The legal tender in Poland is the Polish złoty (zł, international abbreviation: PLN). The złoty divides into 100 grosze. Poland is expected to adopt the Euro (€) sometime after 2020, but those plans are still tentative.
Private currency exchange offices (Polish: kantor) are very common, and offer Euro or USD exchanges at rates that are usually comparable to commercial banks. Be aware that exchanges in tourist hot-spots, such as the train stations or popular tourist destinations, tend to overcharge. Avoid "Interchange" Kantor locations, easily recognised by their orange colour; the rates they offer are very bad.
There is also an extensive network of cash machines or ATMs (Polish: bankomat). The exchange rate will depend on your particular bank, but usually ends up being pretty favorable, and comparable to reasonably good exchange offices, but you will probably find very high "service fees" in your bank statement when you get home.
Credit cards can be used to pay almost everywhere in the big cities. Popular cards include Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard and Maestro. AmEx and Diners' Club can be used in a few places (notably the big, business-class hotels) but are not popular and you should not rely on them for any payments.
Cheques were never particularly popular in Poland and they are not used nowadays. Local banks do not issue cheque books to customers and stores do not accept them.
Linguistic note: Polish has two types of plural numbers, which you are likely to encounter when dealing with currency. Here are the noun forms to expect:
It is illegal to export goods older than 55 years that are of ANY historic value. If you intend to do so you need to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Hypermarkets are dominated by western chains: Carrefour, Tesco, Auchan, Real, Biedronka, Lidl, Netto. Some are open 24 hours a day. Usually located in shopping malls or suburbs.
However Poles shop very often at local small stores for bread, meat, fresh dairy, vegetables and fruits - goods for which freshness and quality is essential.
Prices in Poland are around to be one of the lowest in EU.
Many towns, and larger suburbs, hold traditional weekly markets, similar to farmers' markets popular in the West. Fresh produce, baker's goods, dairy, meat and meat products are sold, along with everything from flowers and garden plants to Chinese-made clothing and bric-a-brac. In season wild mushrooms and forest fruit can also be bought. Markets are held on Thursdays / Fridays and/or Saturdays and are a great way to enjoy the local colour. Prices are usually set though you can try a little good-natured bargaining if you buy more than a few items.
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