Poland has gained a reputation as a tourist hotspot in recent years. Nestled in central Europe it has been overshadowed by Germany and, more recently, the Czech Republic when it comes to attracting visitors however it is a country with a great deal to offer.
The country did used to be a backpackers paradise. Relatively unchanged in many places, cheap and easy to access it was a popular destination if you were travelling through Europe. The difference these days is that it has become much more mainstream due to regular flights to and from most countries in the rest of Europe.
So what is there to do in Poland? If you are not too familiar with the country then these are the top 5 things to do while you are there.
Visit TheTatra Mountains
We thought that we would start this list of with something a bit different. While most people talk about the old town of Krakow or the solemn experience of Auschwitz (see below) the Tatra Mountains are often overlooked.
Found along the Polish-Slovakian border, the range is pretty huge – 785 square kilometres (303 sq mi) to be precise. If you are one for the great outdoors then the TatraMountains will be right up your street. With great hiking, breathtaking views, tranquil lakes and enchanting forests the mountain range is a fantastic way to escape to rural Poland.
Chill Out In Old Krakow
As a city Krakow is fast becoming a rival for Prague in cheap but worthwhile places to visit in Central Europe. The old part of the town is actually an UNESCO World Heritage Site with many buildings dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. In fact it is pretty crazy how old some of these buildings are and how they have survived so much upheaval over the years.
The city also has the most bars per capita in the region and with cheap prices (a beer will set you back about $2 in some places) and a plethora of different establishments from quiet cafes to relaxing jazz bars it is one of the best places to people watch in Europe. Indeed Krakow is said to be one of the best nightlife spots in the whole of Europe with a great mix of serene bars and rowdy clubs.
Go And See Auschwitz
It might not be the most uplifting thing you will do in Poland but Auschwitz is a place that you should visit. Home of probably the most well-known and notorious concentration camps used during the Second World War it is a gloomy affair but an important site to visit.
It is easy to get to the camp from Krakow with tours running daily and going during the winter months when it is snowing provides a perspective of how harsh conditions were for the 1.1m people that were killed there.
Explore The Salt Mines
Anyone that goes to Krakow generally combines Auschwitz with the Salt Mines.
The Wieliczka Salt Mines as they are known hardly sounds like a prime attraction – why would you go and see a place in the middle of nowhere that was used for mining salt? – but they have become an important part of Poland. Not only are they stunningly beautiful but you can visit a whole cathedral that has been carved into the rock and the mines were in operation from the 13th century right up to 2007.
Photograph The Sand Dunes
Wait, so isn’t Poland meant to be a cold country with lots of snow and harsh winters? Well, yes it is but it is also home to the sand dunes in the Słowiński National Park which is found in the north of the country – the summers here can be really warm.
The park borders the Baltic Sea and the makeup of the geography here has created miles and miles of sand dunes. Take a few photographs, upload them to Facebook and confuse your friends who thought that you were visiting a barren wasteland of ice and snow. It also has expansive forests where you can camp as well.
Poland has so much to see and do that it can be very difficult to whittle the list down to 5 things. On top of these attractions you also have the many castles found throughout the country and also you can see how a specialty salted cheese is made and then morphed into various designs.
However because Poland now benefits from EU tourism and, more importantly, cheap flights from major airports many people now visit on a short city break. Some people won’t venture far outside of Krakow however the whole country is a wealth of activity and things to experience.
If you are visiting Poland then these 5 attractions will give you a great balance and make your trip to the country all the more worthwhile.
Katie produces a guide on the best VPNs while overseas. Poland blocks US TV shows like Netflix. Read their guide to find out how to access it when travelling.