Poland has a dramatic history that dates back to the 11th century, when the local Slavic tribes united under a king. Few countries in the world have changed so much over the centuries, as Poland has swung from being a powerful player in European politics to a helpless victim of its neighbors and back. Poland has repeatedly been invaded and fought off invaders, joined and split with other countries, seen parts of its territory taken away, and even been conquered and divided up among neighboring countries, as well as being dominated by the former Soviet Union until winning its independence once more in the 1980s. These changes have made the Polish people fiercely patriotic and devoted to freedom. Today Poland is fully modernized, economically strong, and an important member of the European Union.
Poland’s most important cities and best known tourist destinations are Warsaw, its capital; Gdansk, the main seaport; and the old royal capital and cultural heart of Poland, Krakow. Most Poland travel plans involve visiting these three cities, but there is no shortage of things to see and do in Poland’s countryside and smaller towns. Most of Poland is wide-open plains, with pleasant, unspoiled lake country in the east and northeast and the low Tatra Mountains in the south.
Some people still associate Poland with the drab gray images of Communism, but nothing could be further from the truth. Poland offers the visitor a colorful, memorable experience, ranging from the ancient palaces of Poland’s former nobility in Warsaw and Krakow to the most modern shopping and conveniences. Restaurants serve both traditional, hearty Polish fare and expertly prepared world cuisine.
Poland travel is also a great idea if you’re into outdoor pursuits. Large areas of the east and south in Poland have only been lightly touched by industrialization. In fact, the Strict Reserve park in Bialoweza is the last patch of truly virgin forest in Europe. Biking, hiking, skiing, and river rafting are all popular pursuits, and Poland travel agencies can supply you with the maps and equipment you’ll need to get away from it all.
Poland’s climate is cool and temperate, so it’s suitable for travel year-round. It can get crowded in midsummer, however, so late spring and early fall are the best times for Poland travel. December to March is ski season in the mountains.
Top Poland Activities
1) Visit beautiful castles and palaces in Warsaw, Krakow, Malbork, and elsewhere
2) Try traditional Polish dishes like pierogi, kielbasa, kotlet schabowy, and bigos
3) Learn the language at Krakow’s International School of Polish Language and Culture
4) Have a cheap lunch with the locals in a “milk bar” (bar mleczeny)
5) Shop for amber jewelry in the Baltic region
6) Get back to nature at the Strict Reserve and Bison Reserve in Bialoweza
7) Stop in a Hortex shop for Polish ice cream (lody)
8) Hike or ski in the Tatra Mountains
9) Explore World War II history in the Warsaw Ghetto, Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, and Auschwitz
10) Bike through unspoiled nature at Sanok’s Greenway Bicycle Trail
11) Go on a mushroom-picking tour in the Polish Lake District
Top Poland Attractions & Sightseeing
1) Wawel Castle, Krakow
2) Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw
3) Strict Reserve national park, Bialoweza
4) Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial, Krakow
5) Lazienki Park and “Palace on the Water,” Warsaw
6) Malbork Castle
7) Cathedral of Sts. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, Torun
8) Dunajec River Gorge
9) Dlugi Targ (Long Market), Gdansk
10) Jasna Gora monastery and “Black Madonna,” Czestochowa
11) Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter), Krakow
12) Wilanow Palace, Warsaw
13) Harbor and shipyards, Gdansk
Poland is a hidden gem, with many historical locations and sightseeing wonders. It continues to gain in popularity amongst the international tourist community.
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