Driving through Poland
Poland is a somewhat idiosyncratic, strongly Catholic country whose vastness, diversity, and dramatic history produces a certain kind of colourful tourist experience not quite like any other. Where else can you find sea with sandy beaches and a real desert, mountain ranges ideal for hiking, extensive lowlands with national parks preserving immaculate landscapes with large lakes just right for relaxing, cities combining centuries-old monuments with modern architecture, indomitable castles of the crusaders, magnificent as well as humble churches, and strong reminders of World War II? Wherever you roam, Poland will make your vacation unforgettable.
MASURIAN LAKES IN SUMMER AND WINTER
This most popular lake sailing area in Europe also attracts kayakers, windsurfers, divers, and fishermen. The Masurian District boasts fascinating medieval fortresses as well as modern wartime bunkers. Sailors will enjoy the Great Masurian Lakes Trail, for which you should set aside at least 10 days. You do not need a licence when leasing a local sailboat, houseboat or other boat.
The coastal belt in northern Poland includes the Słowiński National Park with its exceptional attraction – shifting sand dunes offering a spectacular experience and great vistas. The coastline also has Europe’s largest yew forests.
NORWEGIAN CHURCH IN THE GIANT MOUNTAINS
Transported from Norway, the Wang Evangelical Stave Church became a new symbol of the town of Karpacz in the Giant Mountains. The 17th century wooden church was built using only wood – with no nails! Poland’s Giant Mountains of course have also other attractions…
MONUMENTS AND CHURCHES
Even modern buildings can be enticing – such as the Centennial Hall in Wrocław. Also a unique experience is to see the 17th-century protestant Churches of Peace in Świdnica and Jawor. Having no towers or bells, they are built from wood, mud, and straw.
EAGLE’S PATH IN THE TATRA MOUNTAINS
Orla Perč (marked in 1903–1906) is the only via ferrata, or protected climbing route, on the Polish side of the Tatra Mountains. This route is only for experienced climbers (4.5 km – total 18–20 h). Plenty of other, easier hiking trails can be found in the Gorce National Park.
As Poland’s road network is being improved, paid motorways are also being added (A1, A2, A4 – toll gates, payment in złoty, euro, dollars, by cards). Stay vigilant, because Polish drivers are often undisciplined and unpredictable (they may not pay much heed to turn signals). When it is raining, deep wheel ruts present a risk.
The blood alcohol limit is 0.2 per mille, so you had best just keep it to zero. Foreigners pay fines on the spot, and if you do not have enough cash you can be detained for as long as 48 hours to await a court hearing or have your licence taken. They will not bother with wheel clamps if you park where it is not permitted, as such cars are immediately towed away.
A fire extinguisher is part of the mandatory equipment, and, as in the Czech Republic, it is mandatory to use your car’s lights all day long. At night (11 PM – 5 AM), you can drive up to 60 km/h in towns but only 20 km/h in residential areas. Speed limits on motorways are up to 140 km/h. The right of way on roundabouts is also different!