Driving a car in a foreign country can be a real challenge for anyone. The laws are different, the street signs are unfamiliar, and none of the signs are in English. While there are some ways to drive a car as a foreigner in Poland, we highly recommend using public transportation or designing a private tour to Poland that includes a private driver. Read on to learn more about driving a car in Poland.
Can I drive a car in Poland as a US citizen?
American citizens must have international driver's license to drive in Poland. A United States driver’s license is insufficient.
Read more about driving rules and restrictions for American in Poland on the US Embassy in Poland website.
Where can I rent a car in Poland?
It is very easy to rent your a car in Poland. You will find many car rental offices at Polish airports. Make your reservations before arriving in Poland in order to find a better price. You can use well known websites to compare different companies. Avoid searching for or choosing small, unknown local companies because you may have difficulty communicating with them. Use only trustworthy, well-known companies.
The best known company in Poland that also offers professional, English speaking service is called Panek Car Rentals. The biggest advantage of this company, aside from their modern fleet and good prices, is that they have more than 60 rental offices throughout the country so you can easily pick up on the car in one city and drop it off in another.
Is driving in Poland difficult?
As someone who was born and raised in Poland, I would say yes, it can be difficult. You will start your journey in one of the biggest cities in Poland - Warsaw or Krakow - and driving there is not easy. As in most large metropolitan cities, people are in a rush going to work, meetings or trying to make it home.
The roads in Poland are not as wide as in the United States, people have a different driving temperament and all roadsigns, except for international ones, are only in Polish. If you really want to drive in Poland, take a deep breath, stay focused and try to leave the city as soon as possible. Or, leave it to us. A private tour to Poland includes a private transportation to ensure easy, safe and stress-free travel.
A Few Driving Rules in Poland
- Drive on the right side of the road.
- Seatbelts are required - for everyone in the car.
- Headlights must be used all year long.
- Do not use your phone while driving.
- The car needs to have fire extinguisher and a reflective triangle.
- Always carry a driver’s license, registration papers and insurance documents.
- Never drink and drive. Our law is very strict about that. You can’t have a beer with your meal and drive your car after. This might cost your driver’s license and serious problems.
Driving in Poland - Tips From a Local
1. Rent a GPS
Or at least use your smartphone (buy Internet data). I have a lot of experience driving around Poland but still find GPS a necessity, especially in cities. It will make your life much easier. I don’t recommend Apple Maps - they don’t work well in many places in Europe.
2. Take it slow
There are many speed traps around Poland so drive considering all the speed limits. They may not be super expensive but on a road from one city to another you might hit few of them and your ticket can be high.
3. Stay Calm
People in big cities are always in a rush. They might honk, try to pass you or flash you from behind. Don’t worry, stay calm, follow the rules and keep the right lane. Most of the parking in cities and the town’s city centers is paid parking. It is very difficult to find free parking spots. Don’t waste time on this. Choose big parking lots - they will be located in most of the shopping malls.
If a car flashes you twice it can mean two things, that your headlights are off or that there is a police car is ahead. Always have a paper road map or download an offline map before driving as in some areas you won’t have internet connection. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in foreign country, use a taxi or other public transport within the city and trains or airplanes traveling between cities. Or contact us - we will be happy to design your dream trip to Poland!
Other Transportation Options
First of all we recommend that you to join one of our tours or design your customized private tour to Poland with us. That will make your adventure easy and smooth. If you really want to do it by yourself then there are some options available:
Public Transportation in Poland
In towns and within big cities public transport is probably the best way to explore. It is very affordable and pretty fast. The problem is that almost every city has a different ticket distribution system - in some you can purchase a ticket via phone app, in another you can get a ticket from the bus driver (but they probably won’t speak English very well) and in others you will have to find a kiosk or a ticket machine to purchase a ticket (they have an English version).
Taxis in Poland
Every city has their own taxi system so you might find it confusing to get the best price. Even Poles do. Be careful, some taxi drivers might try to take advantage of you or do not speak English.
Uber in Poland
Yes, major cities in Poland have Uber.
Trains in Poland
We use trains a lot. As a student I took the train from my hometown, Wałbrzych to Wroclaw twice a week. Some people use the train to get to work everyday. Trains are usually very affordable. It is a great way to travel between major cities. With the modern Pendolino train, you can get from Wroclaw to Warsaw in about 3.5 hours!
Domestic Flights in Poland
This method is pretty easy way but can be expensive, especially if you don’t book the flight in advance. There are many domestic flights you can use while traveling around Poland. The main airline in Poland for domestic flights is LOT Airlines. Remember that some of the airports in Poland are actually quite far from the city center. Katowice Airport is more than 1 hour drive from the Katowice city center. In those cases, you have to research public transport or use a taxi. It is the same in in Krakow.
Safe travels and enjoy Poland. If you have any questions please contact us!
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