Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
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Known for its medieval architecture, Jewish heritage and unspoiled natural beauty, Poland is a small country that sits on the Baltic Sea. Explore its rich history, visit majestic castles and picturesque market squares, then enjoy the outdoors at beautiful national parks and mountainous regions. From historic landmarks in Warsaw to the coastal charms of Sopot, here are the best places to visit in Poland.
Warsaw is Poland’s capital city with a long history as the political, economic and cultural center of the country. It boasts an extensive landscape full of parkland, with cobbled alleyways in Old Town and opulence showcased through Gothic churches, neoclassical palaces and modern skyscrapers. Visit The Royal Castle, Presidential Palace and Mostowski Palace to take a step back in time, while those traveling with the family can also add the Multimedia Fountain Park and Warsaw Zoo to their itinerary.
Considered Poland’s cultural center, Krakow is the country’s second-biggest city, known as the architectural jewel of Central Europe. Visit the largest market square in Europe and see the iconic Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) that dates back to the 14th century. Meander through the Old Town and stop to admire Art Nouveau masterpieces at Kazimierz or explore the interior of Wawel Castle, then take a break to enjoy the candle-lit bars and pavement cafes. Pick up local trinkets at markets hidden in Kazimierz.
You’ll be blown away by the beauty of Wroclaw’s town square, which is dotted with quirky dwarfs and is home to over 12 islands, various riverside parks and over 100 bridges. Built in the medieval period, you can explore the historic neighborhoods of Rynek and Ostrow Tumski, visit interesting museums and see the Centennial Hall, which is considered a 20th-century architectural gem. If you’re traveling with the kids, make sure to stop at the Afrykarium, a themed aquarium.
A beautiful port city on Poland’s Baltic coast, Gdansk is best known as the location of Solidarity movement. Visit the shipyards where it all began and learn about the city’s connection to its maritime history, then hop on a scenic riverboat excursion or sip Polish beer by the dockside. Pick up amber jewelry and wander the Main Town to see its colorful facades, shops and restaurants. Make sure to see the Neptune Fountain that dates back to the 17th century.
A small seaside city nestled between Gdansk and Gdynia, Sopot is dotted with picturesque woodlands and an alluring bay. It’s wide sandy beach features warm waters that are great for families, while those looking to explore can hop on scenic cruises to Gdansk, Gdynia and Hel. Walk along the pedestrian-friendly Monte Cassino Street or spot world-renown windsurfing events from the wooden Sopot Pier. See if you can spot Krzywy Domek, also known as the “crooked house” because of its Gaudi-like shape.
Another picturesque port city on Poland’s Baltic coast, Gdynia is an ideal destination for water lovers and maritime enthusiasts. Start your exploration at The Museum of the City of Gdynia, which tells the story of the city, then visit the Gydnia Aquarium, Polish Navy Museum and Polish Maritime Museum. The museum ships will captivate you with their unique exhibitions, while those looking to stay on land can explore Kosciusko Square or see antique cars in the Motorization Museum.
Located in the center of the country, Lodz is a cultural mecca with Poles, Jews, Russian and Germans all living together harmoniously. Stroll Piotrkowska Street and admire the historic architecture, then visit Ghetto Litzmannstadt to learn about the city’s sombre Holocaust history. Once famous for its textile industry, it’s now famous for its film school and Manufaktura, an impressive shopping and leisure complex. Marvel at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral or visit the Cinematography Museum and Museum of Ethnography and Archaeology.
A modern city located along the Warta River in western Poland, Poznan boasts multi-colored buildings in its central square that lures in all types of travelers. Visit the array of pubs, clubs and restaurants that keep this city buzzing late into the evening, and spend your days admiring the Renaissance-style buildings of Old Market Square or visiting the Historical Museum of Poznan to learn about its rich history. Make sure to see the mechanical goats that butt heads when the town hall clock strikes noon.
Torun is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but it’s also the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, the world-famous 15th-century astronomer and mathematician. Explore its three main parts of the city that include Old City, New City and the Teutonic Knights’ Castle, then see its collection of Gothic cathedrals, Leaning Tower and Old City Town Hall. Bring the kids to the interactive Gingerbread Museum, where you can make your own cookies to take home as a souvenir.
Sitting between the fields of Polish Mazury and Elblag Lakes, Malbork boasts one of Europe’s most captivating medieval castle ruins that date back to 1409. History and architecture enthusiasts won’t want to skip this attraction, as the sprawling castle complexes and the red brick fortresses are sure to take you back to medieval times. Marvel at the tapered turrets and 13th-century gatehouses, then visit the Skwer Esperanto park with its commemorative stones placed by well-known speakers.
Known for its artistic, musical and theatrical venues, Bydgoszcz is a cosmopolitan city that is home to the Municipal Center of Culture that regularly holds events and performances. The list of must-see attractions in the city includes the Old Mill by the Brda River, Nicolaus Copernicus Square and Bydgoszcz Pantheon. It’s home to numerous universities and bustling colleges and hosts important professional sports events in its Zawisza Sports Complex.
Located in eastern Poland, Lublin is a popular gateway to Ukraine. Visit the Zemborzycki Lake and Aqua Lublin complex for water-based adventures, or visit the Tower of the Trinity for beautiful views over the Old Town. Walk through the Old Town to discover the 14th century Krakovian Gate and over 100 mansions and buildings, then head to Downtown Lublin to relax in coffee shops and basement bars or unwind in the Maria Curie Sklodowska University Botanic Garden.