it is quite hard to get a good connection. The best option there is at this moment, is the flight from Iasi to Vienna to Krakow - and that is expensive as hell, going with Austrian Airlines. The cheaper option would be going from Iasi to Bucharest by the bus that takes you directly to the airport. From there you would have a flight to Warsaw and from there on to Krakow - Polish LOT Airlines, way cheaper ;)

Keep in mind that most of the international flights arrive to the Warsaw - Frédéric Chopin Airport. Other airports that may be used are: Kraków - Balice, Katowice (especially if there is fog on the Krakow airport area), Gdanska - Lech Walesa, Lodz, Rzeszow and Wroclaw. The national carrier of Poland is Polish LOT Airlines - one of the world's oldest national carriers. To be noted that in case you wish a direct flight, LOT has regular connection with Chicago (the 2nd biggest Polish city), New York, Tel Aviv, Toronto and other destinations.

Once you are at the airport in Poland, your final destination, you will have surely multiple options to get to the main square and your hotel - city bus, taxi airport bus and train. Of course the most convenient way is by taxi, but is also the most expensive. The cheapest one is by city bus but, for example, in Kraków it may take you up to 1 hour to get to your destination vs by train 18 min and by taxi 20 min. Your call - your money - your budget ;) but if you go by bus,  make sure you have some change to buy tickets at the automatic dispenser ;)
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TRAIN:
There are amazing connections with the Czech Republic - daily express trains from Prague to Warsaw via Katowice, and to Krakow - they may take longer but they are an awesome option for the ones that hate travelling by plane ;) also from the UK you can get a London - Warsaw via the Channel Tunnel - one change of train at Brussels. Warsaw has direct trains to Kyiv in Ukraine, if you fancy a wild ride... they bypass Belarus but you don't need the visa for that. There is also a regular train to Minsk but those are night trains and you will automatically get a sleeping place when buying the ticket. Also due to the German occupation during Second World War, there are very good connections with a number of German cities. Direct connections to Warsaw: Berlin, Cologne (Koln), Dresden and Leipzig. There is also a train between Berlin and Kraków, via Wroclaw.
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BUS:
Eurolines is one of the main and best ways to go, as it operates an extensive network of buses. Standards are quite ok and there is always a toilet inside the big buses - in the middle, next to the stairs.  The buses have air conditioning and sometimes if the journey is long they play movies on the inside screens. There are regular buses to all European countries but there are strong connections with Germany and Czech Republic - Eurolines CZ runs buses from Prague to Warsaw via Wroclaw.

PolskiBus has amazing sales and boasts on over 14 million passages carried (as of July 2015). The connections can take you from Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Berlin, Vilnius to anywhere inside Poland. There are multiple options and multiple connections and they are cheap and always on time. We used to go with them to Warsaw quite frequently and it was comfortable. An extra plus is the WiFi and the charger located at each seat ;) you can enjoy watching a movie or playing a game while travelling. 

Leo Express is quite new to the market but if you come from Prague to Krakow, this may be a nice option as well ;) the departures are very frequent and I have not heard any bad reviews about them. They focus on clients from Czech Republic and Slovakia. On longer hauls they usually have 3 classes you can pick: economy, business and premium. Their fleet consists of both trains and buses so I think it is worth a shot ;)

Orange Ways is known as the "cheap bus from and to Budapest". That is very much true but each time I travelled with them something happened... either they were too late or the bus broke and so on... I think they should renew their fleet! The site is easy to use and it has an English version, the prices are very good but the service is awful :/ Also the prices will ALWAYS be given in Hungarian currency so you must do the exchange, and there is always an extra fee (even if it is small) for the luggages.
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SEA TRANSIT:
Not much to say here... Poland does have opening at the sea but there is not much going on. There are regular car - ferry services on the routes from Denmark and Sweden to Gdansk. I am afraid you may need to Google more on that topic, if you wish to choose this way, but I strongly suggest the plane ride if you come from Denmark and Sweden as the prices are cheap and there are frequent flights.
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CAR / MOTORCYCLE / BIKE:
That's the way we roll, most of the time, when going home to Romania. It is true it takes a while but it is worth the view. We have a dear friend with whom we travel and he takes us home safe :) Rules are basically the same in all Europe: have a first - aid kit and a nationality sticker on the back of the car. In Poland you must ALWAYS wear a seat belt,  even the passenger's on the back seat! Exception: pregnant women. Drinking and then driving is prohibited and the legal blood alcohol level is 0.02%. If you pass 50 km/hour your driving licence will be taken away from you! The headlines are a MUST as well - no matter how fair the weather is! Another MUST is having insurance - fines for being caught without it are constantly increasing!

Be careful how you drive, especially during night in small villages, as there are still horse drawn carriages on the roads + cycling is very popular in Poland and there are special tracks, but in some places there are none so you may bump into them...

If you come by motorcycle you will have fun for sure and you will not get stuck in any traffic and that is a big plus! Be careful though when on the highway.

If you come with the bike you will love the fact that the big cities are trying their best to accommodate the usage of the 2 wheels means of transport.  Don't worry if you love bikes but you did not come with your own - there are multiple places throughout the big cities, like Kraków, where you can borrow a bike for the day. There are also multiple cycling paths that can take you outside town even, to the castles.
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Either way you choose to come to Poland - make sure you visit Kraków! - you will have all means of transport, of getting here safe, covered. It all depends from where you come, when you come and how long you plan to stay. If you need any help in figuring things out, drop me a line - contact me - and I shall do my best to help you discover this lively and lovely land :)

Embrace the subject and read one of the articles below - How To...
  1. Do Shopping In Poland - Currency
  2. Pick The Best Time To Visit Poland
  3. Get To Poland - Transit
  4. Eat Like The Locals - scheduled 01/09/2015
  5. Spend One Day In Krakow - scheduled 08/09/2015
If you feel you would like me to treat a specific subject, please feel free to Contact Me :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug - here to help the travellers of the world ;)