Throughout the 21st century, bike sharing systems have gained popularity in large modern cities.
Poland is no exception. There is one main bike sharing company in Poland, NextBike (in red below), and a few smaller others - and they operate in dozens of cities,
big and small, across the country. Below is a map of all of them.
how to rent
In this article, we will mostly focus on NextBike's rental system - other companies, and BikeU in particular (operating in Cracow and Bydgoszcz), have very similar systems.
Fundamentally, to rent a bike, you need to make an account using a dedicated app or website. Below are the names of the bike sharing systems in every individual major city in Poland. Simply Google the name of the system to find a website or app to register an account with.
bike sharing system names in large cities (alphabetically)
After you've made your account, you need to pay a deposit fee. This is usually around 10 zł [2.3 EUR].
A deposit of 10 zł means that, to rent a bike, you must always have at least 10 zł on your account.
If you have less than 10 zł, you must always top up your account by card through the website or app.
Please note that you can usually not top up your account for less than 10 zł [2.3 EUR] at a time.
After you have made an account and paid the deposit, you can rent your bike. To do this, find a bike rental station
using the website or app (in large cities they are everywhere). Then, scan the barcode on the bike using the app or website - this will release the bike from
the station. You are now good to go.
Cracow station map
Warsaw station map
There is a known bug in which a rented bike is not automatically released from the station. If a bike is locked in place even after
it has been rented through the website or app, it will be recognized by the system within 10 minutes and you will not be charged.
To return the bike, you must find a bike rental station using the website or app, and lock it into the station (this will be very
easy once you're there). If there are no available docking mechanisms, the app/website will instruct you to lock your bike onto another bike
using the provided bike lock. You can also go look for another station. Your journey is now complete.
Warsaw's bike sharing
Cracow's locking mechanism
The price depends on the time, and you pay for each begun hour. It is dirt cheap to use bike sharing in Poland - though the price per hour
increases for each hour the bike has been rented. The first 20 minutes are free - then, you are charged up to 1 zł [0.23 EUR] for the first hour,
3 zł [0.7 EUR] for the second, 5 zł [1.2 EUR] for the third, and 7 zł [1.6 EUR] for the fourth and every subsequent hour (per bike).
With one account, you can rent up to 4 bikes simultaneously. If you want to rent a bike for a day or more, we recommend
getting one through a non-bike-sharing rental company.
Regular bike rental is great if you want to rent a bike for a couple of days. It is also a very simple process.
You simply Google whether your city has a bike rental company (large cities generally do - and they're called wypożyczalnia rowerów in Polish), go there,
pick your bikes and, optionally, gear, leave some identification or a copy of it as a deposit, and
pay once you return the bikes.
bikes for rental in Gdańsk
bikes for rental in Zakopane
Prices largely depend on the type of bike you want to rent. However, a good estimate is around 50 zł [11.6 EUR] per bike per 24h for
a city bike and approximately 40% more for a trekking bike. The quality of rental bikes in Poland is generally very good.
buying a bike
It's very easy to buy a bike in Poland. This probably goes without saying, but you don't need any registration. You also don't need
any special equipment in Poland, though headlights and rearlights are highly advised and quite cheap.
We do not recommend buying a bike in Poland. The rental options are simply too good.
supermarket bicycle secton
Decathlon bicycle section
The prices depend on where you buy and what you buy, of course. You can head to a supermarket like Tesco, or a specialized sports store like
Decathlon, or a specialized bicycle vendor.
In Tesco or Carrefour, you will pay between 400 zł and 1500 zł for a regular city bike, and between 1000 zł and 2000 zł for a more specialized bike.
In Decathlon, a city bike will run you between 900 zł and 2500 zł, whereas a specialized bike will cost between 900 zł and 3000 zł.
At a specialized vendor, a bike can cost up to 5000 zł. Generally, these prices are considered low. When your trip in Poland is over,
you can usually sell the bike for 50% of its original price quite quickly using a website like Allegro, a Polish
equivalent of Ebay.
Bike paths are by no means omnipresent like in Amsterdam or Copenhagen. However, though there might not be a bike
path adjacent to every road, in large cities like Warsaw or Cracow, there are enough bike paths to always get you where you're going.
Polish bike paths can be distinguished from regular sidewalks by their red color or appropriate signs.
When present, bike paths are of high quality. There is also not much traffic on them - though the government is trying to encourage biking,
it has not been a wild success. When not present, you have two choices - to ride on the sidewalk (which is the more popular choice and, though
theoretically not permitted, fines for riding on sidewalks are very, very rare) or on the street (which is a very bad idea in a big city, but
can be a great idea in a small city if you're quite experienced with biking on roads).
urban bike path
suburban bike path
In most cases, it's forbidden to cross the street on your bike. You should dismount your bike and push it to the other side.
However, if the crossing has a distinct section for bikes, you may cross the street on your bike (if the light is green).
In large cities, underground or bridge crossings are also quite common. They are a pain for bicyclists - but they must face the reality of
carrying their bike down and up the stairs.
dedicated bicycle crossing
metros, trams, and buses
It is unconventional to take your bike with you onto the metro, tram, or bus, though not forbidden. However, this option should be "reserved for
special cases, such as the sudden worsening of weather conditions".