In spite of being Poland's third largest city Łódź's links to the outside world leave much to be desired, though the birth of the budget flight has at least opened a few new routes. Travelling to other destinations in Poland, barring Warsaw that is, can be a trial. Fortunately once you're here you'll find the city has a well-developed tram and bus network as well as a bountiful supply of cheap taxis. If you're traversing Piotrkowska, the principal high street, then take advantage of one of the dirt-cheap rickshaws that zip up-and-down the street.
Lodz By BusBus travellers to Łódź used to be dropped at the central Łódź Fabryczna station, but Fabryczna's massive renovation means buses are picking up and dropping off primarily from Kaliska station (though other points around town are used as well). Expect this annoyance to continue until Fabryczna reopens in late 2015.
By CarThe road quality issue is being addressed with EU directives and funding but the size of the country’s road network as well as its condition means that it’ll be years till improvements will take effect. In fact the issue of the condition of the road and rail networks are being cited by many experts as being a serious handicap to the development of the Polish economy.
For someone taking to the road today the following warnings should be taken into account. Firstly when driving outside of built-up areas you will typically find yourself sharing a single lane road with anything from a sports car convertible to an old bloke in charge of a horse and cart. Throw in the huge fleet of lorries that traverse Poland and you will commonly find yourself in a situation where traffic is blocked behind said lorries/horse/tractor. This results in frustrated/impatient drivers overtaking each other at high speed and then braking sharply to avoid oncoming traffic. Be warned and keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front.
Secondly beware of the hard shoulders of these roads, the vast majority of which are unlit at night. These are often used as pavements by local people who add to the Russian roulette by venturing out at night wearing their darkest clothing. Add in the odd drunk on a bike and these hard shoulders become a very real problem when facing a set of headlights bearing down on your vehicle.
For those brave enough to venture out on the road, the following information should be noted. Poland has strong drink-driving laws: 0.2‰ is the maximum blood/alcohol limit, so forget about having even a single beer. EU citizens may use their home driving licenses as long as they are valid, however citizens of countries that didn't ratify the Vienna Convention (tsk, tsk Australia and America) will find their licenses invalid (though that hasn't stopped anyone we know from driving their girlfriend's car). Carry your license and passport at all times when driving.
The speed limit is 50km/hr in cities (60km/hr between 23:00 and 05:00), 90km/hr outside urban areas, 120km/hr on dual carriageways and 140km/hr on motorways. All cars are required to carry a red warning triangle, first aid kit, replacement bulbs and a national identity sticker. A new law was introduced in April 2007 making it compulsory to have headlights switched on at all times. Car related crime is high and drivers should make use of guarded car parks where possible.
Arriving by carConnecting Łódź with the outside world are the E75 running north, the E30 going north east, the west bound A2, the south running E75, and road number 72 heading to the east. Once in Łódź the first thing you’ll notice is the treacherous state of many of the roads, and you’d be advised to make sure the shock absorbers are in full working order. Car crime in Poland is rife, and we fully suggest taking advantage of one of the two guarded car parks in the city. If you’re parking on the street you’ll be paying 1zł for the first half hour, then 2zł for the first full hour, increasing from there.
By PlaneAs Poland's third largest city Łódź gets its fair share of air passengers, and with a brand new terminal the experience of flying in to and out of the city has gotten increasingly more pleasant (well, as pleasant as flying can be, anyway).
By TrainWith the city lying in the centre of the country, Lodz is a crossroads for many of the rail networks covering the country. It doesn't actually have one central station though which means trains pass through Łódź using two of the three main stations - Kaliska (generally for east/west routes) and Widzew (north/south routes). The third major station is Łódź Fabryczna and while being the most central of the three, it is also a dead-end with trains from Warsaw terminating here, and currently closed for renovations.
The Łódź - Warsaw line has undergone a major overhaul, but nowadays the once 90-minute journey has inflated to two hours. Other inter city links remain in pretty poor shape. You can take trains directly from Łódź to most major Polish cities but the speed on many can be slow and minor delays are standard. At present a 250km journey to Kraków will take three to four hours. Gdańsk, 370km away, will take around 5 and a half hours. It is worth checking the useful website http://rozklad-pkp.pl for the best connection but you will often find the quickest way, especially once the new line is open, is to travel to Warsaw and then onto your destination from there.
Lodz Public TransportŁódź can boast a well-developed network of bus and tram routes that traverse the city, however at the moment transit is very much under construction - to the point where running our usual tram map doesn't make sense. Be aware that delays are prevalent and factor extra time into your journey. The comprehensive website at www.mpk.lodz.pl features full English translation of content, including timetables for all routes, general information and ticket prices. A brief exploration of the website will reveal that venomous animals are banned from public transport, as are people who are ‘slovenly, scruffy or give off an offensive smell’. Reassuring, but in reality completely untrue. Tickets (bilety) can be purchased from most streetside kiosks, at some onboard machines or from the driver (for a single trip that doesn't require changing vehicles) and must be validated on boarding the tram or bus by punching them into the metal boxes (kasowniks) found next to the doors. Failure to do so will result in a 70zł fine (if paid in 7 days; after it goes up to 200zł) if you’re caught by one of the undercover ticket inspectors. Prices are as follows:
2.60zł (1.30zł) 20 minutes
3.40zł (1.70zł) 40 minutes
Interestingly the city has thoughtfully bumped up the ticket times by 20 minutes because of the construction and public transit renovations in the city; that means a 20 minute ticket is now good for 40 minutes, a 40 is good for 60, etc. In addition a single trip ticket from the driver is 3.80zł, and one day passes can be purchased from kiosks (12/6zł). Both trams and buses usually operate from 05:00 until 23:00 after which night buses (marked with an N) serve the city.