When planning travel through Europe, one country so often overlooked and underestimated is Poland.
What many people expect when visiting a country such as Poland is somewhere war torn and somber, still suffering the impact of its tragic past. However this is far from the case. Instead Poland offers the ultimate combination of culture, history, and food, with the added appeal of unique attractions and natural wonders.
Poland is a surprising destination with something to appeal to most travellers, young and old. Well travelled or just starting out.
What you get is also a destination that is affordable and safe, with friendly locals and a wide array of things to do and places to see.
Unexpected also is the vast difference from city to city within Poland itself, with each region offering something new and unique, making it essential to go beyond just the capital.
PLACES TO VISIT IN POLAND
Warsaw no longer resembles the sad remains of a city destroyed by war. Instead, it offers one of the most picturesque old town areas in Europe, with a bustling town square and the incredible restoration efforts that went into rebuilding this essential part of Poland. You can learn all about it at the impressive Warsaw Rising Museum. A brutal look into Warsaw’s war-torn history.
A visit to the magnificently restored Royal Castle is yet another opportunity to see Polish resilience at its best.
Just a short distance from the city, you can also treat yourself to a visit to some of the most beautiful palaces – such as the modest Lazienki Palace within the park of the same name. Walk amongst the peacocks while enjoying the stunning view of the palace on the water. You may even have the chance to feed squirrels at certain times of the year, although we haven’t had such luck on our two visits in Winter and Summer.
Yet on the opposite end of the scale, Warsaw offers impressive modern structures and attractions just a short distance from its historical centre. One such attraction is the Science Centre, which is sure to delight younger travellers (and older ones) with the interactive displays.
Other things to see in Warsaw:
Wilanow Palace Museum
Old Town Observation Terrace
University of Warsaw Library rooftop gardens
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Arkadia Shopping Mall (massive!)
No visit to Poland is complete without some time in the culturally rich city of Krakow. One of Poland’s largest and most well known cities, Krakow is also home to Europe’s largest old town square.
Enjoy a spot of shopping for traditional wares and souvenirs at the Cloth Hall. Although don’t expect too much variety. Many of the stall holders sell variations of the same popular items. Still a great place to grab gifts to take home.
Krakow is also a great central point for a visit to some of Poland’s most well known and popular places of interest for tourists – including the very somber experience of Auschwitz Birkenau Memorial and Museum, one of the most tragic places in Europe.
It is also well worth making the short trip for a tour of one of UNESCO listed Wieliczka Salt Mine, and marvel at the size of Kinga Chapel, in the heart of the mine.
Other things to see in Krakow:
Church of Virgin Mary
Wawal Castle and Catherdal
Rynek Underground museum
A popular destination for Poland nationals to travel during winter holidays, Zakopane is every bit the picturesque storybook style town that belongs in a fairytale. Sitting at the foot of the impressive Tatra Mountains, Zakopane is known for its wooden chalet style homes, and winter sports.
Wander down the main street or do a spot of shopping at the markets, before heading for a meal of traditional Polish food at one of the many restaurants.
Or if adventure is more your style, practice your skiing or snowboarding skills on one of the many slopes, or take the kids for a fun toboggan ride. A newer attraction in town is also the first Zakopane waterpark… a bit of a novelty attraction in Poland, complete with views of the mountains if you feel like relaxing in the heated pool zone.
Other things to see in Zakopane:
Tatra Mountain Museum
4. Baltic Coast
Poland is not a place that typically comes to mind when you think about European seaside countries, however the Baltics in northern Poland offer exactly that. Gdansk is the biggest of the Polish Baltic cities, which also includes Sopot and Gdynia all within a short distance from one another. Expect huge crowds during summer on Sopot beach, but when the weather is good… it’s the perfect spot to take a dip in the Baltic Sea.
Take a walk through the historic streets of Mariacka and Dluga, lined with beautiful, bright coloured buildings and plenty of history.
A visit to Oilwa Park to see the impressive Oilwa Catherdal is another must also, as well as a stroll down the Motlawa River Embarkment for sightseeing and a meal.
Other things to see in Gdansk:
European Solidarity Centre
St Mary’s Church
Other things to do in Sopot:
Walk along Sopot Pier
Visit the Crooked House
Cruise on Black Pearl pirate ship
Enjoy great food at one of the many restaurants
Other things to do in Gdynia:
There is so many more places beyond these four recommendations within Poland, and many more we ourselves are yet to explore also. Poland is a country that is well worth making time for, and giving yourself enough time to truly immerse yourself in the Polish culture and tradition.
And while you are there, don’t forget to enjoy some of that quality vodka the country is so famous for!
it is also a great option for Australian’s who are looking for a great value, affordable European holiday destination with the poor state of our Aussie dollar.
Poland is a destination that needs to be on your must travel list!! Check out our Poland travel guide for more.