What NOT To Do In Poland?

Have you ever wondered what behavior is unaccepted in culture? You know what I mean, those gestures that are neutral in one country, but in another they might be an insult. Or those actions that in one place are totally acceptable, but in another place, you will be fined right away? Do you want to learn what NOT TO DO in Poland?

In this article, I will guide you through the cultural nuances and etiquette, so that your stay in Poland would be more enjoyable, and conscious. Save this article in your bookmarks, so you can have easy access to your cheat sheet when you find yourself wondering: What should I avoid in Poland?

What Not To Do In Poland?

Don’t Shake Hands Over the Doorstep.

Never shake hands, or even generally don’t greet another person over a doorstep.

It is an old belief, that this gesture is bad luck, and can bring the two persons into fights and arguments. If it happens that you forget about it, be sure, that the Polish person you are about to shake hands with, will first invite you to cross over to the doorstep get inside the room, and then greet you.

Don’t Wear Shoes Inside A Host House.

This one is a bit controversial. The tradition behind it is, that for centuries the majority of Poles worked in fields and in towns, and their shoes were in bad shape and in the dirt. It was easier to simply leave them outside, rather than clean them every single day.

Nowadays, if you are attending a house party where shoes are part of your outfit, it is best to leave your shoes on. However, if your visit is more of a hang-out-together time, you can take your shoes off. You might even be offered guest slippers.

Don’t Jaywalk In Poland

It is ok when you are in rural places, and you assume there is no zebra crossing anywhere near, plus no cars on the road. But if you are in towns and cities, jaywalking is a BIG NO.

As a pedestrian, you have priority on the road, and a car coming to the crossing must let you go first. But if you try to cross illegally, you risk a fine, police have 0 tolerance for it.

Don’t Ignore The Road Traffic Rules

Anywhere you go, first research local speed limitations and general road traffic regulations. Knowing what not to do in Poland while driving, might save some cash on your holiday budget.

There is no tolerance for disobeying road traffic laws in Poland. If the police see you breaking the law, they will pull you over.

Don’t Drink And Drive

Another strict rule in road traffic regulations. There is 0 tolerance for alcohol consumption and driving. Not even a glass of wine, or half pint at your diner.

You will be better off arranging a taxi to take you back. If caught drunk and driving, you risk losing your driving license for 6 months, and the fine starts from 2500 PLN.

Don’t go Into Dodgy Places After Dark

Or even during the day. Poland, in general, is a safe country, with a low crime rate, however, there still are places, that it’s better to avoid.

If you find yourself in a place that doesn’t look friendly, and there are no people around, find your way back to the safer locations. Trust your gut on this one, not all places must be explored.

Don’t Flash The Headlights In Poland.

If you ask yourself the question: Can you blink in Poland? The answer is NO!

While very common, and many drivers in Poland do communicate this way, especially warning about the police radar ahead, this action is illegal, unless you are warning others about danger.

The reason for the act of headlight flashing being illegal is not only that speeding should be punished and not covered. The bigger deal behind it is that you never know who the police are waiting for, and you might be warning a thief or a kidnapper.

Don’t Assume Poles Are The Same With Russians

Although to someone not familiar with Slavic languages Polish and Russians sound very similar, and we look alike, Poles are not Russians. The culture and the mindset are totally different.

The countries, Poland of Russia, have a long history of wars, and a dislike, and no history of friendly relations.

Don’t Ignore The Polish History.

Unless you are knowledgeable about Polish history, talking about is one thing you should avoid in Poland. Poles as a nation struggled a lot over the centuries, therefore, show respect to the road Poland has been through and don’t give judgment.

Poles like to talk about the brave moments from the past, and about the tough ones too, but only if they see, that the listeners pay attention.

Don’t Litter In Poland

Or anywhere else in the world, for a matter of fact. Poland is a clean country; you won’t find a mess on the streets. Keep it that way.

If you throw a paper on the street, there is a big chance a passerby will point to you that you just dropped something.

Don’t Pay With The Big Bills For Small Items

More and more Poles use electronic checkout exclusively, therefore there is often a shortage of small change to give back to the cash customer.

If you are not keen to use your visa and prefer cash payments, make sure to always have a smaller bill rather than one big one. A big bill starts from 50 PLN.

Don’t Be Surprised, When Told The Truth

I am not sure if this is good or bad, but Poles usually share their opinion, even when they shouldn’t. So, if you ask someone, how was their day, or what they think about a given topic, you will be told exactly how it was, and what they think.

And it is good to know, that Poles will make extended eye contact during conversation. There are no strings attached to it. It is just how we keep conversation.

Don’t Overlook The Beauty Of Poland.

I might have given the impression, that there are many rules to memorize before coming to Poland. But don’t worry, the Poles are very welcoming, and you will be fine. Enjoy your stay, visit places, try food, meet people, and make memories.

Don’t Forget To Do The Research When Planning A Trip To Poland.

Good research is a key to well-spent time in another country. Browse through our articles, and you will find out all you need to know, to plan and organize a trip to Poland. Below are links to the most visited.:

3 Responses

  1. Another rule: never give a Polish woman a dozen roses. In fact, never give anyone an even number of floral blooms. Always give an odd number.

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My name is Karolina, I was born and raised in Poland. I love my homeland. Even though I’ve been to 50+ countries in the world I’ve never hesitated to make Poland my base!

My mission is to show you the beauty of Poland and help you plan your trip!

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