Poland is often associated closely with the Second World War. In most cases, their impressions are vaguely formed after watching films such as Schindler’s List or The Pianist and not from actual history. For many years, travelers didn’t want to visit Poland because of the way it had always been portrayed, but that perception is now rapidly changing.
Forget about the country’s bleak and gruesome past, savvy travelers have come to realize that Poland offers not just a rich history, but also stunning scenery and cool cities coupled with awesome activities.
Warsaw, Krakow, and Wroclaw maybe some of the best places to visit in Poland, but they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best places to visit in Poland. Take a look and you will discover why this Baltic nation is now one of the top travel destinations and it is visited by millions of tourists from all over the world.
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When visiting Poland, it is certainly best to start with its biggest and the capital city of Warsaw. This 400-year-old city and its people have seen it all! During WWII, Warsaw has suffered greatly and it was almost completely destroyed. Now, less than a century later, it has become arguably one of Europe’s best cities to visit!
Warsaw’s residents lovingly preserved anything that survived the brutal Nazi invasion. They rebuilt their city, making it a perfect blend of historic opulence and contemporary designs.
Whether you are into medieval churches and palaces or you are after cozy cafés and lively clubs, Warsaw has it all. In one majestic street, popularly known as the Royal Route, you will find a majestic Royal Castle that once was home to almost all of the Polish kings and queens. This is the area where you will also find the famous Presidential Palace and some of the best hotels that the country has to offer.
Warsaw is a medieval and neoclassical city and it is proud to showcase both its memorable and dark history to whoever is keen to take a look. If you are a military buff than you must put Warsaw Rising Museum on your list of things to see in Warsaw.
Alternatively, you can check out Lazienki Park, which is arguably the best park in Europe. Here you can find majestic regal peacocks strolling around the pristine lake and you can spot some of the semi-tame red squirrels as well. Click here to see a list of 15 of the best things to do in Warsaw
Krakow is Poland’s second-biggest city, and it is undoubtedly the country’s most popular tourist destination. Krakow is renowned for being a cultural center of Southern Poland, and it is also acknowledged as an architectural jewel of Central Europe. Some even call it a fairy-tale straight out of a Disney movie. Are you enticed yet?
The Old Town of Krakow is home to the famous Wawel Castle. This is the place that you simply cannot miss out on visiting! As you stroll around the Old Town, you will see plenty of legendary monuments positioned and dozens of stunning Polish restaurants serving all the yummy polish delicacies.
Krakow is also home to Europe’s largest market square. Make sure to bring your camera and clear your schedule because you will be here for a while. If you are interested in some pointers, make sure to check out the list of things to do in Krakow.
In short, Krakow is a fortress for both Renaissance and secessionist cultures. Its cobbled stone streets are popular with horses, candlelit bars, and pavement cafés, giving Krakow a look that any city in the world would only envy. You can find a choice of brilliant cafes to visit in Krakow. Check out our pick for the best restaurant in Krakow.
Add that to the fact that Krakow is the city of legends such as King Casimir the Great, Copernicus, and Pope John Paul II, and you’ll know that it is worth giving Krakow a closer look and perhaps a personal tour.
*Editor Note: We think this is the most beautiful city in Poland, it is considered one of Poland’s tourist cities, but the amount of tourists here is nothing compared to other European cities.
The capital of the Lower Silsea, Wroclaw, is a very popular entertainment and cultural destination. The strong presence of Bohemian, Prussian, and Austrian culture makes it a unique and very diverse architectural city. Wroclaw is basically a cathedral island where you will find over 12 islands, and numerous riverside parks, which are connected by over 100 bridges. Sounds special, because it is!
Wroclaw is the nation’s 4th biggest city and is characterized by Gothic architecture, large festivals, and lively nightlife. Some of the city’s historic neighborhoods that you can visit include; Ostrow, Rynek, and Tumski neighborhoods. Amongst many other famous monuments, it is recommended to check out the Hydropolis, which is an ultra-modern knowledge center dedicated to water.
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4. Bialowieża Forest
Bialowieża Forest is a highly preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful forest covers an area of more than 3,000 square kilometers. It stretches as far as the eastern border of Poland and western Belarus, as well as to the borders of Lithuania and Ukraine. Bialowieza is one of the most untouched Polish forests, and it is also one of the few remaining virgin woodlands in Europe.
Bialowieza is home to a large variety of exotic trees, including 500-year-old oaks. This forest is known to house more than 800 European bison, wolves, deer, lynx, and even golden eagles.
As this is a protected area, you can only visit the forest in the company of a guide, who will obviously encourage you to enjoy the endless hiking trails that will likely take you deep into the dense and untouched forest.
5. Wieliczka Salt Mine
When touring Poland, you should definitely not miss out on a chance to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine has been open since the Middle Ages, and it is yet another of the Polish UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Wieliczka will keep you busy for over two hours and burn a few calories on the hundreds of stairs. Your adventure will take you on a tour to a 140 feet underground oasis. You will go through a number of complex passages and crystal chambers.
Some say that the journey will make you feel as if you are heading for the center of the Earth. While inside, you will come across majestic churches, unique salt monuments, as well as some breathtaking underground lakes.
*Editor Note: We visited Poland with our family, and we both still talk about the Cathedral in the salt mine it definitely is one of the best places to visit in Poland and should be on everyone’s Poland itinerary.
Located in Northern Poland, Bydgoszcz is widely known for its numerous universities and bustling colleges. This buzzing and vibrant city is also the country’s biggest inland navigation center. Bydgoszcz is a cosmopolitan city with a strong international and business presence. It is also renowned as a major cultural center.
Whilst visiting Bydgoszcz, you must not miss out on seeing some of the famous artistic, theatrical, and musical centers. Your list of must-see places in this city should include; Bydgoszcz Pantheon, Nicolaus Copernicus Square as well as the Old Mill by the Brda River.
Gdansk is one of the most popular of northern-Polish cities. This beautiful port city of Gdansk on the Baltic coast is well-known as the birthplace of Poland’s Solidarity movement and for its famous shipyards.
While in the city, you should take a boat trip around the port to get a glimpse of the skyline from the water and sample some of the tastiest and unique Polish beer. You can also take a walking tour of the city’s Royal Route, the Old Town and check out various other popular places such as Neptune Fountain and Long Market.
Located between the fields of Polish Mazury and Elbląg Lakes, the city of Malbork is home to arguably Europe’s most enthralling medieval castle ruins. If you are after history and architecture, then this is the best place for you. The sprawling castle complexes and the red brick fortresses will take you back to the medieval times and give you a glimpse into the past.
Related Article: The Best of Germany’s Fairytale Castles
Torun is the birthplace of the legendary 15th-century astronomer and mathematician, Nicolaus Copernicus. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and thanks to its rich medieval culture and history, it is called by many locals as the “Krakow of the North”.
Some of the most attractive places in the city include Teutonic Knight’s Castle, Old Town, numerous Gothic cathedrals as well as the New Town.
10. The Masurian Lake District
Popular with local tourists, the Masurian Lake District is very popular during warmer months thanks to its soothing Baltic sun. It is home to over 2,000 individual lakes, as well as dozens of beautiful rivers.
The best part of this district is that it is full of charming towns such as Elk, Giżycko and Mikolajki Masurian Lake District is one of Poland’s most popular summer holiday destinations, where you can hire sailing boats or simply relax in many of the local resorts.
Lodz is known as the cultural mecca for Poles, Germans, Jews, and Russians. The city is known for producing famous industrialists, scientists, and artists who have left permanent marks on the lifestyle of the city. Take a walk along the Piotrkowska Street and immerse yourself in some of Europe’s best architecture and marvel upon many of extraordinary monuments.
While in Lodz, you can also visit the famous Ghetto Litzmannstadt, where you will be hit by the city’s saddening Holocaust history. Other places to check out include Oscar Kon Palace, Edward Herbst Mansion as well as the Radegast Station.
12. Ojcow National Park
Located not far from Krakow, Ojcow National Park dramatically sits between Pradnik and Saspowska River valleys. It is one of the smallest national parks in the country and is characterized by deep canyons, numerous limestone cliffs, thick woodlands, rock formations, and dark caves.
While in the park, you can also visit Krakow Gate, Deotyma’s Needle, Hercules’ Club and the park’s top interesting castles – Renaissance Castle in Pieskowa Skala and Kazimierz Castle (home to King Casimir the Great) in Ojcow Village. Make sure to take a ride in one of the horse cabs and also visit any of the park’s 400 official caves.
Located on the Baltic Sea, Swinoujscie is a port city that is revered by many locals as a health retreat and a holiday resort destination. It has 44 unique islands where visitors can enjoy some quality time on the gently sloping beaches. It is also home to the 170-year-old Spa Park where tourists can walk around perusing through its endless vegetation.
For those of us interested in the maritime, a visit to the Museum of Sea Fishing should be a top priority. The Karsibor Island can be a hit with bird watchers while Wolin Island’s extraordinary lighthouse, which is the tallest structure on the Baltic Sea, will offer a panoramic place for those in need of a memorable photoshoot.
14. Tatra National Park
Located on the southern part of Poland, Tatra National Park is home to Poland’s only mountains; the Tatra Mountains. While visiting Tatry, there are two major sites to see! These are the famous country’s natural wonders: Morskie Oko Lake and Rysy Peak.
Tatra National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is plenty to do in the park. You can hike through the dense forests, or venture out through the snow-packed fields or explore the region’s many caves. You can also go mountain biking, rock climbing or even paragliding.
15. Isle of Usedom
Located on the north-eastern region of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, the Isle of Usedom is a popular holiday destination on the Baltic Sea. Usedom has plenty of hotels and guest houses for those who want to experience the unspoiled nature of the pristine Baltic Sea.
Apart from its many beautiful beaches, the Isle of Usedom attracts a number of international fashion events, theatre performances, outdoor concerts, and museum exhibitions on a yearly basis. Some of the region’s top attractions include; Heringdorf aerodome, Zinnowitz pier’s driving bell, Europe’s biggest butterfly farm as well as the Trasseheide.
Poland is fast becoming one of Europe’s favorite holiday destinations. Whether you are after medieval or modern history, architectural marvels or diverse culture, you will find it here. Whether you are after relaxation on white sandy beaches, sailing for days on pristine lakes or hiking through the majestic mountains, Poland also has you covered. The only question remains, which of the above destinations will make it to your list of things to do in Poland?
Have you traveled to Poland? What did you think were the best places in Poland to visit?
Author Bio: This guest post is brought to you by Andrzej & Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers, a widely successful family travel blog. They love sharing their passion for travel with people all around the globe.