The official Polish currency is the złoty (literally, ‘golden’), abbreviated to zł and pronounced zwo-ti. It is divided into 100 groszy, which are abbreviated to gr. Banknotes come in denominations of 10 zł, 20 zł, 50 zł, 100 zł, 200 zł and 500 zł and coins in 1 gr, 2 gr, 5 gr, 10 gr, 20 gr and 50 gr, and 1 zł, 2 zł and 5 zł.
Try to keep some small-denomination notes for shops, cafes and restaurants – getting change for the 100zł notes that ATMs often spit out can be a problem.
Currency can be exchanged at airports, hotels, banks and anywhere with a sign proclaiming "Kantor". Kantors will often provide better value than the banks in your home country or the ATM, though for obvious reasons be very wary of Kantors in the airports, bus stations and close to tourist sites.
When to tip: Customary in restaurants and at service establishments, such as hairdressers; optional everywhere else.
Restaurants: At smaller establishments and for smaller tabs, round the bill to the nearest 5zł or 10zł increment. Otherwise, 10% is standard.
Taxis: No need to tip, though you may want to round up the fare to reward good service.
Poland lies in a moderate zone with mixed continental and oceanic climate influences.
It is useful to know that the weather in Poland is highly unpredictable and varied. The summertime can be really hot, though usually temperatures are around 20-25 °C. Winters can be really cold, with the chance of snow from November till March. From year to year you never know when the snow will fall and how long it will lie, except in the mountains where it usually covers the slopes all winter.
During the autumn and spring the weather is often changeable – you are likely to enjoy moderately warm temperatures from April to June and from September to October, but it is also possible to see snow in April or people wearing short-sleeves in October. Anyway, many people consider the spring and autumn to be the most beautiful seasons to visit Poland. They are good for travelling in, making for less tiring and so more enjoyable travel when you can avoid hard frost or sweltering heat.
As the weather here can be quite unpredictable, to get the best out of your Polish experience it is important to include both an umbrella and sunglasses, necessary equipment all year long.
Average temperature in September: 13.1 °C / 55.6 °F
In case of an emergency those dialling from a land line or public phone should use the following numbers: 999 for an ambulance, 998 for the fire brigade and 997 for the police. Mobile phone users should call 112 to be forwarded to the relevant department. English speaking assistance is not necessarily guaranteed, and rests on the linguistic capabilities of the operator.
English, German and Russian speakers have the option of using separate lines specifically designed for foreigners in distress: dial +48 608 599 999 or +48 22 278 77 77. Both numbers can be reached from a mobile phone or a land line and are hotlines in case you run into any troubles during your stay.
Taxis are easily available and not too expensive. As a rough guide, a 5 km taxi trip will cost around 20 zł, and a 10 km ride shouldn’t cost more than 30 zł. Taxi fares are higher at night (10 pm to 6 am), on Sunday and outside the city limits. The number of passengers (usually up to four) and the amount of luggage doesn’t affect the fare.
- Avoid unmarked pirate taxis, which usually have just a small ‘taxi’ sign on the roof with no name or phone number.
- You can flag down cabs on the street or order them by phone. There’s no extra charge for this and many firms employ dispatchers who can speak at least some English.
- When you get into a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter. Also check whether the meter has been switched to the proper rate: ‘1’ identifies the daytime rate, and ‘2’ is the night rate.
Buses & trams
Polish cities offer excellent public transport. Every large and medium-sized city will have a comprehensive autobus (bus) network, while some cities will also have tramwaj (tram) and trolejbus (trolleybus) systems. Warsaw is the only city with a metro.
* Public transport normally operates daily from around 5 am to 11 pm. Service is less frequent on weekends.
* Trams and buses are likely to be crowded during rush hour (7 am to 9 am and 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm Monday to Friday).
* Timetables are usually posted at stops.
Rent a bike and enjoy biking through Bialystok. The most popular way of renting a bike is the BiKeR system, which has many rental stations throughout the city center. BiKeR city cyclists have 54 stations and 570 bikes in Białystok, 2 stations and 20 bikes in the commune of Juchnowiec Kościelny, 2 stations and 14 bikes in the commune of Choroszcz.
To find more information regarding BiKeR system please visit https://bikerbialystok.pl/en/polski-jak-to-dziala/
German version: https://bikerbialystok.pl/de/polski-jak-to-dziala/
Russian version: https://bikerbialystok.pl/ru/jak-to-dziala/
Each city has a slightly different system of ticketing and fares, so be prepared to watch what the locals do and do likewise.
Most cities have a fare system based on the duration of the ride (also in Bialystok), with a standard 30-minute ticket costing around 3.60 zł. There may be more expensive tickets for longer ones (60 minutes, 24 hours).
Mobile phone: When using your own mobile phone and roaming services, you can choose from Polish operators: T-mobile, Plus, Orange and Play. It is quite easy to get a Polish SIM card, and if you stay longer this is more economical. When making calls within Poland, dial the country code +48, then the city code (Bialystok, for example, is 85) followed by the number. When calling Polish mobiles, dial +48 and then the 9-digit number.