Train travel in Europe is easy, cheap, fast, convenient, even glamorous… Kind of. In Poland, train travel is available, but honestly, it’s far from perfect. Even still, it’s the best way to get around Poland if you don’t want to rent a car!
We took the trains on our trip to four cities in Poland on the PKP Intercity train system, and while it did get us where we needed to go, we had to do some legwork and learn a few things along the way. Here are the essentials to know so you can have the best experience possible!
Use Rome2Rio to search your options.
This is the best way to see what all your transportation options are to go from one place to the next. It’s one of my favorite travel apps, and has been for years! Maybe the train is best, or maybe the bus is better.
This app is unique in that it also gives you direct links to schedules and official websites so that you can book directly with the train company, bus company, or airline, instead of booking through a third party, which usually comes with hefty fees and no options if something gets cancelled or goes wrong. Check Rome2Rio!
Also helpful: The Best Apps for Travelers All Over the World
Search for the “Glowny.”
The Polish word for “main” is “glowny.” So, when you’re searching for the Poznan Main Train Station, Warsaw Main Train Station, Krakow Main Strain Station, etc., you will need to type in or look for Poznan Glowny, Warsaw Glowny, Krakow Glowny—you get it. If you search for “train station,” nothing will come up!
It’s relatively inexpensive.
Train travel in Europe is so much more affordable than train travel in the U.S. And that is especially true in Poland. A first class seat was only around $20, and second class was just $10! Standing room only is even less than that. And these are two, three, and even four hour train rides. It really is a good deal, especially for solo travelers and budget travelers.
More resources for you: The Ultimate Guide to Travel and Your Money
Buy tickets online, at a kiosk, or in person.
You can buy tickets online or at a kiosk in the train station, but we always went to a person at the ticket counter to (hopefully) cut down on any mistakes on our part. All the ticket agents spoke excellent English and answered all our questions (of which there were many!).
(Coming soon) Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Gdansk
Buy tickets in advance in the high season (June, July, August).
You can buy tickets online a month in advance, and it’s a good idea to do so if you’re comfortable with that and if you’re traveling in the summer high season. We ended up on a train with standing room only for 3 hours (including delay time on the train), and we wished we had bought sooner so we could have had a seat!
Read next: How to Plan Long-term Travel in Europe
If you want to sit, get a seat assignment.
This is essential. When I took the trains in Poland way back in my early solo travel days, I got yelled at by a ticket taker on a train because I was sitting down! Apparently I had a standing room only ticket, but didn’t know it. Whoops! Make sure you are purchasing a ticket with a seat assignment if you want to be able to sit down.
You might be delayed indefinitely.
We encountered this on over half of our train trips. Once we had a rolling delay that totaled 55 minutes, and once we had an indefinite delay due to a “broken locomotive!” Luckily in that instance, we had befriended a Polish-German man in our compartment who told us what was going on, and we were able to get on a different train going to our destination. Whew! That train might still be sitting there, y’all. We have no idea!
Keep reading: The Best Foods You Must Try in Poland
Announcements are not made in English.
This made it difficult for us, since neither of us speak Polish! There were a few platform announcements in English at at least one train station, but none of the announcements on the trains were made in English. Don’t be afraid to ask someone what the announcements mean. Make a friend!
Also helpful: Words to Learn in the Local Language Wherever You Go
Here is a train ticket and what the information means:
- Bilet: Ticket
- Normal: 2: Number of people for whom the ticket is valid
- Calendar Symbol and 08.08: The date of the ticket’s validity and DD.MM (08 August)
- Clock Symbol and 13:38: Departure Time in Military Time (1:38pm)
- Poznan Gl and Wroclaw Gl: Departure City Name and Arrival City Name
- Clock Symbol and 15:19: Arrival Time in Military Time (3:19pm)
- KL 2: 2nd Class
- POC 5354: Train Number 5354 (like a flight number, to make sure you get on the right train)
- PLN*** 98,00: Price in Zlotys: 98 ($24.50 USD for two people)
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