Poland by bus
National bus transport in Poland
Buses are very commonly used in Poland as a mode of transport; there are long distance buses connecting cities and villages across the country.
The main hub in Poland is Warsaw, the capital, from where one can reach any part of the country. Some of the places important as bus hubs are also Wroclaw, Lublin, Krakow, Poznan and Katowice. Bus stations are usually found in the centres of cities, near train stations.
The bus network in Poland developed after WW2 when the trains connected only bigger cities which meant that people couldn't reach smaller villages and remote destinations. The situation changed in the early 1990's with a partial liberalization of the market and a mass motorization of Poland; the bus transport became disorganized, the biggest national bus company PKS split into many smaller companies. From the mid 90's, the situation started changing again but for better; PKS was, and still is, dominant but many independent companies started to represent a serious competition with very low ticket prices.
International bus transport from and to Poland
International bus transport to and from Poland works even better than the national transport. Poland has very good bus connections with 26 European countries among which are France (Paris, Lyon, Grenoble), Germany (Bonn, Dortmund, Berlin etc), Hungary (Budapest), Ukraine, the Netherlands, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Romania, Austria (Vienna) and even the UK.
The case with the international bus transport in Poland is similar to the case of national bus transport. The late 1980's were the turning point in the international bus market; the state gave up its monopoly of the bus transport which made the market open to private carriers.
Bus service quality in Poland
The quality of buses and bus service in Poland depends on the carrier and the distance traveled but generally, buses are in very good condition equipped with air conditioning. It is more likely that buses on international routes will have TVs, toilettes, reclining seats and sometimes there are possibilities to buy hot/cold beverages or snacks.
If you travel within Poland, it is very often the case that bus drivers do not speak English. On international routes it is more likely that drivers will speak English or some other foreign language. Buses on international long distance routes make one or more stops along way.
Bus ticket prices
Bus ticket prices in Poland are similar to those of train tickets but very often they are much cheaper. Buses also have discounts available for different categories like children, students, pensioners... The prices also depend on the bus company.
Bus tickets are purchased mostly from bus drivers, then at bus stations (this service might not be available at all bus stations), or at ticket offices of bus companies. Some companies allow only Internet purchase of tickets.
With regard to ticket and seat reservation, it depends on bus companies and bus stations, so you will have to check prior to your travel.
Passengers are allowed to carry their hand bags for free and if you carry additional, bigger size luggage you will usually have to pay a certain amount per piece of luggage; the price depends on the carrier but some carriers even allow free luggage (if it does not exceed predetermined dimensions).
Transporting animals (pets) and bicycles depends primarily on the bus company and if there is enough space on the bus or in the luggage compartment. You will most usually be additionally charged for transporting a bicycle; the price is determined by bus companies themselves. If allowed, animals are usually small and should be transported in appropriate containers and they must have passports if you travel abroad.