Before You Come

Poland

Poland is a democratic country situated in the center of Europe, which boasts over a thousand years of history. The rich and complicated history of the country, cultural heritage, beautiful scenery of the Baltic sea, the mountains and the diverse fauna and flora that can make you fall in love in Poland.

 

There are different stereotypes about each country in the world. The same is in case of Poland. But are you sure that everything is true? Come and check it yourself!

General Information about Poland

Capital of Poland: Warsaw

Language: Polish

Border Countries: Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia

Population: 38 million

Area: 322,575 sq km

Time Zone: CET (UTC+1 Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Climate: Temperate with mild summers and moderate severe winters

Currency: Zloty (PLN, zł), 1 zloty = 100 groszy

Government type: Republic, Parliamentary Democracy

Members of: EU, UN, NATO, OECD, WTO and many other

 

 

 

A lot of Polish attractions have been appreciated for their values by UNESCO, but also by the people like you, because the number of tourists increase every year. Being in Poland, you can not miss places like Krakow and the nearby Wieliczka, Warsaw, Gdansk, Czestochowa, Auschwitz and the charming Zakopane.

Currently, Poland is growing dynamically. You can notice that in every aspect of life. There are new airports, railway stations, roads as well as new museums, hiking trails for lovers of different activities, ie. Cycling and kayaking.

Visa regulations in Poland

Poland belongs to the Schengen area, so you can move easily through the whole European Union.

The list of countries whose nationals are allowed to travel to Poland without visas:

A: Albania (only for holders of biometric passports), Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria;
B: Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina (only for holders of biometric passports), Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria;
C: Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic;
D/E/F: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France;
G: Germany, Greece, Guatemala,
H: Hungary Honduras, Hong Kong;
I/J/K: Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan;
L: Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia;
M: Macedonia (only for holders of biometric passports), Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova (only for holders of biometric passports), Monaco, Montenegro (only for holders of biometric passports);
N: the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Northern Ireland;
P/R: Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Romania;
S: El Salvador, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia (only for holders of biometric passports), Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain;
T: Taiwan (only for holders, which include an identity card number), Tonga;
U: Uruguay, USA, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain;
V: Vatican City, Venezuela.

The conditions for entry to Poland for the other nationals may covered by the visa requirement:

  • Short-term Schengen visa (C)
  • Polish long-term national visa (D) [The period of validity of the long-term national visa (D) does not exceed 1 year]
  • the residence permit in Poland
  • the residence permit or a national visa issued by another Schengen State

To enter the territory of Schengen countries, third country nationals must have a valid travel document and a visa, if required.  Also, they need to meet the following requirements:

  • justify the purpose and conditions of the intended stay, they have enough financial resources during their stay and for the return to the country of origin or transit to a third country, to which the person is permitted to enter.
  • they can not be on the list of people who permission for entry was denied
  • they can not be regarded as persons, which may affect public order, security or international relations of one of the Schengen countries.

After crossing the border control, they are free to travel within the Schengen area.

The Schengen Countries issue the following types of Schengen visas, which entitle the holder to enter and stay in the Schengen area:

  • transit visa (A) - valid only for airport, the holder cannot leave the airport transit zone
  • short-stay visa (C) - to stay the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within 6 months from the date of first entry

The Schengen countries also can issue the long-term national visas (D) and residence permits.

For further information regarding the entry and residence  in Poland, you may reach out the competent diplomatic representation or consular office.

What to pack - Poland

The contents of our suitcase, backpack or other bag depends on the character and length of our trip, so everyone should individually think about what to take with you. Below we have prepared a list of the things that you should consider  whether they will be useful during this trip.

Mandatory:

- The documents - identity card or passport (check the expiry date)

- Photocopy of documents (keep it in another place than the originals)

- Cash - most currencies can be exchanged without any problems in the banks and exchange offices, however it is recommended to have  Euros or US Dollars. In more and more places, ie. restaurants, hotels and popular tourist attractions, you can also pay in Euros or US dollars, but the exchange rate is worse

- Debit or credit card - In Poland, the ATMs are available almost everywhere, and there is no problem to pay by cards in hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and shops. However, it is recommended to have even a small amount of money in cash, eg. to buy souvenirs at local markets.

- Visa - if required (find above more information on this case)

- airline tickets

- Driving license or an international driving license (necessary for people from countries outside the European Union) – for people who want to rent a car in Poland

- The insurance policy - in any journey, it is worth to have insurance against dangerous accidents. In cases of urgency, it will save unnecessary stress and costs. 

- Clothes: blouse or sweater, t-shirts, long trousers, shorts, raincoat, cap, skirt

- warm jacket for winter (mandatory from October / November to March / April)

- Other clothes

- travel first aid kit : sticking plaster, bandage, painkiller, flu remedies, remedy for diarrhea and constipation, cream with UV protection, the medicines you take, repellant for mosquitoes - despite the fact that in Poland there is no danger of contracting malaria, it is worth to have such a measure (especially for trips outside the city). Repellents can also be purchased in Poland in most of the shops.

The good news is that if you do not take some medicines with you, without any problems, all you can buy in Poland.

The cosmetic bag: deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, shower gel, shaving cream, lotion, shampoo, things for make-up, wipes (all depending on you preferences). Rememeber that, all of the cosmetics, you can buy in Poland as well.

Electrical devices: adapter to power (in Poland there is a voltage of 230V, power outlet type E or C with two round pins), cell phone, camera, video camera, batteries, chargers, memory cards, headphones, POWERBANK, flashlight, hair dryer, straightener, iron.

Remember that these are only the tips and proposals that you should think about when packing. There is no need to take too many things because you will have to carry them with you. If you forget about something, do not worry, you can buy everything here in Poland. You should remember mostly about the documents and money :)

Traditional Polish dishes

The Culinary tourism is one of the best aspects of traveling. Who doesn’t like tasting new flavors in new places? Of course, you can always find and go to a restaurant where dishes from your native country are served, but are you are travelling to eat your national dishes in a foreign country? Let us feel the explosion of flavors!!! 

The borders of our country, which have changed over centuries, as well as the strong influences of neighboring countries definitely affected our national culinary tradition. In Polish cuisine, we can see the influence of Russian, German, Austrian, Jewish, French and Lithuanian. However, despite the impact of many cultures, Polish culinary culture managed to survive.

The most important Polish dishes include soups such as żurek (sour soup), mushroom soup, tripe; different types of meat: dziczyzna (wild meat), poultry dishes - roast duck with apples and stuffed chickens. You cannot miss also the wonderful stuffed cabbage (gołąbki), bigos and pierogi.

Soups:

  • - barszcz biały (white borscht) - prepared in a sourdough, with marjoram, potatoes, sometimes with the addition of cream
  • - barszcz czerwony (Beetroot soup) - on the basis of beets with vegetables and cream or served with dumplings
  • - żurek (Sour soup) - based on sourdough, with potatoes, sausage or egg, sometimes served in a loaf of bread
  • - krupnik (Barley soup) - on the basis of barley, mixed with vegetables and pieces of smoked meat
  • - kapuśniak (Cabbage soup) -  based on sauerkraut
  • - zupa ogórkowa (Cucumber soup) - the main ingredient - pickled cucumbers
  • - Rosół z makaronem (Chicken soup) – decoction of boiled chicken meat, served with noodles
  • - Pomidorowa (Tomato soup) - on the basis of tomato purée or fresh tomatoes, usually served with rice or noodles
  • - Grochówka (Pea soup) - on the basis of cooked peas
  • - Grzybowa (Mushroom Soup) -  the main ingredients are wild forest mushrooms, usually the soup contains cream
  • - Flaczki (Tripe) - decoction of beef bones with pieces of tripe, meat and vegetables

Appetizers:

  • - smalec (Lard) - prepared with pork fat or bacon with onion, marjoram, sometimes with apple or prunes. Usually served with bread and served with pickles as an appetizer before the main course
  • - Śledzie w śmietanie (Herring in cream sauce) - salted herring often with onion
  • - boczek ze śliwką (bacon with prune) - fried bacon stuffed with prunes
  • - Tatar - raw minced beef with onion and with the addition of egg yolk

Main courses - Beef and veal:

  • - eskalopki z cielęciny - (Escallops of veal) - veal filet in batter
  • - polędwiczki wołowe - Beef tenderloin: often topped with mushroom sauce
  • - ozór wołowy (Beef tongue) - boiled beef tongue
  • - Piece of meat in horseradish sauce- boiled beef served with horseradish sauce
  • - zrazy zawijane (Slices wrapped beef) - beef wrapped with bacon, pickled cucumbers, onions or red peppers, topped with spicy sauce

Main courses – Pork:

  • - golonka w piwie (Pork knuckle in beer) – the greasy dish, but very ; sometimes pouring beer, always served with horseradish;
  • - karkówka (Chuck steak) - grilled or baked pork
  • - Kotlet schabowy (Pork chop) - breaded pork (Polish specialty)
  • - kiełbasa (Sausage) - especially we recommend white sausage; usually served with pickled cucumber, as an appetizer for beer or vodka
  • - żeberka w miodzie (Ribs in honey) -  fried pork ribs with honey

Main courses – Poultry:

  • - kaczka z jabłkami (Duck with apples) - roast duck with the addition of apples
  • - Chicken de volaille -  chicken smeared in butter and stuffed with mushrooms and croutons
  • - wątróbki drobiowe (Poultry livers) - usually fried and served with onion

Other meat dishes:

  • - baranina (Mutton) - smoked or grilled mutton, a dish especially popular in the mountains
  • - klopsiki (meatballs) – served often in tomato sauce
  • - Bigos - a tasty dish based on cabbage with vegetables, mushrooms, sausage, smoked meat; traditional Polish dish
  • - dziczyzna (wild meat) – especuially popular are: hare, boar, pheasant
  • - fasolka po bretońsku -beans in tomato sauce with sausage
  • - gołąbki (Stuffed cabbage) - minced beef and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves
  • - kaszanka (Blood sausage) - grilled or baked sausages with groats and pork blood

Fish:

  • - karp po żydowsku -  carp in jelly with raisins; Jewish dish
  • - Salmon - usually baked or boiled in dill sauce
  • - pstrąg (Trout) -  sometimes served with cognac or other alcohol or almonds
  • - sandacz - usually fried or boiled

Other dishes:

  • - Pierogi (dumplings) - with various fillings: cabbage with mushrooms, cottage cheese and potatoes („ruskie”), meat, fruits
  • - Naleśniki (Pancakes) -  a dish made of flour, served with jam, fruits, cottage cheese etc.
  • - knedle -  potato balls stuffed with fruits, usually with plums

Extras:

  • - kopytka - dumplings served with cream or pork scratchings
  • - kluski śląskie (Silesian noodles) - dumplings prepared with boiled potatoes
  • - kasza gryczana (Buckwheat groats) - usually boiled and served with pork scratchings
  • - placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes) - pancakes with raw potatoes, fried in oil
  • - different types of salads

Desserts:

  • - faworki - thin, crisp biscuits sprinkled with icing sugar
  • - galaretka - fruit-flavored jelly, served with whipped cream or fruit
  • - Makowiec - cake stuffed with minced poppy
  • - pączki (Donuts) -  Yeast cakes fried in oil, stuffed with rose or fruit jam
  • - sernik (cheesecake) – cake on the basis of cottage cheese
  • - szarlotka (Apple pie) - cake with apples, sometimes served with whipped cream or ice cream

Holidays and Traditions in Poland

Everyone likes holidays and especially customs associated with them. Often, we travel around the world to participate in such events e.g. The carnival in Rio de Janeiro, New Year in China. In Poland there are also some exciting and interesting holidays, that you should take part in.

On the other hand, there are some people who don’t  like crowds of people. Often, during the holidays the shops are closed, public transport has a different timetable, as well as some museums, galleries and smaller attractions  may be also closed.

Therefore, it’s  good to know, when such holidays take place. Below, find the list of Polish most important holidays:

On last Thursday before the Lent, in front of pastry shops in Poland, there are always big queues due to the smell of fried donuts with rose, pudding and other fillings. Fat Tuesday is the day of uncontrolled gluttony, a real feast for gourmands.

Christmas - the most important and popular holiday of the year - the whole family sits down to the table. Tradition dictates that a twelve course dinner should begin with sharing the wafer. Whereas, at Easter,  Polish family eats breakfast together, during which they share the blessed egg. However, on Easter Monday, people play jokes and  pour each other with water.

Other religious holidays are celebrated less solemnly:

  • Epiphany - Catholics write on the doors of the houses, with holy chalk, letters C + M + B. (Christus Mansionem Benedicat, the Latin words meaning, May Christ bless this home.)
  • Whit Sunday - Catholics bring to the churches sweet flag
  • Corpus Christi - Catholics take part in procession to four altars
  • Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - thousands of pilgrims go to Czestochowa (The Jasna Góra Monastery - shrine to the Virgin Mary )  to take part in a ceremonial Mass.

You need to remember that at National holidays Polish people mainly relax. On 1st, 2nd and 3rd May, the streets of the major cities are empty and the tourist resorts are full of people.

People in Poland are happy to celebrate also holidays, which do not exempt them from work:

  • - Women's Day,
  • - Children's Day,
  • - Miner’s day,
  • - Valentine's Day,
  • - St. Andrew's Day (Polish equivalent of Halloween).

It doesn't matter whether the tradition of celebration come from the East or from the West. The most important is the fun and the memory of loved ones. 

The most important holidays (non-working days) in 2016:

  • January 1st – New Year
  • January 6th - The Three Kings (Epiphany)
  • March 27th – Easter (movable holiday)
  • March 28th - Easter Monday (movable holiday)
  • May 1st – the Labour Day
  • May 3rd – The Constitution Day
  • May 15th - Whit Sunday (movable holiday)
  • May 26th - Corpus Christi (movable holiday)
  • August 15th - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1st - All Saint's Day
  • November 11th- The Independence Day
  • December 25th – Christmas
  • December 26th – Christmas

 

In 2017:

  • January 1st – New Year
  • January 6th - The Three Kings (Epiphany)
  • April 16th – Easter (movable holiday)
  • April 17th - Easter Monday (movable holiday)
  • May 1st – the Labour Day
  • May 3rd – The Constitution Day
  • June 4th - Whit Sunday (movable holiday)
  • June 15th - Corpus Christi (movable holiday)
  • August 15th - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1st - All Saint's Day
  • November 11th- The Independence Day
  • December 25th – Christmas
  • December 26th – Christmas
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