Climate & weather
About the weather in Krakow, southern Poland isn’t as cold as one may think. The winters have become considerably milder in recent years and, although snow is guaranteed between December and February, temperatures rarely drop beyond -10 degrees Celsius. In the summer it can be extremely pleasant with the maximum temperatures regularly hitting above 30 degrees Celsius in July through to September.
Crime in Polish cities
Polish cities have much lower crime rates than western European cities but petty theft and pick pocketing can be a problem for tourists, especially in busy public places.
Polish culture has a rich history of traditions, in part because of their strong Catholic upbringing, which is still very important today. People are therefore a lot more conservative, especially with regards to personal space, and loud outlandish behaviour is likely to be frowned upon.
Currency & prices
Poland has not yet converted to the Euro currency and still uses its own Polish denomination, the Złote (PLN). At the moment there are around 4.8 PLN to 1 GBP and around 4.30 PLN to 1 EUR. The Polish Złote PLN is readily available for exchange in most major banks, post offices and airport exchange bureaus across Europe.
In terms of prices, Krakow is considerably cheaper than other major cities in Europe when comparing food and drink. However durable goods, electrical items and property prices are on par. The average earnings in this region range from 42,000 to 50,000PLN.
Healthcare in Poland
As a member of the E.U., Poland provides reciprocal free healthcare on provision of a valid European Health Insurance Card, for further information visit your Post Office. However, the public healthcare system in Poland is not of the same standard as in other Western European countries and it is advisable to take out private medical insurance before your visit.
Language & foreign languages
Polish is a Slavic language and, to the untrained ear, may sound similar to Russian or Czech. Pronunciation is notoriously difficult for foreigners but the locals will certainly appreciate you making the effort.
With regards to foreign languages, English, German and Russian are all fairly widely-spoken. Younger people tend to have a better command of English, as it is now a compulsory part of the school curriculum, while the older generation are more likely to have German or Russian as a second language.
Poland has joined the growing list of countries that have adopted a no smoking policy in public places. All restaurants, cafes and bars follow this rules, however some venues will offer a special smoking section.
Leaving tips isn’t standard practice in Poland and a large extravagant tip can be taken offensively rather than as a gesture of appreciation. To leave a 15 or 20% tip is acceptable.
Traveling around Krakow
Krakow has a very cheap and effective public transport system, comprising of buses (ZTM), trams (also ZTM) and inner-city trains (SKM).Travelling around the city should cost no more than 4.50 PLN per journey.
There are also plenty of taxis, very cheap in comparison with Scandinavia and Western Europe, but tourists should be wary of overcharging and it is a good idea to check the price before getting in. A 20 min taxi ride from one side of town to the other should generally costs around 35PLN.
Wi-Fi internet connection
In the city centres and main streets of the Krakow there is usually a strong Wi-Fi connection available and many bars, cafes and hotels also offer customers a connection to their networks.