Traveling to Poland has become increasingly popular in the past few years. The advent of inexpensive short-haul flights has made getting to the country affordable and accessible, enabling more people to visit this beautiful country, bridging east and west.
Poland is a diverse country. Cities such as Krakow and Warsaw attract people for their history and lively nightlife, while Southern Poland is home to picturesque mountain ranges. Traveling to Poland can be active, relaxing, or educational, so it is little wonder the country is so popular.
With so much on offer, this handy guide breaks down the top four things every visitor to Poland should see and do.
Wieliczka Salt Mines
First opened in the 13thcentury, the Wieliczka salt mines are one of the oldest in the world. The salt mines were used right up until 2007. After its discontinuation, the shaft has been turned into a museum.
The mine receives more than a million visitors a year and was one of the first UNESCO-listed sites. Everything here is carved out of salt (even the chandeliers!) and into the mine itself. Spread out over nine levels and going down as far as 135 meters – the tunnel is home to a chapel with salt sculptures carved by the miners. On a tour of the mines, you will see underwater salt lakes, altars, beautiful carvings, and even a cathedral – all made of salt.
The salt mines are an easy day trip from Krakow, so getting here will be easy to plan into your itinerary.
During World War Two, Poland was the site of many Nazi labor and concentration camps in the Holocaust. Auschwitz is perhaps the most famous. The occupying German army used Poland as a site for its genocide against Jewish people, Roma people, and many others. More than a million people were imprisoned, enslaved, and killed within four years at Auschwitz.
Situated in the town of Oswiecim, Auschwitz-Birkenau has is now a museum and memorial. There are plenty of Auschwitz tours that take you through the camp, and they are well worth doing. The museum preserves the history of the location so that people can learn the camp’s tragic existance, and reflect on Europe’s greatest tragedy.
Hike in the Tatra Mountains
Mountains may not immediately spring to mind when you think of Poland, but Poland’s mountain ranges are stunning. The Tatra mountain range is one of the most famous and is Poland’s highest range at nearly 2500 meters above sea level.
On the border with Slovakia, the views during the hike are stunning, including a view over the Morskie Oko lake, which is famous for its green waters. Base yourself in the town of Zakopane, often called the winter capital of Poland. From here, you can set off on some of the mountains’ best hikes.
The Tatras are also an excellent spot for skiing, so you have plenty of options at any time of year.
Many people travel to Poland just for Krakow, and it is easy to see why. The city is famous for its stunning architecture, exceptional cuisine, and exciting nightlife. Fun Fact: Krakow has one of the highest numbers of bars per capita in the world.
The city’s old town is a UNESCO heritage site, with places such as St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle dating back to the 14thcentury.
Rynek Glowny, the city’s main square, is the largest medieval town square in Europe and, as much of Krakow, managed to survive World War Two relatively unscathed. Make sure to visit the city’s Jewish Quarter, and note the city’s memorials. Ghetto Heroes Square is dotted with large metal chairs, each commemorating one thousand souls of the city’s lost Jews.