Polish National Tourist Office
Remo House, 1st Floor,
310-312 Regent Street
London W1R 5AJ
Tel: 0171 580 6688, Fax: 0171 580 8866

Physical geography

Location: Central Europe, east of Germany. Total area: 312,680 sq km, land area: 304,510 sq km. Land boundaries: total 3,114km, Belarus 605km, Czech Republic 658km, Germany 456km, Lithuania 91km, Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) 432km, Slovakia 444km, Ukraine 428km. Coastline: 491km.

Terrain: mostly flat plain; Sudety/Tatra mountains along southern border. The river Vistula cuts a wide valley from Gdansk to Warsaw. Lake Hancza is the deepest lake in Poland in the northeast Mazury lake region.


Temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundery showers. Temperatures can vary from the mid-30s in summer to well below zero in winter.
Economic geography Natural resources: coal, sulphur, copper, natural gas, silver, lead, salt.

Industries: machine building, iron and steel, extractive industries, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles.

Agriculture: accounts for seven per cent of GDP; 75 per cent of output from private farms, 25 per cent from state farms; productivity remains low by European standards; leading European producer of rye, rapeseed and potatoes; wide variety of other crops and livestock; major exporter of pork products; normally self-sufficient in food.


Population: 38,309,200. Warsaw - 1,653,000, Lodz - 844,900, Krakow - 751,300, Wroclaw - 643,600, Poznan - 589,700, Gdansk - 466,500, Szczecin - 414,200.


Roman Catholic - 95 per cent (about 75 per cent practising), Eastern Orthodox, Protestant and other five per cent.

Languages spoken by nationals



One hour ahead of GMT.


Polish currency is the zloty, divided into 100 grosze. The currency has recently been devalued to simplify exchange.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 January, New Year's Day - Easter Holidays (dates vary) - 1 May, Labour Day - 3 May - Constitution Day - 6 June, Corpus Christi (variable) - 15 August, Ascension Day - 1 November, All Saints - 11 November, National Independence Day - 25, 26 December, Christmas.

What one should not fail to see

Warsaw: rebuilt virtually entirely after the Second World War - see the market square with colourful buildings, Royal Palace, city walls, museum of the history of Warsaw, Cathedral, old Jewish quarter with monuments, national museum, the 18th century summer Palace Lazienki and its park with Chopin concerts taking place on Sundays in summer under his monument, Wilanow Palace on the outskirts. Or take a bus to Zelazowa Wola - Chopin's house - or Nieborow, late 17th-century palace.

Krakow: Poland's most picturesque town and untampered with by the war - come and see Europe's largest mediaeval town square; the cathedral of St Mary with altar by Wit Stwosz; the historical museum, the Florianska Gate in the old town walls; the Cloth Hall with its souvenir stalls, and its galleries on the first floor to see giant paintings by Matejko; the Barbican; Wawel Castle with royal rooms, Cathedral (burial place of much Polish royalty) and underground dragon's lair; tours of the old University (where Copernicus allegedly studied) are available; view the city (on a clear day) from Kosciuszko's mound; Jewish quarter and venture out of town to witness the horrors of Auschwitz. Tour the marvellous Wieliczka salt mine and its salt carvings, see Pieskowa Skala castle and its small museum set in magnificent rocky scenery.

Czestochowa: place of pilgrimage.

Gdansk: the old Hanseatic city where Solidarity began. Various gate entrances into city such as the 16th-century Upland Gate or the Italian Renaissance-style Golden Gate, 14 and 15th Century Church of St Catherine, gothic and renaissance Torture House and prison tower, Old Town Hall from the 16th century, 'House of Adam and Eve, Lion's Castle'.

Poznan - a town known for its international trade fairs, also boasts a national museum, 13th century modified Town Hall, Jesuit baroque church, reconstructed tenth-century Gothic cathedral and bishop's palace.

Visit the Polish mountain region in the south with towns such as Zakopane, and the lake district in the northeast.

Main holiday sports

Skiing, hiking, cycling, horseriding, birdwatching, canoeing, fishing, sailing in lake region or the coast.

What to eat and drink

Pierogi (dumplings filled with meat or potato and cheese), barszcz (beetroot soup) or chlodnik, the cold version; kasza - buckwheat as a potato alternative; vodka - many flavours; Polish beer; golabki (cabbages leaves stuffed with rice and mushrooms; bigos - huntsman's stew with cabbage; cheesecake; knedle - plum dumplings in season.

What to buy

Amber jewellery, glassware, original paintings sold in market squares, souvenirs from Cepelia craft shops such as wooden canes, dolls in regional costume, etc.

Frontier formalities

Visas and passports

People arriving from Europe must have a valid passport and some European countries and Australian, Canadian and Japanese travellers an entry visa is required.


Travellers entering Poland may bring the following items duty free either for their won personal use or as gifts: personal items, alcohol and tobacco quarter litre of white vodka or pure alcohol, half litre of high proof spirits, two litres of wine, 250 cigarettes of 50 cigars and 250 grams of tobacco.


For accompanying pets a health and vaccination certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and translated into Polish should be presented.

Main travel routes

Direct flights to Warsaw are operated by LOT airlines and British Airways and by Lot to other cities. Fast and express trains travel through Poland and there is also access to the north via the Baltic Sea.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on POLAND thanks to the co-operation of the Polish National Tourist Office in the UK.