Major Festivals in Poland
The calendar is filled with festivals of all kinds, with the most popular celebra-
tions connected to religious dates or Poland's folk or cultural traditions. The
annual Marian pilgrimages culminate in August at the Jasna Góra shrine in
Cz¶stochowa for the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. Warsaw, Kraków,
Wroclaw, and Pozna^ all host jazz, contemporary, and classical music festivals
throughout the year. The best idea is to check in with the local tourist informa-
tion offices when you arrive to see what's going on during the time you're
there. Kraków's Kazimierz district hosts the increasingly popular Jewish Cul-
tural Festival every year in July. Klezmer music concerts, films, and cultural dis-
cussions highlight the agenda. Zakopane and the surrounding area is the
epicenter of the country's folk fests, with the biggest draw being Zakopane's
Mountain Folklore Festival in August.
in Europe in recent years has also opened up several other cities to regular and conven-
ient air travel, including L ód 3 , Pozna ^ , Wroc l aw, and Gda ^ sk.
BY TRAIN The national rail network, PKP, is well integrated into the Europe-wide
rail system. Warsaw lies on the main east-west line running from Berlin to Moscow.
Kraków is accessible from Prague, Vienna, and points south, though connections
require a change of trains at Katowice.
BY BUS International bus travel has become less popular in recent years due to the
arrival of the budget air carriers, which often match the buses for ticket prices, but nat-
urally get you there much quicker. Nevertheless, the Polish national bus carrier works
in cooperation with Eurolines, and large Polish cities are easy to reach by bus.
BY CAR Poland is easily accessible by car. From the west, there are several interna-
tional border crossings along the German, Czech, and Slovak frontiers. Note that
some smaller border crossings may operate only in daylight hours.
BY SHIP It's possible to travel to Poland by ferry from two ports in Sweden, put-
ting in at Gda ^ sk and Gdynia on the Baltic coast. See Gda ^ sk, “Getting There,” later
in this chapter for more details.
BY CAR Car travel offers flexibility but can be slow and highly frustrating. Most Pol-
ish highways—even those connecting major cities—are of the narrow, two-lane variety
and are usually clogged with trucks, buses, tractors, and even occasionally horse-drawn
carts. For most stretches, plan on at least 2 hours driving time per 100km (60 miles)
distance. And drive defensively. Polish drivers have an abysmal record when it comes to
per capita accidents and fatalities. Poland follows normal Continental rules of the road,
with priority given to cars on roundabouts and vehicles coming from the right at
unmarked intersections. The speed limit on (the few) four-lane freeways is 130kmph
(78 mph). This drops to 90kmph (54 mph) on two-lane highways outside urban areas,
and 50kmph (30 mph) or slower in built-up areas. Speed checks are common. Spot
alcohol checks are also frequent. The blood/alcohol limit is 0.2%—one beer.
BY TRAIN The Polish state railroad, PKP, has improved its service in recent years,
and train travel is usually the quickest and best way to move between big cities or to