Poland offers travelers a myriad of options, whether that’s sifting through Teutonic knight lore at Malbork Castle, filling up on pierogi and ice cream while listening to a Chopin concert in Warsaw, or reflecting on the unspeakable horrors that occurred at Auschwitz.
For those looking to stay connected during their explorations, buying a SIM card is quick, painless, and inexpensive. You’ll be back on the tourist trail in no time, with downloads flowing as quickly as the ever-present Vistula river.
Here’s what you need to know.
Poland offers several choices when it comes to buying a SIM card, with four main cell networks to choose from: Orange, Play, Plus, and T-Mobile.
There are other options as well, but for the short-term traveler, these four will suffice. Each of the companies has about a quarter of the market, and their ongoing price wars lead to good deals for locals and visitors alike.
T-Mobile and Orange offer the best coverage across the country, with 4G/LTE available and common in the larger cities.
I chose Orange for two simple reasons: it was the network recommended by the attendant at my local kiosk, and had the best coverage throughout the country.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Poland
There are many ways to buy SIM cards and packages: in supermarkets, street kiosks, gas (petrol) stations, and official company stores. I purchased a SIM card from a street kiosk next to the Old Town in Warsaw, and the process was fast and simple, taking under 15 minutes.
Registering with your passport or national ID card is now mandatory when buying a SIM card in Poland, due to an anti-terrorism act that went into effect in 2016.
Because of this, it’s highly recommended to confirm during your purchase that the attendant has not just given you your SIM card package, but has activated the card as well.
This shouldn’t be a problem, and any helpful attendant will be more than willing to set everything up for you during purchase. That includes inserting and registering the SIM card, then confirming it’s all working properly via text messages from the cell company and a quick internet speed test.
Verifying everything before leaving the store or kiosk is much easier than trying to deal with non-activation later. A smile and humble attitude works wonders on reluctant attendants!
Prepaid SIM Costs
Orange has a few different starter packs available, so it’s easy to find one that fits your requirements. As an example, 30 zloty (~8 USD) gets unlimited domestic calls and texts and 15GB of data, valid for a month. This includes the SIM card, and a small amount of extra credit.
Unlimited plans are also available for 55 zloty/month, although speeds are limited after the first 15GB.
With Orange, you can check your zloty balance by dialing *124*#, and remaining data allowance by dialing *101*01#.
You can easily buy top-up vouchers in the same places you bought the SIM card, including street kiosks, stores, petrol stations, or online.
To top-up your Orange SIM, dial *125*[top-up code]#
Coverage and Data Speeds
Orange coverage was good throughout Poland. Speeds were extremely good in all tourist cities, slowing down (but still acceptable) in the countryside.
I did have a couple of issues, however. First, while taking the train from Warsaw to Gdansk, coverage dropped multiple times: not ideal for work, or if a constant connection is necessary.
Second, as with any cell company or city, the coverage dropped dramatically whenever I was inside the concrete buildings common in Warsaw or Krakow.
Poland is part of the European Union, so EU roaming regulations apply. These “roam like at home” rules ended roaming charges across much of Europe in 2017, letting you use a SIM card from any EU country across all the others at no extra charge.
There are some exceptions and limits, however, especially with large data packages. The main operators, including Orange, include a certain amount of roaming for free, with a surcharge after that. The 15GB package mentioned above, for instance, includes 2.5GB of roaming data. Double-check the exact details at time of purchase.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.