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Trains in Poland

Has anyone booked train tickets successfully on the Poland rail site? https://www.intercity.pl/en/

This site seems a little confusing.

Is there a significant cost advantage from booking ahead on trains in Poland, and in most other countries in Europe? Could we get the same rates booking a day or two in advance, or do we really need to book a month or more ahead?

Wy wife and I are looking at an itinerary that would start in Gdansk, train to Warsaw for a few hours--then continue to Krakow the same day. Four nights in Krakow, then to Goerlitz Germany with midday stopover in Wroclaw.

We are ready to pay a little extra to book as we go but are wondering whether it's like Britain where you really need to book further out to avoid crazy high prices.

(I know I am opening myself up to "buy a guidebook" comments, it's on its way and they don't have Rick's Warsaw-Gdansk-Krakow at the library).

Posted by
4689 posts

I took Polish trains from Gdansk to Torun to Wroclaw to Krakow back in 2012 (I skipped Warsaw). I didn't book any in advance. They were so cheap even at the last minute that it would have seemed pointless. In fact, this is one of the few countries where I found paying for first class very worth it. Second class on Polish trains is like "third class" (if there was such a thing) on trains in other countries. First class isn't especially nice, but the compartments are only 3X per bench vs. 4X per bench and less crowded.

Could be the trains have improved since 2012. I know the Warsaw to Krakow train line has modern high-speed service now:

https://www.seat61.com/Poland.htm

You'll find useful info about purchasing tickets for inter-Poland travel at the very bottom of that page.

Posted by
13962 posts

Last September, I trained from Gdansk to Warsaw, then to Krakow. The first, from Gdansk, I booked several weeks ahead ($20) and saved money - the prices just go up as the discounted tickets sell out. I wanted to have the flexibility so for the train to Krakow, I bought a day in advance ($44) at the station. The lines can be long, so it's a good idea to buy in advance. The Warsaw station is big and confusing. Then you have to figure out how to get to the old town (traffic can be slow) and what to do with your luggage. Let's see: 5.5 hours on the trains, 1 hour lead time at the stations, 1 hour to/from Warsaw station, Total travel time 7.5 hours. That only gives you 3-4 hours in Warsaw's Old Town including a lunch break? And either a really early start in the morning, or sandwiches on the train for dinner - Poles eat early, by the time you get checked into your hotel in Krakow, it may be hard to find an open restaurant.

If you only have a few hours to spend in Warsaw, for me it just wouldn't be worth it. I liked Gdansk (4 days) and Krakow (5 days) much better anyway. If I'd had the extra day, I'd have spent it in Gdansk. Though I thought Warsaw was interesting (4 days), it was my least favorite of the 3.

Posted by
6174 posts

Your stops in Warsaw and Wroclaw are only for a few hours? If you think this will be your only trip to Poland and you have some additional flexibility, personally I wouldn't miss Warsaw or give it such short shrift (caveat: I am from Warsaw but I can still be somewhat objective about this). If you are going to largely skip Warsaw, then it's more efficient in terms of time and $ to take a quick flight from Gdansk straight to Krakow (via Ryan Air or LOT airlines).

There's no such thing as "crazy high prices" on Polish trains, they are a bargain compared to (primarily Western) European countries. No matter what you do, it won't break the bank.

Posted by
2092 posts

I visited in 2015 and had an advance ticket (maybe a month) from Krakow to Warsaw, cost was approx. $22 US. Once in Warsaw I decided to take a day trip to Gdansk and bought my ticket the night before and it was in the same price range.

Posted by
16769 posts

At last month's exchange rates, Warsaw-Krakow came to approximately $40 (rounded to the nearest $5) and Gdansk-Warsaw to $35, for a full-fare, 2nd class ticket on the fast trains. You may save money in advance, but I certainly wouldn't do so unless you're sure of what you want. As I recall, their web site is shut down for a couple of hours around midnight (Polish time) every day for maintenance, in which case, search results will remind you of that fact.

Posted by
1878 posts

Thanks for all your replies. Good point about the stop in Warsaw maybe not being the most practical. I would like to see and do it all, and even though I am an experienced traveler I still overreach at times. There seems to be one nonstop flight per day on LOT, otherwise with a stop I don't think it's a time saver to fly. This could actually be a way to get a day back, since the flight leaves in the evening. I usually avoid getting on a plan in the middle of an itinerary but in this case it might make sense.

Posted by
12103 posts

The train rides I took in my Polish trips we never booked in advance, just bought the tickets at the stations in Poland or Berlin since we always left from Berlin going to Poland, always rode 2nd class, always satisfactory.

Posted by
13962 posts

I was going to suggest flying from Gdansk to Krakow, but the train takes about 5.5 hours and that's about how much time you'll need to fly when you add up the travel time to the airport, the lead time at the airport (check-in, security) and waiting time on landing for baggage claim and then travel time to the city. You might save an hour - or lose time if you get caught in traffic. If you take the train, it's hassle-free and you can relax, enjoy the scenery, maybe get to talk with other passengers, have a picnic lunch, catch up on your travel diary . . .

Posted by
201 posts

you might also check bus schedules. When I was in Czech going to Poland, for one route, the train took over 7 hours while by car/bus, it was just 45 minute drive. I've also heard that Polish trains aren't necessarily always on time. We took a bus from Auschwitz to Krakow and didn't get the ticket until departure time. The bus stopped at EVERY stop and people were standing in aisles and our luggage was on our lap.

I know this wasn't your route you inquired about but my answer dealt more with reliability of service and options. I'd also check www.regiojet.com for train/buses. We've taken them a lot and they are reliable and economical.

Posted by
3 posts

I don't have anything to add, except that my wife and I are planning a similar swing, but in reverse: Vienna, Prague, NT to Krakow for four nights, early train to Warsaw, late train same day on into Gdansk.

I'm just replying to say thank you for the initial post and the subsequent replies. Your comments are helpful and informative.

Posted by
1878 posts

Hi, OP here. I wanted to circle back on this topic. In Rick's Krakow-Warsaw-Gdansk book, he says check banh.de or http://rozklad-pkp.pl/en for train schedules, the latter being the actual Polish rail site. I had done preliminary planning based upon bahn.de, which shows much more convenient trains between Krakow and Wroclaw than the Polish rail site. Rome2rio.com shows the same as bahn.de. The other Poland-based sites, the one I reference in my original post and the polrail site one of those who responded referenced, also show fewer and much less convenient trains. So now I'm really confused.

Specifically bahn.de shows an 8:51 a.m. train from Krakow Glowny to Wroclaw Glowny, that takes three hours or so with no changes. Wroclaw Glowny has luggage storage so we were going to spend the afternoon in Wroclaw and they continue to Goerlitz on the 18:19 train which is another couple of hours.) If instead as the Polish sites indicate it's 4.5-5.5 hours just to get to Wroclaw, this plan looks a lot less workable.

Flight already booked into Gdansk and out of Berlin. Hotels are also booked (made it a point to get the ones with easy cancellation on booking.com). I am usually one to overthink things, in this case I may have gotten a little sloppy not validating on the Polish sites what I found on bahn.de. This could really derail our itinerary, no wordplay intended on that. Some parts of our itinerary have some slack built in, but this middle section is packed pretty tight.

I gather that there are many train operators in Poland, so that could be the issue.

Can anyone provide insight that would help to resolve the apparent discrepancy?

Posted by
1878 posts

Thanks, this is a very helpful response. The bus also looks like a workable option here if alternate train plans do not work. Often the bus is a lot slower than train, but not on this route. There is a bus every two hours, and the bus station is right next to the train station in both Krakow and Wroclaw, as far as I can tell.

Posted by
1 posts

The subject of luggage lockers at some airports/train stations came up in the conversation. We are planning a trip to Poland in Sept. and would like to know if one can "rent" a locker for a couple of suitcases for maybe 3 or 4 days while we do a short trip elsewhere.

Specifically thinking of doing this in Warsaw while we train up to Gdansk.

Posted by
12103 posts

In using a guidebook for the three Polish trips I've made, I chose Rough Guide Poland...very helpful and handy.