Choosing railways as means of transport that will get you to our dream holiday destination is a very good idea. It will enable you to relax during the trip and at the same time to cherish beautiful landscapes through the carriage's window.
Railway transport has also some other advantages:
- saving money when buying tickets early and possibility to use commercial or legal discounts, at the same time avoiding road and petrol fees;
- benefits for the environment - trains are the most ecological means of transport;
- travel safety;
- travel comfort (modernised rolling stock, possibility to use sleeping and couchette carriages, and in some trains buffet services).
Travelling by train may also be the goal in itself, e.g. during a weekend sight-seeing tour of Poland when you decide to cherish exceptional landscapes which accompany the travellers on some of the railway routes.
Baltic Sea through the train carriage windows
One of the most scenic railway lines in Poland is undoubtedly the one running across the Hel peninsula - a 35-km stretch between Władysławowo and Hel, offering views on both the Baltic Sea as well as the Gdańsk Bay. Once you reach your destination the places to visit are - among others - Seal Aquarium and the Coastal Defence Museum in Hel which you can also reach by a narrow-gauge train. In Władysławowo on the other hand you can visit an observation tower in the Fisherman's House and if you love sandy beaches you can find many of them along the route.
Everyday trips to Hel are offered by POLREGIO trains, running on the Gdynia Główna - Hel route. During summer holidays Hel can also be reached by taking PKP Intercity trains originating in Katowice, Warszawa, Lublin, Kraków and Jelenia Góra. All these trains stop at Hel peninsula stations like Chałupy, Jastarnia and Jurata.
On iron tracks to the capital of the Polish Tatra mountains
An equally scenic landscape is offered by the Polish Tatra mountains which you can also reach by train. If weather permits Tatra can already be seen from the carriage’s window when leaving the Pyzówka station located on the Sieniawska pass. Choosing the trip to Zakopane you will be able to commune with highland environment. Zakopane is a great spot to begin hiking around the city, e.g. climbing the Gubałówka hill, reaching the Morskie Oko mountain lake or the Giewont mountain. You can also take a walk down Krupówki boulevard or take the cable-car to Kasprowy Wierch mountain. When travelling to Zakopane it is worth to make a stop-over in Chabówka in order to visit the Rolling Stock Museum.
Zakopane can be reached all year round by POLREGIO and PKP Intercity trains, however off-season due to some repair works part of the route is served by buses. You can begin your direct travel in Gdynia, Warszawa, Katowice, Bydgoszcz, Poznań and Szczecin. Some of these trains offer sleeping carriages what will enable you to reach Zakopane in the morning well-rested and ready to start sight-seeing. On weekends you can also take trains by Koleje Śląskie on Katowice-Zakopane route.
Lower Silesian tunnels and flyovers
One of the most interesting railway routes in Poland is the one connecting Wałbrzych and Kłodzko. Having chosen it for your trip you will be able to observe the scenic region of Sowie mountains and the train will take you through many flyovers (some as high as 40 meters) as well as tunnels, among those the one under Mały Wołowiec hill – the longest non-city tunnel in Poland with length of more than 1.6 km. Altogether on the route there are 3 tunnels, 9 steel bridges and as many as 45 flyovers.
During the trip, aside from environmental attractions, you can also visit the Kłodzko Fortress and Miniature Park in Kłodzko, and an Old Mine – Centre for Science and Art in Wałbrzych. Connections on this route are offered by Koleje Dolnośląskie (unfortunately due to repair works parts of the route are covered by buses). You can also look for the legendary Gold Train, as the purported place of its hiding – Książ Castle – is located in Wałbrzych.
While in Kłodzko it is worth to visit near-by Kudowa-Zdrój. This railway route is also of a very scenic character. It takes you through an imposing flyover in Lewin Kłodzki (27 meters high, 120 m long), and you can stop in Duszniki-Zdrój and Polanica-Zdrój spas as well. All these towns are good starting points for Stołowe mountains’ trips.
Lower Silesia offers many attractive railway routes. Mountains views are offered on route from Jelenia Góra to Szklarska Poręba where you can cherish the Karkonosze mountains panorama. After leaving the train the Szklarska Poręba railway station also makes an impression, as its side border is formed by a rock wall of at least a dozen meters' height. Szklarska Poręba is however not all about mountains – you can also visit the Old Wallonian Hut and home of painter Wlastimil Hofman.
This town may be reached by regional trains of both Koleje Dolnośląskie and POLREGIO (starting in Wrocław and Poznań respectively) or long-distance trains by PKP Intercity, originating in Białystok and Warszawa.
By train along Poprad and state border
If you want to enjoy a longer trip through mountainous regions you should take the railway route from Tarnów to Krynica-Zdrój, commonly named “Kryniczanka”. First mountain landscapes will appear just a few minutes after leaving Tarnów. This one-track route follows along the rivers Biała and Poprad, numerous escarpments and Polish-Slovak border. Along the route the trains stop in many spa towns, like Piwniczna-Zdrój, Łomnica-Zdrój, Żegiestów-Zdrój or Muszyna-Zdrój. Part of the “Kryniczanka” route is formed by the so-called Grybów loop – track switchbacks which slopes reach on average a 20 per mille.
Krynica-Zdrój may be reached by local Koleje Małopolskie as well as POLREGIO trains (starting stations in Tarnów and Kraków), but also long-distance train-sets originating in Gdynia and Warszawa.
Exclusive summertime connections
During summertime holidays some carriers decide to introduce trains which are not usually run throughout the year. It is worth to board them now as the next opportunity will come next year. Such seasonal connections are:
Train trip across borders
You can also reach neighbouring countries by train. During the summer season there are direct conncetions between Muszyna and Poprad-Tatry (Slovakia). The trains stop in Stara Lubowna (famous for its wonderful castle) as well as close-by Kežmarok. From Poprad you can also easily reach the Slovakian part of the Tatras.
Another international summer route reaching Slovakia leads through the Łupków pass. Between Fridays and Sundays a POLREGIO train “The Good Soldier Švejk” starts in Rzeszów, then passes through Jasło, Krosno and Sanok, arriving in a small town Medzilaborce. An interesting feature of this route is that the train runs through a 416-metre-long tunnel in the middle of which the Polish-Slovak border is located. Not many people know that close to Medzilaborce the parents of Andy Warhol (who had already been born in the United States) had lived and the museum in his honour is one of the biggest attractions of the town.
Another interesting railway offer is provided should you decide to plan a trip to Poland’s southern neighbour Czechia. Aside from PKP Intercity trains you can also visit the country by Koleje Śląske choosing trains on Katowice-Bohumin route or Koleje Dolnośląskie trains from Wrocław to Lichkov and Adrspach, from Sędzisław to Trutnov and from Szklarska Poręba to Liberec.
Also, a fairly unknown railway carrier in Poland is the Usedomer Bäderbahn (UBB), which offers train services on the island of Usedom. The only serviced station by UBB in Poland is Świnoujście Centrum. When travelling by UBB trains you can visit many scenic towns along the Baltic Sea coast located on the terrotory of Poland's Western neighbour.
Having in mind the current anti-COVID-19 health recommendations you should be aware that while making any trips by rail you have to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.