What you need to know
Lodz is the third-largest city in Poland. Located in the central part of the country, it is known as a former textile-manufacturing hub. Its Central Museum of Textiles displays 19th-century machinery, fabrics and handicrafts linked to the trade. Once a factory, the restored Manufaktura complex is now a lively culture and arts center. Nearby is the grand Poznanski Palace, home to the City Museum, with artwork and objects depicting the history of Łódź.
Population: 722,022 (2012)
Area: 113.2 mi²
The currency of Poland is the zloty (PLN). The modern złoty is subdivided into 100 groszy, the currency sign, zł, is composed of the Polish lower-case letters z and ł.
Visitors to Poland may be assured of easy access to banks and cash dispensers, particularly in larger towns.
Banks are normally open on working days between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., sometimes even up to 6 p.m. Banks offer money exchange, collection of money transfers or cashing traveller’s cheques.
Poland has a dense network of ATM’s (called bankomat), which are connected to all international networks. There are almost ten thousand ATM’s in the whole of Poland, of which over a thousand are located in Warsaw alone.
Poland has a temperate climate with hot summers and cold winters. Seasons tend to be more pronounced than in the west and temperatures can get down as low as -20 C in winter and as high as +30 C in summer. The coldest weather tends to hit around February although the long winter of 2009/10 saw a record low temperature in Poland of -32 degrees. Below is a graphic showing average temperatures and rainfall.
The main language spoken in Poland is Polish. The deaf communities use Polish Sign Language belonging to the German family of Sign Languages.
Łódź has a rough reputation among Polish people from other cities, largely thanks to well-publicized events that shocked Poland in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today, Łódź is a safe place. Contrary to typical newcomer’s fears, the crime rate is relatively low and according to statistics is much lower than in any other large city in Poland . Also, violent crime is very rare. Some basic advice though:
Watch out for pickpockets. A common trick for thieves is to operate in groups and create artificial crowds on buses and trams which distract their victims’ attention prior to being pickpocketed. Also, do not leave your belongings unattended and keep you wallet in your front pockets.
Do not visit the city parks after dark. During the day you are perfectly safe, but almost all city parks are open also during the night and there have been reported cases of muggings.
Avoid the following places. Even though the city is safe, the locals will tell that you should avoid certain places if going alone. These are: Włókiennicza Street (also a small part of Wschodnia and Kilińskiego Streets that is in the proximity of Włókiennicza), Abramowskiego Street, Solna Street and Limanowskiego Street.
Avoid displaying football-related emblems. The hooligan scene in Łódź is quite large and very divided. You never know who you will meet, so it is safer to keep your football affections to yourself. This is especially important during the local derby between ŁKS and Widzew football clubs. This advice holds for every Polish city.
Be careful when using pedestrian crossings. Even though pedestrians have right-of-way on pedestrian crossings, some Polish drivers do not respect that. So please be careful and always make sure that there are no cars approaching when you decide to cross the street. This applies to all Polish cities.
Łódź has at least 100 Nextbike city bicycle sharing stations, mainly in the city centre. There are good bike paths connecting extreme points of the city. If you have your own bike, be careful to chain it when not using it.
The public transport is operated by MPK Łódź. It is definitely the cheapest way of moving around the city. The descriptions on the bus and tram stops are in Polish only, but they should be easy to follow. Outside of the rush hour (7-9 AM and 15-18 PM), the public transport is quite efficient and runs on time. During the rush hour and in early winter (when it has just started snowing), be prepared for some delays.
The tram network consists of 19 tram lines (numbered from 1 to 16, 41, 43 and 46). If there is a change in the schedule (e.g. because of maintenance works), the substitute bus lines are marked with the Z letter and the number, often corresponding tram number.
Łódź has one of the oldest tram networks in Poland which date 19th century. One of the attractions during the summer is taking the tram line 43, serviced with historic vehicles every summer Sunday. It goes from Telefoniczna stop to Lutomiersk village, crossing the Ner river through an old bridge.
The buses are the backbone of the public transport in Łódź. Almost all of the buses are the easily accessible low-floor buses.
Taxis are another option, and they are quite cheap for a Westerner. However, one should be sure that there is a taxi sign atop the cab and that the driver has a permit. 9622, 600400400 and 9191 are some of the known companies and they all have exactly same prices.
On Piotrkowska Street, you can travel any distance with them for 2.50 zł per person. It gets to 4.00 zł in the night and most of the rikshaw drivers will take you out of Piotrkowska if you offer to pay more.