Using your phone in Poland can be an expensive business, especially if you’re travelling in from outside the European Union and want to use a lot of data. Instead, you should buy a Polish SIM card to keep your costs down
Orange store Galeria Krakowska – image © Jason Weaver
Any visiting EU citizen should be able to use their existing mobile contract in Poland exactly as they would at home, with no extra charges. This means calls and data are available to you the minute you step off the plane. Make sure you check your provider’s fair usage policy before you leave and that overseas use is activated on your phone. Similarly, if you’re travelling and bought a SIM in another EU country, it will often be valid in Poland too.
If you need to buy a SIM for use in Poland, you’ll need an unlocked device and a form of ID, most likely a passport.
Please note: Although a member of the European Union, Poland does not adhere to the same fair use policy as phone providers in other countries. If you buy a SIM in Poland and try to use it in another EU country, you’ll only get a faction of the data allowance. A Polish package with 10GB of data, for example, will only give you 1.6GB elsewhere. Basically, if you’re looking for a SIM to travel through Europe, Poland is not the country to buy it.
At Kraków Airport
Unlike many other airports, John Paul II International has no dedicated mobile phone or SIM card shops, so we recommend you wait until you reach central Kraków to tackle this.
If you urgently need to get online or use your email, the airport offers 15 minutes of free wifi. It’s slow but doesn’t require an email address to log in. Just select ‘KRK Free WiFi’ in your wifi settings and the login screen will pop up. Unfortunately you can’t pay to extend this.
Kraków Airport free public phone – image © Jason Weaver
There are also a number of yellow phones around the airport that let you call any Polish landline or mobile number for free, which is handy if you need to contact your hotel or similar. Go to the baggage drop off in the Check-in Hall and you’ll find one to the left of the escalator. They’re easy to miss, so ask a member of staff if you can’t find one.
Furthermore, there are also recharging points all over the airport, both in the cafés and general waiting areas. These have plug rather than USB sockets, so you’ll also need the correct adapter to use them.
Relay store Kraków Airport – image © Jason Weaver
If none of these meet your needs and you can’t wait until you get into town, you can buy a SIM from Relay. From Arrivals, turn left and walk towards the Check-in Hall for a couple of minutes. The shop is bright red, so you can’t miss it.
The different SIM packages are arranged to the right of the sales counter in cardboard envelopes with the calls and data clearly marked on the packaging. The staff will be helpful but may not be able to answer every question. Relay also has a decent selection of phone accessories, such as headphones and powerbanks. You can also buy a plug adapter if necessary. See section below for general advice on buying a SIM in Kraków.
At Galeria Krakowska
If you’re arriving from Kraków Airport via train or bus, the chances are you’ll pass through the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall. Located just five minutes from the Old Town, this temple of commerce has pretty much everything the traveller could need, including SIM cards.
Arrivals to the train and bus station are led directly into the basement of the mall – the perfect place to get your tech needs seen to. Look for the McDonald’s to your left and a small Carrefour to the right. Stay on this floor and carry on straight ahead, past the escalator. Look for the bright orange fascia of the ING Bank, shops for all four main mobile providers are in this section of the mall. Orange, Plus, and T-Mobile are all within clear eyesight of the bank, whilst the PLAY store is opposite Burger King in the next aisle.
Orange has the best network and, at time of writing, offers a prepaid package of 10GB data plus unlimited calls and texts for 25zł (less than 6€ per month). Of course, you may have specific needs, such as international calling, so shop around and see what each of them can offer. Every outlet should speak good English and will try to help you find the most suitable deal.
Get the rep to set up the SIM and make sure it’s registered before you leave the store. You can also ask about tethering and mobile broadband hubs if you need to get online with a tablet or laptop.
MediaMarkt Galeria Krakowska – image © Jason Weaver
If you don’t have an unlocked phone, you can buy a basic handset at the same time as the SIM. However, you might be better off going to the massive MediaMarkt store first. It’s next to the escalators, on the same level of the mall, and sells a comprehensive range of technology. You’ll find a broader range of phones for sale and more chance of a bargain.
If your phone needs a boost or you need to get online quickly, there are charging points built into Krakowska’s seating and free wifi throughout the mall.