Train travel in Poland is, like in much of Europe, truly fantastic. Polish trains are fast, affordable, clean and comfortable.
While we did travel by bus in Poland as well, on the whole, I personally prefer to travel by train. And, since train tickets in Poland were generally not much more expensive, and sometimes even cheaper than bus, trains were our preferred mode of transport during our 2 weeks in Poland.
So, if you are planning a trip to Poland (and yes, in my opinion you absolutely, 100% should!), this handy guide covers everything you need to know about train travel in Poland!
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Why Travel Around Poland By Train?
Right, so aside from the fact that trains are generally more spacious (and therefore more comfortable) than buses, why should you travel by train in Poland?
Well, on the whole, trains will be faster, similarly priced and have better facilities than the bus.
And, Poland is a large country with so many stunning cities, each with their own vibe and personality. It would be a right shame not to visit at least a couple of them during your time in Poland.
For example, check out my amazing Krakow city guide!
Luckily, Poland is pretty easy to get around!
The Polish railway network is extensive, and will quickly and easily take you from Warsaw to Krakow or Gdańsk, or wherever else you are intending to go!
Insider Tip: One exception to this was when we headed down to Zakopane from Krakow to go hiking in the Tatra Mountains. From Krakow to Zakopane, the bus was both cheaper and faster. But, other than that, I’d go with the train in Poland if I were you!
PKP Intercity Trains For Long-Distance Travel In Poland
For long-distance train travel in Poland, you’ll be travelling on the national PKP Intercity trains. There are a few different categories, depending on your route.
The EIP and EIC trains are the fastest and therefore most expensive to travel on. These tend to serve only the busiest routes, such as between Krakow, Warsaw, and Gdańsk. If you’re looking to travel on the new high-speed Pendolino trains, you’ll want to book EIP.
The IC and TLK trains are generally cheaper and usually a bit slower. They are slower because they stop at more train stations along the way (and are often a bit older in style). TLK is the budget option, although still not terrible in our experience.
In reality, we simply went for the time that suited us best, regardless of which type of train served that time. This meant we were able to experience both more and less luxury train travel during our time in Poland.
The primary differences between EIP/EIC and IC/TLK trains are;
- The economy trains are cheaper, but also slightly slower because they stop at more stations along the way
- There is no air-conditioning on the TLK trains but windows tend to be wide open in summer letting in plenty of fresh air so it was never uncomfortable
- The cheaper trains have older-style compartments with 6-8 seats in each. They are located on one side of the train with the aisle running along the other. Each compartment has a door which you can close for more privacy and (I imagine) warmth in winter
- Note that the seats in these compartments don’t always have a logical layout when it comes to their numbers. We found that we were generally booked in seats across from each other. At the ticket counter, you can ask for window or aisle seats depending on your preference and, of course, on availability
- The more expensive EIP/EIC trains have the more common 2×2 configuration, with some seats facing forwards and others backwards, some in twos, and others in fours with a table between.
All trains have first and second class seat categories. As I mentioned, we only ever travelled second class so I can’t give any comparison points here. All I can say is that the second class option was absolutely perfect for our needs, and I would happily travel second class on trains in Poland again.
Facilities On Trains in Poland
Overall, the facilities on Polish trains were pretty good. Of course, you do get what you pay for and as a result, the more expensive trains have some additional facilities.
For example, the faster trains have Wi-Fi while the cheaper trains don’t. In addition, the faster trains also have air-con while the cheaper trains don’t. Honestly though, I think I prefer the non-aircon version! It felt more comfortable as the air-con was a bit too cold for my liking on the train where we had it…
Of course (I guess!) all trains have toilet facilities and most also have a restaurant car. On the EIP and EIC trains, all passengers (regardless of class booked) receive a complimentary drink. And, on the fancy new Pendolino trains, first class passengers also receive a meal at their seat.
Either way, every train we travelled on in Poland was both clean and comfortable.
Train Tickets In Poland
You can buy your train tickets from the ticket counter at any station. It’s helpful to look up your options online before heading to the station so you know what train you want to get. While it is possible to purchase (some) tickets online, the website is primarily in Polish and for safety’s sake, we never did.
We found all the cashiers we dealt with to be very helpful and clear, highlighting our carriage and seat numbers on our tickets, and double checking dates and times with us. Most spoke reasonable or good English, and all were always happy to help us figure out our train trip.
Seats are allocated and (I believe) mandatory. Meaning that, unlike in the UK for example, they’ll only sell as many tickets as they have seats making train travel in Poland very comfortable.
Payment for train tickets is by cash or card. If, however, you’re wanting to pay by credit card, make sure you look for a ticket window displaying a credit card logo, as not every cashier can process credit card payments.
Cost of Train Travel in Poland
On the whole, train travel in Poland is very reasonably priced. I will caveat that by saying that we only ever travelled in second class, but we found this to be more than adequate.
The shortest train trip we took in Poland was from Warsaw to Krakow. This train trip took around 3 hours and cost us PLN 60 (€13) per person.
We also travelled by train from Gdansk to Warsaw which took just over 4 hours and cost us PLN 63 (€14) per person.
The longest train trip we took was technically not entirely in Poland… We were headed to Prague in the Czech Republic from Krakow (after our incredible side-trip to Zakopane to hike in the Tatra mountains). This train journey took 7.5 hours and cost us a very reasonable PLN 223 (€50) in total for the both of us! (This was a special promotion though, for purchasing two tickets. It would normally be a bit more but still affordable.)
Insider Tip: On our train from Poland to the Czech Republic, there was Wi-Fi. But, as it was a Czech train, the Wi-Fi only started working once we crossed the border into the Czech Republic about halfway through the journey.
Useful Words To Know For Polish Train Travel
Of course, you don’t need to be able to speak Polish, and like I said, most people we dealt with at the station spoke reasonable English. But, it never hurts to know a few words, if for no other reason than to decipher your ticket, and figure out which way to go to buy it in the first place!
- Stacja = Station
- Glowny = Main Station
- You’ll often see this word in combination with the city’s name, for example Krakow Glowny
- Kasa = Ticket Desk
- Bilet / Biletowa = Ticket
- Pierwsza klasa = First Class
- Druga klasa = Second Class
- Peron = Platform
- Tor = Track
- Wagon = Carriage
- Miejsca = Seat Number
- Okno = Window
- Korytarz = Aisle
- Odjazdy = Departures
- Przyjazdy = Arrivals
Final (Bonus!) Tips For Traveling Poland By Train
Many larger cities have multiple “central” train stations. Make sure you check ahead of time which is closest to your accommodation. If you’re staying centrally or near the old town, you’ll most likely want either Glowny or Centralna
If you prefer, many larger stations do have ticket vending machines with instructions in English. Still, I personally preferred talking to a person in the know, to make sure I got to where I wanted to go!
Always make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your train. Things in Poland (trains or otherwise) run in a very timely manner so don’t be late!
When getting on the train, check the display boards in the station for your platform (peron). Also, most platforms have two tracks (tor), so double check the overhead sign showing the destination and departure time of the next train. If all else fails, ask a staff member or train conductor!
Check your ticket as it will show you the car number (wagon) and the seat number (miejsca) assigned to you.
Train travel in Poland seemed very safe, and we never had any issues. However, as always, use your common sense!
Above all, enjoy your time in Poland! I hope that you love it as much as we did!
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