For Foreigners

10 things to know before visiting Poland

Never been to Poland but thinking about visiting? Be sure to read this comprehensive list with 10 things to know before visiting Poland before you pack your bags!

  1. Bring lots of different clothes. The weather is kinda variable here, even in the summer. It could even be chilly on summer evenings, so be sure to prepare for all types of weather. 
  2. People speak English and they will help you. It really depends on where you go, but generally younger people speak English at some level and even if not they’ll definitely try to help you however they can. But people think it’s cute when you can say a few simple things, so try and learn some basic phrases before you arrive.
  3. Poles might have a different way of getting to know people. Depending on where you’re from, you might encounter some differences in Poles’ approach to newcomers/new acquaintances. If you’re a native, some people may be delighted to speak with you, while others will stay a great distance away from you to avoid speaking English. It just depends on the people, but also Poles might need a little warming up before they open up or treat you like a friend. 
  4. Foreigners from “western” countries are accepted, not so much the others. This is a sad fact that you should keep in mind, as it could lead to problems. However, this won’t matter much in bigger cities where it’s more cosmopolitan, but if you’re visiting friends/family in a village-y area, you could expect some unwarranted attention.
  5. Poland isn’t one big village. Sometimes people are surprised that there are big cities in Poland. I don’t know what they think… that it’s just fields? Anyway, most of the big cities are also hundreds of years old, so there’s that. 
  6. You’ll be well-fed. Prepare your stomach. If you’re visiting friends or family, they’ll be sure to feed you loads of good food as a way to show their hospitality. Don’t be surprised if you’re given more than you might normally eat, and if you’re too full for more, just firmly say “dziękuję” or (no, thanks) as sometimes they like to insist on seconds or “dokładka”.
  7. The cities aren’t the only thing to visit. Try visiting other parts of Poland with beautiful landscapes, not just Kraków and Warsaw. Try the many mountain ranges such as the Tatras, Sudety, Bieszczady, Beskidy, the Mazury lake region or the Polish seaside. That’s also a way to really experience interesting regional differences and traditions.
  8. There are plenty of interesting foods to eat other than pierogi. Try żurek (a fermented rye soup often served in bread), gołabki (cabbage rolls), or perhaps placki ziemniaczane z gulaszem (potato pancakes with goulash). Although if you want something truly good and authentic, homemade food is usually much better than that you can find at restaurants. Or you could try a bar mleczny (milk bar), where the food is very cheap and quite authentic.
  9. Stores are closed on Sundays. This is a relatively new development and I think it sucks. But anyway don’t plan on going shopping at supermarkets or malls on Sunday during your trip. Of course all other kinds of attractions like museums, zoos, or other places to sightsee will be open. 
  10. Public transport works well. You shouldn’t have an issue getting around the cities on foot either, but public transport in the way of trams, trains and buses are quite good here. If not, we have Uber and normal taxis here too. 

Visiting? Have any questions? Be sure to ask your question in the comments.

For those of you who’ve been here, what else would you add to this list? Maybe something you wish you had known before visiting?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Jordan 3 October 2019 at 20:42

    This is for Americans – When hosting a party, you pour a drink for everyone else. 🙂

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