The public toilets issue is still a ‘burning' problem in Poland and not much has been done over the last 15 years during the transformation of this country to resolve it. It is not only a problem for tourists but also for people in the city who point out the lack of public toilet facilities and problems this might engender when walking in the city. The worst examples of the lack of these amenities are Warsaw and Tricity. As they say when you need to go it is sometime difficult to find a suitable place, or even a place, for your needs.
A good example of superior service in this domain is Kraków where after a couple of drinks or a meal at a restaurant visitors are not afraid to take a walk around the town. Krakow contains may well placed and indicated public toilets.
However, the cleanest toilet we found, and it is worth mentioning, is a toilet in Częstochowa in a park close to the Monastery. The number of facilities such as showers, washing facilities for pilgrims, facilities for the handicapped and most of all the cleanliness of the place is to be mentioned in particular.
In general when using a public toilet there is a token charge. As in demand and supply situations those places with fewer clients have lower charges and those with a larger ‘turnover' higher charges as in the neighborhood of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. But who cares in times of need! The charge is to be paid before using the facilities, usually 1 zł.
One solution to this shortage is that certain municipalities have placed TOI TOI booths, movable toilets, around the town. They are usually blue and white and can be found where large public events take place or where there is a concentration of pedestrian traffic. They maybe free but are for top emergencies only and without going into the details of why these are to be avoided totally.
Below are some travel tips regarding this delicate subject:
- in the case of an ‘emergency' go to the nearest Mc Donald's or KFC, they have toilets for clients (though sometimes you have to show a receipt that you have bought something to get the toilet code). So buy a coffee or a juice and do your business in one of their cleaner toilets.
- if you enter a restaurant and ask a waiter you may be allowed to use the toilet. Remember never do it in groups as the waiter's role is to assure the comfort of the guests of the restaurant and not as public toilet information service. Better spread out and enter in two's.
- try a good hotel where the toilets are usually near the main lobby. You can either ask or if in a rush head for them directly. Usually no one stops you. If staff do stop you then say in your own language, ‘‘Toilets please''. No member of staff will ever refuse the use of a toilet except perhaps on those occasions when your vestementary state precludes you from frequenting such hotels. In other words if you look like a tramp. The bigger the hotel the more anonymous and larger the entry, though in a lot cases there will be a certain level of security present. Once again the golden rule is, speak your own language. This rule can be applied in many situations other than the ones above.
- there are free toilets at all petrol stations (sometimes you need to ask for the key)
- there are public toilets (for a usual fee of 1 zł, maybe more) at all subway stations, new and clean, or railways stations, not so clean
- there are free toilets in all department stores, if you can find them
Note - using a tree or on the grass (in town) to relieve your needs is subject to a penalty!
The fact of asking for a charge for the use of the toilets even when you are a guest of a restaurant may appear strange for foreigners. In some cases ‘Madame Pipi' is not paid very much to keep the place clean and she has to make up her wages in tips. If it is a large restaurant then there might be more work as well. However, if you don't want to pay in the restaurant then don't but as a general rule just drop some small change into the dish and everyone will be happy.
With our guided tours and their maps you will see the blue logo of the public toilets, ‘WC', placed on the tour map. We hope this will also be of some assistance when you go sightseeing in the cities we present in The Visitor guides. That's all WE can do for you.
Last update May 2009