Poland - Tatras Family Explorer
Poland shares borders to the east and northeast with Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, to the south with the Czech Republic and Slovakia and to the west with Germany. To the north lies the Baltic Sea. The Baltic coast provides almost 525km of sandy beaches, bays and steep cliffs; between Gdansk, and the port city of Szczecin to the west there are many seaside towns offering unpolluted water and some fine beaches. Northern Poland is dominated by lakes, islands and wooded hills joined by many rivers and canals. The Masurian Lake District to the northeast is a patchwork of lakes and forests with Lake Hancza, the deepest lake in Poland, located here. The longest river, the 1,090km Vistula, or Wisła, rises in the Tatra mountains and empties into the Baltic, cutting a wide valley between the capital, Warsaw in the heart of the country, to Gdańsk on the coast. The rest of the country rises slowly to the Sudety mountains, which run along the border with the Czech Republic, and the Tatra mountains, which separate Poland from Slovakia. To the west, the River Oder, with Szczecin at its mouth, forms the northwest border with Germany. Poland counts almost two dozen national parks, covering an area of 3,200 sq km, and including the oldest, Białowieża National Park, east of Warsaw on the border with Belarus, and one of the largest, Bieszczady National Park, part of the Carpathian mountain range. These parks are home to European bison, brown bears, lynx, wolves and even some wild horses. And Białowieża contains a fragment of the forest that once covered Europe prehistoric times, with some oaks dating back half a millennium. Polish forests are largely pine though, accounting for two-thirds of the total.
Time Zone in Poland is GMT +1hr
Polish is the official language. There are a few small German-speaking communities primarily in the southwest. English and increasingly less so, Russian is also spoken. French is also popular.
Poland's climate is temperate with warm (often very hot) summers, crisp, sunny autumns and cold winters. Snow covers the mountainous area in the south of Poland (mid-December to April). Rain falls throughout the year. The most pleasant times to visit Poland are late spring and early summer (mid-May-June) and late summer and early autumn (September and October), when it's still warm but unlikely to be too hot.
You will need a valid passport. Nationals of the EU, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia do not require visas to visit Poland as tourists for up to 90 days. Nationals of other countries should check the visa requirement with the relevant embassy in their own countries.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. No special vaccinations are required. Before travelling UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office.