Visa Trip to Ukrainian Consulate in Krakow, Poland
By RJD, Aug. 7, 2010
The consulate in Krakow, Poland is one of the closest Ukrainian consulates to the Ukrainian border. Many an expat living in Ukraine has visited Krakow to pick up a Ukrainian visa. I have had to do the same on occasion. This report combines my experiences from my two most recent trips, both in 2010.
Getting to Krakow from Ukraine
There are a few different ways. Long-distance buses tend to be intolerably uncomfortable, so I won't include them in the list:
1. By flight (WizzAir) from Kiev to near Katowice. If you buy tickets a month or more in advance you might get a very low price (<$100 USD). From the airport there is a bus that takes you to the Krakow central bus & train station some 2 hours away (cost = 50 zloty, or $16 one way). All in all, this route takes 7-8 hours from the moment you leave your door to your arrival in Krakow and may cost $120-200.
2. By train from Kiev or Lviv to Krakow. The trip takes 20 hours, a few of which are spent at the border crossing in order to adjust the carriage axle widths for the narrower European rail gauge. Current round-trip prices are around $100. This is a comfortable and easy, but somewhat time-consuming option.
3. In stages. Train from Kiev to Lviv, then bus to border, then foot crossing, then bus to Przemysl, then train to Krakow. Total cost is $55-75 depending on type of train ticket to Lviv. Total travel time as little as 17-18 hours. Faster and cheaper than a direct train, but potentially exhuasting. Here is a better description of the legs from Kiev to Przemysl.
I think in the future we will consider taking the direct train in order to arrive in Krakow well rested, or we will try visiting other Ukrainian consulates that are a bit closer, such as the one in Baltsi, Moldova.
Krakow trip schedule
We left Kiev Saturday night, arrived in Lviv early the next morning, got to the border and to Krakow as quickly as possible, walked around town and went to the apartment we found through couchsurfing.org. Early Monday morning we went to the Ukrainian consulate at 4 ul. Beliny-Prazmowskiego, 31-514 Kraków (see below), trying to get there around the time the office opens (9am).
Document submission: Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri 9-12:00; pick-up: 15-16:00
The present consulate worker is inclined to speak only Ukrainian or English with all visitors. No Russian or Polish. He was reasonably friendly (neutral, actually) and recognized us from a recent phone call to the consulate to inquire about our particular situation. He was patient enough to listen to and answer our questions and gave us the bill to take to a bank in Krakow and pay. They would have the visas ready in a few hours.
Paying for the visas
To speed up the trip to the Bank Handlowy, we walked to Rondo Mogilskie and took a tram one stop to Grzegorzecka street. From there it's a 5 minute walk to the bank. Payment is in U.S. dollars (which we had taken with us from Kiev) and is quick. There are rarely lines at the bank. From there we went back to the consulate to drop off the receipts of payment and walked to the nearby shopping mall "Galeria Krakowska" to hang out and eat for a few hours. If you sit in the right spots there is even a wi-fi signal. After lunch we returned and picked up our visas. Everything was in order.
It is recommended to call the consulate in advance with any visa questions and to check office hours. The number in Krakow is (48 12) 429 60 66. Each consulate may have slight variations on visa requirements. For instance, Krakow requires an invitation letter to issue business visas, even though visa requirements on official consulate and embassy sites in the U.S. state that invitations are no longer necessary.