Using your phone in Poland can be an expensive business, especially if you’re travelling in from outside the European Union and want to use a lot of data. Here’s how to buy a Polish SIM card to keep your costs down.
Złote Tarasy shopping mall
Mobile Roaming For EU Citizens
Any EU citizen should be able to use their existing mobile contract in Poland, exactly as they would at home, with no extra charges. This means calls and data are available to you the minute you step off the plane. Check your provider’s fair usage policy before you leave and make sure that overseas use is activated on your phone.
Similarly, if you’re travelling and bought a SIM in another EU country, it will usually be valid in Poland too.
Mobile Roaming For UK Citizens
Most UK contracts no longer allow free roaming in the EU. The situation is fluid and may even vary from contract to contract from the same provider, so generalised advice is not reliable here.
On the other hand, it is usually possible to pay a fee, which extends your contract to the EU. Mine is currently £2 per day. This may cost a bit more than buying a new SIM in Poland but still low enough to be acceptable to you.
The basic takeaway is to check the specifics for your own contract with your provider before you travel.
Mobile Roaming For Non-EU / UK Citizens
Even if your contract is based in a country that is not covered by EU roaming, your current provider may still have a compelling offer. It’s always worth checking before you travel, then comparing to how much a Polish SIM will cost.
General Advice For Buying A Polish SIM Card
If you need to buy a SIM for use in Poland, you’ll need an unlocked device and some form of ID, most likely a passport.
Remember, you will temporarily have a new phone number, which may have unintended consequences. It’s worth putting a bit of thought into this before you commit.
There is a range of possible Polish phone providers, including some budget offers. For simplicity and service, however, the three main brands are Orange, Plus, or T-Mobile. Each of these have local branches across Poland, so you can easily pop in and get your SIM set up or troubleshoot. Furthermore, you need to register with some form of ID, making a person-to-person consultation somewhat necessary.
Please note: Although a member of the European Union, Poland does not adhere to the same fair use policy as phone providers in other countries. If you buy a SIM in Poland and try to use it in another EU country, you’ll only get a faction of the data allowance. A Polish package with 10GB of data, for example, will only give you 1.6GB elsewhere. Basically, if you’re looking for a SIM to travel through Europe, Poland is not the country to buy it.
Of the main providers, we currently recommend Orange, as they have specific packages and services aimed at foreign travellers. They currently advertise a package of unlimited calls and messages, with 30 GB of data for 31zł (roughly 7€). They also have the best 4G coverage in the country. See section below for details of how to set-up.
Relay store Warsaw Chopin Airport
Buying A SIM Card At Warsaw Airport
Unlike many other airports, Warsaw Chopin has no dedicated mobile phone or SIM card shops, so we recommend you wait until you reach central Warsaw to tackle this.
If you need to get online straightaway, the airport offers free and unlimited WiFi. Just connect to the “Chopin-Airport” network and follow the instructions on screen. You don’t need to register any details. You’ll need to log in again after two hours but can reconnect as many times as you like.
Warsaw Chopin also has limited power points in the walls near the main seating areas, although you may be lucky to find one free. You’ll need the correct plug or adapter.
And you can make free calls to Polish mobile and landlines from one of the yellow public phones in various locations around the airport. You’ll find one of these in Arrivals, under the escalator, close to the Meeting Point.
If none of these meet your needs and you can’t wait until you get into town, you can buy a SIM from the Relay store, close to Arrivals 1 (6am-9pm). The shop is bright red, so you can’t miss it. However, I cannot vouch for the package or set-up here and the staff may not be able to answer every question. Relay also has a decent selection of phone accessories, such as headphones and powerbanks. You can also buy a plug adapter, if you need one.
Orange store Złote Tarasy
Buying A SIM Card In Złote Tarasy
The main phone providers have branches all over Warsaw, but one of the easiest places to compare different deals is in the Złote Tarasy shopping mall, very close to the landmark Palace of Culture and Science building, right in the centre of Warsaw. The centre has Plus, Orange, and T-Mobile stores, all on Level 0. See the map below. The centre is open 9am-10pm Monday to Saturday and 9am-9pm on Sundays.
You want one of the Dworzec Centralny bus stops, use the Jakdojade journey planner to work out how to get there.
Simply go into one of the stores and ask to buy a SIM card. Every outlet should have staff that speak good English and they will help you find the most suitable deal. Get the rep to set up the SIM and make sure it’s registered before you leave the store. You’ll need an unlocked phone and your passport.
Of course, you may have specific needs, such as international calling, so shop around and see what each of them can offer. You can also ask about tethering and mobile broadband hubs if you need to get online with a tablet or laptop. However, once you’ve decided, it should take less than 10 minutes to get everything sorted out.
There is also free WiFi and charging points in the Złote Tarasy mall.
Buying An Orange SIM Card
While it is worth spending 30 minutes comparing deals, we currently recommend Orange, as they have specific packages aimed at foreign travellers. They also have the best 4G coverage in the country.
At time of writing, they are advertising unlimited calls and messages, with 30 GB of data for 31zł (roughly 7€). However, you should explain any specific needs upfront, as what you see is not always what you get and there will be restrictions on overseas calls, for example. Most of all, the mobile market is always fluid, with ever-changing products and contracts. So, make sure you know what you’re signing up to!
Regardless, the set-up is a simple process:
- Buy an initial starter SIM and swap it for any existing card in the phone. You can get these from many shops and kiosks, but it makes sense to buy from the Orange store in Złote Tarasy. You have a choice of either buying the cheapest possible, then upgrading to the unlimited package, or just buying a starter that covers your likely needs. But remember, you’ll likely be drawing on a lot more data than you would at home, so don’t underestimate what you need!
- You’ll also need to register your starter SIM, which is another reason why we suggest using an official Orange store. You’ll need your passport for this. Get the staff member to check the SIM is set-up and working properly.
- You may be happy that your starter SIM will cover your trip. You can also ask about options for topping up.
- Otherwise, you can set up the GetUnlimited package there and then. You could also activate online, via the My Orange app (which you’ll need to download first), by texting START CYKL to 630, or calling *101*2*31#. There’s also an English-speaking helpline on +48 510 100 100.
- However, this is also best done in store, as the offer may have changed or there may be a more appropriate tariff for your trip. If a member of staff talks you through the process, you’ll know exactly what you’re committing to.
- Once your trip is over, you can simply switch the SIMs back over and your phone should work as before.
Provided your phone has the functionality, it is possible to buy an eSIM for Poland, so you’re ready for action the minute you step off the plane.
But, as you cannot test these in advance, you may end up wasting your money, and these usually end up costing more than a local SIM anyway. Watch this space.
Similarly, I would avoid any Polish SIMs listed for sale on Amazon.
Finally, international SIM cards are really tailored to business travellers who frequently hop from country to country but, I would say, they don’t really meet the needs of tourists and other kinds of travellers.
Warsaw SIM Card Map
You can find the Złote Tarasy shopping mall and mobile providers listed above in the Warsaw map below.
Each type of landmark has a different colour marker on the map:
- YELLOW: Warsaw Sightseeing
- BLUE: Warsaw Hotels
- RED: Warsaw Places To Eat – Michelin restaurants are DARK RED
- ORANGE: Warsaw Nightlife
- PURPLE: Shopping In Warsaw
- GREEN: Warsaw Transportation
Click on a marker and it will give you the name of the landmark, with a brief description and links for more information and directions. You can pan, scroll, and zoom around the map, or use the + or – buttons in the bottom left of the map to zoom in and out.
Click on the icon in the top left corner for an index of every location, sorted by category. Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want. Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
Each category is on a different layer, which can be switched on and off. So you can just see the Hotel or Restaurant pins, for example.
If you are using the map on your phone, open the Visit Warsaw map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.