Ever since I visited Warsaw & Krakow in 2016 I’ve wanted to return to see more of Poland. When an opportunity arose to book an affordable trip back in August, my mother and I decided to go for it. We had a wonderful time and I plan in the future to share more of my impressions of Poland and why it’s a great destination for those looking for a low cost trip to Europe. But for now I’m just going to highlight a few specifics that underscore that point. Here are some of the prices we paid for lodging, sightseeing, transit and food.
Canadian – Polish Exchange Rate
The exchange rate as of today is 1 Canadian dollar to 2.93 Polish zloty. That makes it quite easy to figure out what something costs in Canadian because you can just divide by 3.
Credit Cards and Cash
We took out 300 zloty from a Polish bank ATM ($104.32 CAD) to use where credit cards are not accepted. That turned out to be plenty of cash and we could have gotten by with less. The vast majority of places accept credit cards. We used an Amex and a MasterCard and tap payment was very common. Where prices are listed below in Canadian, the number comes from my credit card statement. Amounts listed in Polish zloty were paid in cash.
Our five nights in Gdansk were covered by IHG points. The recently opened Holiday Inn in the city centre was on the IHG Point Break list. It’s regularly 20,000 points per night but we got it for 10,000. Still, the flexible rate for the twin courtyard view room on our dates was very reasonable in the vicinity of $100+ per night in mid-October. IHG status meant we were treated to an upgrade to a water view room.
We chose the Hotel Petite Fleur for our accommodation in Torun. This was something of a splurge due to the wide availability of very low priced lodging in this small medieval city. We paid a total of $267.57 for 2 nights in a superior twin room including cooked-to-order breakfast and a 3 course dinner in their restaurant on both days. The hotel was in an ideal location and the room was clean and spacious with a modern bathroom.
The final night of the trip was at the Hampton Inn Warsaw Airport for 20,000 Hilton points. My memory fails me but I believe rates at the various airport hotels were not low enough to justify paying cash and taking advantage of a good points-earning promotion because we would have done that if it were the case.
These numbers reflect the total combined amount we paid as one adult and one senior for some of our activities.
Museum of the Second World War – $17.13
Solidarity Museum – $12.27
Malbork Castle – $28.03
Ethnographic Museum – $11.17
Copernicus’ House – $9.08
Transportation & Transit
We booked our train tickets from Gdansk to Torun and Torun to Warsaw 30 days out when discount fares became available. We chose first class to ensure a more quiet, comfortable journey. It wasn’t a necessity by any means but we thought it would be a justifiable splurge. As above, this is what we paid for 2 people:
Gdansk – Torun $47.49
Torun – Warsaw $49.54
We bought our train tickets to Malbork at the station. The outbound was more expensive than the inbound because it was a faster train. We took care to avoid the most expensive of the 3 options for the relatively short journey.
Gdansk – Malbork $11.92
Malbork – Gdansk $8.05
In Gdansk, bus/tram single tickets were either 3.20 or 3.80 zloty depending on the type of ticket. Seniors 70+ are free. The 3.20 zloty ticket was all we needed to get from the airport to the main station where we could walk to our hotel. I understand a taxi would have been around 70 zloty.
In Torun, bus tickets were 2.80 zloty and 1.40 for seniors (though the website says seniors are free so that was a bit confusing). It was only 2 stops from the station to the hotel.
In Warsaw we used the left luggage service at the train station to leave our bags while we wandered around for a bit. The fee was 10 zloty per bag.
The bus tickets in Warsaw were 4.40 zloty for a 75 minute ticket (it was 30 minutes or so to our hotel near the airport). I couldn’t remember in the moment if people 70 or over were free or half price so we chose the half price ticket.
The breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn in Gdansk was 50 zloty per person. By Polish standards that’s pricy, but after trying it the first morning we decided the quality and variety of food and the convenience of eating at the hotel justified paying it. One night we ordered a pizza from the hotel restaurant instead of going out to eat. So our total bill came to $187.46 with city tax added for the room paid with points.
Some other meals included the following:
Pierogarnia Mandu – $21.38 for 10 traditional pierogi and 5 baked pierogi plus 2 beverages (this was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it)
Pyra Bar – 40.50 zloty for a potato casserole with chicken and vegetables and potato pancakes with pork in a mushroom sauce (again, too much food)
North Fish – $9.09 for salmon and vegetables plus a beverage (shared)
McDonalds – 12 zloty for 2 cheeseburgers and 2 small drinks
To add a bit of context, a ticket to Hampton Court Palace in England is 21 GBP ($35) whereas a ticket to Malbork Castle (the largest by land area in Europe) is 45 zloty ($15).
Admission to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa is $17. The Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk is 23 zloty ($8) plus 5 zloty for the audio guide.
A train ticket from Amherst to Moncton is $23 on Via Rail. A similar distance ticket from Gdansk to Malbork is around $6.
A second class advance purchase ticket from Frankfurt to Berlin via high speed train is 19.90 Euro ($29) plus 4.50 Euro ($6.50) for a seat reservation. A second class advance purchase ticket from Gdansk to Warsaw on a high speed train is 49 zloty ($17), seat reservation included.
Poland is quite inexpensive for a tourist and it remains one of my favourite countries to visit in Europe. The quality of food, lodging, transportation and sightseeing is excellent for the price (and my dog was born there).
I didn’t calculate the total cost of our short Poland adventure. However, the free hotel nights in Gdansk and Warsaw, the Aeroplan miles for the flight over and a low ($239) one-way fare back to Halifax set it up to be a cheap trip. The very reasonable prices for everything else meant our travel fund wasn’t depleted, which means another trip somewhere can hopefully be in the works soon.