If you are visiting Poland and plan on using public transport, you might be a little confused about how to plan your journey and travel by public transport in Poland. So I come to the rescue. I will give you all the important tips and app information so you can travel around Poland cheaply and hassle-free.
Are you preparing for your trip to Poland and planning on using public transport? You are in luck! In general, public transport in Poland is very efficient and if you decide not to rent a car, you can get to almost anywhere in Poland by public transport.
With a wide network of buses, trains and trams, travelling in Poland by public transport is generally easy, but there are a few things you need to know if you don’t want to get into trouble or end up paying fines.
In this guide, I will explain to you how to use different means of public transport in Poland, how to buy a ticket and how to plan your trip. So let’s begin!
Table of Contents
Travelling by public transport in Poland
Travelling in Poland by bus
All Polish cities have an extensive internal bus network. You can also travel easily all over Poland using busses.
Travelling by bus in Poland is usually the cheapest. Each city has its own network of buses managed by local authorities. There are also numerous public and private bus companies that will take you from one city to another.
Every larger city in Poland will have a dedicated bus station, often more than one.
The urban buses are of good quality and there is always a large network of bus stops spread throughout the city. At each bus stop, you will find a timetable and an explanation of the bus lines. But if you find this confusing, there is a great app that will make it extremely easy – more about this later.
In more rural areas, you can find private vans instead of buses where the ticket is purchased with the driver.
There are also plenty of national and international bus companies like Flixbus, that will take you not only to most destinations in the country but also to many European cities. The intercity buses are high quality, comfortable and air-conditioned. In the majority of cases, bus tickets need to be purchased upfront.
More detailed info can be found below in the ‘travelling around cities’ section.
Travelling in Poland by train
Only 15 years ago, travelling by train in Poland was an adventure in itself. Fortunately, this has changed since then, and the train network in Poland is excellent and trains are of medium to high quality.
As you travel around Poland by train you will see train stations that are modern, run-down, works of art, full on shopping centres, housed in stunning historical buildings and those that still resemble the Polish communist past. It’s always fun to travel by train in Poland, it’s sometimes confusing, sometimes takes longer than it should, but it’s always fun!
The Lonely Planet says: ‘Polish trains are somewhat like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’ll get until it arrives’.
Made me laugh, but it’s definitely true!
For travellers, rail transport is one of the best ways to get around Poland. The railway station is often located in, or very close to the city centre and is always well connected to the local transport system. Most parts of the country can be reached by train.
Nevertheless, it is still not so straightforward to buy a train ticket. At some train stations, you will be able to buy a ticket from the ticket machine, but at others, even in Krakow, you will still have to queue at the checkout. The odds that the cashier will speak English are 50/50, so I recommend writing down the destination and time for the ticket you need. And always allow extra time, the queues can be long.
On some trains, you can find machines where you can buy a ticket, but not on all of them, and there is no way to predict it. I recently bought a ticket from Krakow on the actual train but didn’t find this machine the other way around.
Please note – you will not be able to buy a ticket from the conductor, to avoid the fine always buy the ticket in advance.
Given all these shenanigans, the best and easiest way is to buy a train ticket online. It’s often cheaper and will save you stress and time trying to get one at the station.
Important information about rail travel in Poland:
- InterCity operates long-distance and mid-distance express trains and most of the regional and local train services in Poland are operated by Polregio.
- Bullet train service, also called “Pendolino”, is available only on selected routes from Warsaw to Gdańsk, Katowice, Kracow, and Wrocław. The price is more than twice the price of a regular Intercity ticket but they are much faster and more comfortable. When looking at the timetable those trains are marked as Express Intercity Premium (EIP)
- If you buy a ticket online make sure you have an ID you can show to the conductor
- Try to buy the tickets online before your journey.
- To plan your train journey in Poland it is best to visit the PKP timetable site or e-podroznik.pl. You will have to enter the departure and destination station and the date and you will find available times and will be able to buy the ticket as well. Europodroze.pl is also a good website for trip planning.
How to buy a train ticket in Poland:
Eurail Pass validity
- all trains operated by the national railway company PKP / PKP Intercity JSC. This includes domestic trains with sleeper cars.
- trains on the regional railway lines:
– Przewozy Regionalne (Regional Services).
– Koleje Dolnośląskie (operating in the area of Lower Silesia).
Please note: the Kulturzug, the direct train between Wroclaw and Berlin, is not included.
– PKP Szybka Kolej Miejska w Trójmieście Sp. z o.o. (SKM w Trójmieście).
Eurail Passes are not valid in Poland on:
- trains operated by Arriva PCC.
- trains operated by Koleje Mazowieckie (KM).
Travelling in Poland by plane
Although it is not the most popular, it is possible to travel by plane between the largest cities in Poland.
I will be honest with you. If you add the check-in and check-out time as well as the journey to the airport and compare the prices of air tickets to other means of transport – I do not see the reason why would most travellers choose to fly within Poland. Probably if you were short on time and wanted to get from Krakow to Gdansk you could probably save around a couple of hours, but this is really it.
The two main domestic carriers in Poland are the national LOT airline and Ryanair, which is of course a cheaper option. Poland has 12 civil airports, so if this is your preferred mean of transport you will be able to get by.
Travelling in Poland by Metro
The only Polish city that has a metro network is Warsaw.
It is a fairly new development and currently, there are 2 metro lines in Warsaw – the North-South blue M1 line and the West-East red M2 line. It is a modern, clean, safe and very easy-to-use way of public transport if you are visiting Poland’s capital.
The great thing is that Warsaw has an integrated ticket system, which means that all public transport tickets are valid for all types of public transport, so you won’t have to buy a separate ticket to travel by metro. At each station, you will find a few ticket machines as well as validation gates. But of course, you can also buy tickets online.
To get to the metro platform, you need to validate the ticket and go through the gate or take the elevator and validate the ticket in a validator. Passengers with tickets purchased in a vehicle or an application can get to the platform using large luggage doors – they are equipped with QR code readers that allow you to open the gate.
How to travel within bigger cities in Poland
The most popular way of travelling around the city in Poland is by bus or tram.
As I mentioned earlier every city has its own public bus system that differs slightly from town to town. However, the main principle is the same.
You plan your trip, but your ticket upfront, make sure it’s validated on the bus and viola!
In the majority of the cities, you will be able to use the same ticket for both buses and trams as they are part of the same transport network. Please note that the ticket system varies from town to town and for example, the Wroclaw ticket will not be valid in Katowice!
How to buy bus tickets in Polish cities?
- you can buy a paper ticket at a newsstand and in some towns from the ticket machines located at the bus stop. To do this, you need to know exactly what ticket you need beforehand (how many cities or how long is the journey). In this case, you also need to remember to validate the ticket as soon as you enter the bus or tram. This is the least traveller-friendly option.
- to validate the ticket you need to insert it into the validating machine inside of the bus or tram to be stamped. Keep the ticket for the ticket control.
- the easiest way to plan the journey and buy a bus ticket in most Polish cities is via jakdojade.pl app.
- The most popular cities in Poland also offer city passes that often offer great value for money. Within these passes, you will get some free entries to museums or attractions, discounts and often free public transport pass. Examples include the Krakow City Pass or Gdansk Tourist Card.
How to travel in rural areas in Poland
Travelling by public transport in rural areas of Poland can get a bit more difficult, even for Polish people.
In rural areas, large buses often run less frequently and popular routes are covered by private carriers – often in the form of a minivan. This is where things get tricky as timetables are not always easily found on the internet.
One of the best ways is to find the main bus station which can be found in the majority of Polish towns. Timetables and bus lines are always displayed. In more remote areas, I recommend that you seek advice in your hotel. The hotel owners will tell you where to go, what to ask for and how much you will pay.
Locals will always know the best ways to get somewhere and ways that are often not official.
If you are starting your trip in a city and heading to a rural area always head to the biggest town near your destination first. Once there, you will have to ask at the bus or train station for the best ways of getting to the village you are heading to. If you are concerned about the language barrier, have your destination address written on the piece of paper.
Be sure to always have some small cash ready as the majority of private carriers will ask for an upfront cash payment for your ticket.
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How to travel by bus between cities in Poland
All Polish cities are well connected by a bus network and travelling by bus between the cities can be often cheaper and faster than travelling by rail. There are many bus companies serving the majority of the destinations in Poland and among them are the public buses called PKS and well as private carriers.
One of the best and cheapest options is Flixbus which now serves the majority of the most popular bus routes in Poland.
Most of the time bus stations are located right next to the train stations (with a few exceptions like Katowice).
How to travel between the cities in Poland by bus?
- Check availability online on websites like Omio, checkmybus.pl, Busbud or Rome2Rio. Rome2Rio is generally a great site to check available transport on your route.
- If Flixbus operates the route, I recommend buying the ticket on their website.
- If possible, try to buy a ticket online. If you are travelling between major cities – it will always be possible.
- In case it’s impossible to purchase the ticket online, aim to arrive at least 15 minutes earlier at the bus station to have enough time to buy the ticket.
Best public transport apps in Poland
Currently, the best public transport app in Poland is jakdojade.pl. This is an awesome app that is used by travellers, tourists and locals alike.
Jak dojade means “how will I get to..” and this app will tell you exactly that. It has a lot of impressive features, from life travel planning and schedules to bus stop locations as well as the ability to buy and validate tickets.
This is the only app you will ever need if you are visiting any bigger city in Poland. It is very easy to use and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Once you open the app, it will recognize your location. You can of course type in your starting point as well. Then you will have the option to type in your destination. Once you click on the search (green arrow) you will be given all public transport options, including the departure time.
The real-time feature is a great advantage of the jakdojade.pl application. The presented travel plans will be prepared for the current moment, as of course, individual timetables differ depending on the day of the week or time.
You can then buy the ticket for the whole journey even if you need to change the bus at some point. As easy as that!
You can’t buy a bus ticket using the app in all of the cities, but you can use the journey planning for the majority of Polish cities.
Another great app that will help you buy a ticket for public transport in Poland is Skycash.
Getting tickets and validating them on Polish buses or trams can get confusing. Skycash is a ticket-buying app mainly focused on simplifying ticket buying in cities. With Skycash you won’t have to worry about looking for the ticket machine, figuring out what type of ticket you need or having to carry cash to buy the ticket.
The process itself is extremely simple. All you need is a smartphone. Just select the type and amount of tickets you need, and the validated ticket goes straight to your phone. Simple!
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Is travelling by public transport in Poland safe?
Travelling in Poland by public transport is very safe. In fact, this is still one of the main and preferred ways of transport for many Polish people. On Polish buses, trams and trains you will find daily commuters as well as tourists.
Of course, as everywhere else in the world, you need to be aware of common pickpocketers. Especially in very touristic areas. During rush hours and on crowded buses make sure you keep an eye on your belongings because even the safest places in the world will have common thieves looking for opportunities.
But you can hop on a bus or train at any time of night and day and you will be perfectly safe.
I hope you found this article helpful and you will enjoy travelling around Poland by public transport.
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments in case I didn’t cover something!
Until then, stay free and happy travelling!
Exploring more of Poland?
If you planning your winter escape in Zakopane don’t miss this article listing all the great things to do in Zakopane in Winter!
Don’t miss visiting the iconic city of Krakow which is a must-visit for every traveler to Poland!
For off-the-beaten-path attractions in Poland, be sure to visit the charming town of Bielsko Biala!
This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
My favourite Travel Resources
- For most of my accommodation, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellations and access to tons of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
- Make sure you download Google Maps and, for each new destination, download an offline map of your location and surrounding area. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to navigate around the town.
Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey-planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.
123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey-planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport – you will use this app for sure!
The travel insurance I use is Heymondo, and their plan suits me perfectly. They have clear policies with no deductibles, the price is excellent for what they offer and the price doesn’t go up when you are over 30 years old. They have a dedicated, easy-to-use app and free assistance calls.
I can get a cover for a month or three months and I know I can travel with peace of mind and get the best product for my money. And it also covers COVID-19.
- I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and Wise work fantastically. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts.
- I booked most of my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations.
For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!