Poland is a fascinating gem of central Europe decorated with mesmerizing cities, enriching history lessons, and unforgettable nature escapes.
Whether you wander through the picturesque Old Towns, gaze at beautiful castles, or go for a peaceful hike into the outdoors, Poland has many amazing adventures for all interests.
Let’s take a look at some of the most unforgettable ways to start off your Polish extravaganza!
Cruise Through the Magical Port City of Gdańsk
Perched along the Baltic Sea, Gdańsk simply takes your breath away day or night. The mesmerizing Green Gate marks the entrance to Long Market where colorful buildings, delicious restaurants, and atmospheric bars line the public square.
Don’t miss the captivating Neptune’s Fountain and towering St. Mary’s Church as you take in the lively surroundings.
Walk along the enchanting Motława River to witness an eclectic array of boats sailing by. You can even coast down the river in a pirate ship for unbelievable views of the city. Notice the Zuraw which was an enormous port crane strategic to trade throughout Europe.
Don’t forget to spend some time soaking up the sun at the Polish Riviera in nearby Sopot. You read that right! Poland has some incredible beaches to layout underneath the sun or take a dip in the Baltic Sea.
The 20-minute ride to Sopot via car or public transport will take you to some of the most picturesque shores along the Baltic coast.
Admire the Architecture of Kraków
Take a stroll through the historic Old Town of Kraków for some of the most stunning examples of Polish Gothic architecture. Kraków’s Market Square showcases its Medieval roots and is teeming with bars, cafes, historical landmarks, and souvenir shops.
The main attraction not to be missed amidst the daily buzz of the Main Market Square is the breathtaking St. Mary’s Basilica. Towering over the city, this Brick Gothic church is famous for its beautiful altarpiece and remarkable framework. The church has a special place in the heart of the locals and eloquently plays a trumpet signal every hour.
When you walk outside of Old Town, notice the stunning St. Florian’s Gate and Kraków Barbican which guarded the entrance to the city in the Middle Ages.
Feel like royalty by visiting the magnificent Wawel Castle and tour the home of former Polish kings. The residence is a wonderful display of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque craftsmanship rolled into one.
History buffs are in for another splendid treasure with a visit to Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory and his admirable work to save Jews during WWII.
Soar to the Heavens at the Tatra Mountains
For those looking for a getaway into the great outdoors, the Tatra Mountains are a scenic paradise. This gorgeous mountain range is located on the Poland-Slovakia border and provides a plethora of hiking excursions.
The majestic mountain town of Zakopane is located just two hours south of Kraków and is the perfect base for your adventures.
Pristine lakes, snow-capped mountains, craggy hills, gorgeous vistas, and tons of wildlife welcome visitors looking for a thrill of a lifetime.
Take in the unbelievable views at Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea), head to the top of the heart-racing Lomnický štít, or traverse through the paths of Giewont during your time in the Tatras.
How to Get There: Catch a train at Kraków Główny, the central railway station located 10-minutes walking distance from Old Town Kraków. You can also catch a bus at the neighboring Dworzec Autobusowy MDA. The journey to Zakopane takes between 2-3 hours depending on which service you use.
Pay Your Respects at Auschwitz-Birkenau
A trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau is heartbreaking and creates an overwhelming sense of sadness. Nevertheless, it is imperative to never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust carried out by the Nazis during WWII.
Whether you walk around the camp sites on your own or take a guided tour, it is an eye-opening experience. The brick-layered buildings utilized as barracks at Auschwitz I house numerous exhibits remembering those who were tragically lost.
Some of the most emotional sights you will witness include the personal belongings of prisoners at the camp. This includes shoes, briefcases, eyeglasses, and even hair clippings. I was personally moved to tears as it remains difficult to comprehend how mankind could stoop to such a brutal act.
You can take the shuttle bus to Auschwitz II-Birkenau where the ominous ‘Gate of Death’ stands to this day. Several of the barracks have been preserved to show the horrid living conditions suffered by the prisoners. This gigantic campsite is where the majority of the victims perished and it can be unsettling walking around the facility.
My advice to visitors of Auschwitz-Birkenau is to behave appropriately and use the visit as a moment of reflection to learn from this dark moment of humanity. Please refrain from taking pictures of sensitive exhibits and remember what took place at the camp site years ago.
How to Get There: Catch a train at Kraków Główny, the central railway station located 10-minutes walking distance from Old Town Kraków. You can also catch a bus at the neighboring Dworzec Autobusowy MDA. The journey to the town of Oświęcim (where Auschwitz-Birkenau is located) takes between 1.5-2.5 hours depending on which service you use.