Johnny's Guide to Poland: Warsaw vs. Krakow for Digital Nomads

I'm loving Poland way more than I expected. When I first started making plans to spend my summer in Europe this year, we put Poland on the list but had no idea what to expect. If anything, I expected places like Berlin to be way more advanced in terms of startup scenes and internet speeds, but I was completely wrong. Poland is a tech hotspot and can easily become the new digital nomad hub with it's super low living costs, and infrastructure.

One of the best things about Poland is how cheap everything is, and how a lot of things are actually free including some coworking spaces and even bicycle rentals. After spending a few weeks in Lisbon, Portugal, I thought I had found where I want to spend my summers, but I have a feeling that Poland might actually beat them out. Continue reading this post to see the costs of living, things to do, what to eat, and why I love Poland as much as I do, including if I think Warsaw or Krakow will be my home base.

How to Get Here:

The great thing about traveling within Europe, is the fact that once you get here, you can get around to different countries quite cheaply and easily. Personally I took a train from Berlin, Germany to Warsaw but you can fly into Chopin airport from London, Switzerland, Vienna, Paris, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Copenhagen and a ton of other airports. So my suggestion is to find the cheapest flight to pretty much anywhere in Europe and take a short flight or train here.

If you book far enough in advance, you can get flights from London to Warsaw for $22 on RyanAir as an example.

Either way, traveling around Europe is super easy as you have cheap flights, comfortable trains, buses and even new car sharing apps like Bla Bla Car as options.

PLN89 = $22.44 USD 

Where to Stay

Here's the tricky part that I wish I knew before I came to Poland, but i'm sharing it with you now so you don't make the same mistakes I did. In Krakow you'll want to stay inside the old city or as close to it as possible as it's where both locals and tourists hang out. However, in Warsaw you'll want to avoid being in the old city as it's a tourist trap with nothing to do in it.

In Warsaw, you'll want to stay as close to the Palm Tree as possible which is on the street Nowy Swiat and close to both the metro stations as well as all of the restaurants, bars, and the metro station. We stayed in the old city right next to the Royal Castle, which is probably really cool if you're only here for 2 nights but is annoying if you're here for more than a few days as there's nothing here but tourist crap. If you're here to cowork, I'd also consider living in Praga near the Google Campus which I'll mention below.

Personally I booked an AirBnB for 3 weeks here in Warsaw for around $53 a night for a really nice 1 bedroom with a kitchen and living room. Chris found a place close by for $30 a night.

Travel Tip: Get a private room at a hostel if you want your own space while being able to meet other travelers. 

The street I live on in Warsaw. They were giving away free beers.

Warsaw vs. Krakow

There's a huge debate on which city is better, and the locals from Warsaw hate Krakow and vice versa. But as someone who is unbiased, I can assure you that both cities are awesome but for different reasons. If you can only visit one, I'd definitely go to Krakow as it's more authentic and not rebuilt after WWII like Warsaw was. It's also more fun to live in Krakow as it's a smaller city built around the center which means both tourists and locals integrate more often and go to the same restaurants, bars and clubs. For whatever reason the food in Krakow seemed to be better as well, or at least the good restaurants were more central and not as spread out.

That being said, as a digital nomad, Warsaw might still be the better option over Krakow because of Campus Warsaw which I'll talk about a bit below.

In Warsaw everything is rebuilt as 90% of the city was destroyed in WWII, which means all of the old buildings you see aren't as authentic as you'd like them to be. But the main reason why I don't like Warsaw is because everything is super spread out and you can't just walk around the center like in Krakow. Luckily transportation here is super cheap. You can take an Uber pretty much anywhere for $3-$5 and the bicycle rentals are free for 20 minutes at a time which means you can ride from station to station for completely free.

Travel Tip:  Make sure you download and register for the Nextbike App when you arrive in Warsaw as it's super easy to rent bikes with just by scanning the QR code. 

In Warsaw they close off the main street to cars on weekends.

Coworking and Sim Cards

One of my favorite things about Poland is the value and technology the country has. I picked up a 8GB prepaid sim card at a random kiosk for $5 and it's the fastest, most reliable internet i've had anywhere in the world and by far the cheapest. The sim card I got was through PLAY and I highly recommend it.

EDIT: Poland just introduced a backwards thinking law forcing registration of all SIM cards. The problem is that as of now you can't buy a sim card at the airport as businesses are not setup to register new cards. Take your passport to telecom provider in the city center, which may be hard to find when you don't have data or google maps and buy one through Play or T-Mobile as Plus takes 7 days to activate.

Free Wifi in Poland

When you're out and about, most places offer free wifi including the coffee chain Green Nero which you'll find everywhere and is an easy place to cowork from. But if you want to check out the ultimate coworking space go to Google's Campus Warsaw which is open to the public and membership is completely free. They also have spaces set up in London, Madrid-Spain, Sao Paulo-Brazil, Tel Aviv and Seoul-Korea. The only potential issue with Campus Warsaw is that it's on the side of the river that most people compare to Brooklyn instead of Manhattan. It's a tiny bit more rough and hipster than Warsaw Central and you'll have to wait 7 minutes for an Uber instead of 5 minute it's fine.

Big thanks to Alexandra for recommending the space to us.

They have free yoga classes, meetups, events, and the fastest wifi i've ever seen anywhere in the world, especially since it's free. The other option in Warsaw would be Humanska 8 which seems decent as well if for whatever reason you don't want to go to Campus Warsaw.

In Krakow the two coworking spaces I would check out would be Cluster which is in the heart of the city in a great location but looks like they have a terrible layout and even worse chairs. Or I would go to Colab which is 15 minutes outside of the center but I've heard is the better coworking space in Krakow.

Watch this video tour of Google's Campus: Warsaw!

Google's Campus Warsaw Coworking Space

Polish Wifi destroys everything I've used in the U.S. or Germany

What to do in Poland

In both Krakow and Warsaw i'd recommend going on one or more of the free walking tours offered in both cities. The good news is the tours are just tip based so you can leave them between $5-$10 and the guides are super happy. You can book them through either Orange Umbrella or Free Walking Tour Foundation but since none of them actually require pre booking, you can just show up at the start time.

The pub crawls are also a good way to find out where the cool bar areas are, but my suggestion is to ditch the group midway through and go to the surrounding bars which are where the locals hang out and drinks are 1/4th of the price. The one vodka you have to try while you're in Poland is the Bison-Grass vodka called Żubrówka. It's always less than $2 wherever you go and is by far my favorite as it's flavored but not sweet and just has hints of baby's breath, vanilla, coconut, and almond notes.

Aside from going on tours and drinking. You'll want to rent a bicycle and ride down to the parks. In Warsaw, go to Lazienki, the Royal Residence Park for free concerts on the weekend. We didn't get a chance on this trip but in Krakow you'll want to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Tip: Vodka shots should never be more than 9PLN ($2.25) if they are go somewhere else. 

Aside from Vodka Poland has some crazy shots as they love to drink.
Shots are $1.26 a piece at local bars like this here in Poland.

What to Eat in Poland

Beer, Potatoes and Vodka seem to be the standard Polish diet so don't expect to keep paleo while you're here or lose any weight even with all of the cycling you can do. A few must tries are the Pierogi dumplings both fried and boiled, the Kielbasa sausages as well as all of their soups which are really good. Aside from that most meals consists of bread, meat, potatoes, cabbage and a ton of meat.

For whatever reason food in Krakow at least at the restaurants we went to seemed to be better but maybe that's just because Warsaw is so spread out that it's been hard for us to try different places outside of the old town touristy area. Luckily, even here the food is cheap and delicious. Last night we ordered a platter for 2 which neither of us could finish for around $15 per person. Most main dishes are around $10 wherever you go and you'll always leave stuffed. Beer is usually $2 and water is usually around the same. Most restaurants will refuse to serve you tap water even though it's perfectly safe to drink. If you're on a budget or simply don't like wasting plastic bottles, feel free to bring your own refillable bottle with you.

Tip: You can just order meat and salad instead of potatoes and dumplings if you're trying to be paleo. 

Pierogis both boiled and pan fried filled with cheese, meat and cabbage

Boiled pierogies with cheese/potatoes and half with meat/cabbage.

You'll find lots of plates of grilled and baked meats with potatoes.

How to get orange juice in Poland using this crazy machine.

Why I Love Poland

It's hard to put a finger on why I like Poland as much as I do. Technically Lisbon, Portugal is just as cheap and is also a fantastic place for digital nomads plus it has a beach, great wine, and reminds me of San Francisco.

Before coming here to Warsaw and Krakow I thought for sure I would spend the next summer in Lisbon as it's an awesome place. But after being here for a few weeks, I've decided that I have to come back as it's too nice of a place to live. You can get by speaking English and everyone I've met under 30 speaks it well since movie's aren't dubbed. The city is surprisingly super safe and Polish people have been exceptionally friendly.

If you're a single girl, Polish guys all seem to be super smart and cool and if you're a single guy, you'll love the fact that Polish girls are super down to earth and don't play mind games. They're the ultimate girl next door that just also happens to be super educated and beautiful. I think the number one thing I like about Poland is how down to earth everyone is, both men and women. People here are just genuinely nice and very few people are trying to be pretentious.

Here's an over the top video that one of my female Polish friends sent me of what life might be like in a Polish village. I went to Ełk.

Poland and Schengen Visas

For most people including Americans, Canadians and Australians we can come for 90 days without needing a visa as Poland is part of the Schengen area just like most of the rest of the EU. The best thing about Poland is the fact that if you're American, we might be able to make a visa run to Ukraine and get another 90 days when we come back even just a day later. I haven't tried it yet but from what I've read online because of some bilateral agreement it sounds like it works and I'm excited to try it.

If that's true and I am willing to bet it is, that means I can spend 2-3 months in Lisbon, fly to Ukraine, then enter Poland for another 3 months giving me the freedom to spend the entire summer in Europe which would be awesome.

A photo posted by Johnny FD (@johnnyfdk) on

Polish Visa Update 

Great news, I heard back from the U.S. Embassy in Poland and they clarified that YES as Americans we can stay in Poland for more than 90 days! We just need to go to non-schengen area such as Kiev, Ukraine or Sofia, Bulgaria for a quick trip (or as i'd prefer, a short vacation) then come back and get another 90 days straight away.

Theoretically there's no reason why you can't stay in Poland for the entire year just making a border run every 3 months...with the exception of it being super cold in Poland in the winter and the fact that places like Chiang Mai, Thailand are amazing during Polish winter so you might want to go there from October - May if you don't like the cold. Or you can stay and enjoy some cheap skiing or snowboarding!

poland visa more than 90 days for americans

Overall Thoughts on Poland

Chris and I have been traveling in Warsaw and Krakow now for almost three weeks and recorded a podcast episode about our thoughts so far. You can listen to Travel Like a Boss episode 123 for a breakdown of what we did, what we saw, ate, liked and why we're both coming back next summer.

In this episode we talk about how we are both making enough passive income to be able to travel pretty much forever, especially since the costs of living in Poland are so low, how Chris has started it and where he is now and what we plan on doing in the future.

Update: I just found out that Clipster has a co-living/coworking space in Gdańsk which should have all of the benefits of living in Poland, while also having a beach! Big thanks to Joanna from The Blonde Travels for introducing me to it. She lived there recently and reviewed clipster here.

I hope you guys enjoy Poland as much as we did. The plan is to stay here until for a few more weeks then come back next summer. For those wondering where to go I think my plan is going to be Chiang Mai from November - February --- Lisbon, Portugal for Feb-April --- Poland for the entire summer from April - August if everything works out as planned.

But then again, we're digital nomads so nothing is ever set in stone. Keep following the blog for more updates on travel, business and follow the journey!

I'm still not completely sure if I'd rather live in Warsaw or Krakow, so i'm open to options. What do you think? Live in the more walkable college town with a great center, or live in the spread out, larger city that Google chose to open their Campus Warsaw?

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. As an asian how easy or hard is it to hook up with the local girls in portugal and poland?

    1. In Poland girls are super open minded so as long as you're in decent shape and presented well you'll match a lot on tider. In Portugal you'll get zero matches.

    2. Ohhh... are portugese racist like the spanish?

  2. Great to hear that as I am Polish and living in Poland. Everything is super cheap because sallaries are also small. And yes, we have very fast internet and cheap data plans. Chears from Poland and have a nice stay here!

    1. Hey Raaistlin, thanks for the warm welcome and the fantastic country!

  3. Perfect. Timing. I'll be in Krakow in a couple weeks. Sure this writeup'll be put to good use.

    I've heard nothing but good things about Poland so lookin forward to it.

    1. Hey awesome Saul, i'm sure you're going to love it in Krakow!

    2. Hey Johnny, you still in town? I'm landing in Krakow on Monday. Would be good to meetup.

    3. Hey have fun in Krakow! I'm in Sofia, Bulgaria now!

  4. Thanks for sharing this information Johnny really useful, I had not thought about Poland but reading this I will have to check it out, cheers

    1. Hey Michael happy to share! I never thought about Poland either until now and I love it here.

  5. Haha good timing, bet you didn't expect to see two million global Catholics show up in Kraków this week! ;) I'm here and absolutely love this country (spent last week in Wrocław), and I'm definitely planning to come back after the event and hang out for a month. It would be great to meet you! I'm also an accidental digital nomad and I'm about to get started in drop shipping!

    1. Hey Ryan, glad you're enjoying Poland as much as I've been. The international catholic youth day was insane! I'm so glad I got out of Krakow as it was first starting. Have fun Krakow, let me know how it is after the event!

    2. Haha good plan... It's a lot of fun, but things are pretty insane with so many people in a small city. How long were you planning on hanging around Poland and were you planning on having a meetup while here? I'm coming back in from about Aug 14-Sep 14, and I'd love to catch a few entrepreneur meetups here in Poland while I hole up and get some work done!

  6. Poland is so underrated! Was there last summer and like yourself, found it an epic spot. Was surprised by the amount of 100% vegan restaurants (granted many of them serve junk food).

    The bar scene in both cities is cool, you've got the underground bars in Kraków an the small alleys of bars in Warsaw.

    Warsaw is spread out, but the amount of parks in the city is impressive and they're all very good looking.

    I'd have to go with Warsaw to live.

    In Poland you've got a regions of Lakes, forest, beaches and mountains which are super easy to get to with Polski bus.

    Such a underrated country.

    1. Hey Jub thanks for the reminder to use Polski Bus! I just booked a trip to Elk for tomorrow thanks to your suggestion.

    2. Hi Johnny, I'm from Elk - hope you are enjoying there! Me I'm currently located on the Philippines, you can spend there nice vacation go to city called Gizycko and Mikolajki you can find nice spots there to see if you like lakes and boats. Elk is a very nice place and clean, around you have many many lakes in every direction you will go you can find one, and of course big lake just in the center of the city! Have fun there! Cheers!

  7. hey man, we spoke at the pool party after your epic conference in February. if you're still in Warsaw, there's THE party of the year for the local start-up community (open bar!) this Saturday

    1. Hey thanks for the invite Kamil! I would have loved to come but i'm going to up Ełk this weekend!

  8. Hey, I'm glad you found my review of Clipster useful. Hope to meet you one day on the road, maybe Chiang Mai?


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