Cathedral & main square, Krakow, Poland.  Easy to reach by train from London..!

The main square & cathedral, Krakow

UK to Poland by train from €88!

Absolutely, no problem!  It's easy to travel from the UK to Poland by train.  Take a lunchtime Eurostar to Brussels and a high-speed train to Cologne, then the overnight sleeper train Jan Kiepura from Cologne to Warsaw with connections for Krakow.  Alternatively, take a mid-afternoon Eurostar to Paris, the excellent City Night Line sleeper train Perseus from Paris to Berlin, then an air-conditioned express from Berlin to Warsaw, Poznan, Gdansk or Wroclaw.  The train journey from London to Poland is safe and comfortable, with couchettes and sleeping-cars for the overnight part.  It's an experience in itself!  Or how about a comfortable daytime journey from London to Berlin from as little as €59, and next day an equally comfortable journey from Berlin to Warsaw from just €29?  This page will explain all you need to know...

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Warsaw & Poznan: train times, fares & how to buy tickets

  London to Krakow & Katowice

  London to Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

  London to Łσdź

  London to Wroclaw

  London to Szczecin, Gdansk, Gdynia

  London to Zakopane & the Tatra mountains

  London, East Anglia & Harwich to Poland the ferry alternative to Eurostar.

  Scotland & north of England to Poland by ferry from Hull or Newcastle.

Interactive mapClick a destination or route...

  Trains to Poland from other European cities

  Warsaw to other European cities

  Krakow to other European cities

Other travel information...

  Warsaw Centralna station information

  Hotels & accommodation in Poland

  Tailor-made holidays to Poland by train

  Amsterdam-Warsaw by Jan Kiepura sleeper train

  How to buy train tickets within Poland

  Buying tickets from other UK towns & cities

  Luggage & left luggage   Send luggage ahead

  Taking bikes    Taking a dog 

  General European train travel information

Sponsored links...

 


Useful country information

Train operator in Poland:

PKP (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe), www.pkp.com.pl, but for express trains within & from Poland see www.intercity.pl which also does online booking for domestic Polish express trains.  To check train times for all Polish routes I recommend http://rozklad.sitkol.pl/bin/query.exe/en To book international trains starting in Poland contact reliable Polish ticket agency www.polrail.com.  All-Europe online train times

   

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses     Buy a rail pass online

Time zone & dialling code:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).   Dial code:  +48

Currency:

£1 = approx 4.95 zlotys  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.poland.travel, www.poland.pl    Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Poland:

Poland hotel search    Backpacker hostels

Visas:

UK citizens no longer need a visa to visit Poland.

Page last updated:

24 November 2014.  Train times valid 14 Dec 2014 to 13 June 2015.


London to Warsaw & Poznan

There are several good options for travelling from London to Warsaw by train:

Option 1:  London to Warsaw by Jan Kiepura sleeper train...

This is the fastest & most convenient option between London & Warsaw.

London ► Warsaw

Warsaw ► London

Take Eurostar to Brussels, then a German ICE high-speed train to Cologne:  Watch the video.

ICE3 second class ICE3 first class High-speed ICE3 train from Brussels to Cologne & Frankfurt

ICE3 2nd class.  ICEs are one of the the most comfortable trains in Europe...

ICE3 1st class, with real leather seats.  All ICE seats have power sockets.

An ICE to Cologne waiting to leave Brussels Midi.  More ICE info.

... and introducing the EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura from Cologne to Warsaw...

Named after a famous Polish actor and singer, the Jan Kiepura is a high-quality EuroNight sleeper train linking Cologne with Warsaw. Choose between a safe and comfortable sleeper or a more economical couchette.  A sleeper is the recommended option, only a little more expensive than a couchette.  More photos & information about the Jan Kiepura sleeper train.  

Dinner in Cologne before you board?  For a traditional German meal in Cologne before boarding the sleeper to Poland, try the excellent Brauhaus Sion (www.brauhaus-sion.de), 5 minutes walk from Cologne hauptbahnhof, or the Malzmuehle restaurant (www.muehlenkoelsch.de), 10-15 minutes walk from Cologne Hauptbahnhof, or there's a restaurant inside Cologne Hauptbahnhof itself in the food outlets passage, the Schweinske, www.schweinske.deFeedback is always appreciated!

A sleeping-car on the Jan Kiepura sleeper train from Cologne to Warsaw   3-berth sleeper (standard type) on the Jan Kiepura   3-berth sleeper on the Jan Kiepura, beds folded away

1, 2 or 3 bed sleepers, the cosy & civilised option.  The EuroNight Jan Kiepura has modern air-conditioned Polish sleeping-cars, with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments, either standard with washbasin or deluxe with shower & toilet.

 

A cosy standard sleeper shown here with all 3 beds folded out & the  washbasin visible.

 

A standard sleeper with the beds folded away and seats folded out.  There's a socket for laptops & mobiles.

4-berth couchettes on the Jan Kiepura sleeper train to Warsaw

4-berth couchettes:  Ideal for families.  More space per person than 6-berth couchettes.

    6-berth couchettes on the Jan Kiepura sleeper train to Warsaw

6-berth couchettes:  A very economical option, far better than a seat for just a few euros more...

    A couchette car on the Jan Kiepura overnight train to Warsaw

Couchette cars, the economy option.  The Jan Kiepura also has two couchette cars, with 4 & 6 berth compartments, toilets & washrooms at the end of the corridor.  More pictures & info about this train.

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Cologne

 by Eurostar + Thalys or ICE

 Fares for Eurostar+ICE start at €59 (£49) each way.

 Fares for Eurostar+Thalys start at £56 one-way or £103 return

 Fares vary like air fares, so book in advance to get the cheapest prices.

 Child, youth, senior Eurostar fares

  

 2. Cologne to Warsaw

 by Jan Kiepura, per person

In a

seat

In a couchette

Standard sleeper

Deluxe sleeper

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

2-berth

single

 Savings fare one-way from:

€43 (£36)

€59 (£49)

€69 (£58)

€71 (£59)

€91 (£76)

€151 (£126)

€124 (£103)

€184 (£153)

 Savings fare return from:

€86 (£72)

€118 (£98)

€128 (£116)

€142 (£118)

€182 (£152)

€302 (£252)

€248 (£206)

€368 (£306)

 Full price one-way:

€159

€175

€185

€187

€207

€267

€311

€371

 Railpass supplement*

€4

€20

€30

€32

€52

€112

€65

€125

 Children under 15**

€4

€20

€30

€32

€52

€112

€65

€125

 Child under 6 without berth:

Child under 6 sharing a berth travels free

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.

If you want sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a single sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette and so on.

* This is the supplement you pay if you have a railpass, a 1st class pass is required for deluxe sleepers.

** Children under 15 travel free if accompanied by a fare-paying adult, but must pay the berth supplement shown here.

Savings fare = advance-purchase fare, price varies, limited availability, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Full price = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

How to buy tickets online...

The cheapest way to book a London-Poland train journey is online, so here's an easy step-by-step guide to buying the cheapest tickets on the best websites.  You can't book from London to Poland all in one go, so I recommend doing a dry run first, following the steps below to check availability on each train before booking for real.  Remember that booking opens 92 days before departure (in fact, departures in the inwards direction from Warsaw back to Cologne may open only 60 days ahead, check & see).  Hotel accommodation can be booked before booking your trains risk-free if you use a site such as www.booking.com with free cancellation.

How to buy tickets by email...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...


Option 2, London to Warsaw by daytime trains with hotel in Berlin.

Some people prefer daytime trains with an overnight hotel stop in Berlin...  Indeed, setting aside the cost of the hotel, with London Spezial fares to Berlin from €59, then Poland Spezial fares from Berlin to Warsaw from €29, this can be the cheapest option: London to Poland from €88!

London ► Warsaw by daytime trains

Warsaw ► London by daytime trains

How much does it cost?  London to Warsaw from €88!

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

From Cologne to Berlin by high-speed ICE...

ICE2 first class ICE2 second class High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin, at Berlin Hauptbahnhof

ICE2 1st class.

ICE2 2nd class.

An ICE2 at Berlin...

   

Treat yourself to lunch!

 

ICE2's elegant restaurant car...

 

ICE2's convivial bistro-bar car...

Take a virtual tour inside an ICEMore information about these ICE trains.

From Berlin to Warsaw by Berlin-Warszawa Express...

A Berlin-Warszawa Express train   2nd class seats on a Berlin-Warsaw Express

The Berlin-Warsaw Express has modern air-conditioned smooth-riding coaches in both 1st & 2nd class, most with compartments and side corridor like this, but some with seats in open-plan saloons. You can choose which type you prefer when you book.

Restaurant car   A tasty soup   Main course in the restaurant car

The Berlin-Warsaw Express has a bistro-restaurant car, staffed by Polish train catering company Wars.  Treat yourself to a meal and kill a couple of hours over a beer and some food in the restaurant...  An excellent sausage soup, a main course of schnitzel, potato and salad, all served on proper china, a beer and coffee all come to only around €10.  You must pay in cash, not credit card, but both euros and zlotys are accepted.


Option 3:  London to Warsaw via the Paris-Berlin sleeper train Perseus...

This is a slower option than the Jan Kiepura, but can be handy if you want to stop off in Paris or Berlin, or can't find any cheap fares available via Cologne.  This option only runs until 13 December 2014.

London ► Warsaw

Warsaw ► London

See the London to Paris page for information about Eurostar...

On board the Paris - Berlin City Night Line sleeper train...

The Paris-Berlin overnight train is one of the German Railway's excellent City Night Line sleeper trains.  Called the Perseus, it has modern Comfortline sleeping-cars (1, 2 & 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, 1, 2 & 3-berth economy compartments with washbasin, shower at the end of the corridor, all sleepers with power points for mobiles & laptop computers), modern air-conditioned couchettes (choose between a berth in a 4- or 6-berth compartment), and ordinary seats (not recommended, as a couchette is far better).  Inclusive fares are charged covering travel plus sleeping accommodation.  The sleeping-car fare includes a light breakfast served in your compartment.  More pictures and information about this train

Dinner before you board?  There's no restaurant or bar car on the City Night Line sleeper, but for a good meal in a classic Parisian brasserie before boarding the sleeper train in Paris, why not catch the earlier 14:01 Eurostar from London & dine at the Brasserie Terminus Nord directly across the road from the Gare du Nord.  Alternatively, you can have a meal or beer at the Brasserie Flo at the Gare de l'Est whilst waiting for your sleeper, it's just inside the entrance in what was once the left luggage office.

Sleeping-car compartment on the Paris to Berlin night train   4-berth couchette compartment on Paris-Berlin overnight train   6-berth couchette compartment on Paris-Berlin overnight train  

The sleeping-car on the Paris-Berlin City Night Line train boarding at the Gare de l'Est

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper: The most comfortable option, economy with washbasin or deluxe with shower & toilet.

 

4-berth couchettes:  Ideal for families, much more space per person than 6-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes:  A very economical option, far better than a seat for just a few euros more...

 

The Night train to Berlin...  The Comfortline sleeping-car of City Night Line sleeper train Perseus at Paris Gare de l'Est...

More information about this train...

On board the Berlin-Warszawa Express...

The Berlin-Warszawa Express   2nd class seats on the Berlin to Warsaw Express train

The Berlin-Warsaw Express has modern air-conditioned smooth-riding coaches in both 1st & 2nd class, most with compartments and side corridor like this, but some with seats in open-plan saloons. You can choose which type you prefer when you book.

Restaurant car on the Berlin-Warsaw Express train   A tasty soup on the Berlin-Warszawa Express   Main course in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Warsaw Express train

The Berlin-Warsaw Express also has a bistro-restaurant car like this, staffed by Polish train catering company Wars.  Why not treat yourself to a meal and kill a couple of hours over a beer and some food in the restaurant?  An excellent sausage soup, a main course of schnitzel, potato and salad (all served on proper china), a beer and coffee all come to only €10.  You must pay in cash, not credit card, but both euros and zlotys are accepted.

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £34.50 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £97 one-way, £195 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Berlin by

 sleeper train, per person...

In a

seat

In a couchette

Economy sleeper

Deluxe sleeper

6-bunk 

4-bunk 

3-bed 

2-bed 

1-bed 

2-bed

1-bed

 Savings fare one-way from:

€43 (£36)

€59 (£49)

€69 (£58)

€84 (£70)

€104 (£87)

€144 (£120)

€134 (£112)

€174 (£145)

 Savings fare return from:

€86 (£72)

€118 (£98)

€138 (£116)

€168 (£140)

€208 (£174)

€288 (£240)

€268 (£224)

€348 (£290)

 Full-price one-way:

€193

€208

€218

€233

€253

€293

€363

€403

 Railpass supplement*

€12

€27.50

€37.50

€55

€75

€115

€75

€115

 Children under 15**

€4

€20

€30

£71

€65

€105

€65

€105

 Child under 6 without berth

Child under 6 sharing a berth travels free

 

 3. Berlin to Warsaw

 by Berlin-Warszawa Express:

 From €29 (£25) one-way or €58 (£49) return in 2nd class.

 From €49 (£41) one-way or €98 (£82) return in 1st class.

 If you book at www.bahn.de, accompanied children under 15 go free.

* This is the supplement you pay if you have a railpass.  A 1st class ticket or pass is required for deluxe sleepers.

** Children under 15 travel free if accompanied by a fare-paying adult, but need to pay the berth supplement shown here.

Savings fare = Cheap fare, price varies so book in advance, limited availability, no refunds or changes to travel plans. 

Full price = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

Youth fares: There is a 25% discount on normal fares (not Savings fares) for anyone under 26 years old.  Savings fares usually cheaper!

Senior fares: There is a 20% discount on normal fares (not Savings fares) for anyone over 60 years old.  Savings fares usually cheaper!

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can buy tickets this way, at the cheapest prices direct from the train operators. 

How to buy tickets by email...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...


London to Krakow & Katowice

The fastest & cheapest way to travel between London & Krakow is via Warsaw, shown in detail below.  Alternatively, it costs only a few pounds more and takes only a bit longer to travel via Prague, so why not combine the two great cities of Prague & Krakow in one flight-free trip?  If you also want to visit the museum at Auschwitz, or in Polish, Oswiecim, see here.

Option 1:  London to Krakow & Katowice via the Jan Kiepura sleeper train...

This is the fastest & most convenient option between London and Krakow by train.

London ► Krakow & Katowice

Katowice & Krakow ► London

On board the Warsaw to Krakow InterCity train...

An EIC train from Warsaw to Krakow about to leave Warsaw Centralna   A first class compartment on an EIC train from Warsaw to Krakow.

A Polish Intercity (EIC) train about to leave Warsaw Centralna for Krakow.  EIC trains are fast, modern, air-conditioned & inexpensive to use.  TLK trains are older and non-air-con but have cheaper fares...

 

A first class compartment on an air-conditioned Polish EIC train from Warsaw to Krakow.  2nd class is also comfortable.  There's usually a mix of traditional compartments and open plan seating on an EIC train.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...


Option 2, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Berlin...

London ► Krakow

Krakow ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...


Option 3:  London to Prague to Krakow...

Travelling to Krakow via Prague takes only a bit longer and costs only marginally more than going via Warsaw or Berlin as shown above, so why not combine Prague & Krakow in one flight-free trip?!  By all means travel via Prague in one direction, via Warsaw in the other.

London ► Prague ► Krakow

Krakow ► Prague ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

On board the Prague to Krakow sleeper train...

The Prague to Krakow overnight train features a seats car and a sleeping-car, shown below.  A bed in the sleeper is the recommended option, it has 1 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin.  The beds come with cosy duvets, soap and clean towels are provided.  The compartments lock securely from the inside and have a security chain, and a sleeper attendant is on duty in the car, so you'll be both safe and snug.  There's space for luggage on a rack on the wall.  Note that only a 2nd class ticket is now required for a bed in a 2-bed or 3-bed sleeper, a 1st class ticket is only necessary if you want a single-bed sleeper.  Until early November 2014 there is also a couchette car with 4 & 6 bunk compartments (basic flat bunks with rug and pillow).  The couchettes are discontinued from November onwards, although it's always possible they'll reappear in summer 2015.

2-bed sleeper on the train from Prague to Krakow   3-bed sleeper on the train from Krakow to Prague   The sleeping-car on the night train from Prague to Krakow

2-berth sleeper

Courtesy Ivor Morgan

 

3-berth sleeper

Courtesy Ivor Morgan

 

The Prague to Krakow sleeper train seen at Prague Hlavni.  Courtesy Ivor Morgan


London to Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

If you are visiting the museum at Oswiecim, better known by its infamous German name, Auschwitz, you travel to Krakow then take a local train.  Regular local trains link Krakow with Oswiecim every hour or two, see www.bahn.de to check train times.  Once in Oswiecim, there are two camps to visit, Auschwitz I which is an ex-Polish army barracks in the town itself about 10 minutes walk from the station (turn right outside the station then veer left), and Auschwitz-Birkenau II which was a purpose-built concentration camp a little way out of town, about 30 minutes walk from the station (turn right, then turn right again at the first major road bridge across the railway).  There are also regular buses between Krakow and Oswiecim, see www.pksoswiecim.pl/strona.php?grupa=9.


London to Łσdź

Łσdź is pronounced 'wooch' or 'woodge' and it's one of Poland's largest cities.  It's easy to reach by train...

Option 1, using the Jan Kiepura sleeper train...

London ► Łσdź

Łσdź ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Option 2, by daytime trains with overnight stop in Berlin...

London ► Łσdź

Łσdź ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...


London to Wroclaw

Shockingly, there are now no trains between Berlin and Wroclaw.  The last direct train was discontinued from December 2014.  You now need to travel via Dresden.

London ► Wroclaw

Wroclaw ► London

How much does it cost?  How to buy tickets...


London to Szczecin (Stettin) & Gdansk (Danzig)

London ► Szczecin, Gdansk, Gdynia

Gdynia, Gdansk, Szczecin ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...


London to Zakopane


London & E Anglia to Poland, the ferry alternative

  Boarding the Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland for Amsterdam

London to the Netherlands by Dutch Flyer train & ferry...  Take a train from London's Liverpool Street station directly to the ferry terminal at Harwich.  You walk off the train, into the terminal, get your boarding card & cabin key at the Stena Line check-in desk and walk straight onto the overnight ferry to Hoek van Holland.  The new superferry Stena Hollandica is the largest ferry of its kind in the world.  See the Netherlands page and see the video...

  Standard inside cabin on the ferry

Cosy cabins:  The overnight Harwich-Hoek ferry is a floating hotel.  All passengers travel in a cosy private cabin with en suite shower & toilet and satellite TV.  This is the cheapest 2-berth cabin...

  Captain's suite deluxe cabin on the Stena Line ferry 'Stena Hollandica'

... and this is a Captain's Class cabin with double bed & complimentary bubbly in the minibar.

The Harwich-Hoek superferry, a useful alternative to Eurostar...

You might prefer to travel by train & ferry to reach Poland, for example to avoid the Channel Tunnel if problems affect the Eurostar service or if you suffer from claustrophobia.  This route is handy if you live in East Anglia as you can travel direct to Harwich avoiding London.  Indeed, you may simply prefer a relaxing journey, cruising overnight on the Stena Line superferry in a luxury en suite cabin with shower, toilet, satellite TV and free WiFi (see the video), spending a day at leisure exploring Amsterdam, then travelling to Prague overnight on the direct EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura.  It's a great way to reach Poland and see Amsterdam on the way!

London, East Anglia & Harwich ► Warsaw, Krakow

Krakow, Warsaw ► Harwich, East Anglia & London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone:  Special booking form


Scotland & north of England to Poland via ferry...

  DFDS Seaways ferry 'Princess of Norway' about to sail from Newcastle.

DFDS Seaways Princess of Norway about to sail overnight from Newcastle to Amsterdam...

  A Commodore Deluxe cabin on DFDS Seaways

A Commodore deluxe cabin with minibar, satellite TV, shower & toilet.  See the video...

  A standard cabin on DFDS Seaways Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry.

A Seaways class cabin with shower & toilet on DFDS Princess of Norway...

If you live in the North of England or Scotland, the fastest option is to take a train up to London and travel from London to Poland using Eurostar, as described above.  If you choose this option, see this advice on buying cheap connecting train tickets to London.  But there are some useful ferry alternatives which allow you to by-pass London, and spend a day in Amsterdam on the way.  DFDS Seaways run an excellent daily overnight cruise ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, and P&O Ferries run a daily overnight cruise ferry from Hull to Rotterdam.  So take the overnight ferry to Holland, spend a day exploring Amsterdam, then take the excellent EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura direct from Amsterdam to Warsaw.  A wonderful combination!

Scotland & North of England ► Warsaw, Krakow

Krakow, Warsaw ► Scotland & North of England

Fares & how to buy tickets...


Warsaw Centralna station

Facilities at Warsaw Centralna...

Warsaw's Centralna Station is a typical grey concrete Communist-era structure, with a palatial ticket hall (Sala Glowna) above ground was obviously designed to impress us decadent westerners, whilst the actual passengers scurry through dark underground passageways lined with retail kiosks.  However, it has just has a welcome refurbishment, and is now much improved!

Finding your train:  Confusingly, Polish stations use both a platform number (Peron) and a track number (Tor), where a peron may have one tor on one side of it and another tor on the other.  It helps to know that the number shown on departure indicators and printed departure posters is the Peron.  Most trains start at one of the outlying Warsaw stations (Zachodnia or Wschodnia) and only stop at Centralna for a few minutes, so use the printed departure posters or summary-of-departure TV screens to find the Peron number, and go to that platform.  There are TV departure screens at several locations in the passageway immediately above the platforms, and in the main ticket hall at the top of the steps down to the passageway.  Don't expect your train to appear on the platform departure indicators until maybe 10 minutes or less before it leaves.  The train may well arrive only a few minutes before it is due to depart, this is perfectly normal, so be prepared, be ready at the right Peron and don't panic!

Ticket office:  The main ticket office is in the great ticket hall (the Sala Glowna, pictured below right).  Credit cards are accepted.  Alternatively, privately-run PKP (Polish Railways) ticket agencies can be found in numerous places in the underground passageways immediately above the platforms, with bright orange PKP InterCity branding.  Incidentally, you'll usually be asked at the beginning of a transaction whether you will be paying in cash (gotσwka) or card (karta), so be prepared for the question!

International ticket office:  This is located in the north west corner of the Sala Glowna, open daily 09:00-19:30.  It's been refurbished as an attractive modern travel centre with open counters rather than ticket windows.  To buy an international ticket outside its opening hours, go to the main ticket office.

Left luggage:  There are lockers in the passageway above the platforms, or a staffed left luggage office.  Details here.

Food & drink, nearby hotels:  There are numerous shops in the passageways to stock up on food, drink and cheap Polish beer for your journey.  There are MacDonalds & KFC within walking distance.  However, the best place for lunch, if you fancy a minor splurge, is the celebrated U Fukiera restaurant (www.ufukiera.pl) in the main square of the old town 20 minutes walk away.  If you're staying in Warsaw and need a hotel, try the excellent and historic Polonia Palace Hotel, just across the road from Warsaw Centralna station.

1st class lounge at Warsaw:  There is a 1st class lounge at Warsaw Centralna, called a VIP Zone, open to all holders of a domestic or international 1st class ticket (including deluxe sleeper passengers on the Jan Kiepura, but not standard sleeper passengers), entrance from Emili Plater Street, look for the prominent signs saying 'Strefa VIP'.  Open 06:00-20:00.

Warsaw Centralna station exterior   Warsaw Centralna station, the Sala Glowna or main hall.

Warsaw Centralna station

 

Warsaw Centralna's main hall...

First class lounge at Warsaw Centralna   Warsaw Centralna, seen from the Palace of Culture

The first class lounge...  Photo courtesy of David Smith

 

Warsaw Centralna station, seen on a wintry day from the observation deck of the Palace of Culture...


Visiting Warsaw...

Click for map of Warsaw showing stations...

Warsaw Centralna station is just across the road from the Palace of Culture skyscraper (below left) and an easy 20 minutes walk from Warsaw's historic old town (below right).  The Warsaw tourist information website is www.um.warszawa.pl/en.

Warsaw's Palace of Culture   Warsaw Old Town

The Palace of Culture is a distinctive 'wedding cake' style Soviet skyscraper, given to Poland as a gift from the Soviet Union.  Originally disliked by Poles for that reason, they are now softening to it a little.  There's a viewing terrace on the 30th floor, you'll need to leave any bags in the free cloakroom on the ground floor.  See the official website, www.pkin.pl.

 

Warsaw's historic old town is the knife that's had its blade and handle both replaced, as it was almost totally destroyed in WW2 and has been 85% rebuilt from scratch.  However, it's UNESCO-listed because of the effort and care that went into the restoration.  It's well worth a visit, and only a 20 minute walk from Warsaw Centralna.  For a great meal, try the U Fukiera restaurant on the inner square, www.ufukiera.pl.


Buying train tickets within Poland...

It's not difficult to buy train tickets for domestic journeys within Poland at the station ticket office.  It can help to write down what you want, in case staff don't speak English very well.  UK agencies such as DB's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (open 09:00-17:00 Mon-Fri) or www.europeanrail.com can usually get you reservations on international trains starting in Poland.  However, if they have problems, or if you want to see if buying locally would be cheaper, try contacting the following agency in Poland:

Buy Polish domestic intercity tickets at www.intercity.pl...

You can book Polish inter-city train tickets (but not international ones) online at the Polish Railways InterCity website, www.intercity.pl.  At www.intercity.pl the English button is top right, and you'll need to use the Polish spellings of Krakow and Warszawa.  You pay online with a credit card and print out your own ticket.  Many seat61 correspondents have reported success buying self-print tickets for Polish trains this way, using UK and Dutch credit cards.

Or use Polish train ticketing agency www.polrail.com...Buy train tickets in Poland from Polrail.com

Polish train ticketing agency www.polrail.com comes highly recommended if you want to arrange train tickets within Poland in advance, or book international train tickets starting in Poland, for example, from Warsaw to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Moscow, Kiev, Lviv or Vilnius, or from Krakow to Prague, Budapest or Vienna, etc..  You should arrange tickets between 10 & 60 days before travel (Polish train reservations open 60 days before departure, but 10 days is necessary for the agency to buy and send tickets). Tickets can be couriered to your home address in any country, or they can arrange ticket collection within Poland, for example, at your hotel.  If you use their services, feedback is always welcome!

Check any Polish train time at http://rozklad.sitkol.pl/bin/query.exe/en...

A recommended journey planner for all Polish trains, including local ones (for example, those linking Krakow with Oswiecim (Auschwitz) see http://rozklad.sitkol.pl/bin/query.exe/en.



Guidebooks...

Highly recommended:  The Lonely Planets & Rough Guides...

Definitely take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, I think this means one of two guidebooks, either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both series are excellent.  You can buy an in-depth guide for Poland or a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk...

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukRough Guide to Poland - buy online at Amazon.co.ukRough Guide to Poland - buy online at Amazon.co.uk


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe/Maps--Atlases/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


Find hotels in Warsaw, Krakow or Poland...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Recommended:  Polonia Palace Hotel, Warsaw...

In Warsaw, look no further than the excellent Polonia Palace Hotel.  It's just across the road from both the Palace of Culture skyscraper and Warsaw Centralna station, and 20 minutes walk from Warsaw's old town.  Opened in 1913, it was the only hotel to emerge unscathed from WW2, and has been used by many famous people including General (later President) Eisenhower.  It provides very high quality rooms, but at a budget price by western European standards.

Tripadvisor hotel reviews...

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelbookers.com...

Homestays: www.homestay.com...


Tailor-made tours & holidays to Poland by train...

 

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-800-408-3280 (USA)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 002 034 (NZ)

If you want a holiday to Krakow or Warsaw by train not plane, but want someone else to organise all the train tickets & hotels for you, one specialist company can do just that, for a holiday with no airport hassles and no long days in cramped coach seats on motorways.

Railbookers for custom-made tours, holidays & breaks to Krakow, Warsaw & Poland by train...

Railbookers can custom-make a flight-free holiday to Poland for you, with train travel & hotels, for however long you like, leaving on any date you like.  For example, they suggest a 6 night trip from London to Krakow, Warsaw & Berlin.  See the Railbookers Poland page for suggested itineraries & prices.  Indeed, they can arrange trains and hotels for any tour of eastern Europe to your own specification.  They take good care of their clients, and I have no hesitation in recommending them.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

USA & Canada call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.


Send your luggage in advance

Ride the trains without heavy luggage... 

Send your suitcase ahead by Luggage Mule from around £30 each way.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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