Home / Backpacking / 5 Reasons You Should Visit Poland
neptune fountain in gdansk poland
Reasons to visit Poland

5 Reasons You Should Visit Poland

When we were planning our 5-month trip through Europe in 2016, the one question all of our friends asked was “Why are you going to spend 2+ weeks in Poland?”.  Our response was that we weren’t sure that was enough time.  There is so much to see in Poland, that it should be on everyone’s travel wish list.  So here they are – the 5 reasons you should visit Poland!

1. World War II History

We’ll start with the easy one.  When many people think of Poland, they think of the country’s (mostly sad) history in WWII.  For anyone interested in this tragic part of human history, Poland is a must-visit country.

The most obvious is the haunting and upsetting Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp, located about an hour outside of Krakow.  It is necessary to pre-book a tour around the camp.  The guide provides great perspective on what would otherwise be a completely surreal experience.  No matter how much you’ve read about what happened at Aushwitz during the atrocities of the war, being there is a sobering and emotional experience.

Auschwitz II - Birkenau
Auschwitz II – Birkenau

Walking around Krakow, you can explore the former Jewish ghetto and Plaszow concentration camp.  These are well known as the actual location of many of the events depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List.  The relatively new museum in Schindler’s former factory is one of the best WWII museum’s we’ve ever visited (and we’ve been to a lot), and should be a must-see for anyone visiting Krakow.

Site of the Plaszow concentration camp in Krakow, with the memorial in the background
Site of the Plaszow concentration camp in Krakow, with the memorial in the background

 

Oskar Schindler's office and desk, at the Schindler's Factory museum in Krakow
Oskar Schindler’s office and desk, at the Schindler’s Factory museum in Krakow

A bit more off the beaten path is Westerplatte, just outside the northern city of Gdansk.  This is where the first official shots were fired of WWII, between the Germans and the Poles on September 1, 1939.

The memorial at Westerplatte, just outside of Gdansk
The memorial at Westerplatte, just outside of Gdansk

2. Many Beautiful Old Towns

“Beauty” and “Poland” aren’t two words most people put in the same sentence, but that’s a mistake.  Despite considerable destruction during WWII, some old towns survived, and others have been rebuilt in much the same way as they existed before the war.

Most travelers think of only Krakow.  Granted, the old town of Krakow is as beautiful as it is overrun with tourists.  The old town of Warsaw is very underrated.  While most (or all) of it had to be rebuilt after the war, it is still a beautiful and interesting place to explore, filled with restaurants, pubs, churches, and monuments.

St Mary's Basilica, Rynek Square, Krakow
St Mary’s Basilica, Rynek Square, Krakow

 

streetscape in old town warsaw
The rebuilt “Old Town” of Warsaw

We were also pleasantly surprised by the northern port city of Gdansk, which was probably our favourite city to explore in the entire country.

Old Town Gdansk
Old Town, Gdansk

To get off the beaten path a bit, try Wroclaw.  This city is know as the “Venice of Poland” due to the many canals through the city centre.  Spend your time searching for the 300 gnomes scattered throughout the city.

One of the 300+ gnomes in Wroclaw
One of the 300+ gnomes in Wroclaw

Or get out of the centre of Krakow to check out the neighbourhood of Nowa Huta, a planned community given as a “gift” from the USSR to Poland and intended to be a communist utopia.

nowa huta main street
A communist utopia!

3. Hiking in the Tatra Mountains

Poland has amazing hiking.  Who knew?  An (optimistic) two hour bus ride south of Krakow brings you to Zakopane, and alpine town that wouldn’t be out of place in Austria or Switzerland, but happens to be in the Polish Tatra Mountains.  The views from popular Mt Giewont are stunning if you can deal with the crowds coming up the cable car on busy summer weekends.  Try going in the shoulder season for a quieter experience.

One of the incredible views on the hike up Mt Giewont, above Zakopane
One of the incredible views on the hike up Mt Giewont, above Zakopane

4. Oh yeah, and the Food

Pierogies.  What more do you need?  You like savory?  Done!  You want something sweet? No problem.  How can such a simple dish be so delicious?  For the real connoisseur, get to Krakow for the annual Pierogi Festival every August.

pieorgies and vodka
Mmm…pierogies and vodka!

If you ever get tired of meat/potato/cheese/fruit filled dumplings, we also found great pizza (CZIKAGO in Zakopane), amazing kebabs (Sapko Kebab in Warsaw), and even decent sushi (Sushi Corner in Wroclaw), although the latter took a bit of searching on our part.

Make sure you wash all that great food down with some local vodka!

5. And lastly, the Beaches!

Yes, you read that right.  Beaches.  In Poland.  Granted, the Baltic Sea can be a bit nippy, but those Poles are hardy people.  The beach at Sopot, near Gdansk, was beautiful and busy.

beach in sopot
The beautiful beach in Sopot. Granted, the Baltic Sea is a bit chilly!

Check Also

How to Embrace Food and Culture on a Budget

There is no better way to soak up the culture of a place than through …

One comment

  1. Pamela Buckingham

    Trevor!! As my Bucket List grows, I confess I have forgotten pierogies – so of course your mention of pierogies has activated some serious thinking over here! Wonderful post, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Terms and Conditions

Legal and General Terms and Condition

Unless otherwise indicated, this Web Site and its contents are the sole and separate property of Travel Bloggers Tales, LLC, a California Limited Liability Company (TBT). The copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material contained on this Web Site belongs to exclusively to TBT. The trademarks appearing on this Web Site are protected by the laws of the United States and international trademark laws.

In accessing this Web Site, you agree that the Web Site is made available for your personal, non-commercial use only. Unless you have TBT’s prior written permission, you are not permitted to copy, broadcast, make available to the public, download, store (in any medium), transmit, show or play in public, adapt or change in any way the material (or any part of it) contained on this Web Site for any purpose whatsoever.

THIS WEB SITE AND ITS CONTENT IS PROVIDED FOR USE “AS IS”. TBT MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THIS WEB SITE OR ITS CONTENTS, ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND FITNESS FOR PURPOSE RELATING TO THIS WEB SITE AND/OR ITS CONTENT AND/OR ANY WEB SITE TO WHICH IS LINKED ARE HEREBY TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW EXCLUDED. NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES ARE GIVEN AS TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEB SITE, OR ANY WEB SITE TO WHICH IT IS LINKED.

In no event shall TBT or its owners, employees, agents, suppliers, or contractors be liable for any damages of any nature, including without limitation any consequential loss, loss of income or profit, loss of or damage to property, claims of third parties, or any other loss, cost, claim or expense of any kind or character arising out of or in connection with the use of this Web Site, its content or any Web Site with which it is linked. This exclusion and limitation only applies to the extent permitted by law.

Access to this Site is permitted on a temporary basis and TBT reserves the right to withdraw or amend the service TBT provides on the Site or part of the Site without notice. TBT will not be liable or responsible if for any reason the Site is unavailable at any time or for any period.

You may view (and, where applicable, listen to and/or watch) the content and applications available on the Site for your own private non-commercial use. You must not use or allow others to access or use, all or any part of our Site or the contents and/or applications on it for commercial purposes without our permission. Use of all or any part of any Site or the contents and/or applications on it for commercial purposes shall be subject to separate terms and conditions and may be subject to a fee.

You may occasionally print individual pages of any Site for your private non-commercial use, provided that such printing is not substantial or systematic and our trade marks, copyright notices and trade mark notices are not removed.

You must not (whether directly or indirectly) (a) distribute, transmit, syndicate, sell or offer to sell or otherwise make available all or any part of any Site or in any way seek to commercialize all or part of the combination of materials which together constitute the Site, (b) distribute, transmit, syndicate, sell or offer to sell or otherwise make available any content, files, feeds or data from a Site, whether publically available or not, except as specifically permitted by that Site and in compliance with any applicable conditions or restrictions or (c) copy, download, or store any content, files, feeds or data from any Site, whether publically available or not, to make or populate a database or publication of any kind whatsoever unless is it is copying of an insubstantial part of any such material for your personal use.

If you are required to register to use the Site, it is your responsibility to provide accurate and complete registration details and to keep such details up to date. We are entitled to rely on any such registration details you provide to us.

Your registration with the Site must be in your own real, name, not under any false or assumed name and not with any other person’s identity. You must not pretend to be a different person. You must provide a valid email address when you register for any Site. If you provide an email address to us then you warrant to us that you are entitled to receive email to such email address.

If you are required to register to use the Site, you are responsible for everything done using your registration details. You must not disclose your login details to any other person. If you think that another person may have access to, or be using, your registration details, you must inform us immediately.

TBT may suspend, terminate or prevent your account and/or your access to any or all Site(s) at its sole discretion. Where TBT suspends, terminates or prevents your registration, you must not attempt to re-register or submit any content, material or applications without our prior written consent.

TBT may suspend, terminate or prevent your account and/or your access to TBT’s at its sole discretion. Where TBT suspends, terminates or prevents your registration, you must not attempt to re-register or submit any content, material or applications without our prior written consent.

Any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims), shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of California and you agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located in Los Angeles County, California. In the event of any legal action arising from or relating to these Terms of Use or your use of any Site, you hereby waive the right to a jury trial.

Should you have questions concerning this legal statement, our web site, or encounter any problems with this web site, please contact us.