Poland Travel Guide
Colourful cities, unspoilt wilderness and tantalizing wódka
Travel Guide to Poland
Situated in Central Europe, Poland is a country on the move with bustling economic development, an enticing foodie and design culture, and world class festivals and events. Underpinning these vibrant changes however, is a nation firmly rooted in generous hospitality, family tradition, community spirit and Catholicism – all values which helped it remarkably overcome its challenging 20th century past. This dichotomy of old and new is what makes Poland so curiously delightful.
Poland is an untapped travel treasure that is as captivating as it is surprising. A land of tranquil wilderness, historic medieval towns and buzzing reconstructed cities, all types of travelers will find solace here in one of Europe’s up and coming hot spots.
Elegant medieval cities like Kraków and Gdańsk vie with lively Warsaw and its vibrant Old Town for your urban attention. Meanwhile, picturesque metropolises such as Wrocław and Zamość provide compelling reasons to explore beyond the tourist track and experience Poland’s vibrant architecture, history and culture.
Away from the big cities, Poland feels remote and unspoiled, with few international tourists venturing out to explore its wild primeval forests, grand castles, dramatic mountains, and even deserts and beaches.
Poland is a budget traveler’s paradise that is largely omitted from most travel itineraries. With so much on offer, this is your chance to discover something new and exciting at half the price of what you’d expect to pay elsewhere in Europe. Visit soon before it catches on with the mainstream tourists!
Poland is a country rich in fine culture, scenic landscapes and extraordinary historical sites. As a result, it is home to an impressive 14 UNESCO World Heritage sites, making it one of the most represented countries on the World Heritage List.
With a history dating back over 1000 years, a millennium of twist, turns and battles means kingdoms and castles are left to be explored, offering a fantastic opportunity for immersive cultural experiences.
The UNESCO sites include thirteen cultural heritage spots and one natural wonder. Discover historic fortresses, extravagant city halls, fairytale market squares, cute churches and ancient woodlands with rare animals. If you want to dig a little deeper, explore the cavernous labyrinths of Wieliczka’s medieval salt mine, or for a more somber experience, visit the notorious German Nazi Concentration Camp where millions of people were murdered from over 28 nationalities.
A land of considerable and unspoiled natural beauty, Poland’s wild and ecologically significant primeval forests, epic mountains, and powdery-sand beaches provide a pleasant contrast to the bustle of the cities.
Away from these cosmopolitan areas, much of Poland feels remote and untouched by the stampede of tourists visiting countries nearby. This presents a rare chance for the adventurous, off-the-beaten-track traveler to spend days, if not weeks, of splendid solitude in nature. Fortunately, a trip like this is made feasible with well-marked hiking paths crisscrossing the country, guiding you through dense forest, along crystal clear rivers, and across high mountain passes.
Geographically, much of Poland is flat, however the Northeast is dissected with a variety of clean rivers and lakes ideal for watersports and relaxation. Meanwhile, the South is lined with spectacular mountains you would mistake for being the set of Game of Thrones. If you’re looking for adventure travel experiences to fuel your fresh-air pursuits, Poland’s inviting wilderness with barely any tourists is the place to be.
Food, Vodka & Central European Hospitality
As the saying goes in Poland, “A guest in the house is God in the house”. This popular phrase summarises the essence of Polish hospitality.
If generous locals, heartwarming food, and vodka distilled to perfection is your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Polish food is almost always homemade. It is largely based on locally grown ingredients like pork, cabbage, mushrooms, beetroot and onion. Specialties include duck, trout and goose, whilst the sweets department is stacked with an amazing array of cream cakes, pancakes, apple strudel and fruit-filled pierogi (dumplings).
There’s a good chance of experiencing this in someone’s home kitchen as it is not uncommon for travelers to be invited by Poles to a family dinner. Be forewarned however, as you will need to be prepared to wash down food with neat shots of wódka (vodka).
The Royal Capital of Kraków
Rivalling the elegance of Vienna or Prague (and at half the cost), the ancient royal capital of Kraków is one of Central Europe’s most beautiful architectural showpieces. In the country’s South, this has been Poland’s cultural, intellectual and historical capital for over 500 years and is home to Europe’s largest medieval town square.
Kraków was the only major Polish city to escape World War II relatively unscathed, and its array of monuments have since been hailed as some of Europe’s most compelling by UNESCO.
Today, the city entices travelers with its booming café culture, wild nightlife, arty youthfulness and the majestic Wawel Castle overlooking the Wisła river. Kraków delivers a quintessentially charming European experience with its delightful Old Town lined with historic merchant houses and cobbled backstreets buzzing with shops and restaurants until late.
The nearby district of Kazimierz, once a Jewish Quarter of Kraków, fuses old and new with both places of worship and artisan beer houses. The Kazimierz district is also home to a booming foodie scene taking Poland by storm. Given its location, Kraków is a convenient base for exploring Auschwitz and the nearby Tatry Mountains as well.
Official Language: Polish
Population: 40 million
Currency: Złoty (PLN)