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|image=[[Image:Krakau Markt.jpg|250px|center|]]Statue of Adam Mickiewicz in the Old Town Square in [[Kraków]]|location=[[Image:LocationPoland.png|noframe|250px]]|flag=[[Image:Pl-flag.png]]
|currency=Złoty (PLN)
|area=312,685 km²
|population=38,636,000 (2006 est.)
|electricity=230V/50Hz (European plug)
|emergencies=dial '''112'''
'''Poland''' ['''Poland'''] (Polish: ''Polska''), is a country in [[Central Europe]]. It has a long [[Baltic Sea]] coastline and is bordered by [[Belarus]], the [[Czech Republic]], [[Germany]], [[Lithuania]], [[Russia]] ([[Kaliningrad Oblast]]), [[Slovakia]], and [[Ukraine]]. 
The first cities in today's Poland, [[Kalisz]] and [[Elbląg]] on the Amber Trail to the Baltic Sea, were mentioned by Roman writers in the first century AD, but the first Polish settlement in [[Biskupin]] dates even further back to the 7th century BC.
Poland was first united as a country in the first half of the 10th century, and officially adopted Catholicism in 966 AD. The first capital was in the city of [[Gniezno]], but a century later the capital was moved to [[Kraków]], where it remained for half a milleniummillennium.
Poland experienced its golden age from 14th till 16th century, under the reign of king Casimir the Great, and the Jagiellonian dynasty, whose rule extended from the Baltic to the Black and Adriatic seas. In the 16th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest country in Europe; the country attracted significant numbers of foreign migrants, including Germans, Jews, Armenians and the Dutch, thanks to the freedom of confession guaranteed by the state and the atmosphere of religious tolerance (rather exceptional in Europe at the time of the Holy Inquisition).
Under the rule of the Vasa dynasty, the capital was moved to [[Warsaw]] in 1596. During the 17th and the 18th centuries, the nobility increasingly asserted its independence of the monarchy; combined with several exhausting wars, this greatly weakened the Commonwealth. Responding to the need for reform, Poland was the 1st country in Europe (and the 2nd in the world, after the US) to pass a constitution. The constitution of 3 May 3rd, 1791 was the key reform among many progressive but belated attempts to strengthen the country during the second half of the 18th century.
With the country in political disarray, various sections of Poland were subsequently occupied by its neighborsneighbours, Russia, Prussia and Austria, in three coordinated "partitions" of 1772 and 1793, and 1795. After the last partition and a failed uprising, Poland ceased to exist as a country for 123 years.
However, this long period of foreign domination was met with fierce resistance. During the Napoleonic Wars, a semi-autonomous Duchy of Warsaw arose, before being erased from the map again in 1813. Further uprisings ensued, such as the 29 November uprising of 1830-1831 (mainly in Russian Poland), the 1848 Revolution (mostly in Austrian and Prussian Poland), and 22 January Jan 1863. Throughout the occupation, Poles retained their sense of national identity, and kept fighting the subjugation of the three occupying powers.
[[Image:Warsaw-Pilsudski-Square-1900s.jpg|right|thumb|250px|Warsaw in 1900s]]
Poland returned to the map of Europe with the end of World War I, officially regaining its independence on November 11th, 1918. Soon, by 1920-21, the newly-reborn country got into territorial disputes with Czechoslovakia and, especially, the antagonistic and newly Soviet Russia with which it fought a war. This was further complicated by a hostile Weimar Germany to the west, which strongly resented the annexation of portions of its eastern Prussian territories, and the detachment of German-speaking Danzig (contemporary [[Gdańsk]]) as a free city.
====World War II====
World War II officially began with a coordinated attack on Poland's borders by the Soviet Union from the east and Nazi Germany from the west and north. Only a few days prior to the start of WWII, the Soviet Union and Germany had signed a secret pact of non-aggression, which called for the re-division of the newly independent central and eastern European nations. Germany attacked Poland on September 1, Sep 1939, and the Soviet Union attacked Poland on September 17, Sep 1939, effectively starting the fourth partition, causing the recentlyre-reestablished established Polish Republic to cease to exist. Hitler used the issue of Danzig ([[Gdańsk]]) and German nationalism to try to trigger a war with Poland in much the same way he used the Sudetenland Question to conquer the Czechs.
Many of WWII's most infamous war crimes were committed by both the Nazis and Soviets on Polish territory. Much of the Holocaust took place in Poland, with as Poland had the former committing largest population of Jews of any country in the vast majority world, over three million, 90% of themwhom were murdered by the Nazis. Poland’s cities had especially large Jewish populations. Polish civilians opposed to either side's rule were ruthlessly rounded upBefore World War II Warsaw was 30% Jewish, torturedLodz 34%, and executedLublin 35%. Nazi Germany established both concentration and All six of the Nazi’s extermination camps on Polish soil, where many millions of Europeans were ruthlessly murderedlocated in Poland; of these [[Auschwitz]] is perhaps the most infamouswell known. Much of the Jewish resistance to the Nazis was also centered in Poland, the most famous example being the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943.  In addition to the Jews, Polish non-Jews were vigorously persecuted by the Nazis with 2 to 3 million non-Jewish Poles murdered by them. Polish civilians were ruthlessly rounded up, tortured, put into concentration camps, and executed.
The Soviets rounded up and executed the cream of the crop of Polish leadership in the Katyń Massacre of 1940. About 22,000 Polish military and political leaders, business owners, and intelligentsia were murdered in the massacre, officially approved by the Soviet Politburo, including by Stalin and Beria.
A brief reprieve from this history occurred in 1978. The then-archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyła, was elected as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name John Paul II. This had a profound impact on Poland's largely Catholic population, and to this day John Paul II is widely revered in the country.
In 1980, the anti-communist trade union "Solidarity" (Polish: ''Solidarność'') ["Solidarity"] (Polish: ''Solidarność'') became a strong force of opposition to the government, organizing labor labour strikes, and demanding freedom of the press and democratic representation. The communist government responded by organizing a military junta, led by general Wojciech Jaruzelski, and imposing martial law on December 13, Dec 1981; it lasted until July 22, Jul 1983. During this time, thousands of people were detained. Phone calls were monitored by the government, independent organizations not aligned with the Communists were deemed illegal and members were arrested, access to roads was restricted, the borders were sealed, ordinary industries were placed under military management, and workers who failed to follow orders faced the threat of a military court. Solidarity was the most famous organization to be illegalized, made illegal and its members faced the possibility of losing their jobs and imprisonment.
But this internecine conflict and ensuing economic disaster greatly weakened the role of the Communist Party. Solidarity was legalized again, and soon led the country to the first free elections in 1989, in which the communist government was finally removed from power. This inspired a succession of peaceful anti-communist revolutions throughout the Warsaw Pact block.
====Contemporary Poland (Third Republic of Poland)====
 Nowadays, Poland is a democratic country with a stable, robust economy, a member of NATO since 1999 and the [[European Union]] since 2004. The country's stability has been recently underscored by the fact that the tragic deaths of the President and a large number of political, business and civic leaders in a plane crash did not have an appreciable negative effect on the Polish currency or economic prospects. Poland has also successfully joined the border-less Europe agreement (Schengen), with an open border to Germany, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Slovakia, and is on track to adopt the Euro currency in a few years time. Poland's dream of rejoining Europe as an independent nation at peace and in mutual respect of its neighbors neighbours has finally been achieved.
Note that Catholic religious holidays are widely observed in Poland. Stores, malls, and restaurants are likely to be closed or have very limited business hours on Easter, All Saints Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
* '''Easter''' (''Wielkanoc, Niedziela Wielkanocna''), a moveable feast that is scheduled according to the moon calendar, usually in March or April. Like Christmas, it is primarily a meaningful Christian holiday. On the Saturday before Easter, churches offer special services in anticipation of the holiday, including blessing of food; children especially like to attend these services, bringing small baskets of painted eggs and candy to be blessed. On Easter Sunday itself, practicing practising Catholics go to the morning mass, followed by a celebratory breakfast made of foods blessed the day before. On Easter Sunday, shops, malls, and restaurants are commonly closed.
* '''Lany Poniedziałek''', or '''Śmigus Dyngus''', is the Monday after Easter, and also a holiday. It's the day of an old tradition with pagan roots: groups of kids and teens wandering around, looking to soak each other with water. Often groups of boys will try to catch groups of girls, and vice versa; but innocent passers-by are not exempt from the game, and are expected to play along. Common 'weapons' include water guns and water balloons, but children, especially outdoors and in the countryside, like to use buckets and have no mercy on passers-by. (Drivers - this means keep your windows wound up or you're likely to get soaked.)
* '''The Feast of Corpus Christi''', another moveable feast, is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, or sixty days after Easter. It is celebrated across the country; in smaller locations virtually the whole village or town becomes involved in a procession, and all traffic is stopped as the procession weaves its way through the streets. Corpus Christi is a major holy day of obligation, and most stores will closed.
* '''Constitution Day''' falls on 3 May 3rd, in remembrance of the Constitution of 3 May 3rd, 1791. The document itself was a highly progressive attempt at political reform, and it was Europe's first constitution (and world's second, after the US). Following the partitions, the original Constitution became a highly poignant symbol of national identity and ideals. Today, 3 May 3rd is a national holiday, often combined with the 1 May 1 (Labour Day) into a larger celebration.
* '''All Saints Day''' (''Wszystkich Świętych''), November 1st1 Nov. In the afternoon people visit graves of their relatives and light candles. After dusk cemeteries glow with thousands of lights and offer a very picturesque scene. If you have the chance, be sure to visit a cemetery to witness the holiday. Many restaurants, malls, and stores will either be closed or close earlier than usual on this holiday.
* '''National Independence Day''' (''Narodowe Święto Niepodległości'') is a public holiday celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate Poland's independence in 1918, after 123 years of partitions and occupation by Austria, Prussia and Russia. As with other holidays, most businesses will be closed on this day.
* '''Christmas Eve''' (''Wigilia'') and '''Christmas''' (''Boże Narodzenie''), December 24th, 25th and 26th. Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year, and its eve is definitely the year's most important feast. According to Catholic tradition, celebration of liturgical feasts starts in the evening of the preceding day (a vigil, hence ''wigilia''). In Polish folklore, this translates into a special family dinner, which traditionally calls for a twelve course meatless meal (representing the twelve apostles), which is supposed to begin in the evening, after the first star can be spotted in the night sky. On Christmas Eve most stores will close around 2-3pm; on Christmas Days people will still usually stay home, and everything apart from essential services will be closed and public transport will be severely limited, on the Second Day of Christmas less so.
* '''New Year's Eve''' (''Sylwester''), December 31st31 Dec. One of the party nights of the year. Consider yourself extremely lucky if you can get into even a decent club as most clubs will be packed. Most clubs will sell tickets in advance, but you'll probably have to dish out at least 150 PLN, zł150 and that's just for entrance and ''maybe'' a couple of drinks. If you're a little more flexible, you might be able to get into non-club parties. Otherwise, there are always the firework displays to entertain you.
The countryside throughout Poland is lovely and relatively unspoiled. Poland has a variety of regions with beautiful landscapes and small-scale organic and traditional farms. Travelers Travellers can choose different types of activities such as bird watching, cycling or horseback riding.
Culturally, you can visit and/or experience many churches, museums, ceramic and traditional basket-making workshops, castle ruins, rural centers centres and many more. A journey through the Polish countryside gives you a perfect opportunity to enjoy and absorb local knowledge about its landscape and people.
Poland's administrative regions are called '''województwa''', abbreviated "'''woj.'''". The word is roughly equivalent to a ''duchy'' or a ''district''. Some English dictionaries use the word '''voivodship''' to describe them, but the word is exceedingly rare, and likely not to be understood.
|region2items=[[Holy Cross Mountains]], [[Lesser Poland Voivodship]], [[Lublin Voivodship]], [[Subcarpathia]]
|region2description=Home to spectacular mountain ranges, the world's oldest operating salt mines, fantastic landscapes, caves, historical monuments and cities. The magnificent medieval city of [[Kraków]] is a major metropolitan centercentre.
<!--before adding new cities here, please discuss first on the Talk page-->
 * [[Warsaw]] — capital of Poland, and one of the EU's thriving new business centerscentres; the old town, nearly completely destroyed during World War II, has been rebuilt in a style inspired by classicist paintings of Canalletto.
* [[Gdańsk]] — formerly known as Danzig; one of the old, beautiful European cities, rebuilt after World War II. Located in the center of the Baltic coast, it's a great departure point to the many sea resorts along the Baltic coast.
* [[Katowice]] — central district of the Upper Silesian Metropolis, both an important commercial hub and a centre of culture.
* [[Kraków]] — the "cultural capital" of Poland and its historical capital in the Middle Ages; its center centre is filled with old churches, monuments, the largest European medieval market-place - and more recently trendy pubs and art galleries. Its city center centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site [].
* [[Lublin]] — the biggest city in Eastern Poland, it has a well-preserved old town with typical Polish architecture, along with unusual Renaissance elements (the so-called Lublin Renaissance).
* [[Łódź]] — once renowned for its textile industries, the "Polish Manchester" has the longest walking street in Europe, the Piotrkowska Street, full of picturesque 19th-century architecture.
* [[Poznań]] — the merchant city, considered to be the birthplace of the Polish nation and church (along with [[Gniezno]]); presents a mixture of architecture from all ''epoques''.
* [[Szczecin]] — most important city of Pomerania with an enormous harborharbour, monuments, old parks and museums.
* [[Wrocław]] — an old Silesian city with great history; placed on 12 islands, it has more bridges than any other European town except Venice, Amsterdam and Hamburg.
==Other destinations==
<!--before adding new destinations here, please discuss first on the Talk page-->
 * [[Auschwitz]] — German Nazi Concentration Camp that became the center centre of the Holocaust for European Jews during World War II. UNESCO World Heritage Site [ World Heritage Site].* [[Białowieża National Park]] — a huge area of ancient woodland straddling the border with [[Belarus]]. UNESCO World Heritage Site [ World Heritage Site].
* [[Bory Tucholskie National Park]] — national park protecting the Tucholskie Forests.
* [[Kalwaria Zebrzydowska]] — monastery in the Beskids from 1600 with Mannerist architecture and a Stations of the Cross complex. UNESCO World Heritage Site [ World Heritage Site].
* [[Karkonoski National Park]] — national park in the Sudety around the Śnieżka Mountain with beautiful waterfalls.
* [[Malbork]] — home to the Malbork Castle, the beautiful huge Brick Gothic castle and the largest one in Europe. UNESCO World Heritage Site [].
* [[Słowiński National Park]] — national park next to the Baltic Sea with the biggest dunes in Europe
* [[Wieliczka|Wieliczka Salt Mine]] — the oldest still existing enterprise worldwide, this salt mine was exploited continuously since the 13th century. UNESCO World Heritage Site [ World Heritage Site].
* [[Wielkopolski National Park]] — national park in Greater Poland protecting the wildlife of the Wielkopolskie Lakes.
Regular visas are issued for travellers going to Poland for ''tourism and business purposes''. Regular visas allow for one or multiple entries into Polish territory and stay in Poland for maximum up to 90 days and are issued for the definite period of stay. When applying for a visa, please indicate the number of days you plan to spend in Poland and a date of intended arrival. Holders of regular visas are not authorized to work.
===By plane===
 Most of Europe's major airlines fly to and from Poland. Poland's national carriers are LOT Polish Airlines [http://www.lot.comLOT Polish Airlines]. There are also a number of [[Discount airlines in Europe|low cost airlines]] that fly to Poland including WizzAir [http://wizzair.comWizzAir], EasyJet [http://easyjet.comEasyJet], Germanwings [http://www.germanwings.comGermanwings], Norwegian [] and Ryanair [http://www.ryanair.comRyanair].
Apart from direct air connections from many European cities, there are also direct flights from United States and Canada: LOT operates direct flights from [[Toronto]], [[New York City|New York]] and [[Chicago]], as well as non-direct flights from other cities through the Star Alliance program.
===By car===
You can enter Poland by one of many roads linking Poland with the neighbouring countries. Since Poland's entry to the Schengen Zone, checkpoints on border crossings with other EU countries have been removed.
You can enter Poland by one of many roads linking Poland with the neighboring countries. Since Poland's entry to the Schengen Zone, checkpoints on border crossings with other EU countries have been removed. However, the queues on the borders with Poland's non-EU neighborsneighbours, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, are still large and in areas congested with truck traffic it can take up to several hours to pass.
===By bus===
There are many international bus lines that connect major Polish cities, with most of major European ones.
===By boat===
* '''From [[Sweden]]''': [[Ystad]] (7-9 hours, 215 zł) by Unity Line []; [[Karlskrona]] (10 hours, 140-220 zł) by Stena Line []; [[Nynäshamn]] (18 hours, 230-270 zł), [[Visby]] (13.5 hours, 170 zł), [[Ystad]] (9.5 hours, 230 zł) by Polferries []
* '''From [[Denmark]]''': [[Copenhagen]] (9-12 hours, 220 zł), [[Bornholm]]/Rønne (5 hours, 125 złzł125) by Polferries [].
* '''From [[Finland]]''': [[Helsinki]] (~18 h) by Finnlines []
===By yacht===
 There are more and more ports along Polish coast, at least at every river mouth. Bigger marinas are located in [[Szczecin]], [[Łeba]], [[Hel]], [[Gdynia]] and [[Gdańsk]]. Gdansk, has two yacht docks one next to the old time (market) which is usually quickly overloaded and one in the national sailing center centre 17 km. next to the city center centre close to the Baltic sea. The newest yacht dock will be located on the longest wooden peer in Sopot and will be ready in 2011. Although there are many sailors in Poland, there is still room for improvement which has been seen by the regional government.
===From Czech Republic===
* In local, express and fast trains (not IC or EC!), it is possible to buy a special '''cross-border ticket''' ("bilet przechodowy" in Polish) which is valid between the Czech and Polish (or vice versa) border stations and costs only 15 CZK or 2 PLNzł2. You can buy it from the conductor on the train (or completely ignore it if the conductor does not emerge before you reach the other border station, which happens) and to your advantege advantage combine it with domestic tickets of the two countries (the one you buy before departure and another one you may buy if your train stops for an amount of time in the first station after the border and you have time to quickly reach for the ticket office - or you buy the other domestic ticket at the conductor with a low surcharge).
* In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the '''ZVON''' transport system: []
* The railway between '''Harrachov''' (Czech Republic) and '''Szklarska Poręba''' (Poland) in the Krkonoše/Karkonosze mountains ([]) has been out of order since WW2 but reopened again in summer 2010. There are trains terminating in Szklarska Poręba Górna and Harrachov, respectively. You can walk on foot between the two (approximately 16 kilometereskm) by following the road (which is good state, though meandering and going through a vast uninhabited area with a modest altitude peak in the middle). Or, if you are afraid of the passing trucks, you could follow the railroad railway under construction (it is legal to follow it as long as it is not yet being operated, but it may not be very comfortable and won't spare you any significant distance in this case).* After a several-year-long period of electrification, there are now several trains a day again between '''Lichkov''' (Czech Republic) and '''Międzylesie''' (Poland). Yet, if for instance you arrive by the last train of the day which terminates before the border, you may try walking to the other side. From Międzylesie, you can follow the trafic directions to Brno and reach the border by following the road and passing through the villages of Smreczyna and Boboszów. Soon after you've crossed the border, make a sharp right turn at the cross road and walk the rest to Lichkov. The terrain is quite flat there. This is a little detour and takes some 13 kilometerskm, but while the railway is somewhat shorter, you should not follow it because it goes through a dark forest and you would risk collision with night cargo trains, and of course the law.
* The Polish train station of '''Głuchołazy''' is served by Czech trains passing between Jeseník and Krnov and can be reached with a domestic Czech train ticket (with "Gluchlolazy" as the destination). You can also get a ticket starting in that station or a return ticket in advance, but you cannot buy Czech tickets in the station itself. There are no more Polish trains departing from Głuchołazy to inner Poland, only buses from the city (1,5 km walk-away from the station).
* There are very few connections a day between '''Bohumín''' (Czech Republic) and '''Chałupki''' (Poland; once called Annaberg and at the three country border of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland), but it is easy to cross the border on foot if you miss your connection. Bohumín is a major Czech train station and Chałupki a terminal of trains to inner Poland. Between the two places, you are passing through the Czech settlement of Starý Bohumín, situated right at the border which is briefly formed by the river Odra in this place, which you cross by an old pedestrian bridge. The walk is on a completely flat terrain, almost straight, goes almost exclusively through inhabited places and is short in distance (5 kilometerskm).* The divided city of '''Český Těšín''' (Czech Republic) / '''Cieszyn''' (Poland) is a very easy spot for border crossing. If you reach one of them, you can walk to the other very comfortably and at a short distance (20 minutes min from one station to another). It's the river Olše/Olza in the city center that forms the border. The train stations in both Český Těšín and Cieszyn have good connections to other destinations.
===From Germany===
* In the vicinity of the Czech-German-Polish three country border, you may profit from the unified fare of the '''ZVON''' transport system: []
===From Lithuania ===
==Get around==
Polish road infrastructure is extensive but generally poorly maintained, and high speed motorways currently in place are insufficient. However, public transport is quite plentiful and inexpensive: buses and trams in cities, and charter buses and trains for long distance travel.
===By plane===
Polish national carrier '''LOT''' [] has daily connections between the biggest cities with a hub in [[Warsaw]]. Other option is Eurolot [] which connects other bigger cities directly.
===By train===
In Poland, the national railway carriers are PKP InterCity (Polskie Koleje Państwowe) [] and Przewozy Regionalne. There are few local carriers that belongs to voivodships or major cities.
====Train types====
* '''E-IC (ExpressInterCity) / EC (EuroCity) / Ex (Express)''' - express trains between metro areas, as well as major tourist destinations. Seat reservation guaranteed. Power points for laptops are sometimes available next to the seat. Company: PKP InterCity.
* '''E-IC (ExpressInterCity) / EC TLK (EuroCity) / Ex (ExpressTwoje Linie Kolejowe)''' - express discount trains between metro areas, as well as major tourist destinationsslower but cheaper than the above. Reservation Not many routes, but very good alternative for budget travellers. Seat reservation guaranteed. Use usually required. Power points for laptops older carriages which are sometimes available next not always suited to the seathigh speed travel. Company: PKP InterCity.
* '''TLK RE (Twoje Linie KolejoweRegioEkspres)''' - discount trainsTLK alike, higher or equal standard, slower but cheaper than only a few of these type are running in the abovewhole country. Not many routes, but very good alternative for budget travellers. Reservation obligatory for 1st class, usually no reservation for 2nd class. Use older carriages which are not always suited to high speed travelThere's also one international route: Wrocław - Dresden. Company: PKP InterCityPrzewozy Regionalne.
* '''RE IR (RegioEkspressInterRegio)''' - cheaper than TLK and even higher standard, RegioEkspres but only 3 most of these type the routes are running: Lublin - Poznań, Warsaw - Szczecin and Wrocław - Dresdensupporter by poor quality trains. Company: Przewozy Regionalne.
* '''IR (InterRegio)''' - cheaper than TLK and RegioExpress but most of the routes are supporter by poor quality trains. Company: Przewozy Regionalne.
 * '''REGIO / Osobowy''' - ordinary passenger train; usually slow, stops everywhere. You can also buy a weekend ''turystyczny'' ticket, or a week-long pass. Great if you are not in rush, but expect these to be very crowded at times. Company: Przewozy Regionalne; other. * '''Podmiejski''' - suburban commuter train. Varying degrees of comfort and facilities. Tickets need to be bought at station ticket counters. Some local companies allow you to buy a ticket on board from the train manager, in the very first compartment. A surcharge will apply.
* '''Narrow gauge''' - Poland still retains a number of local narrow-gauged railways. Some of them are oriented towards tourism and operate only in summer or on weekends, while others remain active as everyday municipal rail. See [[Polish narrow gauge railways]].
It's probably easiest to buy InterCity tickets online (see links below). You can also buy tickets on-line for Regio, RE, IR and TLK.
It's probably easiest Tickets for any route can generally be purchased at any station. For a foreigner buying tickets, this can prove to buy InterCity tickets online be a frustrating experience, since only cashiers at international ticket offices (see links belowin major cities)can be expected to speak multiple languages. You can also It is recommended that you buy your train tickets online for Regio, RE, IR on-line to avoid communication difficulties and TLKlong queues.
Tickets for any route can generally be purchased at any station. For a foreigner buying tickets, this can prove to be a frustrating experience, since only cashiers at international ticket offices (in major cities) can be expected to speak multiple languages. It is recommended that you buy your train tickets online to avoid communication difficulties and long queues.  It may be easier to '''buy in advance''' during peak seasons (eg. : end of holiday period, New Year, etc.) for trains that require reserved seating.
Please note, that tickets bought for E-IC/EC/EXpress/etc. trains are not valid for local/regional trains on the same routes. If you change trains between InterCity and Regional you have to buy a second ticket.
* Timetable search [] (''in English, but station names of course in Polish'')
* PKP [] information: ''+48 22'' 9436, international information ''+48 22'' 5116003.
* PKP Intercity [] serves express connections (''tickets can be bought onlineon-line'' [] and you can show it to the conductor on your smartphone, laptop or similar devices)
* Przewozy Regionalne tickets for Regio, RE and IR - [] - only Polish version; you should provide yourself a ticket printout.
* Polrail Service [] offers a guide to rail travel in Poland and on-line purchase of tickets and rail passes for Polish and international trains to neighboring neighbouring countries. The company takes provision - cca. 22PLN zł22 for every ticket.
* Traffic info about all moving trains [] - check, if the train has a delay.
If you travel in a group with the Regional, you should get a 33% discount for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th person (offer ''Ty i 1,2,3'').
If you are a weekend traveller think about the weekend offers, which are valid from Friday 6* or 7 pc.m. till 18:00 until Monday 6 a.m.06:00:
* for all Intercity trains (E-IC,Ex,TLK) ''Bilet Weekendowy'' (from 154 PLN, reservation not included)
* for TLK ''Bilet Podróżnika'' (74PLNzł74) + REGIO ''Bilet Plus'' (+ 17 PLNzł17)
* for all Regional trains (REGIO, IR, RE) ''Bilet Turystyczny'' (from 79 PLN)*
* only for REGIO trains ''Bilet Turystyczny''(from 45 PLN)*.
===By bus===
Poland has a very well developed network of private charter bus companies, which tend to be cheaper, faster, and more comfortable than travel by rail. For trips under 100 km, charter buses are far more popular than trains. However, they are more difficult to use for foreigners, because of language barrier.
There is an on-line timetable available. It available in English and includes bus and train options so you can compare: [] Online On-line timetables are useful for planning, however, there are multiple carriers at each bus station and departure times for major cities and popular destinations are typically no longer then thirty minutes in-between.
Each city and town has a central bus station (formerly known as ''PKS''), where the various bus routes pick up passengers; you can find their schedules there. Bus routes can also be recognized by signs on the front of the bus that typically state the terminating stop. This is easier if picking up a bus from a roadside stop, rather than the central depot. Tickets are usually purchased directly from the driver, but sometimes it's also possible to buy them at the station. If purchasing from the driver, simply board the bus, tell the driver your destination and he will inform you of the price. Drivers rarely speak English, so often he will print a receipt showing the amount.
===By car===
[[Image:Speedlimits Poland.PNG|thumb|Speed limits in Poland]]
Driving in Poland may be stressful, frustrating and time-consuming, due to the poor quality of roads, lack of motorways and the driving style of the locals. Polish road network contains fewer highways and more ordinary two-lane roads than is common in western countries. A lot of these roads are far below capacity for the volume of traffic they are carrying and the average quality of the road surface is poor. Motorways are being constructed but Poland is towards the bottom of motorway km rankings in Europe.
[[Image:Speedlimits Poland.PNG|right|As a rule of thumb|Speed limits in Poland]] Driving in Poland may be stressful, frustrating and time-consumingassume 2 hr for each 100km of travel (allowing for unexpected delays). If you're driving through large cities, due you can safely double that. Due to the poor quality of roads, lack of motorways you will be passing through lots of smaller and bigger towns and the driving style of the localsoften big cities which will significantly slow you down. Polish road network contains fewer highways When travelling between smaller cities or towns you will also routinely encounter slow moving vehicles, such as farm vehicles and more ordinary two-lane roads than is tractors, and sometimes bicycles. Drunks, on foot or on bicycles, are a common in western countriessight. A lot of these roads are far below capacity for the volume of This includes having them weave through fast moving traffic they are carrying and the average quality of the road surface is poor. Motorways are being constructed but Poland is towards the bottom of motorway kilometre rankings in Europeat night.
As a rule Polish road death statistics are high for European standards and driver behaviour is sometimes very poor in terms of thumbimpatience, assume 2h for each 100km rudeness and absence of travel (allowing for unexpected delays)ordinary common sense or foresight. If you're "Dynamic driving style" is expected. In practice this means that Poles often drive aggressively and recklessly, push in, "meander" through surrounding cars, routinely disrespect speed limits (frequently by a large cities, you can safely double margin) and overtake at less-than-safe distances. Overtaking is a critical and potentially dangerous manoeuvre thatis commonly done in a hazardous way in Poland. Due In heavier traffic it's common to lack of motorways you overtake "like 3rd" meaning that at some point during the manoeuvre there will be passing through lots of smaller three cars (the overtaken, the overtaking, and the vehicle approaching from the opposite direction) next to each other side to side (or close to that). An unwritten code is followed to make this possible and bigger towns "safe". The driver that is driving behind a slower vehicle and often big cities which preparing to overtake expects that the slower vehicle will significantly slow you downmove to the right as far as feels comfortable also using the half-lane if it is separated with a dashed line and completely sure to be free of bicycles or pedestrians. When travelling between smaller cities The vehicle approaching from the opposite direction is advised or towns you will sometimes forced to also routinely encounter slow moving vehicles, such as farm vehicles slightly move to the side. '''Such style of overtaking is illegal and tractors, unsafe. The above information is intended to explain the reality on the ground and sometimes bicycleshelp understand the traffic.''' Don't do it. Drunks, on foot If you hit someone or something on bicyclesthe shoulder, are a common sightyou get penalised and the driver who caused you to do it has long since driven off. This includes having them weave through fast moving traffic at nightParticularly reckless drivers will attempt to overtake "on four", when overtaking in both directions is taking place in roughly the same space.
Polish road death statistics are high for European standards and driver behaviour is sometimes very poor in terms of impatience, rudeness and absence of ordinary common sense or foresight. "Dynamic driving style" is expected. In practice this means that Poles often drive aggressively and recklessly, push in, "meander" through surrounding cars, routinely disrespect speed limits (frequently by a large margin) and overtake at less-than-safe distances. Overtaking is a critical and potentially dangerous maneuver that is commonly done in a hazardous way in Poland. In heavier traffic it's common to overtake "like 3rd" meaning that at some point during the maneuver there will be three cars (the overtaken, the overtaking, and the vehicle approaching from the opposite direction) next to each other side to side (or close to that). An unwritten code is followed to make this possible and "safe". The driver that is driving behind a slower vehicle and preparing to overtake expects that the slower vehicle will move to the right as far as feels comfortable also using the half-lane if it is separated with a dashed line and completely sure to be free of bicycles or pedestrians. The vehicle approaching from the opposite direction is advised or sometimes forced to also slightly move to the side. '''Such style of overtaking is illegal and unsafe. The above information is intended to explain the reality on the ground and help understand the traffic.''' Don't do it. If you hit someone or something on the shoulder, you get penalised and the driver who caused you to do it has long since driven off. Particularly reckless drivers will attempt to overtake "on four", when overtaking in both directions is taking place in roughly the same space.
Tailgating is routine. Aggressive driving up behind you and flashing of headlights means "get out of my way". If you're driving on a two-lane road, which will be most of the time, you are under no obligation to do so. Just be aware that the driver may throw something out of his window, or suddenly step on his brakes once he has passed you. This is done to "teach you a lesson."
Some peculiarities of driving in Poland include:
* Speed limits are: '''50km/h''' in city ('''60 km/h''' 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.23:00-05:00), '''90 km/h''' outside city, '''100 km/h ''' if lanes are separated, '''100 km/h''' on single carriage way car-only roads (''white car on the blue'' sign), '''120 km/h''' on dual carriageway car-only roads, and '''140 km/h''' on motorways / freeways (''autostrada'').
* Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence. BAC limits are: up to '''0.02%''' - not prosecuted by law, up to '''0.05%''' - an offence, above '''0.05%''' - '''criminal offence''' (up to 2 years in jail). ''Despite the strict laws, DUI's are a serious problem in Poland, not least as there is ample anecdotal evidence of police officers accepting bribes instead of handing out traffic offence notices. Be especially careful during (and after) national holidays and late night on weekends on the small roads in the countryside as drivers commonly take to the road inebriated.''
* There is no right turn at a red light. Exception is when there is green arrow signal in which case you still have to come to a complete stop and yield to pedestrians and cross traffic (although the stop rule is seldom respected by Polish drivers). All above does not apply if right turning traffic has '''separate''' (red-yellow-green) signals.
* A warning triangle is a mandatory part of a car's equipment and needs to be displayed some distance back from any accident or when, eg. changing a tire. This does not mean that they are necessarily used every time they should be.
Roads marked ''droga szybkiego ruchu'' (rapid transit road) are frequently anything but that. The rule of roads going through towns and not around them still applies and speed limits change rapidly from the allowable 90 kmh to 70, down to 40 and then up again to 70 within only a few hundreds of metres. Speed cameras (in unmarked dark gray grey pole-mounted boxes) are common (and the income from those goes to the local council.) Radar-equipped traffic police are also frequent but that apparently does little to deter the speeding drivers. In recent years there has been a resurgence in CB radio popularity. The drivers use it to warn each other about the traffic police.
Some drivers flash their headlights to warn those approaching from the opposite direction of a police control nearby (you are likely to encounter this custom in many other countries). It may also mean that you need to turn your lights on since dipped headlights need to be on at all times while driving. A "thank you" between drivers can be expressed by waving your hand or, when the distance is too great, by turning on blinkers or hazard lights for one or two blinks.
A recent plague of flashing LED advertising hoardings has been spreading along Polish roads. As well as adding to the already high level of visual pollution these have a more immediate effect of distracting drivers during the day and blinding them at night, as advertisers leave output levels set at "high". Poland has no legislation to prevent this from happening, and the hoardings are placed at or only slightly above the line of sight. This, added to the condition of the roads and the behaviour of the locals, makes driving on rainy nights additionally difficult.
At the gas stations <strike>PB</strike> means unleaded gasoline and ON means diesel. Petrol and diesel are roughly the same price. LPG is widely available, both at 'branded' gas stations and independent distributors and is labout about half the price of petrol. Credit cards or debit cards can be used to pay almost at all stations so at independent distributors.
In Autumn or in Spring it is common for small traders to set up their stands with fruit or wild mushrooms along the roads. They don't always stay in places where it's safe for cars to stop and you should be careful of drivers stopping abruptly and be watchful if you want to stop yourself. Wild mushrooms are a speciality if you know how to cook them. A cautionary note: There is a slight possibility that the people who picked the mushrooms are not very good at telling the good ones from the poisonous, so eat at your own responsibility. Never feed wild mushrooms to small children as they are particularly vulnerable. Rely on the judgement of your Polish friends if you consider them reasonable people.
===By taxi===
Use only those that are associated in a "corporation" (look for phone number and a logo on the side and on the top). There are no British style minicabs in Poland. Unaffiliated drivers are likely to cheat and charge you much more. Like everywhere, be especially wary of these taxis near international airports and train stations. They are called the "taxi mafia".
The prices would vary slightly between the taxi companies and between different cities, and there is a small fixed starting fee added on top of the mileage fare.
When crossing city limits (for example, when traveling travelling to an airport located outside the city), the driver should change the tariff at the city limit.
Every taxi driver is obliged to issue a receipt when asked (at the end of the ride). You can inquire driver about a receipt (''rachunek'') before you get into cab, and resign if his reaction seems suspicious or if he refuses.
===By bicycle===
Bicycling is a good method to get a good impression of the scenery in Poland. The roads can sometimes be in quite a bad state and there is usually no hard shoulder or bicycle lane. Car drivers are careless but most do not necessarily want to kill cyclists on sight which seems to be the case in some other countries.
Rainwater drainage of both city streets is usually in dreadful condition and in the country it is simply non-existent. This means that puddles are huge and common, plus pot-holes make them doubly hazardous.
Especially in the south you can find some nice places for bicycling; e.g. eg: along the rivers Dunajec (from Zakopane to Szczawnica) or Poprad (Krynica to Stary Sacz) or Lower Silesia (Zlotoryja - Swierzawa - Jawor).
Specially mapped bike routes are starting to appear and there are specialised guide books available so ask a bicycle club for help and you should be just fine. Away from roads which join major cities and large towns you should be able to find some great riding and staying at ''agroturystyka'' (room with board at a farmer's house, for example) can be a great experience.
===Hitch hiking===
[[Hitchhiking]] in Poland is (on average) OK. Yes, it's slower than its Western (Germany) and Eastern (Lithuania) neighbors, but your waiting times will be quite acceptable!
The best places to be picked up at are the main roads, mostly routes between Gdansk - Warsaw - Poznan and Krakow.
===Natural attractions===
[[Image:Tatra mountains Poland.jpg|thumb|330px|Tatra National Park]]
With 23 national parks and a number of landscape parks spread all over the country, natural attractions are never too far away. [[Białowieża National Park]], on the [[Belarus]] border, is a World Heritage site for it comprises the last remains of the primeval forest that once covered most of Europe. It's the only place where European Bisons still live in the wild. If you're fit and up for adventure, take the dangerous '''Eagle's Path''' (Orla Perć) in the [[Tatra Mountains]], where you'll also find Poland's highest peak. [[Pieniński National Park]] boasts the stunning '''Dunajec River Gorge''' and [[Karkonoski National Park]] is home to some fabulous '''water falls'''. The mountainous [[Bieszczady National Park]] has great hiking opportunities and lots of wild life. [[Wielkopolska National Park]] is, in contrast, very flat and covers a good part of the pretty '''Poznań Lakeland'''. The Masurian Landscape Park, in the [[Masurian Lake District]] with its 2000 lakes, is at least as beautiful. [[Bory Tucholskie National Park]] has the largest woodland in the country and has a bunch of lakes too, making it great for birdwatching. The two national parks on Poland's coast are also quite popular: [[Wolin National Park]] is located on an island in the north-west, [[Słowiński National Park]] holds some of the largest '''sand dunes''' in Europe.
Studying in Poland can be an incredible experience for foreigners. Foreign students can finance a B.A. education for as low as 24,000 zł and a M.A. education for as low as 20,000 zł.
At the moment Poland is one of the best places around the world to find a job as an English teacher. TEFL courses (that's Teaching English as a Foreign Language) are run in many cities across Poland. The demand for TEFL teachers is enormous and teaching language is a brilliant way to fund your travel and earn as you go.
 [[Image:Polish-Banknote-100zl.jpg|right|thumb|300px|Polish 100 zł banknote]]
The legal tender in Poland is the '''Polish złoty''' ('''zł,''' international abbreviation: '''PLN'''). The '''złoty''' divides into 100 '''grosze'''. Poland is expected to adopt the '''Euro (€)''' sometime after 2020, but those plans are still tentative.
It is illegal to export goods older than 55 years that are of ANY historic value. If you intend to do so you need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage [].
==== Super and hypermarkets ====
Hypermarkets are dominated by western chains: Carrefour, Tesco, Auchan, Real, Biedronka, Lidl, Netto. Some are open 24 hours a day.
Usually located in shopping malls or suburbs.
meat, fresh dairy, vegetables and fruits - goods for which freshness and quality is essential.
Prices in Poland are around to be one some of the lowest in the EU.
==== Town markets ====
Many towns, and larger suburbs, hold traditional weekly markets, similar to farmers' markets popular in the West. Fresh produce, baker's goods, dairy, meat and meat products are sold, along with everything from flowers and garden plants to Chinese-made clothing and bric-a-brac. In season wild mushrooms and forest fruit can also be bought. Markets are held on Thursdays / Fridays and/or Saturdays and are a great way to enjoy the local colour. Prices are usually set though you can try a little good-natured bargaining if you buy more than a few items.
{{Infobox|Tipping|For the most part, Polish restaurants and bars do not include gratuity in the total of the check, so your server will be pleased if you leave them a tip along with the payment. On average, you should tip 10% of the total bill. If you tip 15% or 20%, you probably should have received excellent service. Also, saying "''Dziękuję''" ("thank you") after paying means you do not expect any change back, so watch out if you're paying for a 10 zł coffee with a 100 zł bill. With all that said, many Poles may not leave a tip, unless service was exceptional. Poles don't usually tip bar staff.}}
Poles take their meals following the standard continental schedule: a light breakfast in the morning (usually some sandwiches with tea/coffee), then a larger lunch (or traditionally a "dinner") at around 1PM or 2PM, then a supper at around 7PM.
It is not difficult to avoid meat, with many restaurants offering at least one vegetarian dish. Most major cities have some exclusively vegetarian restaurants, especially near the city centercentre. Vegan options remain extremely limited, however.
===Traditional Local Food===
Traditional Polish cuisine tends to be hearty, rich in meats, sauces, and vegetables; sides of pickled vegetables are a favorite accompaniment. Modern Polish cuisine, however, tends towards greater variety, and focuses on healthy choices. In general, the quality of "store-bought" food is very high, especially in dairy products, baked goods, vegetables and meat products.
=== Driving Conditions ===
The quality of Polish roads has greatly improved in the recent years (mainly due to the EURO 2012 preparations) and it is now generally safe and comfortable to travel across the country. At the same time, there is still plenty of room for improvement, so be careful and watch out for potholes, especially in the country-side. Polish drivers often tend to ignore speeding restrictions (despite great numbers of speed cameras and hefty fines), do not feel compelled to do the same, as penalties for speeding are quite severe. Non-EU drivers are obliged by law to pay their fines on the spot and the EU ones can get their fines posted to their home countries.
Children younger than 12 years old and who are shorter than 150 cm (4’11”) must ride in a child car seat. You must use headlights year round, at all times, day and night. The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited except for hands-free models.
===Holocaust and World War II===
The Holocaust, as many historians note, was the genocide of European Jewry. While it is true that the The Nazis were determined to annihilate murdered 90% of Poland's Jews, one needs to remember that . In addition other ethnic, religious and political groups were also targeted. Poland was undoubtedly particularly painfully experienced during the war. It is now estimated that the Germans killed at least 6 million Poles. Among the victims, 3 million were Polish Jews. Additionally, over 3 million non-Jewish Poles were also murdered, and many others were enslaved. Many members of minority groups, the intelligentsia, Roman Catholic priests, and political opponents of the Nazis were among the dead. What is more, also the The Soviets (who invaded Poland shortly after the Nazis and later occupied it after the World War II) also were determined to exterminate various sections of the Polish society (including, among others, members of the anti-Nazi resistance, business owners and democratic activists). Between the census of 1939 and the census of 1945, the population of Poland had been reduced by over 30% from 35 million to 23 million.
In this context, it is important to be sensitive to the fact that the time of war and Soviet occupation was a tragedy for not only Polish Jews, but nearly all members most of the Polish society. And while While some Poles might have expressed active or benign support for actively assisted the Nazi acts of anti-semitism, Nazis in the vast majority persecution of the society was vehemently Jews, others were opposed to it and suffered together with their Jewish compatriots at the hands of the oppressors. It is worth noting that Poland was the only Nazi-occupied region were where helping Jews was punishable by death to one's '''entire family ''' - a policy that was to a large part implemented in response to the widespread solidarity between Jews and non-Jews in occupied Poland. It is hence seen in Poland as insensitive to either accuse the Poles for of any aspect of complicity in the Holocaust or to downplay the sufferings of non-Jewish members of the Polish society during World War II.
Visitors should also note that similar Similarly to Germany and Austria, displaying Nazi symbols are is illegal , except when used for educational purposes, and that holocaust denial is a crime in Poland, and ; both would could result in a prison sentence. While exceptions are technically made for the Swastika when used in a religious context for Buddhists, Hindus and Jains, you may be subject to lengthy questioning by the police if you choose to wear the this hated symbolof bestial oppression in Europe.
Due to the extremely painful experiences of Soviet occupation and brutal communist rule, the topic of communism (or socialism) are quite controversial and sensitive in Poland. While some tourist-oriented businesses might be playing with communist symbols or offer "communist-style tours" (especially in Cracow), many Poles see communist symbols and rhetoric as only slightly less unacceptable than Nazi swastikas or slogans. Unlike in the West, few people in Poland (and especially few elderly people) find communist symbols romantic, funny or trendy. For most of the Poles, communist times were marked by shortages of consumption goods, state-terror and closure of borders. Many Poles are proud of the Solidarity movement and its part in the breaking down of the European communist system. Bear these issues in mind if communism is brought up in conversation with Polish people and make sure not to disrespect anyone's memory or feelings regarding this issue.
===Mobile phones===
There are four mobile phone operators in Poland: Plus [] (''code 260 01''), T-Mobile (formerly ERA) [] (''260 02''), Orange [] (''260 03'') and Play []. The last one is mainly using Plus GSM Most of them have information avalible in Polish only. Their prepaid servicies are often calls "na kartę". Prepaid brands or virtual brands with english information on it's web sides are as follow: Heyah [], Klucz [], Lycamobile [] and Vectone [] coverage network. About 98% of the country's surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 2% are wildlife reserves or high mountains. UMTS is available in in about 50% of the country. Due to the introduction of virtual brands, some operators now have two names for their prepaid services: Plus has ''Sami Swoi'' and ''Simplus'', T-Mobile has ''Heyah'' and ''Tak Tak'', while Orange operates ''Pop'' and ''Orange Go''. Domestic call rates are roughly the same across all services. Prepaid starter kits with SIM card (called starter in Polish) are widely available in reasonable prices(from 5 to 20 pnPLN, of witch most is available for calls), in many shops(for example Żabka and most malls). Ask for starter and be sure to name the network You want. Accounts are valid for outgoing calls for few days, so it is good to fill them up for, lets say, 20 pln PLN (do-wa-do-wanie in Polish, be sure to give the value you want).
===Polish telephone numbers===

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