5 Reasons Why You Need to Add Poland to Your Travel Bucket List
Poland grabs the attention of globetrotters seeking novel travel experiences. Located in the Northeast part of Europe, Poland is bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Lithuania, and a province of Russia. In 2004, Poland became a member of the European Union, helping its economy flourish even more.
The country is a thriving and fun European destination to visit, especially if you’re staying in its two most prominent cities – Warsaw and Krakow. In fact, Travel and Leisure recently named Krakow one of the best cities in the world. Despite Poland’s progress, the prices of goods and services here are better than in most European countries. Why not take advantage of this and check out the best things to do and see in Poland?
Get to the heart of Polish history and heritage within the country’s former capital, Krakow. With its masterful fortification of Arabic design, rather than European, Krakow has preserved much of its treasures and grandeur for visitors to see. Though the city is no longer Poland’s powerful capital, it remains a bustling intellectual and cultural center where university students and tourists hang out. Not only will you be fascinated by the city’s must-see sights and attractions, but you can also enjoy even more unique activities as prices here tend to be low by European standards. That means you get more bang for your buck. More cups of cappuccino, anyone?
Krakow’s strength made it invincible from World War II attacks. The barbicans are definitely among the city’s leading attractions now. Need some fresh air? Head over to Planty, Krakow’s largest park flanked by the old walls. Fondly called the “lungs of the city,” it’s where the locals go to unwind.
A largely Roman Catholic country (it’s the home of the first Polish pope, John Paul II), expect to find grand cathedrals in Poland’s cities and countryside. Krakow is no exception. Visitors can find solace and peace at the magnificent church of St. Mary’s in Krakow. Inside, the altarpiece is a gasp-worthy masterpiece, inspired by Gothic style art. The church and its surrounding areas have remained an iconic landmark of the city, so you should definitely check them out.
Another must-visit destination in Krakow is the royal castle on Wawel Hill. The castle is a symbol of the country’s independence and royal history. The highlights include a trip to the cathedral, which serves as a national mausoleum. Here, you will find the last resting place of the country’s nobles, rulers, and royal members.
Delve into a significant part of Polish history at the former Jewish quarter known as Kazimierz. If you can only remember one Polish ruler, make it Kazimierz. The 14th century king left a mark for being a great warrior, a skilled diplomat, and a notorious womanizer. Apart from the great transformation and progress that happened during his reign, the king is best remembered for welcoming the Jews. This is during the time when neighboring nations were refusing to accept the Jewish people.
In honor of his highness, the neighborhood of Kazimierz (a famous Jewish district) was built. This spot draws thousands of Jewish pilgrims and intellectually curious globetrotters who want a glimpse of a famous quarter for the Jews. Explore courtyards, art galleries, and synagogues in this essential destination in Old Town. Cap off your visit with a signature Klezmer dinner concert, so you can enjoy the beautiful medley of traditional Jewish cuisine and music.
Palace of Culture and Science
Once you’ve covered the best tourist destinations in Poland’s former capital, it’s time to head over to the modern center of the country’s commerce, culture, and science in Warsaw. Stroll through the busy boulevards downtown, and you will surely notice the highest building in all of Poland.
Standing 700 feet high, the Palace of Culture and Science is Warsaw’s most iconic landmark. Climb up to the 30th floor to soak up the panoramic views of the city. When Poland was flattened after the German bombings in 1939, the country had to rebuild everything from scratch. The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, took over Poland and built this imposing palace in 1945.
No trip to Warsaw is complete without visiting this popular cultural, architectural, and people-watching spot in the center of the city. Stroll through 76 hectares of greenery, architecture, and wildlife in the midst of the city for a needed break. This is easily the quickest way to mingle with the locals while listening to talented musicians playing at the park.
One of the top tourist magnets here is Frederick Chopin’s monument gracing the rose garden park. The notable Polish pianist and composer wrote most of his pieces in Paris, but his inspiration came from the beauty of his home – the willow trees of Poland. Lucky you if the park has piano recitals and concerts you can watch for free when you visit. It’s a common scenario, so there’s a reason to be hopeful.
Before you leave Poland, learn how to drink vodka the Polish way! It’s best if you can gain insights from locals on how to pick traditional Polish dishes that complement this beverage (claimed to be invented here). Prefer to explore the cuisine on your own? Try herring, cold cuts, and steak tartare, and you surely won’t go wrong.