Car hire in Poland
Hiring a car in Poland
The eastern European country of Poland is brilliant to explore. A combination of stunning architecture and fascinating history will mean you’ll want to jump in your hire car and set off to find out what it’s all about as soon as you arrive.
From the 14th-century Wawel Castle and Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, to the old town of Warsaw, which was completely rebuilt in the after the Second World War, you won’t be short of attractions. To get a glimpse into a darker side of Poland’s history and one that should never be forgotten, a trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial is a must.
What you need to know
The options are seemingly endless when it comes to hiring a car in Poland. You can get a car from so many airports, including the likes of Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk, that wherever you’re arriving into you’ll be able to start your road trip from there. Alternatively, those coming in by rail can also collect their hire cars at the train station.
For the largest amount of choice, the main transport hubs are your best bet. At Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport (WAW), for example, there are more than a dozen hire car companies to choose from. They are all ranked as excellent or very good by previous clients. Make use of our booking tool to find the right car at the most convenient location for you and all at a great price.
Where to pick up your car
Arrangements for picking up your hire car will depend on the company that you have chosen and the city in which you have opted for. At Warsaw Airport there are a number of arrangements in place.
The likes of Budget and Hertz have car hire desks within the terminal building, while companies including enterprise and Rentis have a meet and greet service. This means a representative from the firm will escort you to where you need to be. Alternatively, a small number of car hire companies offer a free shuttle bus to your pick-up point.
For those who have opted to pick up their hire car at a train station, the collection points tend to be close by. In Krakow, for example, the car hire desks are less than a kilometre’s walk away, but it’s a good idea to check on the exact location to make sure everything runs smoothly upon your arrival.
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“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Where to go
When it comes to picking the first places to explore with your newly acquired hire car, it’s likely to depend on the part of Poland you’ve arrived in. Many of the cities have fantastic centres to discover. In Warsaw, head to the Old Town Square, where you’ll find a statue of the mermaid that is the symbol of the city. Legend dictates she swam up the river from the sea and paused near the old town to rest.
The main square in Krakow is one of the biggest medieval squares in Europe and dates back to the 13th century. Adjacent to it is St Mary’s Basilica, where a traditional, five-note anthem is played by a bugler every hour. Each performance comes to an abrupt end to signify an important incident in history. The bugler who played the tune in the 1240s to warn the city of invading Mongols was shot part-way through. He saved the city, but lost his life and each rendition is a tribute to him.
Driving in Poland
All you need is a valid UK driving licence to get on the road in Poland, although international driving permits are recognised, but not compulsory. The Polish drive on the right and therefore overtake on the left, which is something to remember after you have made stops.
You should always have a warning triangle and a reflective jacket in the back of your car for use in an emergency. As this is the law, you should ensure these things are provided prior to setting off. Police can issue on-the-spot fines, so be prepared to pay up immediately in this eventuality.
Being based in Poland and with access to a hire car puts not just the entire country at your disposal, but the rest of Europe too. Neighbouring nations, such as Germany and Slovakia, have plenty to offer and if you love the thrill of the open road, it’s time to make the most of your rented vehicle.
It takes around five hours to drive from Warsaw to Berlin via the A2. The reason it’s so quick is that there are toll roads, so ensure you have some cash to pay for these as you go. Also, bear in mind that the border crossing may slow you up a little. Once you arrive in Berlin you’ll be able to take in as much of the German capital as you like. Nothing compares to standing in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate for a picture.
Alternatively, make your way to Bojnice Castle in Slovakia along the DK7. It will take around three and a half hours to get there, but is well worth the drive. This medieval construction dates back to the 12th century and has everything a castle should display. With its Romantic, Gothic and Renaissance elements it’s almost like stepping into a fairytale.
Top attractions to visit in Poland
The varied history of Poland means there’s so much to see and do no matter what it is you’re interested in. With your hire car you can explore it all.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Visiting a salt mine may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a holiday activity, but this subterranean world is mind blowing. With huge chambers excavated out of the salt and incredible statues, sculptures and monuments, it’s hard not to be impressed. The highlight is the church, complete with altarpieces and chandeliers, all made from salt.
Warsaw Uprising Museum
Chronicling the events of 1944 in Warsaw, this museum looks at the history of the Polish Underground State and has a good collection of artefacts to back it up. Weapons used by the insurgents and love letters sent between them can all be seen here.
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial
A trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, but is an important thing to do. This network of Nazi extermination camps was responsible for more than one million deaths and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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