How to enjoy winter in Poland? Most of the travelers and tourists choose to visit Poland during the summer months. Yet, the other three seasons are also attractive and unique! Among them the coldest and whitest: Polish winter!
Winters in Poland can be cold, freezing, and snow-white. If you decide to travel to my country during winter or your stay is an extended one, including the cold season, it is good to prepare a bit in advance! Check the below winter survival kit! 🙂 It can either save you or provide you with some new insight about Poland! Stay warm and enjoy Poland!
WINTER IN POLAND
- The annual calendar marks three months as winter ones: December, January, and February. 1st December is the first day of meteorological winter in Poland.
- Astrological winter in 2021 will start on 21st December and will last for 89 days.
- Calendar winter in 2021 will start on 22nd December and will finish on 21st March 2022.
- The shortest day of the year in 2021 will be on 21st December. In my hometown, Gdansk, the day will last for 7 hours and 18 minutes, and it will be shorter than the longest day of the year (21st June) by 9 hours and 55 minutes!
- The lowest temperature ever noted in Poland was -41’c in Siedlce city in 1940.
- Warsaw’s average monthly temperatures in the winter months are December 0.5’c (32.9 F), January -1.9’c (28.5 F), and February -0.8’c (30.6 F).
HOME IN THE WINTER
A great thing about winter in Poland is that you shouldn’t be concerned about feeling warm at home or hotel. Flats and apartments have a central heating system. It starts to be functional in mid-autumn when temperatures drop, till early spring. Stand-alone houses are usually also equipped with heating solutions. Options can vary depending on individual decisions and budgets. Each year the central heating system might have 1-2 days of maintenance or some malfunction. It is practical to have a small electrical heater at home. During such nights it might be priceless!
Christmas time in Poland is beautiful, full of traditions and customs. It is so interesting that I wrote one post about it. You can find it here: Christmas Celebration In Poland. How Christmas relates to winter and weather? The chances of enjoying white Christmas in Poland are pretty low. The last time when the entire country was white, during Christmas, was in 2001 and 2002. Chances of snow are much higher in January and February!
KIDS IN THE WINTER
DRESS UP LIKE AN ONION
This item might be less liked. Yet, it is important to read! The weather in Poland during winter (and not only) is pretty unpredictable. How to avoid feeling cold when going outside? Dress like an onion. Usually, people, especially kids, wear multiple layers of clothes. It might be trousers and underpants or a t-shirt, blouse, and sweater. At least one won’t feel cold, and if suddenly it turns out to be too warm: one can always remove one layer!
Most of the kids love when the temperature drops to -20’c. Why? Low temperature can impact school operations, including their closure. If the temperature drops to -20’c or more, schools should be closed. That’s a general rule in the country. Of course, the approach doesn’t apply to online learning.
Children in Poland love winter, especially snow. Laptop and tv screens get replaced with sleds, skis, snowboards, ice-skates, ice-hockey, or simply snowballs! Children are used to dealing with low temperatures, icy hills, or snowy path walks. Just dress them up like an onion, and they will be all fine!
TRANSPORTATION IN THE WINTER
There are three major types of car tyres used in Poland. It can be universal ones (used all year long), summer ones, and winter ones. Most people use summer and winter tyres. It means that the car tyres are changed twice during the year. There are no fines for not using winter tires. However, a fine might be applicable if the car has tyres with a tread of less than 1.6 mm. Tyres with spikes are not allowed in Poland. Snow chains are allowed only when the entire road is covered with snow or ice, usually in the mountains.
UN-SNOW YOUR CAR
The fun part about winter and cars is un-snowing or unfreezing it early in the morning if no garage. People usually get up 20-30 minutes earlier for this ‘natural gym activity’. If snow is high, you might even struggle to find or recognize your car! Note two points here. Removing the snow or ice from a car should happen with the engine off. Risk: a fine. People should remove all the snow from the cars, including the roofs. Risk: a fine.
People with a garage feel super happy during the winter months. Removing the snow or unfreezing the cars is not needed unless someone parks somewhere outside during the day. If you are planning an extended stay or winter holidays in Poland, opt for the garage option!
OFFICE IN THE WINTER
DARK AND DARKER
On the shortest day of the year, last year, the sun rose at 7:44 AM and set at 3:24 PM (in the capital, Warsaw). What does it mean if someone starts the work at 7 AM or 8 AM? Going to work happens in the darkness, just like the way back home. It is kind of dark and darker. Initially, it might be difficult but very long summer days are rewarding!
Commuting to the work during the winter months might have its extended timeframes. Trains or buses might operate with a delay. Roads might be icy or covered with snow (if cleaning services do not remove snow on time). Driving would need extra time. Sometimes a few more minutes or more than an hour. Get ready for it!
One interesting item: do not be surprised to see people changing shoes in the office! Especially ladies. Yes, reaching office in the high-heels might be challenging in the winter days. So if you see a pair or two of high heels under a desk, smile. You are in Poland!
FOOD & DRINKS IN THE WINTER
WARMING UP MENU
Cold weather might require ‘warming up menu’ during the winter months. Following the summer months, people change their food preferences a bit. The food selection includes fewer cold drinks and soups, salads. Instead, people eat more warm soups, meat, and calories loaded food. Polish kitchens will smell of pumpkin, oranges, cinnamon, gingerbread, beetroots. One is sure: it will be yummy!
As the weather is colder in the winter months, many people change their drinking preferences. Beer, lemonades, and cocktails are often replaced with coffee, hot chocolate, mulled wine, or hot beer (known as grzane piwo or grzaniec). Try it!
Sipping hot drinks, people opt for two sitting options: inside or outside. Yes, even if the temperature is low (for example, around 0’c), don’t be surprised to see people enjoying their time while sitting outside. Most of the bars and restaurants provide warm blankets to cover. If your immunity is high, order something warm to drink and enjoy this polish style!
STAYING FIT IN THE WINTER
Winter swimming became a local tradition, practiced in Poland for centuries. Mielno town is an unofficial winter swimming capital in the country. In 2020, 6000 people gathered to swim together in the sea during four days event. The air temperature was 5’c, and the water was 4’c. In 2021, winter swimming became fashionable in Poland. As a result of the lockdown (including gyms closure), people started new sports activities. Winter swimming became trendy! Would you enter in cold water?
CYCLING – NO PROBLEM
Many people continue their healthy lifestyle in the winter. You might see people jogging, playing beach volleyball or even cycling, also in the snow! Life goes on! We are all used to the cold and winter months. It happens each year! 🙂
Polish mountaineers are known in the world as ‘Ice Warriors’. In 1980, they initiated winter Himalayan history by climbing Mount Everest, the first time in history, during winter. Polish climbers didn’t mark any of the first ascents of the 8,000-meter peaks (off winter season). Hence they embraced a new challenge, calling it ‘the art of suffering’. And they managed to climb 10 (out of 14) first 8,000ers in the winter. Impressive, right? And the creativity continues! In 2018, Andrzej Bargiel, a Polish ski mountaineer, climbed K2 with skis and made the world record of the first ski descent from K2! Who knows what is next for the Ice Warriors!
So how to enjoy winter in Poland?
- be ready for cold, snow, and freezing temperatures
- dress like an onion
- try new things (from hot beer to bum slider)
- get ready for crazy ideas and fun!
What’s your favorite thing about winter? Or what would you like to try? Share below!
Moments that matter, no matter the cold.