The Tatra Mountains, the Baltic Sea, wonderfully historic cities.
The sheer variety of places to visit will amaze someone that is not familiar with Poland, like me before I came here for the first time.
The favorite and most popular thing to do is visit the historic city centers in places like Krakow or Wroclaw or Warsaw.
However, you can also choose from a seaside city in Gdansk. Spend time remembering at the labor camps, like Auschwitz. Or, you can head to the mountains in the south.
There is no way you would be disappointed with visiting Poland...your only regret will be that you want more time here.
And, as an added bonus, it comes at a cheaper price than the nearby countries like Germany or Austria.
Auschwitz Labor Camp
a sobering visit to say the least.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Walk down 400 feet underground to see the old mines, and the sculptures and cathedrals they carved into the salt over hundreds of years. Thankfully, they installed an elevator to get back out!
Capital and largest city in Poland.
Remember, Warsaw is primarily a city of business, industry, and government.
The tourist areas are primarily set to the northeast side of the city, along the Vistula River. Relative to its size, it won't have the tourist appeal that other cities in Poland may have. But, still very nice things to visit.
Warsaw Castle and Square
Reconstructed 14th-century palace with an art collection & guided tours of the royal apartments. Housing the monarchs of Poland up until the partition of 1795, and again serving the government after the partitions following WW1.
Sadly, it was nearly totally destroyed during WW2, but was rebuilt between 1971 and 1984 following pictures and designs. Luckily, many of the treasures of the castle had been hidden during the war and could be returned to the castle after the rebuild.
Follow along the royal route through the castle with an audio guide for a fascinating history.
Palace of Culture and Science
Landmark 1950s built palace of arts & culture with theater, sports field and 30th floor viewing terrace.
Built during the Soviet era, it is still a little controversial as a reminder of that time. But, historically, it is an impressive structure reminiscent of the large concrete structures the Soviets built throughout Eastern Europe during that time.
Notably this building held the record for the tallest clock tower for nearly 50 years.
Warsaw Old Town Market Square
Medieval square with a famous mermaid statue, destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt after WWII.
Today, like all market squares, it is lined with cafes. But, there is also the Museum of Warsaw and the Museum of Literature.
16th century castle defense wall with towers was reconstructed in the mid 20th century.
The tower is notable in that it was only put to use once, in 1656 against the Swedes.
Partially dismantled in the 19th century; a rebuild started in the 1930's. But, being destroyed in the war, it was rebuilt again between 1952 and 1954.
Jesuit Church and St John’s Cathedral
St Johns is a Royal cathedral with links to Kings John III Sobieski & Sigismund III Vasa, next door to the Jesuit Church
City in the South near the Czech border, with a medieval core and Jewish quarter,
Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow
fortified royal castle started in the 14th century. Built on a hill overlooking the Vistula River
Krakow Market Square
(Rynek Główny) in the center with a 13th century St Mary's basilica and Cloth Hall, plus statues and fountains
15th century fortified gate to old town
Through its long history, it has been ruled by Germans, Mongols, The Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburgs, the Prussians.
The third largest city in Poland after Warsaw and Krakow was founded more than a thousand years ago; and today it is a vibrant and young university city with a student population of over 130,000 in 30 different colleges.
Wroclaw Market Square
Laid out in the 13th and 14th centuries, it is one of the largest squares in Europe at over 9 acres (3.7 ha). Today, it is a pedestrian zone and the heart of the city. Lined by homes, shops, restaurants; there is never a lack of people just strolling the cobblestones.
Around the square, you can visit The City Museum, the Museum of Bourgeois Art, St Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, and a connecting Plaza (Plac Solny) to give even more space.
I cannot find any source that can say exactly how many of these little sculptures there are in the city, but estimates range from 300-700. From what I have gathered, the gnomes started as murals protesting the communist regime in the 80's. Then, the first bronze statuette was added in 2001. Since then, the city and private businesses keep adding them. If you want to track them, there is an app for that! All I know is that they are delightful to keep encountering as you explore the city.
There are churches, great and small, throughout the city. No need to search, you cannot miss the spires at seemingly every turn. Enjoy the the little St Giles' Church, the oldest church in Wroclaw dating back to the 13th century, which is also in the shadow of...you guessed it...another church. Up to the grand Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the Cathedral of Mary Magdalene with a lookout; if you enjoy the history and art of churches, you will not be disappointed in Wroclaw.
Panorama of the Battle of Racławice
Inaugurated in 1894, on the centennial of the famous battle for independence; this incredible work of art had a tumultuous history. Damaged during WW2, ostracized during the Communist period, it was finally repaired and restored in 1985. Placed in a specially built building, this painting is 120 meters long, and 15 meters high. Along with the setting additions, it creates an incredible 3 dimensional impression. Definitely worth a visit. You buy a ticket for a half hour presentation of the work that is very informative. Translations are available.
Wroclaw Botanical Gardens
Even in very early spring, they were hard at work making this a beautiful garden. Though much of it was not blooming yet, the advantage of an April visit on a Tuesday, I had the entire garden to myself. The surrounding churches just add the serenity of the park.
Wroclaw Culture and Sports
Plenty of things to do in Wroclaw. The National Museum for classical art, The Four Domes museum for modern art, and the Museum of Bourgois Art. For history there is The City Museum and the Archeological Museum along with many specialist museums like Museum of Theatre, Geological Museum, and the Pharmacy Museum. There is also a beautiful opera house for performances.
If you are more into sports, Wroclaw has the Wroclaw Stadium and the Oporowska Stadium as well as the Hala Orbita, an indoor arena.