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With iconic castles, delicious food, and landscapes that can accommodate a ski trip or a beach vacation, Poland is one of the most underrated travel destinations in Europe. There are over a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this small country, as well as affordable accommodations, a fun nightlife scene, and breathtaking views. The cities are artsy and full of energy, while the countryside is romantic and rustic. This year, experience a different side of Europe and check out these top things to do in Poland!
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Krakow is a must-visit city in Poland that pretty much every first-time visitor falls in love with. Here you’ll find cobblestone streets, traditional pubs, people selling flowers, and manageable crowds. The Main Market Square is an ideal place to start your exploration of the city. It’s known as Rynek Główny and is a large medieval town square. Cloth Hall is at the center of the Main Market Square and was rebuilt in the 1500s. Also, take in the views of St. Mary’s Basilica with its unique stained-glass windows, and watch street performers as they entertain the tourists nearby.
Poland has a painful history associated with World War II and the Nazi concentration camps. The German army killed many Jewish people during this time period, and Auschwitz-Birkenau is now a museum and memorial to remember the over 1.1 million lives tragically lost. This is a place to come and reflect upon the past and learn from it to help create a more peaceful and inclusive future. The museum contains post-camp relics, and you can make a reservation online to visit it. Ticket options include tours without a guide, general tours, and one-day study tours.
Lazienki Park is a beautiful place to relax and soak up the culture of Polish life in Warsaw. Here you’ll often see peacocks, row boats, and quite a few restaurants and cafes nearby. Spanning 76 hectares at the city center, this is the largest park in Warsaw. One popular walking route begins at the palace and then heads over to the amphitheater. The castle nearby was the summer home of King August, and the grounds are quite expansive and impressive. Themed gardens include the Chinese Garden, Romantic Garden, and Modernist Garden. You may even get to hear a Chopin piano recital if you walk through the gardens on a nice summer day.
The town of Gdańsk was a thriving place to be during the Middle Ages because of its connection to trade routes. And then it was a center of an anticommunist movement in the 1980s. In the Old Town area, you’ll see buildings that date back to the 17th century, such as churches and mills. Top things to take notice of around here are the Neptune Fountain from 1633, City Hall, the Green Gate from the 12th century, and the Long Gardens known as Dlugie Ogrody. It’s also fun to walk down Mariacka Street, which is one of the most beautiful places in the country with narrow cobblestone streets and local shops that sell handcrafted amber products.
Another awesome attraction to see when you visit Poland is the Wieliczka Salt Mine. There are passageways, caverns, and underground lakes here lined with salt sculptures and chandeliers to illuminate the space. It is believed that the salt mine has natural healing powers, and it’s also just a uniquely fun place to explore. This attraction drew in over 1.7 million tourists last year and hosted more than 350 events. As a health resort, its saline chambers are known to improve breathing ability and overall health quality. Admission tickets include a visit to the Underground Krakow Saltworks Museum and typically range from 59PLN to 64 PLN per person. There are also overnight accommodations here, both above ground and underground.
Visitors to Poland also love the Masurian Lake District because of its remote nature and exciting port towns. It’s fun to go sailing on the Masurian Lakes in spring, summer, or fall to see the scenic lakes and rivers. You can start your journey in Giżycko and Mikołajki to go on a paddling or sailing trip. In total, the Lake District is made up of more than 2,000 lakes that are connected by rivers and canals. It’s also fun to rent a bike to check out this area on two wheels.
To get even more of a sense of Poland’s natural beauty, plan to take a trip to Tatra National Park near the town of Zakopane. This is a tranquil place with tall mountains, plateaus, and snow sport opportunities along the Slovakian-Polish border. While in this area, you can also take a cable car ride to Mount Kasprowy, see the Siklawa waterfalls at the Strążyska Valley, and hike to Morskie Oko Lake.
The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is also worth a visit to learn about Polish history and types of architecture. This is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland. The castle’s history dates back to the 1200s, which is when the Teutonic Knights used it to defeat their enemies and rule their territories. Inside the castle today, you’ll find a museum and works of art on display. You can take a tour of the castle or stick around for a sound and light show in the courtyard.
Visitors with curious minds and creative thoughts love visiting the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw. Come here to see the rotating exhibitions and learn about science through interactive play. You can buy tickets to the exhibitions, weekend courses at the laboratories called Minilabs, or the planetarium. The Minilabs are 45-minute courses on physics, chemistry, biology, or robotics for anyone age nine and up. Depending on the season, this science museum is open between 8am or 10am until 6pm or 7pm; however, it is closed every Monday.