Polish Zloty comes in both coins and notes. The words ‘zloty’ and ‘grosz’ change slightly depending on how many you’re talking about – all correct terms are listed below in this quick guide.
All Polish coins feature the Polish eagle coat of arms and the name of a Polish state on one side.
Small (15.5mm diameter) copper-coloured coin with ‘1’ and a leaf featured on it. Scored edge.
Small (17.5mm diameter) bronze-coloured coin with ‘2’ and two leaves depicted on it. Plain edged.
Small (19.5mm diameter) bronze-coloured coin with a ‘5’ and five leaves featured on the design. Alternate plain and scored edge.
Small (16.5mm diameter) silver-coloured coin with ‘10’ featured, surrounded by a ring of leaves. Alternate plain and scored edge.
Small (18.5mm diameter) silver-coloured coin with a ‘20’ framed with square-shaped leaves. Scored edge.
Large (20.5mm diameter) silver-coloured coin featuring a ‘50’ within a crescent of leaves. Scored edge.
1 zloty Large (23mm diameter) silver-coloured coin featuring a ‘1’ with a full circle of one hundred leaves. Alternate plain and scored edge.
2 zloty Large (21.5mm diameter) bi-coloured coin (golden ring, silver centre) featuring a ‘2’ with two leaves in the ring portion. Plain edged.
5 zloty Large (24mm diameter) bi-coloured coin (silver ring, golden centre) featuring a ‘5’ with 5 leaves in the ring portion. Irregular, rough edge.
Polish Zloty banknotes go up in size the more they are worth, just like the banknotes we know. Here we will talk through the most recent and most used series of zloty notes, but there are other designs that you may come across when you are there. Each note design from the 2012 series features a former ‘Sovereign of Poland’ on one side, along with a special embossed shape in the bottom left-hand corner so that the blind and partially-sighted can identify notes more easily.
Features a portrait of Mieszko I (who ruled Poland from 960AD) on one side and features an old silver denar coin from Mieszko’s reign on the other.
Colour: Dark brown
Embossed shape: Square
Features a portrait of Boleslaw I Chrobry (also known as Boleslaw the Brave), who ruled as King of Poland from 1025 on one side. A silver denar coin from the reign of Boleslaw can be seen on the other side.
Colour: Pink and purple
Embossed shape: Circle
Features a portrait of Kazimierz III Wielki, the King of Poland from 1333 – 1370, on one side. On the other side, you’ll find a white eagle, a sceptre and an orb with cross.
Colour: Dark blue
Embossed shape: Diamond
Features a portrait of Wladyslaw II Jagiello, the King of Poland from 1386 – 1434, on one side. A shield with a white eagle, two swords and the coat of arms of the Teutonic Knights can be seen on the other side.
Colour: Dark green
Embossed shape: Cross
Features a portrait of Zygmunt I Stary, King of Poland from 1506 – 1548 on one side and an eagle intertwined with the letter ‘S’ on the other side. This is the only Polish note with a hologram included.
Colour: Brown and orange
Embossed shape: Triangle
Features a portrait of Jan III Sobieski, who was the King of Poland from 1674 until his death, on one side. On the other side, you’ll find an image of Wilanow Palace and the coat of arms from the reign of Sobieski.
Colour: Violet, grey, blue, yellow and green.
Embossed shape: Two vertical dotted lines
How much should I expect to spend?
Poland’s capital Warsaw, and the more tourist-centred areas will be more expensive. Average prices at the time of writing are: (14th November 2019)
Double-occupancy hotel room - 120-150zł (roughly £27-£30)
Meals for one person, for one day - 80zł (roughly £16 - £17)
Bus/taxi fares average cost – 30-50zł (roughly £8-10)
Bottled water - 4zł (roughly 82p)
Is it customary to barter and tip?
Haggling or bartering is not the ‘done thing’ in Polish shops but is quite common when shopping in markets and bazaars.
A few things to remember:
Never be the first to suggest a price
Haggle with humour – it is appreciated in Poland!
If you are buying a few items from the same place, asking for a discount or extra freebie is acceptable
It used to be customary to tip for almost everything in Poland in the past, but these days it’s more about rewarding good service. In general, tipping in Poland should be treated in much the same way as tipping in the UK. If you receive bad service, it is acceptable not to tip at all. Catering and waiting staff will expect a tip for a job well done, as their wages are usually very low and it is expected that part of their income comes from tips. Adding 10% or more to your bill is customary – try to pay your waiter or waitress in cash so that they definitely receive your tip. Tipping your taxi driver is not a must, but it’s common practice to round up the fare for ease of payment, and the taxi driver is likely to be very appreciative.
Other customs to be aware of:
Fist bumps are a common informal greeting, otherwise a simple handshake will do
When ordering a sandwich in Poland, it’s likely to be an open sandwich – it derives from a Medieval custom of using a thick slice of bread as a plate!
Most businesses will be closed on religious holidays