We are planning a trip to Poland. Should we travel with a company or do it on our own? Any tips?
It was never unsafe to travel in Poland. You can easily do it on your own if you're willing to get a guidebook and/or do research online. It really depends how much work you want to put into it, but there's nothing inherently hard about traveling there. You don't even need a car unless you want to hit some out-of-the-way smaller or rural towns. The cities are well connected by train and bus.
It would be helpful if you provided a little more information as to what you are considering for your trip. Where in Poland would you like to go, what are you interested in seeing, and what means of transportation do you feel comfortable using on your own? We traveled to Poland on our own and felt perfectly safe. Polish citizens were warm and welcoming. During our time there, we did hire Andrew Durman as a private guide for a day trip to Southern Poland and he was fabulous.
Why would it be unsafe? Keep away from sensitive issues as a polite guest would do anyway.
Travelling by train is easy. Use the website of the PKP as a train planner. Don't assume that you can use English at the ticket window: write down the specifics of the train you want (date, hour, train number). In restaurants and hotels English is widely spoken though.
It is very safe to travel in Poland. You can easily do it on your own. Almost all young people speak at least some English.
We are actually looking at a tour with Insight Vacations. Best time to travel? I'm looking at June or September.
I guess I just have a little above normal concerns. We are actually looking at a tour with Insight Vacations. Best time to travel? I'm looking at June or September.
If September, hopefully early September (first two weeks). The weather can really take a hit in the latter part of the month (cold, rain). On the other hand, June will likely be hot.
If you're planning on a tour, why are you concerned about safety? The tour is like a safety bubble. There's nothing to worry about going on your own. The trains are fast now and modern between major cities. If you've been to Western Europe, this will not feel like another world.
Take a tour if you think it will be easier for you. But it's extremely easy to get around Poland on your own and do things independently. I wouldn't take a tour for fear of safety or language or anything like that. I took the train from Gdansk to Torun to Wroclaw down to Krakow and then back to Czech Republic. This was 2012, when Poland's trains were a little run down - maybe better now, but even then they worked just fine for me. Plus they were dirt cheap! Even first class (which is worth it in Poland) wasn't expensive on the trains.
We want to go all over Poland: Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, and all the in between places. Then a couple of days in Budapest. My father was born in Krakow but lived in the Ukraine; depending on the borders at the time. Thanks for your replies.
pauline, you don't have to post twice. Just delete one of your identical posts. I also think that June and September are best months to travel in Poland.
My remarks here are in no way directed personally at the OP.
Poland is safe for travel for sure, probably one of the SAFEST of any country and friendliest.
What I find so sad is that this post is an example of the kind of pervasive fear that has been engendered about foreigners and other countries and travel in general for some time now. Americans especially have to deal with a growing attitude of Provincialism, exceptionalism, Jingoism and ever increasing Xenophobia.
I for one would encourage folks to travel not just to the "Safe" places but also to the more edgy dangerous places of this planet, I have done so myself on several occasions notably riding a motorcycle around Sri Lanka while they were still at war, Driving into the Spanish Sahara when they were at war with Morocco, traveling in Cambodia just as the Khmer Rouge were being forced into the jungles and still killing tourists near Angkor.
Americans would benefit greatly by a better appreciation of the realities of this world and their part in it. Not just the Safe spots but also the more fragile ones perched as they are on a high-wire of economic and political disaster, violence and war.
Only then can one truly appreciate the truly "Safe" places like Poland.
My wife and I visited Poland for the second half of May last year (2017). We landed in Warsaw, and travelled by train to Wroclaw, Gdansk and Szczecin, with a few days in Czech Republic from Wroclaw. (We had been to Kracow on a previous trip, so did not include it last year.). I can tell you that I never felt the least bit unsafe. In fact, people were at least as warm and friendly as in any place I have visited, which includes most of the countries of western Europe. Travel by train was easy, efficient and inexpensive. The weather was, for the most part, pleasant- days were warm but not hot, and evenings outside required a light sweater or jacket (but it was May). We hired a private guide for a few hours on our first day in each of Warsaw and Gdansk, which gave us a great overview of those cities. While not everyone spoke English, there was always someone around who could, and language was never an issue. Food was good, and relatively inexpensive. And there was lots to see and do. I wouldn’t say there were no other tourists, but it was certainly not crowded. Overall, I would say that travelling on our own in Poland was pretty straightforward- if you have organized trips to other countries in Europe, you will find it no more difficult to handle Poland on your own.
I traveled solo to Poland for 8 days in 2015 and it remains one of my most-loved trips--spent time in Krakow, took the train to Warsaw and also the train to Gdansk for a long day trip. I was often out later in the evening walking and never once felt uncomfortable, and the people I encountered were kind and helpful--especially the young lady who helped me find my train one morning at 6:15 am, with just minutes to spare. You can easily make this trip on your own without a tour company.
Any reason why Poland should not be safe "now?"
You indicated you want to travel all over Poland, which I take to mean the tourist frequented cities and other places off the tourist track. To do that with max flexibility, "do it on (your) own." The three trips we did in Poland from 2001 to 2005 we did on our own using guidebooks and brochures from the Polish National Tourist Office.....very revealing what you can find in travel brochures.
I consider Poland one of the safest places anywhere! Please don't listen to posts from people who might go to the big cities for stag and hen parties!
If you are around Krakow, you will be able to do many things yourself, but consider Andrew Durman if you want to get out of the city. Getting to Zakopane and Auschwitz is relatively easy, though.
We are traveling to a few remote areas so that takes some time to research. English is NOT widely spoken in the villages, unless you can find a younger person who isn't shy about their English. The bigger cities are no problem!
I just returned from three weeks in Poland. We debated about taking a tour or doing it ourselves. SO GLAD we did it on our own. We did all the things we wanted. We hired tour guides on the days we wanted. We took our time at the places that interested us most. Started in Krakow. We took public transport and taxis all over the area. We did not take a day tour to Auschwitz/Salt Mines. We took the bus for 14 zloty round trip. We trained to the salt mines and bused back. Again it was inexpensive. (round trip was maybe 5 zloty?) We had a tour guide at Auschwitz. It was easy from the Krakow Train/Bus station. I would take a Lonely Planet Guide book as the RS guide book was wrong and out of date for Poland. (we took the updated Eastern Europe guide -wrong times for things. wrong train info, not helpful for finding current info) From Krakow we trained to Poznan and on to Gdansk then down to Warsaw. The Warsaw Uprising Museum and the History of the Polish Jews Museum are a must! Warsaw is not as enchanting as other places but the museums and Royal Castle are amazing. Fantastic trip! People were helpful, polite and basically fantastic. I can not recommend visiting Poland more! Also it was very inexpensive. We stayed at RS recommended places and others. All were good. Have a great trip!
@ mathey, please re-post your good trip report under the Trip Report forum, so more people can see it. Its good info, but attached to the end of someone else's old thread, it's likely to disappear.