Return PolishForums LIVE
  PolishForums Archive :
Archives - 2005-2009 / Travel  % width 21

Driving to Zakopane from England


Torz 1 | 2  
19 Aug 2009 /  #1
Hello

My family & myself are discussing driving to Zakopane in February 2010 & we are hoping to have a couple of things cleared up.

Firstly, there is a rather large group of us going, my parents & nephew will be in their own car, posibly my brother driving his small van & myself, my partner, two friends & their two children hiring a minibus.

We have been to Zakopane a few times in February now for skiing holidays & we love it. we normally fly there from East Midlands Airport but this year our plane was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions & we lost quite a few days of our holiday. We decided we would like to try driving across insead as there are more advantages for us e.g. not restricted with luggage, will have vehicles to drive to ski resorts instead of taxi etc

My dad has driven to Poland many times now but only ever in summer. This year while we were traveling from Zakopane to Krakow on a bus i was talking to a native Polish guy who lives in the UK but was holidaying in Poland. I told him of my idea to drive over next year for our skiing holiday & he informed me that our vehicle will need winter tyres.

I have never heard of winter tyres before. I've been searching on the internet to find out some information & i'm getting very conflicted information, most sites tell me it is only a recomendation & not law, a couple of sites tell me its law, some sites tell me that to drive there in winter the vehicle is required to have snow chains.

If we were required to have winter tyres by law how would we go about changing them? Do we have winter tyres here in the UK, they are not something i have ever heard of. Would we have to have the tyres changed once we reached Poland or Germany?

Would the hire vehicle be required to have the tyres changed too?

Please help, we are wanting to start planning & booking but this is holding us back a little.

Any other information regarding driving in Poland, the law, general information & customs would also be a great help.

Thankyou,

Torz x
dnz 17 | 710  
19 Aug 2009 /  #2
Continental do a fantastic all weather tyre which isn't too expensive you can order them in the uk, blackcircles.com or camskill do some good deals mail order, make sure you have esp/abs etc as it makes for better snow driving, Ideally use something 4wd like an impreza, audi quattro etc, My M3 used to get stuck for a past time :) I've driven through germany all times of the year and never really bothered with winter tyres just good all weather ones. Toyo proxy t1r are good in the snow due to their V shaped tread pattern but not ideal but better than most.

If you need help with your tyres pm me the tyre siza and i'll have a look for you (the numbers on the sidewall, ie 205/40/r17)

Tyre chains are generally banned on the road between zakapane and krakow and aren't really necessary in all honesty. If you hire a car in PL or ze fazzerland it will come fitted with suitable tyres so don't worry about that.

make sure you have european breakdown cover, I use green flag and they are excellent, recovered my Audi from a french autoroute and towed it all the way back to cornwall when the gearbox spewed its guts.

Driving in Poland is very differerent to in the UK and Germany due to the fact that all other roadusers are in fact incompetent egotistical idiots who overtake in stupid places and have no regard for other motorists. Theres other threads about this on here.

Make sure you have the full compliment of totally unecessary equipment in your car including warning triangle, first aid kit, spare bulbs, Fire extinguisher and those stupid high visability vests.

Regarding the ferry Norfolklines dover to dunkirk route is the cheapest at £30 each way on a roll up basis.

hope this helps
OP Torz 1 | 2  
19 Aug 2009 /  #3
Thankyou, you have been most helpful.

i've been looking at minibus rental & I see that some do a winter package for driving in Europe so I think i will look at getting quotes off of these companys that way we know the vehicle will be legal either way.
dnz 17 | 710  
19 Aug 2009 /  #4
I don't think its so much as a legal requirement just highly recommended, If you are renting a minibus avoid anything transit or mercedes sprinter based as they are rear wheel drive and not as easy to control in icy conditions. Try and get a VW transporter or similar as they are front wheel drive with the engine directly over the front wheels helping with traction.
OP Torz 1 | 2  
19 Aug 2009 /  #5
Thankyou I will keep that in mind while getting quotes.
inkrakow  
19 Aug 2009 /  #6
I have a 4wd audi and if it's snowed heavily and the road hasn't been cleared properly, sometimes I struggle, even with winter tyres. Add to that the fact that Polish drivers aren't the best in the world as dnz rightly points out, my view is that you'd be mad to travel into the mountains on summer-only tyres in winter.
Wroclaw Boy  
19 Aug 2009 /  #7
My rear wheel drive Mercedes handles terribly on snow and ice even with winter tyres. If you have snow in Zakopane whilst you stay you'll almost definetly need to dig the car out and probably push it. Snow or all round tyres are a good idea for ski resorts.

The roads all around Zakopane are well cleared in the winter so dont worry once your on the main drags. But the road from Krakow to Zakopane is a nightmare i drove that this year in January and i was shocked. Fast lanes over blind hills with side roads and no access lanes just straight onto the main road. Its no wonder they call it Death Road. Ive been here for a while and driven thousands of miles but that road was a nightmare especially at night and with torrential snow.

Good info from dnz.
dnz 17 | 710  
19 Aug 2009 /  #8
But the road from Krakow to Zakopane is a nightmare i drove that this year in January and i was shocked.

That road is however a great driving road when theres no snow at night with no traffic :) I had an awesome drive up there once, Theres some corners where the camber of the road is a bit dodgy and your heart misses a beat but it can be great fun.

This is how to have fun in the snow with a 4wd car an old bodyboard and a length of rope :D
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
19 Aug 2009 /  #9
our vehicle will need winter tyres.

you need them.
use the search box in the top right to look for info.
check click here and here .

But the road from Krakow to Zakopane is a nightmare

i live there ;p
jolamac  
18 Sep 2009 /  #10
taking a ferry from Dover to Dunkierka
Try this website: norfolkline.pl
ukpolska  
18 Sep 2009 /  #11
That is the most pointless advice I have ever seen lol
dnz 17 | 710  
18 Sep 2009 /  #12
it is cheaper though, i usually pay £30 each way just turning up at the port.
lolozabojat - | 7  
29 Oct 2009 /  #13
I think it is not obligatory but advised to have winter tyres in the south of Poland in February around Cracow and Zakopane.
What you can do if you have place in your van/car is to have 2 sets of tyres and then find a mechanic to change them overthere if it is getting to slippery in winter while your stay there.Thecost would be around 60 PLN to change tyres .

If yoy need comfy accomodation at very affordable price, with undergroud parking and storage box ....please contact us at info@ogrodygorskie.pl

Thanks
jonni 16 | 2,485  
29 Oct 2009 /  #14
I think it is not obligatory but advised to have winter tyres in the south of Poland in February

Not obligatory, but many insurance policies require it. Check yours - if you have an accident and don't have them (but should), your insurance company might not pay out.
mikeyst25 5 | 16  
4 Nov 2009 /  #15
i have got to say september 11 i arrived in poland i went to zakopane and it was a great 2 weeks that i was there. plus krakow was amazing.

great food, great people, great clubs
CiniO - | 3  
22 Nov 2009 /  #16
I don't know where you found information that winter tyres are required by law, but that's not true though.

In few European countries winter tyres are strongly advised or required in mountain regions - but not in Poland.

Other thing is, that if you're going to Zakopane region in winter time, driving on snowy roads without winter tyres can be very difficult and dangerous. So if you can, try to get a set of good winter tyres. But it's just advice. They're not legal requirement.

make sure you have esp/abs etc as it makes for better snow driving,

To be honest, where abs/esp can help greatly on wet surface, on snow they are not very good thing.
On snow most likely you could stop the car without abs faster that one with abs.
ESP can do different upredictable things on snow.
Better prepare yourself to handle car on snow, f.e by training recovering from skids, and not trust your car electronics too much.

Tyre chains are generally banned on the road between zakapane and krakow and aren't really necessary in all honesty. If you hire a car in PL or ze fazzerland it will come fitted with suitable tyres so don't worry about that.

Tyre chains are banned on roads without snow.
Whenever there is snow on the road you can use them.
But to be honest, most roads you can easily travel with winter tyres, and you won't need chains. Maybe some few really steep local roads might get some use from chains, but i don't thing you'll need them.

Driving in Poland is very differerent to in the UK and Germany due to the fact that all other roadusers are in fact incompetent egotistical idiots who overtake in stupid places and have no regard for other motorists. Theres other threads about this on here.

I know there is many drivers like this, but don't say everybody behaves this way.
I'd say maybe 20% of drivers drive dangerously or very dangerously. Everyone else is fine.

Make sure you have the full compliment of totally unecessary equipment in your car including warning triangle, first aid kit, spare bulbs, Fire extinguisher and those stupid high visability vests.

That's not true.
Only legal requirement in Poland is warning triangle and fire extingusher. You don't need to have first aid kid, spare bulbs or high visibility vest.

Moreover it's only required from cars registered in Poland. According to Vienna Convention, in international traffic, cars are only expected to have equipment required in country of registration.

So you, as a driver from UK don't need to have anything from this list.
If Police will try to give you penalty for lack of one of there, just show them the part from Vienna convention of international traffic.

You can print the act before travel.
jonni 16 | 2,485  
22 Nov 2009 /  #17
I don't know where you found information that winter tyres are required by law, but that's not true though.

That's right, they aren't required by law.

They are however a condition of some (even most) insurance policies here in Poland, and when an accident occurs and the person should have winter tyres but doesn't, the insurance company will not pay out.

If you have car insurance here in PL, it's well worth checking the conditions of your policy about this.
Steveramsfan 2 | 306  
22 Nov 2009 /  #18
Its not Law in Germany to have winter tyres but.....

If you have an accident with summer tyres and it could have been avoided if you had winter tyres, you will be held liable for the accident and your insurance will be invalid.

There was heavy snow around Berlin February this year and winter tyres would have been handy. I now have winter tyres and snow chains :)
CiniO - | 3  
22 Nov 2009 /  #19
jonni

That's right, they aren't required by law.

They are however a condition of some (even most) insurance policies here in Poland, and when an accident occurs and the person should have winter tyres but doesn't, the insurance company will not pay out.

If you have car insurance here in PL, it's well worth checking the conditions of your policy about this.

Again I must disagree.
Third party compulsory insuances are regulated by Polish Insuarance Act, which sets exact rules for insurances. And there is not a single word about winter tyres. So you don't need to have winter tyres to make your insurance work.

Own car accident insurance (known usually in UK as Comprehensive) rules are up to the insurance company. But I never heard yet, about any insurance company in Poland, that would expect you to have winter tyres.

I had many cars in Poland, always studied my insurance terms and conditions, and never found anything about winter tyres

Steveramsfan

Its not Law in Germany to have winter tyres but.....

If you have an accident with summer tyres and it could have been avoided if you had winter tyres, you will be held liable for the accident and your insurance will be invalid.

That's actually true.
But it's in Germany, and we were talking about Poland.
Steveramsfan 2 | 306  
22 Nov 2009 /  #20
But it's in Germany, and we were talking about Poland.

:) I know. He must drive through Germany to get to Poland :) He is driving from the UK.

A2 accross Germany to Berlin. A13 and A15 to Cotbuss. A18 from the border to the A4. A4 to Krakow.
CiniO - | 3  
22 Nov 2009 /  #21
Steveramsfan

A2 accross Germany to Berlin. A13 and A15 to Cotbuss. A18 from the border to the A4. A4 to Krakow.

So as you can see these are all motorways.
It's quite unlikely that there'll be snow on them.
Of course it's possible, but if I had to go though Germany only on motorways, I wouldn't bother buying winter tyres intentionally for it.

Archives - 2005-2009 / Travel / Driving to Zakopane from EnglandArchived