Poland Travel Planner Logo with striped outline of Poland

car

car transport in cities can be great - or a nightmare; welcome to the stress lottery!

- how much does parking cost?
- is there a lot of traffic?
- how do trams work in traffic?



contents

city streets

city streets

traffic and parking

traffic and parking

laws

laws

car rental

car rental

city streets


Urban streets in Poland are generally good, and on par with Western European standards. Cities tend to have streets with up to three lanes in each direction. However, something to consider before driving into Polish cities are the complicated intersections some cities are filled with.

roundabouts

There are essentially three types of roundabouts in Poland. Firstly, simple roundabouts with no traffic lights, secondly, more complex roundabouts with traffic lights (seen in big cities) - on those, you have to merge roundabout and traffic light rules and use the roundabout as usual as long as the light in front of you is green. Then, there are roundabouts with traffic lights and trams (in largest cities). On those, consider trams one level above you in terms of right of way.

Please note that some roundabouts in Poland have more than one lane. In such case, follow the signs to leave the roundabout at the right exit properly.

simple roundabout

complex roundabout

intersections

Polish intersections can also be quite complex in large city centres. Though the vast majority is simple, there are ones with multiple lanes, traffic lights, and trams simultaneously. Be careful and look at the signs to make sure you are on the right lane. Furthermore, consider trams one level above you in terms of right of way.

simple intersection

complex intersection

residential roads

Roads running along residential areas are called residential roads and are very common in the outskirts of cities of all sizes. They are marked with a special blue sign (see below) and have a speed limit of 20 km/h. The roads are often play areas for kids and are often treated like walking areas. It is important to obey the speed limit and be very cautious on such roads.

beginning of internal road

residential road


traffic and parking


traffic

Traffic in Poland is not very bad, but it's also not great. Between 7 and 9 a.m., it does get quite bad in cities - the same goes for between 3 and 5 p.m. However, outside of those hours, the traffic is really fine.

Now, even in bad traffic, the driving culture in Poland is okay in comparison to many other European countries. The roads are rather peaceful except the occasional cars trying to cut in line using a side lane.

typical rush hour traffic

non-rush hour traffic

parking

This is another story. In small cities, parking is usually not the biggest problem. In large cities, however, finding parking, free or paid, can be a nightmare - but it all depends on the time of day and day of week. Unfortunately, this is really difficult to predict - generally, however, it is calmest on weekdays during working hours and least calm on weekend afternoons.

For finding parking in Polish cities, we recommend Parkopedia. It's not perfect, but there's nothing better out there.

street parking

The most common kind. You simply find a spot on the side of the street that is not marked with a "no parking" sign, preferably a section where other cars are already parked, and head to town. Now, it is important to know when you have to pay, where you have to pay, and, if at all, how much. Fortunately, this is easy to check. You simply walk up to the parkingmeter closest to you and check whether you have to pay. If yes, you enter the amount of coins (some accept credit card, but do bring coins just in case) that is equivalent to the amount of hours you wish to stay. Then, you put your parking receipt under your windshield and go. If there are no parking meters and the cars around you have no documentation or receipts in their windshield, the parking is free.

Typically, street parking costs 3-5 zł [0.75-1.25 EUR] per hour on weekdays from 8-9 a.m. to 5-6 p.m., and is free at all other times.

parkingmeter

street parking

Indoor parking

Indoor parking facilities in Poland are mostly found adjacent to shopping malls, where they are either completely free or free for the first hour or two, and then cost up to 4 zł [0.9 EUR] per hour.

You can, however, also find dedicated, private parking houses - in those, prices range from 4 zł [0.9 EUR] to 10 zł [2.3 EUR] per hour.

underground parking

underground parking gate

supermarket parking

The third option is to park in a supermarket parking lot. There are two issues here: firstly, supermarkets in or near city centres tend not to have big parking lots due to the scarcity of space. Secondly, the law surrounding supermarket parking is rather grey and there have been cases of supermarket parking lots in fact being owned by a third party, which has resulted in fines. These parking lots are generally free, though you can also find paid supermarket parking in some large cities (this will be marked at the entrance).

It is generally easier to get away with parking at parking lots adjacent to stores like IKEA where you are expected to spend a long time.

supermarket parking

IKEA parking

park & ride (parkuj i jedź)

Park & ride systems are schemes in which a car can be parked on the outskirts of a city near a major public transport hub for a very low price (especially when parking for a full day). In Poland, they are available in Warsaw, Cracow, Wrocław, Szczecin, and Tychy (near Katowice).

Park & Ride in Warsaw

Park & Ride in Wrocław


laws


Though driving laws in Poland will likely be no surprise, in this chapter you will find everything you need to know about driving in Polish cities.

Speed limits

Speed limits are best described in an infographic. See below.



This means that, in cities, you may drive up to 50 km/h during the day and 60 km/h during the night, unless stated otherwise (national roads running through cities often have a speed limit of up to 70 km/h). However, on residential roads, you may only drive up to 20 km/h, as stated above.

Your lights must be on no matter the time of day.

As for the police's tolerance on those speed limits, it is approximately 10%.

Bicycle paths

In Polish cities, if there are bicycle paths, bicycles run parallel to pedestrians. This means that they are not incorporated into the road network and only appear on the road on pedestrian crossings. If there are no bicylce paths, bicyclists often choose to bike on the roads, where they act like regular vehicles.

combined crossing

bike path

Car equipment

As of 2018, the necessary equipment in all cars in Poland is only a fire extinguisher and a warning triangle.

fire extinguisher

warning triangle

Documentation

The documentation you will need largely depends on your nationality.
Driver's license
If you have an EU driver's license, you are good to go. If you have a driver's license from another country, you must apply for and receive an International Driving Permit before your departure in your country.

EU driver's license

International Driving Permit sample

Insurance
You are required to always posess standard third-party accident insurance when driving in Poland. If you are insured in an EU country, you can visit Poland with full coverage. However, when arriving from a non-EU country, contact your insurance company or inspect your insurance policy to see whether you are covered in Poland.
ID/Passport
While driving your car, it is required that you hold an EU-issued identification document or a passport.


car rental


Renting a car in Poland is exactly as it is anywhere else in Europe. Most car rental locations are in large cities and at airports, but you can sometimes find car rental companies in smaller cities as well - this is something you will need to check for yourself or on the given city's article on our website.

The rental car companies in Poland include internationally known companies, such as Avis and Hertz, but also some obscure ones - however, you do not need to worry about safety, as all the necessary regulations are in place and there are no issues on the Polish car rental market.

Hertz at Warsaw Airport

local rental company in Wrocław



Car rental prices in Poland are not bad - Poland is generally a very cheap country. At Hertz, a small city car can start at 200 zł/day [47 EUR], while at a smaller company, for example the before-mentioned Your Car Rental Company, you can rent a car for as little as 130 zł/day [30 EUR].

orientational daily car rental prices