For a long time, Poland was considered an off-the-beaten-path destination in Europe, but that is quickly changing as more and more people wise up to the unique beauty of this country.
This idyllic country receives nearly 20 million tourists annually and more and more people are projected to visit each year. Visitors typically flock to one of its many picturesque cities, such as Krakow in the west or Gdansk on the Baltic Coast.
Poland’s cities and towns are full of rich history, centuries of architecture, and legacies of Poland’s multicultural past. Visitors looking to get off the beaten path can head to smaller towns or natural areas such as the mountain town of Zakopane.
Before visiting any new country, you probably want to know a bit more about its reputation as a tourist destination, namely if it is safe to visit or not.
Poland doesn’t have a negative reputation, but it doesn’t hurt to examine the situation on the ground more closely.
But don’t worry — our travel experts put together the information below to help you figure out whether or not Poland is a safe place to visit. Let us be your guide!
Is Poland Safe to Visit in 2023?
Yes. For the most part, Poland is a very safe country to visit. Crime rates are very low, and there are few other factors that might affect the safety of visitors.
Like most other places in the world, Poland experiences petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, but you can ward those off with a few basic precautions.
Poland is located in central or eastern Europe, depending on who you ask, and has a bit of a rough situation in the neighborhood. That’s because it borders Ukraine to the east, a country which is currently in an active war.
Even though no fighting took place on Polish territory, the country was still affected by the war. Over one million Ukrainian refugees fled to Poland, and in November 2022, a stray rocket flew over the border, landing in a Polish village near the Ukrainian border and killing two people.
Despite these incidents, Poland is still safe to visit even as the war in Ukraine rages on. You may want to avoid the area within a few miles of the Ukrainian border just to be safe, but the rest of the country is not affected by the war at all.
Despite the war going on next door, most foreign governments agree that Poland is a safe place to visit. The United States has Poland under a Level One travel advisory, the lowest possible level.
The Irish government also just tells citizens to exercise normal precautions when in Poland. Only New Zealand tells its citizens to exercise increased caution in Poland. Crime is not an excessive concern when visiting Poland, but it is still better to be aware of the risks that are present.
Common crimes in Poland include:
- Bag snatching
- Drink spiking
It’s important to note that Poland is not equally safe for all travelers or even all Polish residents. According to OSCE data, there were 997 hate crimes reported to the police, of which 231 were racially motivated, 89 were anti-Semitic, and 62 were anti-Muslim.
Many people of color experience harassment on the street that they do not report as hate crimes out of fear of repercussions from unsympathetic authorities.
The Polish government has also come under fire for its double standards for Ukrainian refugees and those from the Middle East, showing that racism is sometimes a top-down effect. Poland also has a problem with rising homophobia.
While big cities such as Krakow tend to be LGBT-friendly, some local municipalities declared themselves “LGBT-free zones,” banning free expression of LGBT individuals.
These zones contributed to rising homophobia around the country. While Poland overall is safe, it is definitely safer if you can blend in with the average Pole and some tourists who are POC or LGBT have had negative experiences.
Crime in Poland
The primary concern for most visitors to a new place is crime. Poland is no different. You probably want to know about your likelihood of being robbed or worse before you head to a new place on vacation.
Luckily, you don’t have much to worry about in Poland as the country has very low crime rates. In 2020, the homicide rate was 0.7 incidents per 100,000 people.
Since then, the homicide rate has fallen even further, dropping by 19% in the year 2022.
Criminologists point to a few reasons for this decline, including lower rates of domestic violence, lower rates of violence by organized crime groups, and high rates of crime solving by Polish police that show criminals crime doesn’t pay.
Poland was highlighted by Vision of Humanity, which publishes the Global Peace Index, for its extraordinary progress. According to the index, Poland is #24 on the list of safest countries in the world.
It had the third largest increase compared to previous years among all the countries in the world.
The index highlights that Poland’s violent crime rate, which was already low, dropped significantly, making it one of the lowest rates in Europe. The rate of property crime is slightly more of a problem than the rate of violent crime.
According to Numbeo, Poland’s property crimes clock in at 41.40 out of 100 on the site’s crime index, which is a moderate value. However, this mostly applies to petty property crimes such as vandalism and theft.
The overall crime index score for Poland is 25.29, a very low value. As you can see from all of these statistics, you don’t have much to worry about when it comes to crime in Poland.
While you should still take basic precautions when you are out and about, you don’t have to be on your guard all the time.
Pickpocketing and petty theft are the most common forms of crime you are most likely to encounter when you are a tourist in Poland.
For these crimes, criminals often target tourists because they assume that they will have less street smarts and more money than the average Pole.
Pickpockets often target areas that they know tourists frequent such as the downtown areas of Krakow and Warsaw, Baltic seaside towns such as Gdansk, and public transportation lines such as Warsaw’s 175 bus from the airport.
The Australian government warns about hotspots for pickpockets such as hotels, near ATMs, and in markets and other crowded areas. Public transportation, including inter-city railway stations, are also common targets, especially in Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, Sopot, and Gdynia.
Besides touristy areas, pickpockets also operate on public transportation. The Canadian government warns tourists about gangs of pickpockets, usually young men, who operate on trains and other forms of public transportation.
The groups wait for passengers to embark and disembark and pin them near the door, or they create a bottleneck while pretending to squeeze by in the aisles.
Some basic precautions are usually enough to prevent pickpockets and bag snatchers in their nefarious intentions. Keep a firm grasp on your belongings, even on trains and buses when you might be tempted to relax your guard.
Don’t flash any valuables that might make you a target. In crowded areas, make sure that your passport and other valuables are safely tucked away in an inside jacket pocket, front pants pocket, or zipped bag.
If you notice something suspicious, such as a group clustered around the door, wait for the suspicious situation to pass. It’s better to feel foolish than to get taken advantage of.
If you do get robbed, report the theft to the Polish police immediately. It’s especially important to report the theft of a passport as you don’t want someone to pass themselves off as you with your documents.
Scams and Fraud
Some thieves opt to take the easy way out when trying to get your money through deception, not through direct theft and violence. Scams and fraud are commonplace in Poland, often affecting tourists.
The New Zealand government warns about the prevalence of crime in bars and nightclubs.
Some clubs extort tourists by overcharging them, with one price on the posted menu and another rung up. Always check the prices carefully and look at your credit card charges after a night on the town.
Beware of nightclubs and bars that are too aggressive when trying to lure in people with special deals or touts out front as those are the most common sites of scams and other crimes, including drink spiking.
Credit card fraud is sadly common throughout Poland, affecting both local Poles and foreigners. Always check the charges on your card carefully.
One common scam is criminals ringing hotel phones, pretending to be a receptionist that wants to check your credit card. Always go down to the reception desk to validate credit card information instead of reciting your valuable information over the phone.
Other street scams are also a risk in Poland.
The UK government warns its citizens about the prevalence of fraudulent taxis in Poland. Unregulated taxis usually overcharge their passengers, and in extreme cases rob and assault them.
Always use authorized taxis or cabs that you book through a ride-hailing app or from an official taxi stand. Official taxis will always have the company name and phone number on the door and a rate card clearly posted.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Poland overall is fairly safe, so there are few bad areas. Avoid the areas right by the borders with Ukraine and Belarus due to the deteriorating security situation.
The bigger cities of Warsaw and Krakow have a few high-crime areas, just like any other big city in the world. In Warsaw, avoid the northern part of the Praga neighborhood, Praga Polnoc, and Mokotow near Krolikarnia Park.
In Krakow, avoid Nowa Huta, which has a reputation for violent crime. If you are LGBT, avoid any of the municipalities that declared themselves “LGBT-free zones,” which include Swidnik, Tuchow, and other small towns.
Although these zones have been struck down by Polish law, these municipalities still have higher rates of homophobia.
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to consider before visiting Poland:
- Although Poland has a reputation for a hedonistic drinking culture, drinking outside is illegal and public drunkenness is strictly persecuted. Be careful when imbibing.
- Polish winters get very cold, so dress warmly if you visit during this season.
- Using a mobile phone while crossing the road is illegal and the police can fine you on the spot, so be alert while moving in traffic.
- Poland has very strict drug laws, so don’t indulge while you are in the country.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some other common questions that visitors to Poland asked in the past:
Is Poland safe to visit right now?
Yes, Poland is safe to visit right now. It’s actually one of the safest times to visit Poland since its crime rate is lower than ever.
Is Poland safe to visit due to Ukraine?
Most of Poland is safe to visit despite the war. However, avoid border areas with Ukraine or Belarus as there is a risk of fighting bleeding over.
Is it safe to go to Krakow?
Krakow is one of the safest cities in Europe, so you should have a great time when you visit. However, Krakow does attract a lot of pickpockets, so keep a close eye on your valuables when you visit.
Is it safe to go to Krakow despite the war?
Yes, Krakow is still safe to visit despite the war in Ukraine. Remember that Poland is a fairly big country and Krakow is located in the southwest of Poland, far away from the Ukrainian border and any potential dangers.
Is Warsaw safe at night?
Warsaw is a very safe city, during the day and at night. However, it does have some sketchy neighborhoods such as Praga that you should avoid after dark if you are by yourself.
So, Is Poland Safe to Visit?
Poland is one of the safest countries in the world to visit as it has a very low crime rate. As long as you take basic precautions such as holding on to your valuables, you should have a great time while you are there.
So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip today!