World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Poland

Poland travel guide

About Poland

Underrated but increasingly popular, Poland offers a huge amount for travellers of all stripes – from the stunning old towns of Krakow, Zamość, Gdańsk and Wroclaw to the wilderness of the Białowieża National Park with its ubiquitous buffalos and epic vistas.

Home to Europe’s most infamous ghetto, Warsaw was almost totally destroyed during WWII, but the Polish capital is modernising fast. Today the city blends Soviet architecture and contemporary styles, with a painstakingly recreated old town and an upbeat, progressive population.

Perhaps the country's biggest draw, though, is Krakow. The country's former royal capital is a wonderfully preserved architectural marvel that has somehow managed to survive Poland’s many wars. Even the Nazis thought it was too beautiful to bomb. Jam-packed with churches, monasteries and abbeys in Gothic and Renaissance styles, the city became the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 (an honour it shared with Quito, Ecuador).

Beyond Krakow are numerous signs of Poland’s proud cultural heritage: Łódź and its famous film school, from which Roman Polański and Krzysztof Kieślowski graduated; Toruń, the hometown of astronomer Nicholas Copernicus; and Warsaw, which lays claim to Marie Curie and Frederick Chopin. The country's biggest port and northern boomtown, Gdańsk, is best known as the birthplace of Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity movement, which led the country into democracy in 1989.

Poland's scenic beauty is as varied as it is extraordinary. The Baltic coast is pretty, while Słowiński National Park is all ethereal forests, bogs and sand dunes. The Great Masurian Lakes in the northeast are popular for kayakers, with hundreds of pristine lakes broken up by dense forest. The Krakow-Wielun Upland with its limestone caves and medieval castles is another highlight, while the Carpathian Mountains in the far south are unremittingly beautiful.

And the food? Polish cuisine is hearty and filling, rich in meat and game. Thick soups such as Zurek are delicious, as are pierogi, or Polish dumplings. And as for the Polish vodka, one of the finest types in the world, what better way to wash all that rich food down?

Key facts


312,685 sq km (120,728 sq miles).


38,593,161 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

123.3 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Andrzej Duda since 2015.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Donald Tusk since 2023.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Ukraine-Poland border

The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the western regions (oblasts) of Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil and Chernivtsi, and continues to advise against all travel to the rest of Ukraine. For the latest information, check the Ukraine travel advice. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is ongoing. Russian military strikes have taken place in Ukraine within 20km of the Polish border. Access to the border is restricted. See safety and security.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Poland set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Poland’s embassy or consulate in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel provider for changes.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to get treatment there.

Read TravelHealthPro’s general COVID-19 advice for travellers.

Passport validity requirements

To travel to Poland, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

To enter Poland (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:

  • have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
  • have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave

Contact the Polish embassy in the UK if your passport does not meet both these requirements.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document, or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Dual Nationals

If you are also a Polish national (dual nationality), you must enter and exit Poland using a Polish passport or Polish national identity card. There are regular cases of Polish border guards allowing dual nationals to enter on their British passport, but only allowing exit using a valid Polish passport or Polish ID card.

Children born to Polish national or British-Polish dual national parents in the UK are automatically granted Polish citizenship, regardless of the child’s place of birth, and the requirement to exit Poland using valid Polish documentation will apply.

Find more information on how to apply for a Polish passport in the UK before travelling to Poland from the Polish Embassy in London (in Polish). Check with the Polish Embassy in London if in doubt about your circumstances.

Passport stamping

Make sure you get your passport stamped.

If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Poland). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you haven’t overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.

If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.

If you live in Poland, read our Living in Poland guide for passport stamping information.

At the Polish border, you may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay


If you live in Poland, see our Living in Poland guide for entry requirements and the Polish Border Guards guidance.

Visa requirements

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area (including Poland) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel:

  • as a tourist
  • to visit family or friends
  • to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
  • for short-term studies or training

If you are travelling to Poland and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Polish government’s entry requirements. Check with the Polish Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need.

If you are travelling to Poland for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.

If you stay in Poland with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Poland guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Poland. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food needed for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Terrorism in Poland

Terrorist attacks in Poland cannot be ruled out.

Ukraine border

The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the western regions (oblasts) of Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil and Chernivtsi, and continues to advise against all travel to the rest of Ukraine. For the latest information, check the Ukraine travel advice. There have been Russian military strikes in Ukraine within 20km of the Polish border. In 2022, there was an explosion in Przewodów near the Ukrainian border killing 2 Polish nationals.

The main border crossing points to enter Poland from Ukraine can be found on the Ukrainian government website. Prepare for potential long delays at border crossings.

Access to within 15 metres of the Polish border with Ukraine is restricted. Follow this limitation at all times outside of designated border crossing points and follow the instructions of Polish authorities if you are in this area.

If you have arrived in Poland from Ukraine and are in need of assistance, call +48 22 311 0000 or +44 1908 516666 and select the option for ‘consular services for British nationals’. You can also send an enquiry using the web contact form.

Belarus border

FCDO advises against all travel to Belarus. There is limited access along parts of Poland’s border with Belarus. The Kuzniсa-Bruzgi road border crossing is currently closed. In February, traffic was suspended at the Bobrowniki border crossing until further notice. More border checkpoints may close or implement restrictions at short notice and other disruption is possible.

Access to within 200 metres of the border with Belarus is still limited. You should abide by this limitation at all times and follow the instructions of Polish authorities if you are in this area.

Other Polish borders

Border checkpoints may close or implement restrictions at short notice and other disruption is possible. Check the Polish Border Guards guidance (in Polish) and follow the instructions of the Polish authorities if you are in these areas.

Political situation and demonstrations

Public demonstrations are common. Marches and gatherings are mostly peaceful and well-policed, but take extra care in crowded places. Demonstrations can attract violence. Monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.


Racially motivated attacks

Most visitors do not experience any difficulties. Serious crime against foreigners is rare, but crimes do occur and in some cases attacks have been racially motivated.

Protecting your belongings

Be alert to street crime and petty theft. Foreigners can be seen as easy targets. Keep valuables and cash out of sight, especially:

  • in crowded areas
  • in tourist spots
  • at main rail stations and on all train services and overnight sleeper trains

Unofficial taxi drivers

Unofficial taxi drivers often overcharge. Passengers have been attacked, including sexual assaults, in unofficial taxis and cars booked using ride share apps. See further advice from the Polish police (in Polish).

Do not use unofficial taxis. Official taxis will:

  • have the name and telephone number of the taxi company on the door and top of the taxi
  • show a rate card on the window of the vehicle

Taxis with a crest but no company name are not official.

Take precautions, particularly at night or if you are alone.

Drink and food spiking

Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed in bars and clubs. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers or leaving your drink or food unattended.

Overcharging in bars

Check your bill carefully when buying drinks in bars and nightclubs. Visitors have been overcharged large amounts when paying for drinks by debit or credit card.

Sexual assault

There is advice for victims of rape or sexual assault in Poland.

Laws and cultural differences

Dual nationals

Dual Polish-British nationals will be treated as a Polish national if arrested or detained by the Polish authorities.

Alcohol laws

It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places. If caught, you might be fined.

If you are drunk in a public place, you could be taken to a clinic to be medically assessed. You will have to stay there until you are sober, including overnight. You will have to pay for the cost of your stay.

LGBT+ travellers

Small towns and rural areas can be less tolerant towards LGBT+ travellers. There are gay and LGBT+-friendly restaurants, clubs and bars in many towns and cities including Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk and Sopot.

Same-sex relationships are legal and same sex partners can live together, but same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised under Polish law.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.


You could be fined if you are caught jaywalking.


Avoid taking photographs of military or other security installations and other buildings or items of national infrastructure where there are signs prohibiting photography.

Transport risks

Wear reflective clothing

Walkers and cyclists must wear a reflective item at night in non built-up areas. You may be held responsible if you are involved in an accident and not wearing a reflective item. You could be fined 100 Polish zloty (around £20) if you don’t have a reflective item.

Public transport

Validate a public transport ticket at the start of a journey. You will be fined if you travel on an invalid or unvalidated ticket.

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Poland, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide.

Poland is a major east-west transit route for heavy vehicles. The road network is being constantly upgraded, and roadworks are frequent, particularly in summer. Even some main roads between major towns and cities can be narrow and poorly surfaced, making driving after dark particularly challenging.

Car hire

Most car rental companies will not allow you to take your hire car across the Poland/Ukraine border.

Licences and permits

You can drive in Poland with your UK photocard driving licence without the need for an international driving permit (IDP).

If you’re living in Poland, check the Living in Poland guide for information on the rules for residents.

When driving, always have your:

  • driving licence
  • ID
  • car registration papers
  • car ownership papers
  • insurance papers

You will need to show these documents if you are stopped by the police or if you cross non-Schengen borders. This includes rental vehicles. If you do not have these papers the police may take your vehicle and charge you for this. If you drive a vehicle in Poland it must meet local technical requirements.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check guidance on displaying number plates for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.


You may need to pay a road toll on some parts of motorways, expressways and national roads. More information is available on the toll operator website.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Telephone 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Poland

Public medical facilities in Poland are similar to those in the UK. Private medical facilities are less expensive than the UK.

You can view a list of English speaking doctors in Poland.

Health insurance cards

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC, it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Poland nationals. If you do not have your card with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and have both before you travel. A GHIC or EHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Poland

Ambulance: 999

Fire: 998

Police: 997

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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