Old town, Warsaw, Poland
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Old town, Warsaw, Poland

© www.123rf.com / Artur Bogacki

Poland Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

312,685 sq km (120,728 sq miles).

Population

38,593,161 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

123.3 per sq km.

Capital

Warsaw.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Andrzej Duda since 2015.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki since 2017.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz; European plugs with two round pins are standard.

Underrated but increasingly popular, Poland offers a huge amount for travellers of all stripes – from the stunning old towns of Krakow, Zamość, Gdańsk and Wroclaw to the wilderness of the Białowieża National Park with its ubiquitous buffalos and epic vistas.

Home to Europe’s most infamous ghetto, Warsaw was almost totally destroyed during WWII, but the Polish capital is modernising fast. Today the city blends Soviet architecture and contemporary styles, with a painstakingly recreated old town and an upbeat, progressive population.

Perhaps the country's biggest draw, though, is Krakow. The country's former royal capital is a wonderfully preserved architectural marvel that has somehow managed to survive Poland’s many wars. Even the Nazis thought it was too beautiful to bomb. Jam-packed with churches, monasteries and abbeys in Gothic and Renaissance styles, the city became the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 (an honour it shared with Quito, Ecuador).

Beyond Krakow are numerous signs of Poland’s proud cultural heritage: Łódź and its famous film school, from which Roman Polański and Krzysztof Kieślowski graduated; Toruń, the hometown of astronomer Nicholas Copernicus; and Warsaw, which lays claim to Marie Curie and Frederick Chopin. The country's biggest port and northern boomtown, Gdańsk, is best known as the birthplace of Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity movement, which led the country into democracy in 1989.

Poland's scenic beauty is as varied as it is extraordinary. The Baltic coast is pretty, while Słowiński National Park is all ethereal forests, bogs and sand dunes. The Great Masurian Lakes in the northeast are popular for kayakers, with hundreds of pristine lakes broken up by dense forest. The Krakow-Wielun Upland with its limestone caves and medieval castles is another highlight, while the Carpathian Mountains in the far south are unremittingly beautiful.

And the food? Polish cuisine is hearty and filling, rich in meat and game. Thick soups such as Zurek are delicious, as are pierogi, or Polish dumplings. And as for the Polish vodka, one of the finest types in the world, what better way to wash all that rich food down?

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Poland on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Poland.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Public spaces and services

Facemasks are compulsory in medical facilities and pharmacies. Children under 4 are not required to wear facemasks. If there are medical reasons why you cannot wear a facemask, you must carry a doctor’s note with you explaining this. Bandanas, scarves, balaclavas and visors are not permitted alternatives to facemasks. Your mouth and nose must be covered. Further guidance can be found on the Polish government website.

Healthcare in Poland

The Polish National Health Fund 24 hour info line (dial 800 190 590, or dial 989, and then press 6 after calling either number) provides English language advice on what steps to take if you are in Poland and suspect you might have COVID-19, and information on vaccinations. Neither you nor anyone you live with are legally required to isolate or quarantine if you test positive for COVID-19. A list of hospitals with COVID-19 facilities can be found on the Polish government website.

For contact details for English speaking doctors, visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Poland.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance whilst in Poland, contact the British Embassy Warsaw. Emergency assistance is available 24/7.

Travel from Ukraine

The FCDO currently advises against travel to Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is ongoing with attacks against a number of major cities. Russian military strikes have taken place in Ukraine within 20km of the Polish border. There is a real risk to life. You should not attempt to cross into Ukraine from Poland.

On 15 November, an explosion occurred in Przewodów near the Ukrainian border killing two Polish nationals. You should remain vigilant and abide by the instructions of the authorities at all times when near the Ukrainian/Polish border.

If you have arrived in Poland from Ukraine and are in need of assistance, you should call +48 22 311 0000 or +44 1908 516666 and select the option for “consular services for British nationals.” You can also send an enquiry via the web contact form.

The main border crossing points to enter Poland from Ukraine can be found on the Ukrainian government website. You should prepare for potential long delays before crossing.

There is limited availability of accommodation in Poland in the vicinity of the border. You may check the nearest reception point provided by the Polish local authorities for all foreigners affected by the Ukraine crisis.

If you’re travelling to Poland from Ukraine without travel documents, you may be allowed through the border and given 15 days to leave Poland. Each case will be considered individually by the Border Guard Commander-in-Chief.

Poland/Belarus border

There is limited access along parts of the Poland/Belarus border. The Kuzniсa-Bruzgi road border crossing is currently closed, and more border checkpoints may close or implement restrictions at short notice.

Whilst a law limiting access to wider areas close to the Belarusian border was lifted in July 2022, access to within 200 metres of the border is still limited . You should abide by this limitation at all times and follow the instructions of Polish authorities if you are in this area.

Crime

Most visitors to Poland don’t experience any difficulties. Serious crime against foreigners is rare, but crimes do occur and in some cases attacks have been racially motivated. You should be alert to the possibility of street crime and petty theft, and that foreigners may appear to be easy targets. Keep valuables and cash out of sight, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots where pickpockets and bag snatchers operate.

There is a higher risk of robbery at main rail stations and on all train services, especially overnight sleeper trains. You are most at risk while boarding and leaving trains.

Unregulated taxi drivers operate in Poland. They often overcharge and there have been reports of incidents of attacks against passengers, including sexual assaults, in unregulated taxis and cars booked using ride share apps. The Polish police force has published advice on using unregulated taxis and cars booked using ride share apps (in Polish).

Official taxis, which have the name and telephone number of the taxi company on the side of the door and on the top of the taxi. They will also show a rate card on the window of the vehicle. Taxis with a crest but no company name are not official taxis. Please take sensible precautions, including at night and if you are alone.

There have been a small number of reports of drinks being spiked and visitors having their valuables stolen. Don’t leave drinks or food unattended in bars or clubs and beware of accepting drinks from strangers.

Check your bill carefully when buying drinks in bars and nightclubs. There have been some reports of overcharging and of large amounts of money being charged to debit or credit cards.

Rape and sexual assault

In the unlikely event that you become a victim of rape or sexual assault in Poland, see information on GOV.UK for further advice.

Demonstrations

Public demonstrations in Poland are common. Marches and gatherings are mostly peaceful and well-policed, but you should take extra care as in any crowded place. Peaceful demonstrations can attract violence. You should monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Local travel

Walkers and cyclists must wear a reflective item during darkness when outside a built-up area. Anyone hit by a car or a bike when not wearing a reflective item may be held responsible for the accident. You may get a 100PLN (around £20) police fine for not wearing reflective items.

Public transport

You must validate a public transport ticket at the start of a journey. You will be fined on the spot if you’re travelling with an invalid ticket, usually 266PLN (around £54). You can buy tickets at most newspaper stands and kiosks with a sign reading ‘Bilety’ or ticket machines found in cities.

If you think you may qualify for a cheaper fare (e.g. you are a student or an older person) always double-check the rules as some cheaper fares may only be available to Polish nationals. You’ll be fined if you travel with a cheaper fare ticket that you’re not entitled to.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 2,904 road deaths in Poland (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 7.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

If you are planning to drive in Poland, see information on Driving Abroad.

Poland is a major east-west transit route for heavy vehicles. The road network is being constantly upgraded, and roadworks are frequent, particularly in summer. Even some main roads between major towns and cities can be narrow and poorly surfaced, making driving after dark particularly challenging.

Most car rental companies will not allow you to take your hire car across the Poland/Ukraine border.

Licences and documents

You can drive in Poland with your UK photocard driving licence without the need for an international driving permit.

If you’re living in Poland, check the Living in Guide for information on the rules for residents.

When driving, you should always have your:

  • driving licence
  • ID
  • car registration papers
  • car ownership papers
  • insurance papers

You will need to show these documents if you are stopped by the police or if you cross non-Schengen borders. This includes rental vehicles. If you do not have these papers the police may take your vehicle and charge you for this. If you drive a vehicle in Poland it must meet local technical requirements.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.

Driving regulations

If you break Polish driving laws you should be prepared to pay an on the spot fine of between 50 and 2500 PLN (around £10-500) in cash in Polish currency to the police. If you live in Poland and have a permanent address you may be given a fine that can be paid later.

If you drive or cycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be prosecuted. The drink-drive limit in Poland is 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – which is lower than the UK. If you are caught driving a car over the alcohol limit or after taking drugs you can be punished by up to 2 years in prison.

If you turn right on a traffic light displaying a green arrow look out for people or bicycles on crossings. They have priority before you.

You must have your headlights on, at least dipped beam, at all times, including in the daytime .

You must wear a seatbelt in both the front and back seats, even in taxis.

You must not use a mobile phone while driving (unless ‘hands free’).

See the European Commission, AA and RAC guides to driving abroad and in Poland.

Tolls

You may need to pay a road toll on some parts of motorways, expressways and national roads. More information is available on the toll operator website.

Dual nationals

If you are a dual Polish-British national and are arrested or detained in Poland, you will be treated as a Polish national by the Polish authorities. You will not be recognised as a British national.

Attacks in Poland can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public places, including in places visited by foreigners.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Polish police take a strict approach to public drunkenness. You are not allowed to consume alcohol in public places or you may be fined. If you are found drunk in a public place you may be taken to a drying out clinic where a doctor or nurse will medically assess you. You will not be released until you have sobered up and you may need to stay overnight. You will have to pay for the cost of the stay.

You should only cross the road at signposted crossing points like zebra crossings. If you do not cross the road at a signposted point and you are caught by the police you will be fined.

LGBT+

While larger towns and cities in Poland are generally open-minded about LGBT+ issues, smaller towns and rural areas remain conservative and less tolerant towards LGBT+ travellers. There are a number of gay and LGBT-friendly restaurants, clubs and bars in Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk, and Sopot. Same-sex relationships are legal and same sex partners may live together but same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised under the Polish law. The age of consent is the same for all people (15). See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

This page has information on travelling to Poland.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Poland set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Poland’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All travellers

You do not need to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status, or show a negative COVID-19 test result to enter Poland.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Passport validity

If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • Issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

Dual nationals

If you are a Polish passport holder you will be treated as a Polish national while in Poland, even if you hold a passport from another country. If you are a dual Polish-British national you must enter and exit Poland with a Polish passport or Polish national identity card. Check with the Polish Embassy in London if in doubt.

Visas 

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

If you are travelling to Poland and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Polish government’s entry requirements. Check with the Polish Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need.

If you are travelling to Poland for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.

If you stay in Poland with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Passport stamping

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Poland as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

If you are resident in Poland, read our Living in Poland guide for passport stamping information.

Residents

There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Poland. If you are resident in Poland, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see the Polish Border Guards guidance (in Polish) and our Living in Poland guide.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

You can use a UK Emergency Travel Document to enter, airside transit and exit from Poland.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other ways to stay healthy and manage pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

Some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can have a different legal status or be regulated differently in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment given is on the same terms as Polish nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Poland, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Poland guide.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

In general, public medical facilities in Poland are similar to those in the UK. Private medical facilities are comparatively less expensive than those in the UK and of a good standard. Polish doctors and nurses are well qualified but English is not always widely spoken and you may face some communication difficulties.

Diseases

Tick-borne encephalitis is common, especially in forested areas during the summer.

The currency in Poland is the Zloty – available from UK foreign currency exchange providers.

It’s not possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes in Poland.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.