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Travel Advice - Poland

RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
As part of my ambition to set foot in every member state of the EU, my next target is Poland. Specifically, I'd plan to fly from Dublin to Warsaw, spend a few days there, catch a train down to Krakow, spend a few more days there, then catch a plane to Belfast.

I have quite a few questions relating to my plan:
- Weather wise, when would be the best time to go? I'd rather not go in Summer, because I don't care for temperatures above 25 Degrees Celsius.
- What are the absolutely must-sees of both cities? Naturally, I'd plan to take an excursion to Oświęcim.
- This one's a little abstract, but does anyone have ideas about how expensive either city is? I mean, I went to Berlin, and was able to survive three days on around 200 Euro, not counting flights/accomodation. How many Zlotys would you take with you?
- I was able to use my banking card to withdraw Euros in Berlin, but I don't know if this will work in Poland. Assuming that's the case, where and when would be the best place to change currency? Over here, or once I go over there?
- If you disagree with my overall plan, do you have any recommendations about where I should go?

Thanks in advance.

RMS Oceanic on

Posts

  • Mr BlondeMr Blonde Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I always wanted to see The Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow. Auschwitz is also in Poland.

    Mr Blonde on
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Mr Blonde wrote: »
    I always wanted to see The Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow. Auschwitz is also in Poland.

    That's what Oświęcim is.

    RMS Oceanic on
  • LasgarLasgar Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You beat me to the Auschwitz thing while I was writing this up hehe.
    I spent a month in Poland last summer and I would highly recommend Wieliczka as Mr Blonde pointed out, it is not far outside of Krakow. Within Krakow itself you have to see Wawel Castle. The Czartoryski Museum was also very nice.
    In Warsaw I would recommend the Old Town, Wilanow Palace, and the Warsaw Uprising Museum was very interesting.

    As far as money goes, any cash I needed to change I just did at small money changing stores which seemed fairly common, however I did not need to do this often as my Visa check card worked at every location that accepted cards.
    I do not have the greatest idea on how much money you would need to bring as I stayed with friends of family almost everywhere I went so that saved a lot on lodging, food, and travel expenses. However taxis and restaurants seemed relatively cheap compared to the US and that was with the zloty being at 2 zloty for every dollar, I would get 2.9 now so it would be even better.

    Lasgar on
  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Krakow is a lovely place. Just avoid the drunken British idiots (and make sure people realise you're not one of them).

    corcorigan on
    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • illigillig Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    i last visited last year when the exchange rate was about 2:1 vs dollars, and the main thing i noticed was that the prices in the tourist traps were pretty much the same as the US... they were clearly targeted at the german tourists... i.e. a lunch would set me back $15-20.

    the moment you went a bit off the main touristy areas, the prices dropped steeply, and i could eat for $5-10

    as far as changing money, you'll always get a better deal outside of the airport or hotel, so make sure you have just a few zloty for the cab, some tips, etc. and wait to change more once you're outside of those places...

    i stayed in the north (Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot) and there were plenty of private money changing counters... and they all had EXACTLY the same exchange rate, so you didn't even have to "comparison shop"

    illig on
  • DustyBottomsDustyBottoms Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Don't use traveler's checks. I went to Poland (and the Czech Republic) a month ago with a group. One of our members lost 1/3 of his money doing the exchange from traveler's checks to Polish currency. The exchange centers all operate without a commission but I don't think you get the best rate unless you change a lot of money.

    All I did was bring my debit card and withdraw cash from an ATM any time I needed it. They're extremely easy to come by in the tourist sections, and not so hard to find anywhere else. Some people in our group had trouble using MasterCard-based debit cards at some ATMs, but they worked fine at others. My Visa-based card worked fine at every ATM.

    Another vote for the salt mines outside Krakow. These were spectacular. Personally I enjoyed Krakow more than Warsaw, but both were a nice refreshing change from American cities. Make sure you try all the local food - it's spectacular and very reasonably prices. I had some amazing duck pierogies in a restaurant just off the main square in Krakow, and I think they cost about 21 zloty - which is about $7 right now. Can't beat that. Kielbasa is also spectacular though I had trouble finding it at times.

    Make sure you try the local brews and vodka if you're into that. The bison grass vodka is great if you're a vodka fan - Żubrówka is the name over there. All the beer is pretty good, though I enjoyed some of the local Czech beers a lot more once we made it over there. You will find a lot of pale lagers in Poland, and a pint is usually cheaper than water, which almost always comes in a bottle.

    Also, check out the bars and clubs in the cellars in Krakow's old town square - they're off the main square but there are so many different ones and they all have different styles. I could probably have spent another week in Krakow exploring some of these places.

    I had a great time in Poland and I would love to go back someday. Enjoy!

    DustyBottoms on
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