Budget Wise :: Poland

20 09 2008

This budget is definitely our most researched thus far since we traveled in Poland for over 2 months and stayed in at least 7 cities, sometimes crashing in hostels and sometimes saving some cash Couch Surfing. Poland is an amazing country with good people, tasty and cheap food, some really nice hostels, and a lot of history to soak up. While the country was a lot cheaper to visit just 5 years ago, this destination is still priced well under it’s value. Here’s how we did, budget wise:

Our 66 day daily average :: $46.81 USD (for two people: one couple) :: 1 USD = 2 PLN (zloty)

The above daily average is an accurate reflection of traveling around the country as a whole, but as you may imagine, each city had it’s own unique price tag and more than half of our Polish adventure was spent couch surfing – which saves a fair amount of money. Below we’ve provided some city specific averages, each of which account for staying in a hostel. We did however return to Torun and Couch Surfed there for around one month which allowed us to drop our daily average to $33.39 USD. So, Couch Surfing saves money for sure, but all of Poland is affordable and well worth the price.

Krakow $62.07 (7 days) :: Wroclaw $65.81 (4 days) :: Poznan $66.75 (4 days) :: Torun $66.45 (5 days) :: Gdansk $74.20 (5 days) :: Malbork $58.19 (4 days) :: Warsaw $68.50 (3 days)

Now with that said, here is how we managed our budget:

Hostels :: Hostel avg 35 PLN/bed :: We stayed in at least 1 hostel in every city listed above, and chose the cheapest hostel we could find with good ratings. The quality of hostels in Poland vary quite a bit. In Krakow, we stayed in the nicest hostel we’ve ever seen (Deco Hostel), whereas in Poznan the hostel we stayed at was pretty bad (Dizzy Daisy). Breakfast was sometimes included and a couple of places had really good breakfast. Free laundry was a rare treat and paying for it can sometimes be quite expensive (up to 30 zloty), so whenever you find a good deal take advantage of it. A nice kitchen in the hostel is always a plus, but in Poland it wasn’t as necessary because almost every city has cheap tasty places to eat (Milk Bar = Bar Mleczny). As always, hostels charge per bed so, unfortunately there are no savings for a couple.

Couch Surfing :: We finally managed to do some Couch Surfing in Poland and it worked out very well for us. Though it still seems like it’s harder for a couple to find a place to stay, I think we’re starting to figure out the system. For those not familiar with the concept, it’s an organization run through the couchsurfing.com website which connects travelers with people who are willing to let travelers crash at their place. It basically saves you the cost of the hostel during your stay, plus sometimes they let you do your laundry or use their kitchen for nice home-cooked meals. The best part is that you get to meet some locals and learn about their life and culture.

Eating :: Meal avg 15-20 PLN/person (5-8 PLN at Milk Bars) :: We love to eat and to try new foods, so this is where we do the most research. We always ask locals for recommendations, and we use restaurant guides in the city to find good, authentic, budget restaurants. In Poland you can usually find at least a couple Milk Bars in each city. It can be a little tricky to order if you don’t know any Polish because all the available dishes are written on a big list and they never have English translations. But, a little language knowledge will go a long way and they have plenty of options to choose from. The food is cheap, and usually quite good, but have a back up dish in mind because they do run out of items a lot. There are other mid-range restaurant options as well, just ask around and maybe you’ll find a Pierogarnia (pierogi heaven) or a GreenWay (delicious vegetarian restaurant). Tasty stuff.

Drinking :: Beer avg 5 PLN/0.5 Liter :: With the exception of maybe Warsaw, Poland generally has pretty good drink prices in bars and restaurants. You can save some money by getting your beer at a market, but it’s not a huge savings (costs 2-4 zloty/Bottle). Don’t forget to bring your empty 0.5 liter bottles back for a savings on your new beers (0.30 zloty).

The Sites :: The prices of tourist attractions varied in Poland, but in general they were quite affordable. Ask around and check your guide book for a listing of free admission days for each city’s various sites and plan your visits around that. Some cities may have one day a month that all major museums are free, but each individual attraction usually has it’s own free day of the week as well. If you miss those days, don’t worry because the average admission price is around only 5-10 zloty anyway. Most major cities will also have some sort of city pass that gives you entrance into a handful of museums and free rides on the public transportation. These can be a great deal for a traveler who plans to visit many museums in a matter of a couple days. Public transportation usually cost about 2-3 zloty per ticket.

Extras :: We broke down and bought a cell phone while we were in Torun and found a great selection of unlocked phones at Media Mrkt in the Kopernik Galleria. We bought the cheapest good quality GSM tri-band phone (can be used all over the world) we could find and ended up with the Motorola W230 for around 199 zloty. You can get a SIM card from a few different providers for about 5 zloty and then just buy however many credits you need for the phone. Text messages are usually the cheapest way to communicate. Art supplies were easier to find as well in Poland and the prices seemed reasonable.

We hope this helps your travels and please feel free to ask us any Poland budget questions and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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