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How to Travel Poland on a Budget

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Warsaw – the capital city of Poland (photo: andrzej_b, Pixabay)

From the ashes of a war-torn Europe, Poland has risen to become one of the most popular countries for visitors on the continent.

It boasts stunning scenery, vibrant cities, a rich culture, history and heritage, and excellent hospitality.

Added to this, there is a robust tourist infrastructure, good transport connections, world-class accommodations available, and it is considerably cheaper than almost everywhere further west.

But as with all travel – costs can soon add up – and budget advice is always welcome.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to write this guide on how to travel Poland on a budget.

It helps that we’re actually from Poland, and although our budget blogging days are over in favor of adventure travel, we remember well how to spend one day in Warsaw for $21, and other such pearls of budgeting wisdom.

So, check out the following advice and you will hopefully save yourself a stack of cash on your next visit to Poland.

Accommodation

First thing’s first – you’re going to want to source cheap places to stay while you’re in Poland, as paying for the right accommodation when traveling is one of the biggest drains on your resources.

Luckily, there are plenty of budget options here.

Hostels

Poland has a reliable network of world-class hostels all at affordable prices, with Krakow, in particular, offering such an abundance of choices that it’ll be tough to make a decision.

For a dorm bed in comfortable surroundings – you’ll spend somewhere between $5-$15.

Couchsurfing

What’s better than cheap accommodation? Free accommodation!

Poland has a great Couchsurfing network, and it’s an awesome way to meet a local, make a new friend, and get insider tips on what to see and do to save depleting your travel funds.

But remember – while it is “free” always treat your host with respect – it’s also nice to offer to cook or bring a gift to say thank you.

Airbnb / Homestays

Hugely popular in rural areas – farm stays are all the rage in Poland.

“Agroturystyka” or “rural accommodation” is an inexpensive way to get out of the cities and explore Poland’s beautiful countryside.

Failing that, Airbnb is a decent option to save some cash, too.

See also: 11 Reasons to Rent an Airbnb While Traveling

Buses in Warsaw, Poland
Buses in Warsaw (photo: jacqueline macou, Pixabay)

Getting Around

Buses

While train service is available, the network isn’t anywhere near as good as the bus system and is considerably more expensive.

There’s stiff competition between the bus companies too, so it’s possible to price the same route and choose the cheap option.

FlixBus (Polski Bus) is the main operator.

Hitchhiking

This ancient form of getting around is still going strong in Poland and is an extremely popular, safe, and effective way of traveling.

In fact, Poland is one of the most hitch-friendly countries in Europe, if not the world.

If you want to save – don’t be afraid to try it.

Waiting times are low, drivers are friendly, and you’ll get to your destination faster than any other mode of transport.

Ridesharing

If you’re not quite comfortable hitching it, try a ridesharing app.

Carpooling is booming in Poland, and it’s a great way of getting around.

Try BlaBlaCar to check when and where people are setting off on their journey and need some company.

Pierogis

Food and Drink

Dining

Two words for you – Milk Bars! Bar mleczne are the go-to places for cheap eats and low waiting times.

Expect a cafeteria vibe and tray service – but the food can be surprisingly delicious considering you’ll be paying under four dollars for it.

You’ll be rubbing shoulders with the locals too – and a visit to Poland isn’t complete without eating in one.

Alternatively, follow the students! Low priced dining can often be found in and around university districts. And don’t even think about ordering from a “tourist menu…”

Bars

It’s extremely easy to get caught up in Poland’s blossoming clubbing and pubbing scene, particularly in cities like Warsaw, Krakow, and Wroclaw.

But if you want to be exploring Wroclaw for less (or any vibrant Polish city for that matter), you should try and watch your drinking.

If you really must indulge, look out for happy hours and discounted drinks.

Most bars will offer something of that ilk, especially in a party town like Krakow.

You’ll no doubt run into large stag and hen groups too – so be prepared for the inevitable!

Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland
Royal Castle (photo: jacqueline macou, Pixabay)

Sightseeing

The Tourist Card

In the larger and more popular Polish cities, you should be able to pick up a tourist card.

This is essential if you’re spending a few days there, as it will afford you cheap travel and discounted entry to many attractions and museums.

Pop into the local tourist information center to inquire about one.

Free Walking Tours

You can’t go wrong with a free walking tour led by a knowledgeable local who is passionate about their city.

You’ll find several options in most major tourist destinations, so go online or ask at your accommodation for the best recommendations.

Remember though – while it is “free” it is common courtesy to tip your guide at the end of the tour and show your appreciation.

Free Museum Days

Get a bit of culture in you and pay a visit to a museum on a free open day.

Most museums in the big cities will offer this awesome scheme, and you can check online at your current destination to see what’s on offer during your stay there.

The Takeaway

As one of the most inexpensive countries in Europe, Poland shouldn’t do too much damage to your wallet – but it’s always nice to have some insider tips on how to see everything on a budget.

We might be a little bit biased, but it truly is a beautiful country and well worth spending as much time as possible there to get to know it, especially if you can get to experience the Polish Christmas traditions! Witamy w Polsce!

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