2024:Travel

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Traveller's cheatsheet

Poland
Timezone UTC+2
(Convert 9:00 AM to your timezone)
Currency Polish złoty (PLN / zł)

USD 1 = PLN 4.02
(as of 5 May, Currency converter)

Driving side right
Phone country code +48
Dominant religion Christianity
(Roman Catholicism)
Electricity 230V / 50Hz

Plug type C/E

Emergency contact 112
Main mobile carriers Orange, Play, Plus, T-Mobile
Ride hailing Uber, Bolt, Free Now

Useful apps

Tickets & schedules
Ride hailing

Money

Poland uses the złoty. Not the euro!

Cashless payments are very popular in Poland. You can pay by card at almost all places—be it small shops or supermarkets. If you want to exchange money after coming to Poland, there are money exchange points at the airports as well as in the city center.

The most common foreign currencies accepted for exchange are: Euro (EUR), British pound (GBP) and US dollar (USD). Usually you may also find others in the currency exchange offices, especially the European ones.

Climate

Poland lies in a humid continental climate zone. The mean temperature in August during the day is 25°C (76°F) and at night 13°C (55°F), although it can occasionally get hotter, reaching up to 30°C (86°F). You should be prepared for some variability in weather, including the possibility of occasional rain. On average, there are 12 rainy days in August, with about 75mm (3in) of precipitation in the whole month. People with sensitive skin should consider bringing a sunblock. The day in August begins around 4:40 AM, and it's bright until around 9:00 PM.

It's a good idea to pack lightweight clothing such as t-shirts, shorts, and summer dresses for the warm days, but also bring along a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings or if the weather turns unexpectedly chilly.

Local transit

Tickets are valid only upon validating in the bus

The local transport is organized by Polish communes independently. Therefore, ticket types, prices and specific regulations will vary between cities. Most types of ticket are for a specific travel durations (eg. 20 min, 1 hour, 24 hours etc.), so it's a good idea to check how long your trip is going to take in advance.

Jakdojade is a useful app for planning mass transit trips in Katowice (and Poland in general). It can consult transit schedules and also purchase transit e-tickets. Download for Android or iOS.

It's available on web at jakdojade.pl as well, but purchasing tickets is possible only in mobile apps. Jakdojade supports over 30 Polish cities and allows to buy tickets in many of them.

Please note: Tickets in Polish local transport are valid only after you validate them. After getting on the bus, please go to a stamping machine (usually orange) and put your ticket there. (Do it only once per ticket—don't repeat it once you transfer to another vehicle during the original ticket's validity period). In order to validate tickets bought with an app, scan a QR inside the vehicle (usually on a window near a door; other cities may have different policies regarding e-ticket validation).

All tickets allow you to change between lines as long as your ticket is valid.

Tickets available in Katowice transport
Ticket type Price (PLN) Approximate price (USD)
20-minute 4.00 1.00
40-minute 5.00 1.25
90-minute 6.00 1.50
daily[1] 12.00 3.00
24-hour[2] 24.00 6.00

Prices laid above apply when buying a ticket with an app (any app). Paper tickets cost PLN 0.60 (USD 0.15) more.

Mobile communications and SIM cards

Poland is part of the European Union, so EU/EEA residents can use cellular services according to the Roam like at home principles with no or almost no additional costs (please consult your carrier for limitations regarding fair use policy etc.).

Other options:

  • If you want to buy a physical SIM card after arriving, you can do so in a store in the arrivals terminal at the Katowice Airport. It is mandatory to present a passport or ID card in order to register the SIM card. You can do it in carriers' stands in e.g. shopping malls or in the stores that sell them.
  • You should be prepared to see offers like 5000 GB of internet on the SIM card covers, they usually refer to the amount of data you'll get during a whole year. Please check whether you have to perform any action to get the indicated data packet when buying the SIM card. All main carriers offer a mobile app for Android and iOS you can use to manage the service.
  • If you want to buy the card later, they are available in convenience stores around the city. In case of any troubles, all four carriers have their stands in the shopping mall next to Katowice railway station.
  • Consider a virtual eSIM using a mobile app if your phone supports it and you are only interested in a data plan. This is usually cheaper than a physical SIM and much easier to purchase, as it has no ID/passport requirement. If you are travelling to other regions of Europe, eSIMs have good deals that cover wide regions. Popular eSIM options include brands such as Airalo, Holafly, Ubigi, or Maya. Caveat: the eSIM options are usually data-only, and will not provide a new phone number.

Health insurance

European Health Insurance Card

People who are required to have a visa in order to come to Poland must have an insurance as one of the conditions for applying for visa. Costs of medical services should be settled between the medical facility and your insurer. Please have a proof of insurance with you—without it, you will be charged, and you might then ask your insurer for a refund.

People, who have their health insurance in EU/EFTA countries, are entitled to receive free medical help in case of accidents and emergencies. You have to present a European Health Insurance Card, or you'll be charged for the services (in the latter case, you may then ask your insurer for a refund). EHIC cardholders are eligible for drug reimbursements under the same rules as Polish citizens. (see more).

Katowice and its surroundings

See also Katowice on Wikivoyage.

Katowice is a large city in the Silesian Voivodeship in the south of Poland. Is has a population of over 300,000; it's the central city of GZM metropolis (population 2.3 million) which in turn is part of Upper Silesian-Moravian metropolitan area sprawling across the Czech border. It's not scenic, but has a rich industrial heritage—especially coal mining and heavy industry.

Apart from Katowice, the agglomeration consists of 40 towns, including Chorzów, Bytom, Zabrze, Ruda Śląska, Tychy, Gliwice and Tarnowskie Góry (see the linked Wikivoyage pages for more information). They all have a unified local transport systems with the same tickets. Some towns may be easier reachable by train and some by bus or tram. For such a trip, consider buying a 24 hour ticket, as it's valid in both local transport and regional trains in the Katowice agglomeration.

Other places that we invite you to visit, but outside of the agglomeration are:

  • Auschwitz-Birkenau (30km / 20mi) – a cluster of Nazi concentration, labor and extermination camps in Oświęcim and Brzezinka,
  • Częstochowa (60km / 40mi) – major pilgrimage site in Poland, best known for the Jasna Góra shrine, holding the Black Madonna icon,
  • Kraków (70km / 45mi) – former capital of Poland, one of most-visited Polish cities,
    • Wieliczka (12km / 7.5mi from Kraków) – famous of ancient salt mine.

Inbound and domestic transportation

Requirements to enter Poland

A passport stamp from Katowice

Anyone arriving in Poland with passports from outside the Schengen Zone should prepare to have the following items on hand:

  • A valid passport. It must not be older than ten years and should be valid for at least three more months, recommended six months, beyond its intended departure date from the Schengen Area.
  • Blank passport pages. Your passport must have at least two blank pages for the entry stamp.
  • A valid Schengen Visa. You must carry your Schengen visa with you when you travel through the Schengen Area. Usually, your visa is affixed to your passport, so those two go hand in hand. (More information on applying for visas can be found on a separate page).
  • Evidence on the purpose of entry. While not required for all non-visa holders, attendees should carry documentation explaining that they will be attending Wikimania. Wikimania attendees can request invitation letters from the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Poland by emailing wikimania@wikimedia.org with the subject line “Wikimania Invitation Letter Request”.
  • Proof of sufficient financial means. Documentation that proves you have enough financial means to visit the Schengen Area. For Poland, this amount is a minimum bank balance of PLN 300[3] for three days plus PLN 75 for each additional day, provable by a printed bank statement. You can also provide proof of employment or sponsorship, which the Wikimedia Foundation will provide to scholarship recipients.
  • Proof of return flight. Print out your travel itinerary to show when you will be departing.

Accommodation

Map

Only scholarship recipients and Wikimedia Foundation staff will have their accommodation arranged by the organizers. All other participants should find an accommodation option on their own.

We have prepared a list of links where you can find a place to stay that will suit your needs:

Please pay attention to the dates and number of guests. We've preselected Aug 7–10 and one adult guest.

There are numerous housing options south of the Wikimania venue near the Katowice Market Square, which is about a 15-minute walk. There is also a tram stop for Katowice Rondo which is next to the venue.

Coming to Katowice

Map of Polish airports

The recommended ways to get to Katowice is to travel by plane or train.

Plane travel

Katowice is served by an international Katowice-Pyrzowice airport (KTW / EPKT). It's the fourth-busiest airport in Poland and is located about 30km from Katowice. The route from airport to the city is operated by public transport buses and taxis.

Warsaw or Kraków. You might also want to book a flight to Warsaw or Kraków (the largest Polish airports) and then come to Katowice by train. Coming from Warsaw airport would take 3–4 hours and from Kraków around 90 minutes. Both trips require a transfer at one of the main stations in Warsaw or Kraków.

Rules and regulations that apply to airborne travel don't differ much from other countries, especially the Schengen Zone. The amount of fluids you can have in your hand luggage at security control is limited to 100 ml per bottle (and no more than 1 liter in total)—there are no CT scanners on Polish airports yet.

Domestic travels by plane in Poland are not that popular. For most people they serve as a first or final step in an international travel. Most domestic flights offered in Poland are to/from Warsaw.

Katowice airport (KTW / EPKT)
Map
Katowice airport with bus stop and train station (blue markers). Venue location marked in red and main Katowice train station in purple

Katowice is served by the airport located 25 km / 15 mi north of the city center. At the airport, there is frequent bus service. (There is a train station but there are no direct trains to Katowice at the time of writing).

Bus line "AP" is the recommended way of getting to Katowice from the airport. It departs every 30 minutes (at night: every hour) from the airport and stops at several locations in Katowice (see diagram). This trip takes around 40 minutes. Airport bus lines takes regular tariff tickets (see Local transit for full ticket buying options).

You should buy a "90 minute" ticket for the airport bus trip, with two possible options:

  • Paper ticket – It costs 6.60 PLN if you buy a paper ticket from the machine at the airport bus stop. Remember to validate/stamp your ticket in the bright orange machine when you board the bus.
  • E-ticket – Better yet, it costs 6 PLN if you use the highly recommended Jakdojade app for tickets and planning your trips (download for Android or iOS; webapp). You will need to install the app, load the virtual wallet using your preferred payment method (debit/credit card, Google Pay, Apple Pay), and when on the bus, scan one of the QR codes on the windows. The "AP" buses offer free WiFi.

For taking a car or taxi – There are also taxi stops by the terminal, or the ride hailing apps BOLT, Uber or Free Now can be used.

Warsaw airport (WAW / EPWA)
See also Warsaw on Wikivoyage.
Map
Warsaw airport with train station (blue markers) and Warszawa Zachodnia station (green)

Main Polish airport, situated in Warsaw (crow's flight distance to the city center: 7.5 km / 5 mi). Next to the airport terminal, there's an underground train station from where trains to Warsaw depart every 15–20 minutes (except for nights). You can use city buses as well (it's served by 4 day lines and one night line).

From Warsaw you can book a LOT flight to Katowice (there are 5 flights a day). If you're arriving at Warsaw and wish to go directly to Katowice by train, the recommended way is:

  • Go to the airport train station Warszawa Lotnisko Chopina and take any train, get off at Warszawa Zachodnia station—the trip takes ca. 15 minutes and is served by two carriers: Szybka Kolej Miejska (SKM) and Koleje Mazowieckie (KM); regular Warsaw public transport tickets apply (see above).
  • Take express train (TLK, IC, EIC, EIP) from Warszawa Zachodnia to Katowice—there are around 15 direct connections every day and the trip takes between 2h 30min and 3h 30min, depending on the train you pick. We encourage to buy tickets a few days in advance. Polish Railways allow to buy tickets a maximum of one month in advance (two months for international trains), and they are the cheapest in the earliest days of availability.

The main train stations in Warsaw are: Warszawa Centralna, Warszawa Wschodnia, Warszawa Zachodnia, Warszawa Gdańska.

Kraków airport (KRK / EPKK)
See also Kraków on Wikivoyage.
Map
Kraków airport with train station (blue markers) and Kraków Główny station (green)

Kraków airport is the second largest Polish airport. It's located 10 km / 6 mi from the city center and—like in Warsaw—there are direct train connections from the airport to the city (departing every 30 minutes for most of the day). There is a bus stop as well, but we recommend train for travelling to Kraków center.

Since Kraków is 70 km from Katowice, there are no plane connections between these cities. In order to get from Kraków airport to Katowice, we recommend the following:

  • Go to the airport train station Kraków Lotnisko and take any train, get off at Kraków Główny station—the trip takes 17 minutes and is served by Koleje Małopolskie.
  • Take a train from Kraków Główny to Katowice, there are over 30 direct connections a day (either regional or express); the trip takes 50–80 minutes, depending on which train you take.

For both parts of the trip you'll need a regular train ticket (contrary to what is the case for Warsaw). We recommend taking an express train (TLK, IC, EIC, EIP) for the second part as you'll get a seat reservation there.

The main train station in Kraków is Kraków Główny, which is a kilometer away from the historic old town.

Train travel

Trains are the preferred means of public transport for domestic travels in Poland. Every Polish major city has a train station somewhere near the city center. The Katowice train station is located 1.5 km from the Wikimania 2024 venue, and even closer to numerous hotels, and the accommodation arranged for scholarship recipients.

There's a good number of trains coming from both within Poland (including Warsaw, Kraków and Wrocław), as well as trains crossing Poland's western and southern borders. There are direct connections with e.g. Berlin, Ostrava, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. More international routes are possible with transfers.

There are two main categories of trains: regional and express ones. Regional trains stop at every station along the route, making them significantly slower but they are also cheaper. There are some quick regional connections that cover longer distances and skip some stops. On the contrary, express trains skip many smaller villages and towns and allow to quickly cover longer distances (this is not a high-speed railway, though—these usually run no faster than 160 km/h).

Please note, that (due to how train numbers are assigned) the actual number of the train you're boarding and the one you might have on your ticket can differ by one (eg. IC 7322 and IC 7323 refer to the same train).

Express trains
PKP Intercity train
Main information about a train is displayed or printed on the entrance: train number and name, relation, car number

Express trains in Poland are operated by PKP Intercity. In order to ride such a train, you'll have to buy a ticket in advance. The sales open 30 days (for international trains: 60 days) before departure and close 5 minutes before scheduled departure time. Tickets are sold for a specific relation and specific time. This means that you have to know precisely when you'll be travelling.

Express trains can be divided into subtypes:

  • TLK (Twoje Linie Kolejowe), IC (Intercity) – cheaper ones, they stop in main and medium cities along the route,
  • EIC (Express Intercity), EIP (Express Intercity Premium) – more expensive ones, they stop only on most important stations (and thus are slightly faster).

Tickets for express trains generally include a seat reservation (which in itself is free, but tied to a ticket). If a train is fully-booked, it's still possible to buy some amount of tickets without seat guarantee. In such a case you can sit on any free seat but you have to let it to a person who's got it booked.

Both compartment and compartmentless cars are available. Compartments of first and second class have 6 seats, except for TLK trains where second class has usually 8 seats per compartment.

Please note, that if you want to book two seats next to each other, they will not have consecutive numbers. A general rule is that the following seat numbers make pairs: _1 and _3, _2 and _8, _4 and _6, _5 and _7, see more (in Polish).

Regional trains
Koleje Śląskie train
Polregio train

Regional trains are operated by Polregio and other regional companies, e.g. Koleje Śląskie (you might assume that every carrier with Koleje in their name is a regional one).

Contrary to express trains, tickets for regional trains are sold for a relation and not a specific trip from a schedule. This means that you can use the ticket for another train on the same route (provided that it's during the ticket's validity time). Regional train tickets are valid for at least 3 hours from the time printed on the ticket (actual validity time can be longer and is decided on by the carrier and may depend on the trip length, check here—in Polish).

Some of the regional carriers honor tickets issued by other regional carrier (there can be some limitations still). Cross-honoring between Polregio and Koleje Śląskie (two main carriers in the Katowice region) applies to the following segments (more information—in Polish):

  • Katowice – Katowice Szopienice Południowe,
  • Katowice Szopienice Południowe – Mysłowice,
  • Częstochowa – Częstochowa Raków,
  • Nędza – Racibórz,
  • Kalety – Tarnowskie Góry,
  • Herby Stare – Częstochowa,
  • Herby Stare – Lubliniec.
Booking tickets
Ticket for a regional train operated by Koleje Dolnośląskie. The exact appearance can vary.

Train tickets are available for purchase is ticket offices at many stations. They can also be bought on-line, for example on Koleo or Jakdojade app (Jakdojade offers only express trains). Regional train tickets can be bought from the Skycash app that also allows to buy other kinds of transport tickets.

In all trains except EIP it's possible to buy tickets on board. In order to do so, immediately after getting on the train or while still at the platform you'll have to find the train conductor and ask for a ticket. An additional fee of PLN 5–20 (ca. USD 1–5) will be incurred, except if you're getting on at a station without a ticket office.

Tickets bought at stations are printed without the passenger's name. On the other hand, online platforms require the buyer to provide the passenger name and you might be asked by a train conductor to show your document (ID card, passport, driver's licence etc.) along with the ticket.

Please note that if you want to cancel your ticket, you have to do it through the same channel you bought it (ticket office or on-line platform). You'll usually get 85% of the ticket's price back in such a case. It's also possible to change the time or destination point of travel once. You'll have to pay the price difference between the new and old ticket then.

Train delays
Proof that you can use your PKP Intercity ticket in another train.

It's not that unusual to experience a train delay of a few minutes. Therefore we don't recommend booking travels with less that 10–15 minutes for a transfer between trains. In case of hardware failures or excessive heat, more delays can occur.

If you planned to transfer between express trains and because of the first one's delay you might miss the second one, go find a train conductor and tell about the situation. Express trains can be held on a station for up to 10–15 minutes in such cases (it's not guaranteed, though). If—due to the delay—you can't get to your second train, ask the train crew or a person at the ticket office to print a confirmation of the delay for you. It will allow you to take the next train without additional costs.

If you're experiencing a serious delay—don't panic. The carrier is still obliged to bring you to the destination point. You can as well decide to take another train or to cancel your further trip and go back to the departure place. If you want to change your plans due to the delay, go to the ticket office or the train conductor to get a confirmation. It will enable you to use the ticket on a different train or you will be entitled for a refund.

In case of doubts, feel free to ask train crew or at the ticket office what to do.

Streets and crosswalks

Polish streets (like other European ones) are rather ordered. Almost all of them have pavements along. Cycle lanes in city centres and along main routes are also quite easy to find.

In Poland it's illegal to cross the street when you have a red light (even if there are no cars coming). The fine is 100 PLN (approx. 25 USD) but it's rather uncommon to get it—crosswalks are not often supervised by the police. If there are no traffic lights at a crosswalk, pedestrians have a right of way over cars (but, importantly, not over trams). It applies only to marked crosswalks; if you try to cross a street in other places, don't expect drivers to yield to you. Please note that stepping in front of a fast-going car is not really a good idea and even though you might have the right of way, it's impossible to break the laws of physics.

Footnotes

  1. valid until 23:59 of the same day
  2. valid for 24 hours both in the local transport and in trains operated by Koleje Śląskie and Polregio in the Katowice agglomeration
  3. As of 5 May, PLN 300 is approximately equal to: EUR 70, USD 75, GBP 60, CHF 65, JPY 11,400.