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A Complete Guide for Traveling by Bus in Poland
Traveling by bus in Poland is a great alternative to taking the train or driving yourself. Not only is it cheaper, but it also lets you enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes around the country. Plus, buses serve the most remote places in Poland, so you can reach the tiniest villages that the trains and flights do not serve.
Bus travel in Poland expanded dramatically after the Second World War. Many people couldn’t afford their own set of wheels, and trains only served the largest Polish cities. As a result, smaller towns became isolated, and demand grew for an overarching transportation system. Enter the PKS (Polska Komunikacja Samochodowa, or Polish Road Transport): a national bus company that continues to serve Polish cities both large and small.
Today the national PKS bus company still operates, but there are also dozens of private companies vying for a piece of the pie. The breadth of options means travelers can easily find affordable and convenient bus trips throughout Poland.
Bus companies in Poland
Almost every Polish town and village has a PKS service connecting to the nearest city center. Unfortunately, many of these local services are underfunded, which can make service infrequent and unreliable. Obviously, this is not ideal, but it’s better than nothing!
There are also over 50 private bus companies that operate in Poland, with thousands of routes between them. Private coach companies tend to have more reliable service and fleets than PKS, and passengers can expect comfortable, modern vehicles. Competition keeps prices fairly low and comfort high, making private bus travel a win-win for passengers.
Of the private bus companies, Sindbad is one of the largest, covering hundreds of cities in Poland and even traveling to international destinations like Prague, Berlin, and Paris. Amenities on Sindbad buses include free Wi-Fi, restrooms, and reliable air conditioning.
FlixBus is one of the biggest names in European bus travel, and connects Polish cities to destinations across the continent. FlixBus is known for its affordable prices, environmentally friendly vehicles, and enormous network of routes. It operates over 150 routes to Krakow alone!
If you’re traveling to or from Eastern Europe (specifically the Baltic states and Russia), Lux Express is your best bet. Lux Express also runs shorter routes between cities within Poland. Lux Express buses all offer Wi-Fi and power outlets to stay connected during your trip.
Popular bus destinations in Poland
Poland is an incredibly fascinating country to explore, and the best way to experience what it’s like literally on-the-ground is to travel between its major cities by bus. Though you can’t go wrong with any Polish destination, here are five of our favorites.
Poland’s capital is a great place to start your bus trip. This modern metropolis has a rich history best encapsulated in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town. There are also plenty of palaces and museums if you feel like delving further into the past of Poland. All the major Polish bus lines service Warsaw, along with international companies like FlixBus and Lux Express. There are also tons of local PKS buses that journey in and out of Warsaw to smaller cities in the nearby vicinity.
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Like Warsaw, the southern city of Krakow is impressive for its UNESCO-protected historical center flanked by the lush Planty Park. Take the day to wander around the Old Town, then reflect on darker times in Polish history on a day trip to Auschwitz. Once you’re ready to head to your next destination, catch a ride with FlixBus or Sindbad. If you’re headed to a smaller village, there are also plenty of PKS buses that journey to and from Krakow.
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Although often overlooked in favor of the country’s more famous cities, Gdańsk definitely deserves a spot on your bus travel bucket list. Situated along the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, Gdańsk has it all: from world-class museums and award-winning restaurants to castles and beaches. What’s not to love? Both FlixBus and Sindbad connect Gdańsk with cities across Europe, and PKS provides local connections.
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Wrocław is a hidden gem that is hidden no longer. Travelers have finally caught on to this western city’s charm, characterized by cozy cafes, stunning architecture, and plentiful green spaces. It’s also conveniently located, just a hop skip and a jump from other major European hot spots like Krakow, Prague, and Berlin. Travel between cities is easy, with numerous routes available with FlixBus and Sindbad. Of course, the local PKS lines make it easy to visit the smaller spots around Wrocław as well.
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For travelers looking to escape the crowds, Poznań is a great option. This lesser-known city features uncrowded cobblestone streets lined with Renaissance-style buildings and colorful street art. There are also plenty of museums, peaceful green spots, and a wide variety of coffee shops that serve up tantalizing pastries. All the major bus lines will get you to and from Poznań, including FlixBus, Sindbad and local PKS buses.
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The most scenic bus routes in Poland
One of the best parts about traveling by bus in Poland is the incredible scenery along the way. Check out a few of our favorite scenic bus routes:
Amber Route (Krakow to Gdańsk)
Follow a route historically used to transport amber between the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. Part of this long stretch travels through the center of Poland, between Krakow in the south and Gdańsk in the north. If you’d like to break up this mega journey into smaller legs, there are plenty of great places to stop along the way.
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Wrocław to Jelenia Góra
Southwestern Poland is characterized by rolling hills, tiny mountain villages, and lush forests. The two-hour trip from Wrocław to Jelenia Góra will give you a taste of this epic scenery before dropping you off at the gateway to the Karkonosze National Park, where the incredible panoramas continue in spades.
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Katowice to Zielona Góra
Wine lovers should make it a point to take the scenic bus route to Zielona Góra Western Poland. This route takes about six hours to travel from the major commerce center, Katowice, to Zielona Góra in the burgeoning Lubuskie wine country. Visit in September to hit the harvest and the Zielona Gora Wine Festival. The best part about taking the bus through this stunning region is that there’s no need for a designated driver!
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How to book bus travel in Poland
Thanks to modern technology (and your friend Wanderu, here), most bus tickets in Poland are available online.
Many big coach companies have easy-to-use and secure websites, though others, like the local PKS services, are in Polish and a bit more challenging to navigate for non-locals. Due to the number of bus companies in Poland, the fastest and easiest way to buy tickets for your route is by searching on Wanderu.
Tickets generally go on sale a couple of months in advance, and you should plan on buying as far out as possible for the best prices. If you need to change or cancel your bus ticket, check with the specific company you are traveling with, as policies vary greatly between carriers.
If you’re not much for planning, you can wait until you get to the station or even onto the bus itself to purchase your tickets, but there are a few things to look out for. First, not all attendants and drivers speak English, so you may have a hard time communicating your needs. It’s also possible that the route you are hoping to travel may be sold out, especially in the peak summer months.
Tips for finding deals on bus tickets in Poland
Because there is so much competition within the bus travel industry in Poland, tickets are already pretty affordable (read: dirt cheap). Traveling by bus in Poland is definitely cheaper than flying, taking the train, or renting a car.
That being said, there are a few things you can do to find a great deal on your Polish bus ticket. Try to buy your ticket as far out in advance as possible. Tickets can be up to 50% cheaper if you buy a few months out rather than waiting to book until a few days before your trip.
Many bus companies offer free or discounted travel for children under four. This is also true for students and seniors, though these discounts are less common. The major bus companies in Poland do not offer daily or monthly bus passes, so there are no bulk discounts if you buy several tickets altogether.
If you plan on traveling frequently by bus while in Poland, you could sign up for the Sindbad Club program. While this may not net you a cheaper ticket, it will give you added benefits like a free drink, extra luggage allowances and sometimes priority boarding.
Last but not least, book with Wanderu to ensure that you’re getting the best deal out there without having to pay any additional fees or charges!
Types of bus services available in Poland
Most of the long-haul buses that journey through Poland and across international borders (including FlixBus, Sindbad and Lux Express) offer a more luxurious riding experience than the regional PKS buses.
Private companies tend to have more modern vehicles, with perks like WiFi, electrical sockets and bathrooms onboard. Some PKS buses are more modern and offer the same perks, while others are a bit dated and basic in terms of onboard amenities. It all depends on the route.
Most carriers allow one piece of luggage that can be stored below the bus, along with a personal item that you can take with you to your seat.
In addition to towns and cities, most of Poland’s airports are well connected to nearby cities by shuttle bus or intercity coach services. Larger airports are serviced by big companies like Sindbad and FlixBus, while smaller airports work with regional services to connect passengers to their final destinations. Check out our tips and tricks for taking the bus to the airport if you’re still not sold on this convenient (and cheap!) mode of transport.
Getting to the bus station in Poland
Larger cities generally have a centralized bus station (dworce autobusowy) where long-distance coaches arrive and depart. These are often connected to train stations, though sometimes they have their own separate station. Big city bus stations have all the amenities a traveler could hope for, including restrooms, kiosks, restaurants and luggage storage. Bus information is announced over the megaphone and displayed on screens around the station.
Even smaller towns and villages usually have a bus station, or at least a centralized bus stop or two. Bus stops may be located in hotel parking lots, gas stations, rest stops or simply on the side of the road. “Stations” like these offer little in the way of amenities, other than some shade and a few benches if you’re lucky. Bus information at these stops is usually posted in Polish, so it's a good idea to have your ticket on hand or at least look up your route ahead of time.
No matter what type of station or stop you’re departing from, be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes in advance. For longer bus trips, you may even want to get there up to 30 minutes before departure so you can snag a good seat.
Getting on the bus in Poland
If you purchased your Polish bus ticket ahead of time online, showing an E-ticket on your smartphone or any other electronic device will work as your boarding pass. Of course, you could also go the old-fashioned route and print your tickets in advance just to be safe. If you are buying your ticket at the station or on the bus, a physical ticket will be printed for you to use.
You may also need to show a valid form of ID depending on which company you’re riding with. Have it handy and ready to show just in case. If you’re crossing the border into another country, you will need to have your passport, or national ID card if you’re from the EU.
On-board experience on Polish buses
Generally speaking, the onboard experience on Polish buses is a comfortable one. This is especially true for private companies like FlixBus, Sindbad, and Lux Express. These carriers all have modern vehicles with modern amenities to go with it.
Things like reclining seats, power outlets, climate control and bathrooms are standard on board amenities. Wi-Fi is also available on most long-distance buses in Poland, but service can be spotty. If you don’t want to rely on an iffy network, you can pre-download your favorite shows and watch Netflix offline as you ride. On longer trips, some companies offer a non-alcoholic beverage service with hot and cold drinks available for purchase.
The local PKS buses are often a bit older, but they do have a few modern vehicles with comfortable amenities as well. Of course, every company's standard of comfort is different, especially in Poland where there are so many different carriers. Wanderu makes it easy to compare onboard amenities like Wi-Fi, legroom & more.
Top bus routes in Poland
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