Travellers and locals alike value the country’s natural attractions, which indeed are diverse - including the Gory Stolowe, or Table Mountains, natural structures built in horizontal layers, with names like ‘Horse Head’ and ‘Mammoth,’ and Poland’s only desert area, the 10 km long Bledowska Desert. There are 23 national parks in total, with hiking on the to-do list for many travellers.
If you’re looking for unique things to do, you could always take in the Chapel of St. Kinga of Poland, which is found 101 metres under ground in a salt mine, or drop by one of the many castles that litter Poland, one of which features a real-life (sort of) wizarding school.
Places to Visit in Poland
- Tatra Mountains
Unique Things to See and Do in Poland
- Visit The Wieliczka Salt Mine
- See Wawel Castle
- View Gory Stolowe
- Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
History, and a Taste of Poland
Poland has a wealth of history, and while its first ruler was recorded around 966, it is Poland’s more recent military history – its invasion by Germany in World War II in 1939 and subsequent events – that might intrigue, and even chill, the majority of travellers. While some stories have been disproven – the cavalry charge against German panzer tanks at Krojanty, for instance – others are sad reminders of the country’s occupation by the Nazis, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex, situated on the outer limits of the city of Oświęcim.
While this would have to be one of the more depressing day trips in the world, visitors have argued it is important for the sake of remembering the lives of the estimated 1.1 million prisoners who were killed there during the camp’s operation from 1940 until 1945, of which about one million were Jewish, according to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Those of a religious bent (Poland is a majority Roman Catholic country) may want to stop by one of the four chapels located underground in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, in the town of Wieliczka, about 14 km from Kraków. Another item on many travellers’ to-do lists, the mine was opened in the 13th century and contains the Chapel of St. Kinga of Poland, located 101 metres underground, complete with figures and a pulpit carved from the rock salt and crystal chandeliers.
For the foodies, locals advise finding each region’s speciality or unique offering: for example, in the mountains, particularly Zakopane, the dish ‘oscypki’ is prepared, smoked cheese eaten with cranberries; in Kraków, a popular dish is kwaśnica, a type of cabbage soup, while in the South, the dessert kołacz is a local favorite.
Getting Around Poland
Intercity, Eurocity and Express rail services are available for traveling from city to city in both first and second class, with the ability to travel from Warsaw to Kraków in three hours, and local trains are available for smaller cities, while trains run nightly between Berlin and Warsaw. However, seasoned travelers report that the trains can be slow and old, so it might pay to also look into bus services instead, with some offering free WiFi.
Caution should be taken when driving in Poland due to the road conditions, and travelers choosing to drive should be prepared for numerous roadworks.
Domestic flights are available to and from a number of cities, including from Kraków to Warsaw and Gdansk, and Warsaw to Wroclaw.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Poland
The best time to visit Poland is in the summer months between May and October, with the coldest months being January and February, and the warmest being June, July and August, much like the rest of Europe. During winter, temperatures can hit several degrees below zero, while summer can see 30 degree days.
Ready to plan your visit to Poland? Check out these popular guides and trips.