Updated april 26, 2022

Your Guide to Traveling Around Poland with a Rental Car

Aleksandrs Buraks
Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com

Why should you rent a car in Poland?

A beautiful, but sometimes underrated destination, Poland has only recently entered the limelight of international tourism. Those travelers who give it a chance to discover a proud, hospitable, and thriving land with plenty to enjoy. Whether you're into majestic mountains or ancient woodlands, sandy beaches or picturesque cities, intricate history or unique cuisine, Poland really has all of these things (and more). The last decade has also seen the arrival of low-cost airlines and some serious improvement in roads and other travel infrastructure, so getting a rental car and making your own adventure across this interesting land is the easiest it's ever been.
TOP TIPS:
  • Save money by picking up and dropping off the car at the airport! There are 14 international airports with scheduled flights in Poland.
  • Another way to save money is to book the rental as early in advance as you can.
  • Poland is more than just Warsaw and Krakow — travel outside the main cities to get the most out of your visit to the country!
  • While one-way rentals are more expensive, they give you a chance to see more of the country and be more flexible with your travel plans.
  • Poland has quite strict drunk-driving and speeding laws — make sure to follow them!
  • Many people in the service sector speak English — and some also German — but learning some basic Polish will go a long way!

Your Guide to Traveling Around Poland with a Rental Car

By Aleksandrs Buraks | Updated April 26, 2022
TOP TIPS:
  • Save money by picking up and dropping off the car at the airport! There are 14 international airports with scheduled flights in Poland.
  • Another way to save money is to book the rental as early in advance as you can.
  • Poland is more than just Warsaw and Krakow — travel outside the main cities to get the most out of your visit to the country!
  • While one-way rentals are more expensive, they give you a chance to see more of the country and be more flexible with your travel plans.
  • Poland has quite strict drunk-driving and speeding laws — make sure to follow them!
  • Many people in the service sector speak English — and some also German — but learning some basic Polish will go a long way!

Why should you rent a car in Poland?

A beautiful, but sometimes underrated destination, Poland has only recently entered the limelight of international tourism. Those travelers who give it a chance to discover a proud, hospitable, and thriving land with plenty to enjoy. Whether you're into majestic mountains or ancient woodlands, sandy beaches or picturesque cities, intricate history or unique cuisine, Poland really has all of these things (and more). The last decade has also seen the arrival of low-cost airlines and some serious improvement in roads and other travel infrastructure, so getting a rental car and making your own adventure across this interesting land is the easiest it's ever been.

When should you go to Poland?

Poland has a temperate climate with warm summers, cold (and often snowy) winters and four distinct seasons. The country gets its largest share of its visitors from May to September as this is the period when the weather is most pleasant. However, that doesn't mean that you cannot enjoy Poland by visiting during any other time of the year.

It's important to keep in mind that there are local differences within the country. As the ninth largest country in Europe, Poland is quite big and has different geographical regions like vast plains (generally located in the northern part of the country), high mountains (mostly in the south-southeast), and a coastline that's more than 500 km (300 miles) long. It's always a good idea to check the weather forecast for the cities and regions that you plan to visit, not just the country in general.

The famous Polish cities of Warsaw, Krakow, and Poznan are very nice to visit from May to September or even early October. Although temperatures have been hitting some records over the last decade, Poland is, on average, cooler than most destinations in Western and Southern Europe, so the Polish summers are usually pleasantly warm and bearable. It should be noted, though, that the big cities can also be great to visit during the colder months as the historic city centers look absolutely stunning when covered in snow and ice. Many festivals and cultural events also take place during the colder time of the year.

The Polish Baltic coast is best visited during the summer months. There's nothing like enjoying the sea breeze and the waves when temperatures hit 30 °C (86 °F) or higher. Although the Baltic Sea doesn't get quite as warm as, say, the Mediterranean, during the summer, it's still great for sunbathing, swimming, and even surfing. Another plus is that while the most popular Polish beaches can attract plenty of people during the summer months, they're never quite as crowded as the most famous beaches in Spain, Greece, or Croatia. While nice to visit during the summer months, the largest Polish coastal cities of Gdansk and Szczecin are hubs of entertainment and culture meaning they have plenty to enjoy year-round.

Polish national parks, like the famous Białowieża, also see the most visitors during the summer months (June and August are slightly cooler while July is the warmest month). They are, however, just as fascinating to explore during the early and mid-autumn weeks when the colors are turning yellow and red and the weather is usually still quite dry. Most national parks are open year-round and can also be quite nice to visit during the winter months when some offer cross-country skiing, saunas, and other activities.

The Polish Tatra mountains are a very popular travel destination during the cold months of the year. The mountain resort of Zakopane is known as the Polish capital of winter sports as it offers everything from skiing and snowboarding to snowmobile rides and even sleigh rides. However, the Tatras are just as awesome to visit during the summer months as it offers some of Europe's best climbing, trekking, and paragliding.

Convinced you need to book a rental car for your trip? Find the best prices now!

Where should you pick up a car in Poland?

Most visitors to Poland choose to pick up their rental car at one of the country's airports. There are more than ten international airports, and most of them have a wide choice of rental car providers.

Warsaw Chopin Airport is by far the busiest in the country and the main entry point for many visitors to Poland. Located in the southwestern part of the Polish capital, it handles more than 40% of all of Poland's air traffic. In addition to European connections, Chopin Airport has flights to and from North America, Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia.

Warsaw Modlin, the other airport in the capital city, is served exclusively by low-cost airlines and often is a cheaper alternative to reach Warsaw, especially for travelers from Western Europe. Other busy international airports in Poland are Krakow Airport, Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport, and Katowice Airport.

Many car rental companies in Poland permit one-way rentals. It is quite popular for foreign travelers to pick up the rental car at one of Warsaw's international airports and later drop it off in Krakow, Gdansk, or Wroclaw (or vice versa). Most companies charge an extra fee for using the one-way rental option, but it will give you the freedom to travel all over the country without the requirement of returning to your original point of entry. Many companies also permit picking up a car in Poland and dropping it off in another country — popular international one-way rental routes include Warsaw-Berlin, Wroclaw-Prague, and Krakow-Kosice. The fee for international one-way rentals is usually higher than for domestic ones. You can see the exact prices by using our website to search for the travel dates and pick-up and drop-off locations of your choice.

In addition to airports, in many cities, it is also possible to pick up or drop off a car at international hotels, car rental company offices, and other locations.

How easy is it to travel around Poland independently?

Over the last 10-15 years Poland has become a much more accessible destination to explore on your own. The roads, especially the main national highways, were greatly improved in preparation for the Euro 2012 football tournament, making travel all across the country much easier. The tourism sector has also greatly expanded and everything from rental cars and hotels to tours and experiences can usually be booked in advance.

While the general quality of life in Poland has been rapidly improving, prices have also gone up, Poland remains a very affordable travel destination that's significantly cheaper than Germany, France, or the United Kingdom. Although part of the European Union, Poland has not adopted the euro and uses its own currency, the złoty. Multiple currency exchange offices can be found in all of the airports and larger cities, but it's a good idea to wait until you reach the city center, if possible, as the rates in airports and train stations are notoriously bad. While most shops, restaurants, and gas stations accept international credit cards, you can still find the odd place that doesn't, so having at least some cash on you at all times is a good idea. There are plenty of ATMs in cities and towns.

GPS services work well in Poland and even the most rural and sparsely populated regions are mapped. Getting a car with a GPS is a good idea, although it's also possible to use an app. Most car rental providers charge a small additional fee for GPS devices.

The size of Poland should not be underestimated. Poland is significantly larger than some of its neighbors such as Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania, and also countries like Italy and the United Kingdom. While many famous destinations are located near one another, a trip between, say, Krakow and Gdansk or Poznan and Białowieża will take the better part of your day, so plan accordingly.

How safe is it to travel around Poland by car?

Overall, Poland is a very safe destination. The crime rate is comparable to that of Western Europe and the days of highway carjackings seem to have stayed in the turbulent 1990s. The police are efficient and generally trusted by the local population, so if there's an issue, you shouldn't hesitate to contact them at any time. Like elsewhere in the EU, the nationwide emergency number is 112.

Like in any large European metropolis, pickpocketing and small tourist scams can occur in large cities, especially in the touristy parts of Warsaw and Krakow. Look after your belongings, keep your wits about you, and don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it!

Poland has its fair share of reckless drivers and the overall driving culture is slightly more aggressive than in, say, Western Europe. However, polite drivers are in the majority and the overall driving culture is good, so most travelers who use a rental car to visit the country do so without any issues. Speed cameras are in use in Poland and speeding fines are quite hefty.

Driving in the Polish Tatra mountains is similar to high altitude driving anywhere else in the world — extra caution is required. Drivers with previous experience with mountain driving shouldn't have any issues. Poland does get quite a lot of snow most winters, especially in the mountainous areas, so snow chains might be required. Ask your rental car provider about them or any other equipment your car might need if you're visiting in winter.

Poland is home to animals like moose and deer, so wildlife crossings are something to keep an eye on, especially when driving in forested areas and after dark.

What languages are spoken in Croatia?

The official and dominant everyday language of Poland is Polish, the native tongue of more than 98% of the country's inhabitants. Learning at least a couple of basic phrases before your trip will be very useful and will make you popular among the locals. Polish uses the Latin alphabet with some modified letters.

Knowledge of English continues to improve across the country, especially among the younger population and in the big cities. However, it remains far from widespread, so you will also encounter plenty of people who do not speak it. Overall, knowledge of English in Poland is lower than in places like the Benelux countries or Scandinavia and is more similar to the knowledge of English in France. Most people working in tourism and services will know at least some English (or at least will find a colleague who does).

German is also a useful language in Poland as a notable percentage of the population speaks it, especially in the southwestern part of the country which has strong historical ties with Germany.

Some Poles, especially the older generation and people living along the country's eastern border, also understand Russian. However, you should keep in mind that while Polish and Russian are both Slavic languages, they are not especially closely related and the degree of mutual intelligibility between them is low.
What are the best places to rent a car in Poland?
Poland is a fairly large country, and one of the best things about it is its cities. The capital, Warsaw, although having lost some of its old architecture in the Second World War, is a culturally vibrant metropolis that can keep you entertained for days. If you're more drawn to old-time charm, pick Krakow - known for its cathedrals and monuments, the city practically breathes history.
Located on the Baltic Sea, Gdansk is a proud maritime city that's quite distinct in look and feel. Birthplace of the Solidarity movement, Gdansk holds a special place in most Polish hearts. And, naturally, the access to the coast is a bonus, especially during the summer months. Other notable Polish cities include Poznan, known for its mercantile past and attractive public image, the university city of Wroclaw that's built on 12 islands, and Lublin, the pearl of Eastern Poland.

In addition to urban culture, Poland is also home to beautiful nature. For many visitors, this statement equates to the Polish Tatras, the majestic mountain range in the southeastern corner of the country, and its winter resort hub, Zakopane. Others prefer Białowieża National Park, home to European bison and some of the oldest woodlands on the continent, or the shifting sand dunes and coastal trails of Slowinski National Park.
What about filling up in Poland?
Fairly densely populated and with an extensive road network in all parts of the country, filling up is not a problem in Poland - though obviously, it's a good idea to have a full tank before heading up the mountains.

Prices at Polish gas stations are shown per liter (1 liter = 0.26 US gallons).
How expensive is gas in Poland?
As of April 2022, the price of gas in Poland is €1.40, significantly lower than in most other European Union countries.
How much does a rental car in Poland cost?
On average, the rental car prices in Poland are notably lower than in countries like Germany, France, or even the Czech Republic.

In Warsaw, the average price fluctuates between €21 and €35 for most of the year (except for the Christmas and New Year's holiday season when there's a very steep upsurge). Krakow is a bit more expensive, with the average price of €25 in February and April, the cheapest months, but €42 in June and August. In Gdansk, the average price is €18 in February, €33 in April, and €45 in July.
Which car rental company in Poland offers the lowest rates? What are some tricks for getting a better deal?
There are a number of budget-friendly companies in Germany, though obviously, the best price doesn't always lead to the best service (read more on choosing the right rental car provider below).

Factors that can help bring the rental car price down include picking up and dropping off a rental car at the airport, booking a vehicle well in advance, and even picking a vehicle with a manual instead of an automatic transmission system.
Which car rental supplier is best for you? Are the rental conditions important?
Price is obviously a huge factor when choosing a rental car, but it shouldn't be your only concern — often, for a couple of euros more, you can find a much better overall deal. Instead, try to look for a company that offers both a good price and has a good rating from previous travelers.

Also, make sure you are familiar with the rental conditions! Different rental car suppliers will have different conditions. The rental conditions can influence the final price of the car and are important to be aware of in general.

You can find the rental conditions when searching for a rental car on our website.
What else should you keep in mind when renting a car?
Some of the most important things when picking up a rental car is knowing your rental car supplier's fuel and mileage policies along with its driver requirements.

Mileage policy :
A rental supplier's mileage policy is the maximum permitted distance that you are allowed to travel per day (or sometimes per week) with your rental car. Once you exceed the permitted distance, you will be required to pay an extra fee for every additional kilometer you drive. There might also be the maximum permitted mileage for the whole of the rental period.

Different rental car suppliers have different mileage rules. It's important to know about them before booking your car, especially if you plan to drive a lot or travel long distances during your trip.

You can find the supplier's mileage policy in their rental conditions:
Fuel policy:
Different car rental companies have different policies when it comes to fuel. Some of the most popular ones are:
Full-to-full
You are given a car with a full tank of fuel and are expected to also return it with a full tank which means that you need to fill up the tank right before dropping off the car.
Same-to-same
You are given a car with a certain amount of fuel and are expected to return the car with the same amount.
Full-to-empty
You pay in advance for a full tank of fuel when picking up a car and are allowed to return the car with an empty tank; in these cases, you may or may not be compensated if you return a car with some fuel left in the tank.
Driver requirements:
Different rental car companies will have different requirements for drivers. These may include:
The minimum and maximum age of the driver
A potential young or senior driver extra fee for drivers under or over a certain age (e.g. 25 or 65 years old)
Driving experience (e.g., at least two years)
A credit card in the name of the main driver
An international driver's license (might not apply to driver's licenses that are in Latin alphabet)
The same as with mileage and fuel policies, the driver requirements of each car rental supplier be found on their rental conditions page.

Check our comprehensive FAQ section to learn more about mileage, fuel, and driver requirements, as well as other important questions.
How can I choose the right insurance for my rental car?
Choosing the right insurance is very important as it will protect you in case anything goes wrong during your rental period. If you have your own personal insurance, it may or may not cover your rental car — you should ask your insurance carrier to find out.

We strongly recommend you choose our own Full Coverage. Not only does it come at a reasonable price and covers most potential scenarios, but it will also give you clarity and peace of mind as you will have 24/7 support from our team for any issue that you might have.

Check the Insurance section of our FAQ to learn more about choosing the right insurance and everything related to it.
What type of rental car is the cheapest in Poland?
Small cars are the cheapest in Poland — on average, they cost just €68 per day (and keep in mind that notably cheaper individual deals can be found). The average price is €87 per day for medium cars and €114 for premium cars. Save for some very challenging, potentially off-road mountain drives, a small car is perfectly fine for driving around most of the country and might even be preferable to navigate the historical layout of many cities.
Which is the best car rental company in Poland?
Customer Rating - 9.0
Customer Rating - 9.0
Customer Rating - 9.0
Customer Rating - 9.0
Customer Rating - 8.9
Customer Rating - 8.9
What is the process of picking up and dropping off a rental car like?
To pick up a rental car, you'll need to have your booking confirmation voucher, passport, driver's license, a credit card on the main driver's name, and all the other necessary documents.

When making the reservation, you will see your rental car's pickup location, of which there are many types. Since most travelers tend to pick up their rental cars at the airport, we'll mainly focus on the pickup locations in or near the airport. These are the most popular pickup location types:

  • Meet & Greet. With this type of pickup location, you'll be met by an employee of the car rental company in the arrivals hall of the airport which you normally enter right after leaving the baggage claim area. The employee will usually have a printed sign with your name on it. The employee will take you to the company's office to proceed with signing the rental contract and collecting the car's keys.
  • In the terminal. In this case, you will have to find your rental car company's desk yourself. The desk will be usually located in the arrivals hall. Once you've found the desk, you can present your documents and continue with the pickup procedure. Do keep in mind that you might have to wait in line.
  • Shuttle bus. In certain cases, the car rental company's desk might be located outside the airport's terminal. Sometimes you can reach it on foot, but in most cases, you need to take a shuttle bus. For this, you'll need to find the shuttle bus stop inside the airport, the location of which will be given to you when making the booking. Sometimes, the shuttle bus is shared by multiple car rental companies while others have their own shuttle service just for them. Look for the name and the logo of your rental company to make sure you take the right shuttle bus.
  • Delivery service. This type of pick-up is similar to Meet & Greet but takes even less time to complete as you won't need to go to the car provider's office to sign the agreement.
  • Car rental center. This means that your car rental company shares its location with other companies. The car rental center is located in the arrivals hall, in another part of the terminal, or in a separate building next to the terminal.
  • Outside terminal. This pick-up location means that your car rental company has an individual desk located outside the airport's terminal, but within the larger airport complex, that can usually be reached on foot

At the pickup location: After the car rental company checks your documents and make sure you have enough deposit on your credit card, you will receive the car's keys and be taken to the rental car which will usually be parked in a nearby parking lot.

Inspect the car: Upon picking up the car, you will have to sign a document called the check-out form. If your rental car has any scratches or other types of damage, they should be listed on the form. Inspect the car carefully — if it has any scratches or other issues that are not listed, make sure to point them out to the employee before signing the check-out form. The form will also list the mileage and the amount of fuel the car has at the pickup time.

Take photos: It is generally a very good idea to take photos of the car before picking it up, preferably from multiple angles and including the inside of the car with the odometer showing the previous mileage on the car and of the amount of fuel in the tank (read more about fuel on our Fuel Policy section above). The photos should have a timestamp to show the date and time when they were taken; most pictures taken with mobile and digital cameras have them.

Find out the drop-off location: Before leaving with the car, make sure you find out the exact drop-off location and the directions to get there. While it will often be the same as the pickup location, it might also be in a completely different part of the airport (this is especially the case with the larger airports that have multiple terminals).

Returning the car: When dropping off the car at the end of your trip, carefully check the vehicle in the presence of an employee of the rental company. If any new scratches or damages are found, the company employee should point them out in your presence. If there are none, the car's check-in form should state that the car has been returned in the same condition. The same applies to the cleanliness of the car (if you return a car that is not clean, the company might later charge an extra cleaning fee). Make sure to check the car's trunk and the glove compartment to avoid leaving any personal belongings in the vehicle.
Can I add extras for the rental car when booking?
You might also want to add some extras for your rental car such as a GPS system, a child's seat, second-driver permission (if you're traveling with a friend or a family member who can and wants to drive). If you plan to drive in the Alps or Pyrenees, snow chains might be useful or even necessary during winter. Be sure to search for them in advance and add them before making the booking. Not every rental car supplier will have all of these extras available. Adding extras will influence the final price of a car and different car rental companies offer them for different prices.
What are the traffic rules in Poland?
Poland drives on the right-hand side of the road.
Proof of insurance and the car's documentation need to be in it whenever you're driving.
When driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
The use of the mobile phone while driving is only permitted with a hands-free system that has a loudspeaker and a fixed microphone.
All travelers from outside the European Union are required to show an International Driving Permit. Not having one can lead to the rental company refusing to provide you a car and the loss of any payment made.
The nationwide emergency number, like elsewhere in the Euroopean Union, is 112.


What are the speed limits in Poland?
Are there speed cameras in Poland?
Yes, there are many speed cameras all across Poland. If one registers you speeding, the fine will be sent to your rental car provider, and they will often add an additional fee on top for administering the fine (check your rental conditions for more information).
What are the drunk driving laws in Poland?
The drunk driving limits in Poland are 0.02% for both experienced and novice drivers - significantly stricter than in many other European countries. Exceeding the limit can lead to large fines and a license ban. Exceeding the limit of 0.05% is a criminal offense and can lead to up to 2 years imprisonment.
Are there toll roads in Poland?
There are a number of toll roads in Poland. Some roads use an open toll system while others use a closed toll system. In an open toll system, the payment is made at a toll booth at certain points along the road. In a closed toll system, the driver will be given a printed ticket that will state the time and point of entry of the toll road; the toll fee will be calculated based on the distance driven and paid when exiting the road.

Payment can be made either in cash or by credit card. If you choose to pay in cash, you can pay in three currencies, Euros, Polish Zloty (PLN), or United States Dollars (USD), but keep in mind that even if you pay in one of the two foreign currencies, you might be given change in zloty. As of July 2019, 1 EUR = 4.64 PLN.

See the Polish toll road map here. Learn more about toll roads in Poland and the tolls for specific roads on the official Polish toll road website.

Aleksandrs Buraks

Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com
Aleksandrs has over 10 years of experience in marketing with a focus on creating stellar content that provides topical insights using data. Having taken five road trips across Europe and one in the U.S., he is passionate about traveling by car. His favorite countries to visit are Denmark and Thailand. You can find him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.

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