Hints for foreigners visiting Wroclaw

Welcome to Institute of Computer Science, University of Wroclaw!

This file contains some remarks concerning visits in Wroclaw. If you have not been in Poland recently, these are to help you to organize your trip to Wroclaw. Please read this file carefully, your host may forget to advice you on something that might seem too obvious for him.

MONEY

  1. You may bring any amount of foreign currency to Poland and take it back. We advice you to declare what are you bringing with you to avoid potential problems when you are going out. Any major foreign currency (US $, DM, British pounds, French franks) may be exchanged into zlotys in Poland in most banks and exchange offices, so called "Kantor wymiany walut". Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian currencies are also widely accepted. If you are exchanging foreign currencies keep you receipt - it is necessary if you wish to convert it back as a foreigner.
  2. It was forbidden for a foreigner to bring Polish currency to Poland, there were limitations of taking it out. However, there are moves to make Polish currency fully convertible, so may be at the time you read it is legal Anyway, the rate at which you can get Polish Zloty in West Europe is not good for you. Do not be afraid, I have experience that you can exchange your money at Polish border almost every time. Exchange rates at the border are worse (for you) than in Wroclaw.
  3. Eurochecks are accepted in major banks, where you can get Polish currency for them. Do not forget to take your ID card. There are usual limits on the amount you can get for one check and some fees.
  4. Credit cards seem to become useful. During my last visit in Wroclaw I noticed that most better shops, restaurants, bars, department stores accept credit cards. Among local ones the standard cards such as Mastercard/Eurocard, Visa, Dinners Club International, American Express are accepted. I even tried to pay for something and it worked without any problem.
  5. Travelers checks are accepted at least in the banks (I have not tried to pay a hotel bill). In a bank I have seen the signs of American Express and Mastercard travelers checks.
  6. ATM's are rare and still it seems that they have no connections to foreign banks. So probably they cannot be used to withdraw your money from your account in EC or USA. But the times are changing ... . During my last visit in Wroclaw (July 1996) I have seen an ATM accepting VISA credit cards (Wielkopolski Bank Kredytowy, pl. Kosciuszki). May be there are other such ATM's.
  7. At January 1, 1995, there was an operation called "denomination" in Poland. Since this time every "new zloty" is worth 10.000 "old zlotys". The problem is that the old notes are still in use and remain there till the end of 1997 (afterwards you have to exchange them in a bank, till 2010 or so). Even worse, there are new notes and coins in use. BE CAREFUL! There have been cases that foreigners exchanged a lot of money at "extra rates" somewhere on the street. The point is that they exchanged hundreds of German marks for hundreds of "old zlotys", which was a few pfennig. Look for scanned pictures of new and old notes coins at this server. Print them on a color printer and make few exercises in "image recognition". The good news is that the prices in Poland are easier to follow. 1 German mark is roughly 1.80 new zloty.

TRANSPORTATION

  1. There is an airport (here is the time table) in Wroclaw with flights to Warsaw, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt (at least).
  2. Railway tickets are still relatively cheap in Poland. But there is a trick. It is true for domestic tickets. Some use international trains, change the train on the border and then buy ticket for the rest (much cheaper). Here is the timetable of trains coming to and departing from Wroclaw.
  3. There are many bus services from many European cities. Most big towns in West Germany have such direct connections to Wroclaw operating at least weekly. They are cheap (about 130DM) and quite comfortable but overnight. Check local travel agencies or "Polish shops". I would recommend this art of transportation unless you are able to take a plain.
  4. If you come with your own car beware of the holes on the roads. Driving is sometimes very difficult because of reconstruction of the roads and the fact that some of them are closed. It is recommendable not to leave anything in the car, when you park it in Wroclaw -- the most dangerous think is to have foreign plates and something indicating that you might have money and valuable things in the car. Very fancy cars might be stolen -- the situation resembles this of for instance Berlin. There is no big chance to get the car back, the newspapers say that the cars are in few hours already out of Poland.
  5. Do not drink any alcohol before and while driving. Even if you are not drunk, it is prohibited. The limit is "0.0", and if it is above some level you loose your driving license immediately. Do not drink even a beer (as one is used to do in the US).
  6. Unleaded fuel is available (octane number 95 and 98). I would recommend CPN company (state own). Private stations sometimes offer fuel of low quality even if they look very good and are expensive.
  7. Most cars can be repaired, spare parts are available or can be ordered. Personally, I have better experience with repairing my car in Wroclaw than in Germany.
  8. Be careful when using a cab. There are no fixed prices. You have to negotiate.

SHOPPING

  1. Domestic good might be good and cheap. Some electrical and electronic goods might have different standards as in your country (radio FM, plugs, filters for radio noise are most important). I avoid very elegant shops, they sell mostly imported goods for much money. Nice cloth can be found, ask somebody of your hosts for hints. My personal experience is that nice cloth can be bought much easier (and for less money) than in Germany where I live. Domestic food products seem to contain less chemicals than in Germany so I enjoy it.

HEALTH INSURANCE

  1. The bills are much smaller than in the EC countries. Make sure that your insurance covers travels to Poland (for instance German gesetzliche Krankenversicherungen do not, but at least some German "private Versicherungen" do)

TOURIST'S INFORMATION

    Hopefully somebody in Wroclaw will fill this part. Definitely old part of the city is worth of seeing (Ratusz - City Hall, Rynek - the old market, cathedral and the surrounding places - a place with many old churches, so called Ostrow Tumski, once an island between branches of Odra river). And much more. Some hints can be found here (but in Polish).


Back to Information for Visitors

Mirek Kutylowski, mail to: mirekk@uni-paderborn.de


Last change: 14.10.96