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Ancient forest straddles the northern border, underground cities are carved out of rock salt, all while traditional villages glisten against fabled rolling hills. History, both old and modern, blends into a colorful world that has polished Poland, turning its wonders into treasured gems. Medieval luxury and a storied history are captivating and enriching jewels of Poland.Readmore
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All across the world, there has been a modern clamber for organic, homegrown food. That has been Poland since the first cabbage and beetroot fields were plowed. Generations-old recipes create simple yet delicate culinary delights, everything from apple strudel to the ubiquitous pierogi (dumplings). It is all whipped together in the style of a bygone era, somewhat reminiscent of food home-cooked by your grandmother. Food markets provide an intriguing sense of local life, and restaurants love to glamorize their old-world allure. Spend more than a week in Poland, and you will start distinguishing regional favorites as well. On any day in Poland food offers a focal point to tie all the history and charm together.
While holocaust memorials and concentration camps are not the happiest places to visit, their heartbreaking stories are virtually unmissable on any visit to Poland. There is no question of forgetting what happened, with personal narratives add intimacy to the shocking scale. Like so much about Poland, Jewish heritage looks forward, experienced in neighborhoods that have been sensitively restored, along with stories that have been superbly recaptured. By exploring Jewish history you connect with the art and culture that came before the genocide. In this way, you are able to celebrate the proud legacy of those that passed.
The cobbles may be bumpy, and the air may have a chill, but Poland seems tailor-made for getting around on a bicycle. Most of a city’s attractions are found in the old part of town, where the lanes are narrow and devoid of traffic. So you can peddle slowly on the breeze, passing colorful mansions and church bells, onwards to merchant markets and gilded town halls, then out the other side to a castle on the river. If you are short on time, it is a great way to coordinate local attractions, quicker than both walking and traveling by car. With a bicycle, you can comfortably reach out to the quirks that lay beyond an old part of town, like medieval breweries and stalls of strange bric-a-brac.
Places To Visit In Poland
WrocÅ‚aw, Kraków, Poznan, Warsaw...you can easily spend two weeks wandering cobblestone streets to glamorous churches and bewitching monuments. Poland has much more, of course, it is just that these cities have the uncanny ability to lure you there then keep you there, even if it initially seems you have seen it all. Those that look beyond these famous cities are treated to a raw vision of Poland, one that is equally enchanting just without so many postcards. Contradiction is a common theme across the country and by venturing further afield you will get a greater sense of what that is all about. The Quiet Contradictions of Swinoujscie Swinoujscie is known for grand mansions along the coast, clean beaches with backdrops of quiet cafes, and architecture that’s part communist relic and part old-world glamor. Swinoujscie is a Baltic coastal town that can be hard to get a handle on, personifying a nation’s tumultuous past. You should have plenty of time to consider the contradictions because Swinoujscie is Poland’s most relaxed beach hangout. This relaxed little town is also an excellent crossroads for longer European journeys. There are direct ferries across the Baltic to Denmark and Sweden, plus short train connections to Germany’s eastern cities like Berlin and Hamburg. The Inimitability of Gdansk
Visit Poland in winter, and you will understand why the town squares are painted such vibrant colors. Landscapes are bleak and barren at this time, often under a layer of fresh ice and grey skies. It is not the best time to visit, and you will need to wrap up warmly for the icy Siberian winds.
In comparison, anytime from March to October / November is ideal, for varying reasons. Long sultry evenings give July and August an energetic atmosphere, especially around old town squares, where festivities take place, and the cafes stay open past midnight. Warm temperatures and clear skies add to the appeal, however, be aware that coastal destinations and touristic centers will be at their busiest. June is as warm but a little quieter.
Spring is lovely, leaves return to the trees and fields are blanketed by colorful flowers. There is still a chill in the air, along with sporadic showers, but the limited number of other visitors more than compensates. After the long cold winter the people and landscapes have a buoyant energy that makes travel enjoyable. Fall has a different appeal as the cities start their short cultural seasons. Almost all the old cities celebrate their history and culture through local festivities and performances, everything from free concerts on town squares to traveling theaters and special museum events. If you are interested in history, September and October are the ideal months to travel. This is when the locals come and celebrate their culture after the summer tourists have left. While the temperature is dropping it is warm in the day beneath mostly clear skies, then cool rather than cold after dark.
Poland’s high-end hotels drip with grandeur. With their elegant lobbies and swanky bars, they hark back to great periods of history, redolent of what a city had been at one stage in the past. In recent years they have become an unanticipated highlight of travel in Poland, especially now contemporary facilities have been added to old-world charm: even in the cramped heart of Cracow, there are five-star hotels. Location is an excellent signing post when comparing accommodation. The closer to the old town squares the more historical the building is likely to be, complete with period furnishings and ornamental facades. Hotels outside an old town are more modern, usually catering for business travelers. The location has a big impact on the experience.
The historic cities are not just for sightseeing, they are places to relax and enjoy long after the guide has departed. Stay central, and the cobbled streets are on your doorstep. Hotel quality is good across the board, from boutique options great for couples to larger old hotels more suitable for families. With the surge in tourism over the last two decades, many grand hotels are now equipped with interlinking rooms and other family-focused amenities. Staying in the old central part of a city keeps your dining options open, as most of the highly rated restaurants will be within walking distance. There’s a hint of the unusual as well. Spend the night in a converted salt mine in Wieliczka, sleep in Warsaw’s neoclassical ex-Soviet embassy building, try a beer spa in Szymbark and enjoy a converted cinema in Lodz More options are being added to this peculiar array but their style is not particularly novel. Polish accommodation has always been about repurposing beautiful architecture into a soothing place to stay.
Poland is part of the Schengen Area and European Union. Nationals from the U.S., Canada, and most Western nations are allowed 90 days of visa-free travel. When packing, it is always worth bringing one layer more than you think you will need; the Polish air can retain a certain chill throughout most of the year.
Getting around in Poland has become much easier during the last decade. In 2016, Poland hosted the European Football Championships and upgraded much of its railway network for the event, meaning quicker and more comfortable journeys between major cities. Budget airlines have been clambering to add Polish destinations to their maps, creating easy links with other countries across Eastern and Western Europe. While Poland may be large, these airports enable you to focus on one Polish region before visiting another country. Warsaw acts as a European rail crossroads; there are first-class carriages on many of the overnight departures, with destinations as far as Vienna, Budapest, and Moscow.
It is highly recommended to take tours from local guides in Poland. The consideration is not necessarily what you take to the country, but what you take away. Only the Polish understand Poland, and they are immensely proud of it. Their insight is integral to the experience.
Poland is a very safe country to travel through. It is important to always stay aware of your surroundings while traveling, especially when visiting larger cities such as Kraków and Warsaw, which do see some petty crime. Crime rates are much lower than in Western Europe’s big cities, but it is always important to apply basic common sense when you are traveling around. On overnight trains, it is recommended to use the sleeper cabins, as there are reports of robberies from seater-coach luggage racks. For the most part, Polish police have a visible presence, and there’s a noticeable calm in the city air.
While the alcohol consumption and heavy food may suggest otherwise, Poland is a fairly healthy nation. You should not encounter any problems. If you do, the health system is of a good standard, especially in the cities you are likely to be. Tap water is safe to drink, although most restaurants only serve bottled water.
It’s pretty hard to offend the Polish. They have had everything thrown at them over the centuries and they are as thick-skinned as anyone. Avoid bringing up WWII as it is could lead to a few tense moments. Guides will respond to your questions and the locals may open up, but it is not a period in history the Polish would like to dwell on. Poland has always been a stoic Catholic nation and the church continues to have a large influence today. Pope John Paul II led the Vatican for almost three decades and is put on a saintly pedestal by the Polish people. Christian holidays are properly observed, with many attractions closing down over Good Friday and Easter Monday; being in Poland at this time is an interesting experience. The main cultural faux pax is disrespecting the church is someway, usually inadvertently by not dressing appropriately when visiting any of the churches or shrines. Beyond the church visits, you should not feel restricted in how you dress, the locals do not care too much about following a particular style.
The older generation will have learned Russian at school, and it’s rare to meet seniors that can converse in English. However, in recent years there has been a big push to promote English, and you will find it much easier to talk with the younger generations. You should expect English to be spoken at all tourist establishments, especially high-end hotels and restaurants.
Poland is very much part of Europe now, and almost all the ATMs accept Visa or Mastercard. American Express can be used in hotels, and restaurants, but it can be difficult to withdraw cash with this card. While the zloty remains Poland’s currency, there has been a move towards Euros, as shown by hotels and supermarkets that accept both currencies.
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