Living in Poland?
Transportation and Education in Poland
Traveling by Train — The Most Popular Option
There are many different options when traveling around Poland, with trains one of the most popular modes of transportation. Ideal for long distance journeys, Polish trains are usually punctual, and tickets are reasonably priced.
In Poland just over 19,000 km of train track span the country, making for an extensive rail network. In the mountainous south, where the railways are not as well serviced, the trains are a little bit slower. The Polish State Railways (Polskie Koleje Państwowe — PKP) are divided between two main operators, PKP Intercity and Przewozy Regionalne, as well as between other smaller operators.
You can choose to travel on different types of trains, including intercity, express, and regional trains. As expected, the express and intercity trains are much more comfortable than the slower trains. The regional trains do, however, allow you to visit smaller Polish towns and villages, as these trains often stop at all the local stations.
There are of course also connections to major cities within and outside of Poland, such as Berlin, Prague, Vienna, or Budapest. Long-distance trains are often equipped with additional sleeping cars. You can plan your trip and learn more about ticket prices on the website of the Polish State Railways.
Taking the Bus — Good for Towns and Villages
Taking the bus is the ideal choice if you need or wish to travel to destinations which are not located on a main train line. Most towns and villages have a bus station, so you can reach even remote areas. Poland’s inter-city bus network is operated by Państwowa Komunikacja Samochodowa (PKS), and a few other private operators. If you need to ask for directions to bus stations, try using the term “PKS” as well, it is now widely used as a word for buses in general. Some towns offer minibus services, where you can buy your ticket from the driver.
If you have the option of traveling via the usual bus lines or are making a long-distance journey, take a look at Dworzec Online, PKS Polonus, or the Europe-wide Flixbus services. Tickets come at a reasonable price and the buses are also comfortable. All three companies offer online ticket buying options, however, other companies may not, in which case you can purchase your ticket at the bus station or, as mentioned above, directly with the driver. Each bus station should have a timetable showing the times of departure (odjazdy) and destinations (kierunek).
Flying or Driving — A Convenient Choice
Despite the great bus and train connections, flying across the country is growing in popularity. LOT Polish Airlines, the country’s official airline, has a big network of domestic flights with daily connections to Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw, and other cities. You can purchase tickets online on the LOT website, or at any LOT office or travel agency. Keep your eyes open for discounts and cheap stand-by fares.
Another popular mode of transportation is the car. Here are some things to keep in mind when driving in Poland:
- Different motorways (usually marked with an “A” on a blue board) connect bigger cities and offer convenient connections. National roads, on the other hand, are marked by white numbers in a red box — these roads are often subject to repairs.
- You will have to pay a toll charge to use some sections of the motorways (A1, A2, A4) in Poland. Toll charges vary depending on the distance of your journey and weight of your vehicle.
- Although recent statistics do show a decrease in car theft rates, vehicle theft remains a problem in Poland. Even if it is not your entire car which has gone missing, the contents of your car, if on open display, may quickly disappear. Make sure to get a good car insurance and do not park your vehicle outside of secured parking lots.
- There has been a significant increase in the number of cars on Polish roads in recent years, making driving in Poland more hazardous than in some other European countries. Be sure to remain vigilant when you’re on the road.
The Education System
Following education reforms in 1999, schools in Poland are divided into six years of primary school, three years of gymnasium (secondary school), plus two to four years of post-gymnasium schooling. The latter consists of specialized lyceums, general lyceums, technical secondary schools, vocational schools, complementary lyceums, and complementary technical secondary schools.
All in all, Polish children attend 12 to 13 years of school, at the end of which they may take the standardized national secondary school achievement examination and receive a diploma. Education is compulsory for both Polish and foreign children until the age of 18, with both primary and secondary school attendance being obligatory. Expat children have the option of attending public schools in Poland.
There are several different international schools for expat children in Poland. Here is a brief overview:
- American School of Warsaw
- British International School of Cracow
- British International School, Gdansk
- International School of Cracow
- British International School in Lodz
- British International School, Wroclaw
- Meridian International School
- Poznan British International School
- The British School, Warsaw
- Wroclaw International School
- International Highschool of Wroclaw
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