A fascinating country with an intriguing past and an exciting future, Poland is one of the most visited nations in Central Europe. It's divided up into 16 regions and is known for its historic and cultural towns and cities like Krakow, Warsaw, and Wroclaw. Many visitors to Poland spend their time exploring these cities or heading out to the nation’s forests and natural spaces for hikes and recreation.
No matter where you're heading to in Poland, you need to have some money with you to cover the cost of goods, services, transport, and more. Despite being a member state of the European Union, it's important to note that Poland does not use the euro as its official currency. Read on to learn all you need to know about Polish currency, along with some tips on spending money in Poland.
Official Currency in Poland
The official currency used in Poland today is the Polish zloty. The word 'zloty' means 'golden' in English, and the zloty has been used in Poland for several centuries now, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. The specifics and values of the zloty system have changed over time.
A single US dollar is usually worth between 3 and 4 zloty, but the value of this currency rises and falls each and every day. A single zloty is divided up into 100 groszy. The singular form of groszy is grosz, while the plural form of zloty is zlotych. The symbol used to denote prices in zloty is simply 'zl' and the ISO code for this currency is PLN.
Coins and Notes in Poland
Coins and notes have been used in Poland for many years now. You can find the following coins being used in the Polish zloty currency system:
- 1 gr
- 2 gr
- 5 gr
- 10 gr
- 20 gr
- 50 gr
- 1 zl
- 2 zl
- 5 zl
Differentiating between the different Polish zloty coins is relatively easy due to their differing colors and designs. Each coin is clearly marked with its monetary value. The single grosz coin is copper colored, while the 2 gr and 5 gr coins are more golden in hue. The 10 gr, 20 gr, 50 gr, and 1 zl coins are made of cupronickel, and the 2 zl and 5 zl coins feature an outer ring of one metal and an inner ring of a different composition. The zloty coins are also decorated with the Polish coat of arms.
In terms of notes, you can find the following denominations being used in Poland:
- 10 zl
- 20 zl
- 50 zl
- 100 zl
- 200 zl
- 500 zl
The notes used in Poland follow a simple color-coding system, making it easy to tell one apart from the others at a glance. Going from lowest value to highest, the colors of the notes are as follows: brown, violent, blue, green, orange, and multicolor. The notes feature a ruler of Poland on one side, with examples being Wladyslaw II Jagiello and Sigismund I Stary, and various historical images and symbols on the other side. The more valuable notes are physically larger than the lesser notes.
Using Credit Cards in Poland
Poland is mostly a cash-based country, but cards are becoming more and more popular too. As the years go by, the statistics for transactions in Poland show that credit and debit cards are being used with increasingly regularity, and most shops, restaurants, and other establishments are starting to accept card payments.
In general, this means that visitors to Poland will need to keep some cash on their person at all times, as you can never be quite sure whether or not a location will take cards. If you’re in a big city like Warsaw or Krakow, however, cards will be accepted in the vast majority of places.
Using US Dollars or Other Currencies in Poland
The zloty is the only accepted currency in Poland. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to pay with any other currency, so be sure to prepare accordingly and get some zloty either before you arrive or when you get to Poland.
Tips for Currency in Poland
By following these top tips for money in Poland, you’ll have a great time and shouldn’t encounter any issues.
- Remember that cash is still king in Poland, so if you’re used to paying with your card or phone all the time, you might need to make an adjustment. Plenty of places take cards, but most transactions in Poland happen with cash.
- It’s a good idea to keep lots of coins on your person as a lot of the smaller vendors you meet along the way won’t always be able to give you change for large notes. In general, paying with the exact change or getting as close as possible to the exact amount is the best way to go pay in Poland.
- Use ATMs to withdraw cash for the best exchange rates, but beware. Many banks will charge you additional money every time you use your card at an international ATM, and these charges can quickly add up if you use ATMs every day.
- There are cases of ATM fraud and scams in Poland, so keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior near the machines. The indoor ATMs are generally regarded as safer than the outdoor ones.
- You’ll find a lot of ‘kantor’ which are essentially currency exchange offices, around the big cities in Poland. They often offer quite good rates when converting major currencies like euros or US dollars.
- Traveler’s checks aren’t really used in Poland anymore, but you might be able to find some hotels that accept them.
- Poland doesn't have the same tipping culture as the United States, but workers like waiters, drivers, and tour guides will always appreciate a few extra zloty for their services.