In recent years, Poland has increased in popularity as a winter tourist destination, due to its abundance of piste and off-piste facilities, cheap flights to and from the UK, strong links to the UK since joining the EU, while still enjoying a low level of general pricing, especially in comparison with other more established winter sun destinations, such as in Germany and Switzerland. Most people from the UK going to Poland have tended to stick to Krakow and Warsaw. However, the most interesting skiing facilities can often be found in places away from the major urban centres. Zakopane is the town that is best known for winter sports and is a popular destination in the warmer months for hiking. The town offers over a hundred different places to stay and the history of the location means you can choose from self-catering apartments, large hotels, local bed and breakfasts and traditional cottages. Flights to Poland are available from a number of different operators in the UK. For example, British Airways offer flights from London Heathrow to Krakow and Warsaw and EasyJet offer flights to Warsaw from London Luton and Bristol and offer flights to Krakow from Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London Luton and Gatwick and Newcastle. If coming from the UK or other EU member state, a visa is not required for a stay of less than ninety days. A visa discount is available for children and for those in full time education, aged 25 or under. For all stays, however, you must make sure your passport has at least six months validity remaining, or you may be refused entry to the country – so nationals of other countries should take note.
As Poland is still developing as a tourist destination, it can be handy to learn a few phrases of Polish before arriving there, particularly if visiting smaller places. However, although by no means do most people in the country speak English, you will be able to find somebody nearby in most parts of the country if you get into any difficulty. The country is relatively safe in terms of crime, although obviously the larger settlements are the most dangerous – avoid Warsaw Central train station and the Praga area at night if you’re not in a large group. To call home from Poland, simply dial 0044 and then the full number, including area code, but taking off the 0 from the area code. To allow friends and family to call Poland from the UK, there are services available that are specialised services available that do not involve changing your phone provider. Those unused to driving in Poland should take extra precaution, as drivers can seem a bit more temperamental than in the UK and unsignalled crossings are not always obeyed so exercise care when crossing. Travel within Poland is fairly cheap and the railway network is sufficiently comfortable and well developed to make it a more interesting option for seeing different parts of the country.