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, travel from London to Berlin by high-speed trains from €59 on day 1, stay overnight in Berlin, then take an air-conditioned express from Berlin to Warsaw, Poznan or Gdansk from €29 on day 2.  The train journey from London to Poland is safe and comfortable, with couchettes & sleeping-cars available if you use the Jan Kiepura.  It's an experience in itself!  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 Łódź

  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:

8 June 2015.  Train times valid 14 June to 12 December 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 & a German ICE 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 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.

 

Standard sleeper with beds folded away & seats out.  There's a socket for laptops & mobiles.

Jan Kiepura couchettes (4-berth)   Jan Kiepura couchettes (6-berth)   A couchette car on the Jan Kiepura overnight train to Warsaw

4-berth couchettes:  Ideal for families.  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 Jan Kiepura also has two couchette cars, with 4 & 6 berth compartments.  There are 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.

  • Step 1, book the Jan Kiepura sleeper train from Cologne to Warsaw & back at www.bahn.de...

    www.bahn.de is the excellent German Railways website, it will book all types of couchette and sleeper on this train, it can be used by residents of any country, prices are in euros and you simply print out your own ticket.  Look for the direct EN train with 0 changes and check availability of the cheap Savings fares.  One minor quirk is that it won't offer you a berth in a 3-bed sleeper if you're travelling alone, so if that's what you want (and you're a UK resident), use www.raileurope.co.uk instead.

    I strongly recommend registering on bahn.de when prompted, so you can log in at any time to see all your bookings and reprint tickets as necessary.

    Update Jan 2015:  There's a glitch at the moment, the cheap fares may not show up online.  If you only see expensive standard price fares, pick up the phone and call DB's UK office, 08718 80 80 66.

  • Step 2, book your trains from London to Cologne & back.  I recommend comparing prices on two sites.

    First, check prices from London to Cologne at the German Railways website using the special links I'm about to give you.  You simply print out your own ticket.  I recommend booking a round trip as two one-ways, as it's easier to see where the availability is.  Here are the links I've set up with all the details necessary to bring up the cheap fares, just enter your departure date, remembering that on the inward journey, departure from Cologne will be the day after departure from Prague:

    Buy an outward ticket from London to Cologne leaving London at 12:58 on Saturdays or leaving London at 15:04 Mondays-Fridays & Sundays.

    Buy an inward ticket from Cologne to London leaving Cologne at 07:43 Monday-Saturday or leaving Cologne at 07:43 on Sundays.

    Now check prices from London to Cologne at the Belgian Railways international website www.b-europe.com.  This can sell London to Cologne tickets using Eurostar and ICE or Eurostar and Thalys, and it allows you to print your own ticket.  It may or may not be cheaper than bahn.de, just buy from whichever site has the cheaper fare!

  • Alternatively, you can always book London to Cologne in two stages direct with the relevant operators.  First, book from London to Brussels and back at www.eurostar.com.  You print your own ticket, and can buy tickets to Brussels starting not just in London, but from 130 UK towns and cities.  At the end of the booking, look for the link allowing you to book a specific seat.  Tips on choosing the best Eurostar seats.

  • Then book the ICE train from Brussels to Cologne and back at www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket.  I strongly recommend registering, so you can log in and re-print or change bookings at any time.  The best connections for this particular journey are by ICE, as shown in the train times above, but if you want to stop off in Brussels or Cologne so want to book one of the Thalys trains between Brussels & Cologne instead, you can do this at www.thalys.com, also with self-print tickets.

  • Starting your journey from a UK town or city outside London?  You can buy a special add-on ticket to connect with Eurostar from almost any station in Britain, with better terms and conditions than buying a regular domestic UK train ticket to London, see the advice here.

How to buy tickets by email...

  • If you'd prefer to have someone book it for you, just click here and a booking form will appear which lists all the trains you need to book.  Fill it in & email it to sales@europeanrail.com.  European Rail will make the reservations and call you back to confirm the cost.  If you're okay with the price you can give them your credit card details and they'll send you the tickets.  European Rail is an experienced agency equipped with the German Railways reservation & ticketing system, so they have access to all the cheap fares for travel via Germany.  They charge a £35 booking fee which includes postage to any UK address, or they can send to any address worldwide if you pay the courier fee.  Seat61 gets some commission if you buy tickets using this form.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.

  • Alternatively, call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card charge, no charge for debit cards), or www.europeanrail.com on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 08:30-18:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday, £35 fee per booking, but can have more time to help you).  Click here for a list of agencies and other useful information on how to book.

Have your trip professionally arranged...

  • Custom-made travel arrangements:  A hassle-free option is to get a train travel specialist such as Railbookers to arrange your whole trip, with train tickets, hotels and transfers all sorted with one phone call.  As you're then in effect booking a package, they'll take care of you if there's a strike or major delay, for example.  Just tell them when and where you want to go, and they'll create the best rail-based tour or holiday for you.

      UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

      US call toll-free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

      Canada call toll-free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

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

      New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034, www.railbookers.co.nz.

  • Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, contact Great Rail Journeys at www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120.  They have escorted tours from the UK to Warsaw & Krakow by train with departures on various dates.


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

  • Day 1:  Travel from London to Berlin by Eurostar to Brussels, ICE or Thalys to Cologne and ICE train to Berlin, using any of the several daytime options shown on the London to Germany page.  For example, you can leave London St Pancras at 10:58 (08:58 on Sundays), arriving Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 21:08.

  • Stay overnight in a hotel in Berlin.  The 3-star Meininger Hotel is ideal as it's right next to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and a 10-minute walk from the Reichstag or a 15-minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate, it's inexpensive and gets good reviews.  If you want to push the boat out, try the famous Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin is right next to the Brandenburg Gate.  More hotels in Berlin.  If you're on a tight budget, see www.hostelbookers.com.

  • Day 2:  Travel from Berlin to Warsaw on the Berlin-Warszawa Express, leaving Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 09:37 and arriving Poznan at 12:25 and Warsaw Centralna at 15:06.  The Berlin-Warszawa Express is a modern air-conditioned EuroCity train with comfortable seats, a trolley refreshment service and a restaurant car serving drinks, snacks and full meals.  Treat yourself to a meal in the restaurant:  Three courses, a beer and a coffee come to €10.

  • Alternatively, on Mondays-Saturdays there's an earlier Berlin-Warszawa Express if you prefer, leaving Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 06:37 and arriving Poznan at 09:28 and Warsaw Centralna at 12:13.

  • Why not spend some time in Berlin?  It's just a 10 minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof to the restored Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.  There are later trains to Warsaw, right up to a 17:37 departure, daily except Saturdays, arriving Warsaw Centralna at 23:08.  You can check times at www.bahn.de.

Warsaw ► London by daytime trains

  • Stay overnight in a hotel in Berlin.  The 3-star Menninger Hotel is ideal as it's right next to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and a 10-minute walk from the Reichstag, it's inexpensive and gets good reviews.  If you want to push the boat out, try the famous Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin is right next to the Brandenburg Gate.  More hotels in Berlin.  If you're on a tight budget, see www.hostelbookers.com.

  • Day 2:  Travel from Berlin to London by ICE train to Cologne, ICE or Thalys train to Brussels and Eurostar to London, using any of the several daytime options shown on the London to Germany page.  For example, you can leave Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 06:46 arriving London at 16:05 or you can leave Berlin at 10:47 arriving London St Pancras at 19:57 (21:03 on Saturdays).  It's up to you.

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

  • London to Berlin can cost as little as €59 each way with a London Spezial fare from Germany Railways.  The price varies, book early and pick your date carefully for the cheapest prices.  Booking usually opens 92 days before departure.

  • Berlin to Warsaw on the Berlin-Warszawa Express starts at €29 each way.

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • If you'd prefer to book all these trains by phone, just call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card charge, no charge for debit cards), or a booking agency such as European Rail on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 09:00-18:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday, £35 booking fee).

Have your trip professionally arranged...

  • Custom-made travel arrangements:  A hassle-free option is to get a train travel specialist such as Railbookers to arrange your whole trip, with train tickets, hotels and transfers all sorted with one phone call.  As you're then in effect booking a package, they'll take care of you if there's a strike or major delay, for example.  Just tell them when and where you want to go, and they'll create the best rail-based tour or holiday for you.

      UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

      US call toll-free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

      Canada call toll-free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

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

      New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034, www.railbookers.co.nz.

  • Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, contact Great Rail Journeys at www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120.  They have escorted tours from the UK to Warsaw & Krakow by train with departures on various dates.

What's the journey like?

1)  London to Cologne by Eurostar & ICE3:  Watch the video guide

2)  Cologne to Berlin by high-speed ICE2...

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.

3)  Berlin to Warsaw by Berlin-Warszawa Express...

The Berlin-Warsaw Express train   2nd class seating compartment 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.

Bistro car on the Berlin-Warszawa Express train   Sausage soup on the Berlin-Warszawa Express   A main course schnitzel in the bistro-restaurant on the Berlin to Warsaw Express train

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.


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

Warsaw to Krakow EIP trains:  Warsaw to Krakow in 2h28 at up to 200km/h (125 mph): 

Introduced in December 2014, these are the very best trains on the Polish network are modern bullet-nosed pendolinos like this.  They operate on the Krakow-Warsaw-Gdynia route at up to 125mph, with faster operation planned in the future.  Reservation is compulsory and they have a bar-bistro car - for more photos see www.vagonweb.cz/fotogalerie/PL/PKP_ED250.php.  Above right, 2nd class seats.  Buy tickets at www.intercity.pl.

A Warsaw to Krakow InterCity train at warsaw Centralna   2nd class seats on a PKP InterCity EIP train

An EIP train. Photos courtesy of www.vagonweb.cz

 

2nd class seats...

   

EIP train...

 

Bar car...

 

1st class...

Warsaw to Krakow by EIC train...

EIC & IC trains are the next rank down, with modern air-conditioned carriages and usually a bistro-bar.  Below right, a first class compartment.  Some seats are open-plan, some in compartments like this.  Below EIC & IC, the next rank of train is TLK, which usually use older carriages, many not air-conditioned.  TLK trains are slower, but cheaper.

A Warsaw to Krakow InterCity train at warsaw Centralna   A 6-seat compartment on a Warsaw to Krakow 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...

What's the journey like?

London to Cologne by Eurostar & ICE3:  Watch the video guide

Cologne to Berlin by high-speed ICE2...

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.

Berlin to Warsaw by Berlin-Warszawa Express...

The Berlin-Warsaw Express train   2nd class seating compartment 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.

Bistro car on the Berlin-Warszawa Express train   Sausage soup on the Berlin-Warszawa Express   A main course schnitzel in the bistro-restaurant on the Berlin to Warsaw Express train

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.

Warsaw to Krakow by EIP train in 2h28 at up to 200km/h (125 mph)...

Introduced in December 2014, these are the very best trains on the Polish network are modern bullet-nosed pendolinos like this.  They operate on the Krakow-Warsaw-Gdynia route at up to 125mph, with faster operation planned in the future.  Reservation is compulsory and they have a bar-bistro car - for more photos see www.vagonweb.cz/fotogalerie/PL/PKP_ED250.php.  Above right, 2nd class seats.  You' also find comfortable air-conditioned EIC trains on the Warsaw-Krakow route, and a few much older and slower TLK trains.  I recommend choosing an EIP or at least EIC!

An EIP train   2nd class seats on a PKP InterCity EIP train

Polish Railways EIP train... Photos courtesy of www.vagonweb.cz

 

2nd class seats...

EIP train   EIP bar car   EIP table for two in 1st class

EIP train...

 

Bar car...

 

1st class...


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 modern air-conditioned Czech 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.  For most of the year there is also a Czech couchette car (in fact, a smart second-hand Austrian one) with 4 & 6 bunk compartments (basic flat bunks with rug and pillow), see the photos at www.vagonweb.cz/fotogalerie/CZ/CD_Bcmz834.php .

Czech sleeping-car as used on the train from Prague to Krakow   2-bed sleeper on the night train from Prague to Krakow   Washbasin in sleeper compartment

Photos courtesy of Vagonweb - see www.vagonweb.cz/fotogalerie/CZ/CD_WLABmee.php.


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 Łódź

Łódź 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 ► Łódź

Łódź ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

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

London ► Łódź

Łódź ► 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 Poznan, either usiung the time-effective Jan Kiepura sleeper train from Cologne, or travelling on daytime trains with an overnight stop in Berlin.

Option 1, by Jan Kiepura sleeper train...

London ► Wroclaw

Wroclaw ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

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

London ► Wroclaw

Wroclaw ► London


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.  It's also cheaper if you have to travel at short notice when Eurostar can be expensive.  This route is also 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 via the 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 an ICE train to Cologne and the excellent EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura 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 (gotówka) 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:  There was a 1st class lounge (VIP zone) at Warsaw Centralna, called a VIP Zone, but this was closed in 2014 as too few people used it.

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 has now closed...  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)

1-888-829-4775 (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

  US call toll-free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

  Canada call toll-free 1-855-882-2910, www.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 mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from www.Go-Sim.com, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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