The Republic of Poland is located in Central Europe, and among others, it is close to Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Russia. Since 2004 it’s a part of the European Union. If you heard of this country, it is probably of its World War I and II history or the most famous person – Pope John Paul II. It might be a chance you heard about Lech Wałęsa – the leader of the Solidarność group that started during labor turmoil in 1980 and caused communist regimes to collapse in 1989/1990. But in this article, we would like to give you at least 11 different reasons to visit Poland!
Natural reasons to visit Polad
However, Poland is a well-developed country, it still has a lot to offer in nature and wildlife. We would like to show you four exciting parts of the country below.
Sprawled over the southwestern part of the country, historically, this part of Poland was controlled by Germany, Austria, and eventually by Poland and thus got very interesting not only from nature but also from other perspectives.
But the number 1 thing we love in this part of Poland are mountains – Western and Central Sudetes forming the border between polish Silesia and historic Bohemian region (currently Czech Republic). There is plenty of small charming cities you can visit (like Szklarska Poreba, Karpacz, Klodzko, or Jelenia Gora), but also fantastic mountain hikes with breathtaking views, mainly while visited in the fall or winter.
You can easily combine your nature trip with history – it’s worth to visit Książ Castle and Hitler headquarters from World War II.
Beautiful valleys of the Tatra Mountains rarely fail to draw a gasp. They are part of the Carpathian Mountains and form the natural border between Poland and Slovakia in the southern part of the country. It’s a top-rated tourist destination not only during the year when you can hike whole days but also in the winter when it transforms to ski paradise. Of course, its skiing infrastructure is not developed to the scale of Austria, Italy, France, or Switzerland, but still, if you love to indulge in the white fluff, you can easily spend days on the slopes.
If you delve deep into the southeastern part of Poland on the border with Slovakia and Ukraine, you will discover Bieszczady. Those mountains are the wildest in the whole country because of the relatively low population. Still, the region is very well developed from a tourist perspective, and you can find plenty of beautiful hikes. Bieszczady is popular throughout the whole year. In the winter, some trails might be closed due to heavy snow.
Because this part of Poland is not as populated as other parts, it is an excellent place for wildlife. You can try to spot bears, wolves, bison, and lynxes here.
Close to Bieszczady mountains, you will find a small town of Sanok, where the very famous painter and sculptor Zdzisław Beksinski was born and raised. Visiting his gallery is something that you should not miss experiencing.
Masurian Lake District
There are plenty of reasons why this region located in northeastern Poland is worth your visit. Masurian Lake District is a trendy destination not only for polish people but also for foreign tourists. That number is snowballing over recent years.
Historically the glaciers formed the district during the Pleistocene ice age. But nowadays the lakes are well connected by rivers and canals, creating an extensive system of waterways. Due to this, the region is fantastic for boating enthusiasts, kayakers, anglers, bikers, hikers, and nature lovers in general. Łuknajno Lake is UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and Białowieża Forest is the most significant European bison population.
Water is pristinely clear, and the fish population big enough for everyone. After Poland joined the EU, the region drastically developed tourist infrastructure. You can find here not only great waterfront campgrounds, boat rentals services, but also luxury hotels in small charming cities. The transportation is also well developed so that you can reach Lakeland by train, bus or car.
Reasons to visit Poland – cities and architecture
The second reason to visit Poland is at least four lovely and famous cities, not only from a historical perspective. They also have great relics and charming atmosphere.
Warsaw is the current capital of Poland. It’s also the main airport with most of the connections with the rest of the world. From Warsaw, it is also easy to reach another part of the country due to the well-developed railway and coach transportation.
But if you are coming here, plan to stay at least one or two days in the city. The most famous attractions of Warsaw are Royal Castle, Łazienki Park, Palace of Science and Culture, Wilanow Palace and Warsaw Uprising Museum. Each of those places has an exciting story behind it. For example, the old town in Warsaw was completely destroyed during WWII and was rebuilt from scratch based on the paintings and survived documentation. It is probably the only place like this in the world.
Łazineki Park is located in the city center and looks like a nature preserve. People love to walk here on the weekends and holidays and listen to the birds. The best season to visit this place is spring and fall when colors are most vibrant.
The Palace of Culture and Science is a communist relict, and it was a lot of discussion around it. Some wanted to destroy it, but still, it has a long history and a lot of fans. The building is a symbol of the city, and if you go to its top floor, you can have a fantastic view of the town.
Krakow is the former capital of Poland and probably the best known Polish city worldwide. It has the most significant number of foreign tourists as well. The town was not destroyed to the same extent as Warsaw during WWII and had a lot of old churches and the castle well preserved.
It is also famous of cloth hall located in one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe.
Other must-see places in Krakow are Wawel Royal Castle, Wieliczka Salt Mine, Planty Park, Barbican, Kazimierz – the former Jewish Quarter, and Wawel Cathedral. If you have more time, you can also visit the famous Auschwitz-Birkenau – the dark place reminding of Holocaust history. There is no such place anywhere else in the world.
Due to a large number of quality restaurants, it is also a perfect spot to try Polish cuisine. Later we will explain what to eat in Krakow.
We already mentioned Lower Silesia in the nature part. The best way to reach this part is through the Wroclaw city – the capital of the region. The city itself is our favorite in Poland. It’s probably because of its charm linked to the number of bridges, rivers, streams, and canals. The city sometimes is called Polish Venice. It has over 120 little bridges connecting 12 islands.
There are a couple of places you should see in the city. We definitely recommend Old Town Market, Panorama Racławicka Landscape – the 360 degrees painting from the 19th century located in unique rotunda building, Ostrów Tumski and Japanese Garden. You will find also plenty of old churches and cathedrals.
The exciting fact is linked to Ostrów Tumski – aka Cathedral Island. It is the oldest part of the city dating from the 10th century. Nowadays, it is mainly under secular jurisdiction and has impressive churches, but also fantastic bridges connecting the island to the town.
But the biggest attraction (especially for kids) is the lamplighter that each afternoon at dusk (no fixed hour) is liting the gas lamps. It is the only city in Europe that still has that tradition.
Three-city is the three cities – Gdansk, Sopot, and Gdynia – connected together and forming one big metropolis. They are located in the northern part of the country close to the pristine and sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea. It’s a top-rated tourist destination in the summer, but also already mentioned cradle of Solidarność group and Lech Wałęsa. It all started in the shipyard in Gdańsk.
If you plan to visit three-city, please put the following places on your list: Długa Street (aka Royal Way), Main Town Hall, St Mary’s Church, The Crane, Oliwa Cathedral, Amber Museum, and Sopot Molo & Lighthouse. Of course, it’s a lot more – you can spend weeks, not days here.
Probably the most known symbol of the Gdansk city is The Crane – medieval building in the port of Gdansk that allowed to lift and move heavy cargo from and to the ships.
The other exciting thing is the amber museum because the region is famous for this resin. You can also buy excellent jewelry hand made from amber, and it will be your unique gift from Poland for sure.
If you are interested more in history, please visit the shipyard with the European Solidarity Center.
Foodie reasons to visit Poland
While visiting Poland, you must try the traditional and delicious cuisine of this part of Europe. Below we will shortly introduce our favorites polish dishes.
Polish Beef Tartare
It is known not only in Poland but also in other European countries. But in Poland, it’s prepared with a locally specific way from polish beef and tastes different. The sirloin is chopped with a sharp knife (never minced!) and gently salted and peppered. The traditional version shouldn’t be enriched with other spices. It is then served with raw egg yolk and accompanied by chopped onion, cucumbers, or mushrooms – people then usually mix all together on the plate and eat with freshly baked bread. Polish people also sip it with a drop of vodka. The official explanation says that this way, they lower the risk of poisoning with raw egg yolk.
Pierogi (aka dumplings)
Again this dish is not only known in Poland, but it’s considered a traditional one in the country. Dumplings are very popular in the whole Central and Eastern Europe – the only difference is their shape, taste, and filling.
In Poland, it is traditionally considered to be peasant food, but over time it got popularity among all the higher classes as well. Nowadays, it’s a must holiday dish, but different for Christmas Eve and different for Easter. In the season, it might be filled with sweet fruits and cheese.
Bigos in English is sometimes called hunter’s stew. It is a Polish dish made of chopped meat of various kinds stewed with sauerkraut and shredded fresh cabbage. Usually, you prepare it for a couple of days before serving, and very often, it’s enriched with mushrooms, red wine, vegetables, and spices. During the communist era, it was also called “remainings of the week” dish – goods were not well accessible, and people were adding everything they could to prepare Bigos.
But still, the main and the essential ingredients are chopped meats, fresh and pickled cabbage (aka sauerkraut). Very often, not only port, beef, and chicken meat is added to the Bigos but also polish sausage.
Similar to pierogi, Bigos is a traditional dish served on holidays like Christmas and Easter.
About the authors of reasons to Visit Poland
Hi, we are Aga & Chris – two crazy photographers from Poland who love to travel. In August 2019, we started The Van Escape project in Vancouver. With freshly purchased old camper truck, we headed to Alaska to encounter some wildlife and fantastic landscapes. On our blog – The Van Escape – we try to combine the best travel and photo hints from visited locations. We hope it is beneficial for your travel plans!
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