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Possible upcoming trip

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1. Posted by nicolaitan (Budding Member 29 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

considering a ten day trip to poland in early september

arrive warsaw day 2 and immediately fly to krakow

day 6 return to warsaw by air ( would train be a better bet, seem pretty equivalent in price?)

day 10 return home.

do we have time to see each city in reasonable depth with three full days in each?

will of course do my homework but would appreciate any suggestions for attractions, top flight hotels (only get one vacation a year), in city transportation- important, and perhaps some better restaurants.

appreciate.

2. Posted by leics2 (Full Member 66 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Three points:

1. Krakow to Warsaw takes from 2h 23m by train. Once you have factored in transport to and from the airport, plus time for check-in, security and bag reclaim, flying will be slower as well as more expensive.

Train times, details and fares in English on the official Polish railway website:

http://rozklad-pkp.pl/en

Polish trains are as safe as any other EU train, very reasonably-priced and comfortable enough.

2. Krakow's historical centre, like the historical centres of all European cities, is eminently walkable (and safe to walk).

There are trams, buses and taxis too, of course. You might, for example, want to take the tram from the centre to the Oscar Schindler Factory (now the Historical Museum of Krakow) which is some way out of the historical centre....maybe 30 minutes' walk or so?

http://www.mhk.pl/branches/oskar-schindlers-factory

The Jewish district of Kazimierz is about 20 minutes' walk from the historical centre. Again, there are trams if you don't want to walk.

3. I have not yet visited Warsaw so cannot comment, but 3 days is a good length of time for Krakow.

I'd suggest you spend one full day in the historical centre, visiting Wawel castle & cathedral, the Jagellonian university, a few museums and churches plus the historical buildings in and around Rynek Glowny.

Spend the second day exploring Kazimierz and visiting the Schindler Factory, perhaps using the early evening to walk the Planty.

You could use the third day to visit Auschwitz and/or the Wielizcka salt mines. There are lots of organised tours on offer, private or group, or you can just use public transport. :-)

3. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

A friend and I spent nine days in Poland from April 22 to May 1, visiting Warsaw, Gdansk and Krakow. We used trains throughout, bookable 30 days in advance through the PKP Web site. However, if you're 60 years or older, you're eligible for a 30 percent discount off the regular fare. We bought our tickets at PKP travel offices at train stations, including tickets from Krakow to Przemysl, Poland, to Lviv, Ukraine.

There are several fast, modern trains in Poland. The travel time from Warsaw to Gdansk was 2.5 hours. The travel time from Gdansk to Krakow (via Warsaw...we stayed on the same train) was 5 hours. For accommodations in Warsaw and Krakow, we booked apartments near the train stations. Public transportation in Warsaw is modern and efficient. We used credit cards to pay for fares (reduced for seniors).

4. Posted by leics2 (Full Member 66 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Use www.booking.com to look at hotels and, if you want, book there too. You can be sure that reviews are accurate because only people who book through the site and complete their stay can post them.

I don't use 'top flight' hotels but you certainly won't be short of choice in either city. But do try and stay in or very near the historical centres: it's a pain having to travel any distance in and out (anywhere, not just Poland) unless you have no budget considerations and are happy to use taxis all the time.

Note that you don't actively need to book PKP tickets online in advance. You can if you want, of course, but it's not essential.

5. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Pleased be advised that on certain routes -- such as the overnight train from Poland to Ukraine -- it is essential to book ahead. We were interested in taking the overnight train from Krakow to Lviv, but it was fully booked. So we decided to take the new day train service on that route (as mentioned in seat61.com). We were glad that we did, as it was less expensive; and the border crossing procedure was easy (both Polish and Ukrainian immigration officials stamped our passports while on the trains). The Ukrainian train from Przemysl to Lviv and onward to Kiev had new carriages built by Hyundai, with 3-2 seating. A friend and I enjoyed the trip.

Please also note that while the InterCity trains in Poland are generally modern and fast, some regional trains weren't. Our train from Malbork to Gdansk was cancelled and we had to board another one on another platform.

6. Posted by leics2 (Full Member 66 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

It always makes sense to book in advance for overnight trains, whether in Poland or anywhere else.

My comment about booking in advance not being essential was referring to domestic Polish trains. :-)

7. Posted by nicolaitan (Budding Member 29 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

thanks for your help

as an american, i love european trains because they not only have a schedule but actually follow it.

and trams are so cool. been on them in every city we have visited from istanbul to nuremberg and everywhere in between.

thanks for the hint on the 30% train discount - wish i knew about those in germany and austria.

i understand that in poland with adequate proof the trams and busses are free for those over 70 yo regardless of citizenship. don't try that in the states for sure.

the biggest problem we face is that the only direct flights to warsaw from the us are on Lot Polish airlines for which there are lots (no pun intended) of horrible tales about this carrier. could use lufthansa or swissair ( won"t try a de gaulle transfer ever again } but their schedules allow for as little as 90 minutes in zurich and not much more in munich and that worries me especially in the huge munich airport. that i will have to work out.

for hotels, it so turns out that our neighbors are world class travel agents who help us out despite the fact that most of her clients are first class types. worth the small fee for us.

helpful to know that we have enough time in each city. there is never truly enough time but we would hate to travel and short ourselves.

thanks again. sure i will be back as travel time nears.

8. Posted by leics2 (Full Member 66 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

A 90 minute connection in either Zurich or Munch will be absolutely fine, imo. Both are very efficient and modern airports.

For info: DB in Germany doesn't offer automatic discounts for train travel. You can by a Bahncard for half-price if you're over 60. It offers fare reductions but imo its cost is rarely matched...let alone exceeded.... by the savings you'll make on an 'ordinary' visit. Better to take advantage of the excellent online advance discount fares.

OEBB in Austria offers a similar card, the Vorteilscard, from the age of 62.

[ Edit: Edited on 15-May-2017, at 12:18 by leics2 ]

9. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Austrian Railways also offers the Sparschiene discount fares if booked in advance. My friend and I traveled from Vienna to Warsaw on that fare. I booked the tickets online using my U.S. credit card.

https://www.oebb.at/en/angebote-ermaessigungen/sparschiene

[ Edit: Edited on 15-May-2017, at 16:27 by berner256 ]

10. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Opinions may differ, but I generally prefer to have a minimum of about three hours connection time between international flights. According to ExpertFlyer the minimum international-to-international connect time in Zurich is 40 minutes; and 45 minutes for Munich. I have an airport lounge pass, so I usually can relax -- have something to eat and drink -- before boarding my next flight.

If the fare is reasonable, I'd opt for a nonstop flight instead of one with connections. Unforeseen problems can occur along the way (weather, equipment issues, strikes, etc.). I view flights as basic transportation. I want to get to my destination the most efficient way at reasonable cost. For others, the overall flight experience (comfort, food, entertainment) is perhaps just as important, if not more so.