Train – is it the best way to travel around Poland?
For many years the abbreviation PKP – Polish State Railways was considered by Polish travelers as a synonym for delays, old and dirty trains that often broke in winter, unpredictability. Not to mention the crowded railway stations and the lines to the ticket offices…
Those times are now gone and I strongly recommend you to travel around Poland by train for at least 3 reasons:
1. Polish trains are reliable and fast
Today Polish train companies offer very convenient connections between the main tourist destinations. The trains run by Intercity, such as Pendolino, are fast, punctual and comfortable. It will take you no more than 2 hours and 30 minutes to get from Warsaw Central Station to Cracow Central Station and around 3 hours to get to Gdańsk from Warsaw.
Intercity tickets can be booked online at https://www.intercity.pl/pl/
Remember: the earlier you book, the less you pay!
It’s also good to know that you will pay less and travel more comfortably on a Saturday than on a Friday or a Sunday.
As for other train companies, such as TLK or Polregio, they also offer a good service. In many cases TLK trains are almost as fast as Intercity trains, but the tickets are much cheaper! The only inconvenience is the fact that sometimes they have traditional compartments and you have less leg space.
Polregio trains are a good option if you have more time and plan to explore rather than hop from one big city to another. Here you will find their connections maps. The trains are modern and the prices are very affordable.
2. You get to see much more than in a car or a bus
It’s true that the highways let you travel fast from one town to another, but you miss a lot. The view offered by the train window is much more interesting than concrete and sound screens. You get to see a little bit of the countryside, railway stations in small villages (where your fast train doesn’t stop of course) and the modern architecture of the most important stations such as Cracow, Poznań, Łódź.
3. Polish trains are more and more environmentally-friendly
PKP Intercity have in their fleet Pendolino, PesaDART and FLIRT3 trains, which have been designed as environmentally-friendly trains and are built from eco-friendly materials that can be recycled.
The Polish railway timetable can be found at www.rozklad-pkp.pl/en
When is it worth traveling around Poland by bus?
When you are on a budget, check the offer of the Polish bus companies such as Flixbus, Polbus (not available in English) and Neobus. Flixbus is the most popular and offers a great deal of national and international connections. In Warsaw though it’s often much less convenient than the train because you need to get to Młociny or Warszawa Zachodnia bus stations to take the bus, so don’t forget to check the place of departure and arrival before buying the ticket!
A Polregio train and Łódź Fabryczna railway station:
During the first 2 weeks of December 2018, Katowice will host about 20 thousand people from 190 countries, including politicians, representatives of non-governmental organizations, scientific community and business sector.
Why Katowice? Well, this city is a perfect example of successful revitalization of the former coal mining area and its transformation into a cultural and conference zone. A region which is traditionally associated with coal mining and heavy industry is gradually becoming a leader in innovation and new technologies. Moreover, the city strives to improve the quality of air and the standard of inhabitants’ life which is reflected by the recent investments: electric buses, pedestrian zones in the city center, increasing share of green areas in the total surface of the city.
What to visit in Katowice? Where to go out?
If you are interested in architecture, you won’t be disappointed. Katowice has a short history as a city, so its “old town” consists of beautiful 19-th century tenement houses. Tradition combined with modern and green additions:
But don’t look for a park to admire the sunset, the best place to see it is right in the center (“Zachód słońca” means “Sunset” in Polish):
10 km from the center you will find Nikiszowiec settlement, established 102 years ago for coal miners and their families. The settlement, now entered on the list of Monuments of History, is the background of many films on Upper Silesia.
For me the cherry on top is the “Saucer” – Spodek, a multipurpose arena complex opened in 1971. The building hosts many important cultural and business events and will also host the conference of COP24. It can hold around 11,500 people. Its Polish name refers to a flying saucer, just have a look:
At a walking distance from “Spodek” you will find Muzeum Śląskie – the Museum of Silesia. I strongly recommend you visit it! Established on the site of the former Katowice coal mine, it marks the so-called Culture Zone together with the seat of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and the International Congress Centre.
For the price of 12 PLN (3 EUR) you can visit several interesting exhibitions: The Gallery of Polish Art 1800-1945, The Gallery of Polish Art after 1945, The Gallery of Non-Professional Art, The Gallery of Silesian Religious Art, The Light of History – Upper Silesia over the ages and a presentation of the most significant achievements of European theatre from antiquity until the contemporary times.
The Light of History – Upper Silesia over the ages tells you a captivating story – the one of Upper Silesia and its people. The industrialization and its price – devastation of natural environment, hardships of daily life. On the other side – fortunes of mine owners. In 1918 Poland regains its independence and Upper Silesia is claimed by both Poland and Germany. The Polish inhabitants organize a series of armed uprising against German rule. Finally, the people of Silesia have to decide, by means of a plebiscite, to which country they want to belong and the region is divided. You will also find out a lot about life under communism and strikes organized in the coal mines.
If you are a beer lover, you shouldn’t miss a visit in the Duke’s Brewery in Tychy where one of the most known Polish beer is produced. Here you can book a tour: https://zwiedzbrowar.pl/en/brewery-tour/
And in the evening drop into Absurdalna http://www.absurdalna.pl/ to taste some craft beers.
If you are a sweet tooth, don’t miss Cukiernia Europejska (Świętego Jana 8). I guess most of their cakes are very good, but their home-made “krówki” are a must! Krówka is a traditional Polish fudge. In Europejska you will find interesting flavours, such as salt and cinnamon, they are all delicious! It’s also a very cozy place for coffee.
On November 11 there will be a lot of cultural and patriotic events in Warsaw and all over the country. 100 years ago, at the end of the First World War, the Republic of Poland was created after a long foreign occupation (123 years!). It was also the moment when Warsaw became the official capital of the country.
On this occasion many events will be organized, most of which will take place in Krakowskie Przedmieście Street and at Piłsudski Square, near the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You will have the opportunity to see traditional dances, taste the specialties of Polish cuisine, sing Polish patriotic songs with Polish people.
Today, just like 100 years ago, Polish military leaders Piłsudski and Sosnkowski arrived at the Royal Castle where the former was entrusted with creating a national government for the newly independent country. The country had to be formed and organized, its borders had to be established after many a battle and a long foreign occupation that had lasted 123 years. That’s a lot of work! The most important events will take place tomorrow, some of them very controversial, such as a march with the participation of nationalists (from different countries), so we decided to celebrate it today. Have a look at the pictures taken in the streets of Warsaw today: