A quick guide to useful information about Bielsko-Biała.
Streets names and road signs are only in Polish. The addresses starts with abbreviation ul. (ulica, which means street); followed by the name of the street and then by house number, e.g. ul. Partyzantów 32. Optionally, address can start with pl. which stands for plac, square in English.
43-300 is the official post-code for Bielsko-Biała.
Shops in Poland are open 6 days a week, and since March 2018, only on the last Sunday of each month*.
Most of the places are closed on public holidays and on Sundays other than first and last of month.
These are the most common opening hours:
Small shops: Mon-Fri.10am – 6pm, Sat. 10am – 3pm, Sun. closed
Small grocery shops: Mon-Fri. 6am – 9pm, Sat. 6am – 5pm, Sun.*9am – 3pm
Supermarkets: Mon-Sat. 7am – 8pm, Sun* 7am- 7pm
Shopping malls: 9am – 9pm, Sun.* 10am – 8pm
Bielsko-Biała has a typical European continental climate. Summers (mid-June till mid-September) usually bring plenty of sunshine with the average daily high temperature of 24oC, although in the recent years days with 30-35oC are becoming more common. Summer is also a season with most of rains.
Winters (December-mid-March) have the average temperature of 0oC, but there is always a period when temperature drops to -10oC or less for a few days. Snowfall is common, especially in the upper parts of the city and in the mountains. Because of its location, the city is influenced by the mountainous climate and therefore strong winds can occur throughout the year, but mainly in the winter time.
Mid-seasons are pleasant, mostly with sunny days and average temperature between 6oC and 15oC.
Currency in Poland is Polish złoty (zł / PLN).
You can change your money at exchange office called KANTOR – there are plenty of them in Bielsko-Biała, mainly in the shopping areas. The kantors do not charge any commission and prices are clearly marked on their information boards. When changing a larger amount of cash, ask for a better rate and most likely you will get it.
Banks also change currency, but usually they have inferior rate.
Cash Machines (ATMs) are easily available and most of them accept all regular international cards. Almost all of the shops and services accept debit card as a method of payment and larger shops accept credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard.
Electricity domestic supply is 220/240 volts.
Sockets are suitable for two-pin plugs, most common in Europe.
Emergency number: 112
Police department: 997
Fire department: 998
Unfortunately, there is not yet enough attention paid to disabled citizens and visitors in Bielsko-Biała. You might find the steep slopes, stairs and uneven pavements hard going. Lifts and ramps are available only in the most popular places but that might not be enough to move freely around the city.
Public places and institutions have toilets adjusted to disabled needs.
Hotels have facilities that will accommodate special needs travelers, but other touristic places not necessary offer any services.
Most city buses are adjusted to transporting wheelchairs passengers.
Poland is a safe country with no danger of extreme illness or epidemic.
The tap water is safe to drink (as well as ice cubes). However, in Polish restaurants there is no habit of serving free tap water, as the restaurants prefer to charge clients for mineral water.
Food served in restaurants is safe to eat and its safety is guaranteed by very strict hygiene regulations systematically inspected by officials.
Both public and private health services are available if needed. EU citizens are entitled to free medical emergency care in public hospitals and clinics. For others it’s advisable to have commercial insurance.
There are many pharmacies in Bielsko-Biała and basic painkillers are available in any grocery shop.
Apteka Klimczok – ul. Cyniarska 11, phone: +48 33 812 48 66
Apteka na Dworcu – ul. Warszawska 2 (Railway Station), phone: +48 33 812 24 76
In case of emergency call – 112
The official language in Poland is Polish. English is usually spoken by younger generation, although at different levels and some might be too shy to speak if they don’t know it perfectly. The older generation might know some Russian and/or German.
Most of the restaurants in Bielsko-Biała have an additional menu in English, but in the eateries and smaller places you should expect menus and service in Polish only. In the touristic places like museums, galleries or sport facilities there should be at least one person who can speak English, but the written information is usually available only in Polish.
Using dziękuję (thank you), dzień dobry (good morning/afternoon), do widzenia (good-bye) is always appreciated. The English worlds sorry and ok are generally understood and used by many.
Hello/Hi – cześć (should not be used to greet people you don’t know or elderly)
Bye – cześć or pa
Good morning/afternoon – dzień dobry
Good evening – dobry wieczór
Good-night – dobranoc
Please – proszę
Thank you – dziękuję
Sorry/Excuse me – przepraszam
You are welcome – proszę bardzo
Yes – tak
No – nie
Entrance – wejście
Exit – wyjście
Closed – zamknięte
No smoking – zakaz palenia
There are 13 public holidays in Poland, which means that they are non-working days with most of the shops and sometimes even restaurants closed.
– 1 January – New Year’s Day
– 6 January – Three Kings Day
– Easter Sunday (movable)
– Ester Monday (movable)
– 1 May – Labour Day
– 3 May – Constitution Day
– 7th Sunday after Easter – Pentecost
– 9th Thursday after Easter – Corpus Christi
– 15 August – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
– 1 November – All Saints’ Day
– 11 November – Independence Day
– 25 December – Christmas Day
– 26 December – Second Christmas Day
Other holidays and celebrations
There are number of holidays in Poland, that even though are not public holidays, are widely celebrated and represent heritage and culture of the country. These are normal working days.
– 21 January – Grandmother’s Day
– 22 January – Grandfather’s Day
– 14 February – Valentine’s Day
– Last Thursday before Lent – Fat Thursday
– First day of Lent – Ash Wednesday
– 8 March – Women’s Day
– 26 May – Mother’s Day
– 1 June – Children’s Day
– 23 June – Father’s Day
– 30 September – Boy’s Day
– 30 November – St. Andrew’s Day
– 6 December – Saint Nicolas Day
– 24 December – Christmas Eve
– 31 December – New Year’s Eve
Main Post Office (Poczta Polska)
Address: ul. 1 Maja 2
Phone: +48 33 827 33 42
Open: Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat. 7am-1pm, Sun. closed.
Galeria Sfera I and Gemini Shopping Mall also have a small post office.
Bielsko-Biała is generally a safe city, one of the safest in the Silesian providence and the country. However, just like everywhere, use common sense and keep your eye on your valuables. Be careful in the crowds, in buses and at clubs – pick pockets love those places. Don’t leave any luggage in your car in plain view.
Violent incidents are mostly alcohol-related, although they occur rarely. Stick to the city center and main streets if walking at night – they are monitored and well-lit. Avoid confrontations and trust your instincts.
SMOKING AND DRINKING
Poland has joined a worldwide effort to stop people from smoking. Smoking is banned in all enclosed public places and also in open public spaces like bus-stops. In restaurants and bars smoking is allowed if additional separate room is provided. Both smoking and non-smoking spaces are clearly marked. Tabaco products are only sold to customers above the age of 18.
Legal drinking age in Poland is also 18. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited (including bicycle riding). There is also a law against advertising alcohol.
Generally, tipping is not expected, however it is a common practice in restaurants and cafes. 10% of the bill seems to be the standard in Poland, but only if you are satisfied with the service! In places with self-service, as well in pubs and bars tipping is rare. Taxi drivers often receive the round up amount.
Address: pl. Ratuszowy 4
Phone: +48 33 819 00 50
Open: Mon.-Fri. 8am-6pm, Sat. 8am-4pm, Sun. closed
Free maps, folders and information about attractions and events in the city. Additionally, you can receive information about nearby towns, the Beskid Mountains and even the neighboring Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Free Wi-Fi is offered in Bielsko-Biała in all of the hotels, many restaurants and cafés, Tourist Information Centre, and in most of the shopping malls. There is also a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot available in the city buses.