Known mostly for the medieval architecture, hearty cuisine, and Jewish heritage, Poland has risen above a bleak history to become a growing tourist destination. It is ideal to take a vacation in Poland. Here is a list of the best tourist attractions in Poland you must visit.
Best Tourist Attractions in Poland
Krakow might be described as a rag to riches city since it went from being a seventh-century village to the second most important city in Poland, is known for its cultural, artistic, academic, and economic activities.
During World War II, the Nazis herded Jews into the Krakow Ghetto where they were later sent to concentration camps; the movie Schindler’s List centered around one man’s efforts to save the ghetto residents from extermination. Located on the Vistula River, this former Polish capital is easy to get around, since Krakow’s attractions radiate out from Old Town, considered the best Old Town in the country.
The capital of Poland might aptly be compared to a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Founded around the 12th century, Warsaw was pretty much destroyed during World War II but has rebuilt itself into a thriving historical and cultural center, complete with a restored Old Town.
Once known as the “Paris of the North,” it also is famous as the home of classical composer Fryderyk Chopin. Another famous citizen was Renaissance astronomer Copernicus, who was born in Poland. Travelers of all ages will enjoy a visit to the Copernicus Science Center where hands-on activities abound.
Pronounced VRAHTS-wahv, Wroclaw is the fourth-largest city in Poland. Built-in the medieval period, the city covers several islands and maintains several beautiful bridges and stunning architecture.
Wroclaw has been busy racking up recognition lately. In 2015 it was named one of the “Best Cities To Live” by Mercer consulting company, and due to their high living standard, it’s classified as a global city by GaWC. In 2016 the city will become the European Capital of Culture as well as the World Book Capital. Those who know Wroclaw best will tell you not to miss Salt Market Square, Centennial Hall (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or St Mary Magdalene Church (13th century).
One of the best tourist attractions in Poland is Gdansk. It is one of the three cities in the Pomerania area that are popularly known as Tri-City. This city on the Baltic coast has a unique vibe that separates it from the rest of the country. It’s a place that’s been shaped by the wide variety of wealthy merchants attracted by its port.
In the heart of Gdansk lies the reconstructed Main Town with colorful facades, shops, and restaurants. The crowning glory is the Neptune Fountain, built in the 17th century; it serves as a symbol of the city. When you’re done with St. Mary’s Church or Oliwa Archcathedral, enjoy a pleasure boat cruise upriver and a brew at a beer garden along the dock.
Student travelers wanting to meet their Polish peers might want to visit Poznan, long known as an academic center and home to Poland’s third-largest university. The city hosts many international events, including the Malta International Theatre Festival that takes place every summer. Major sites are easily accessible by strolling the Royal-Imperial Route, a walk set up especially for tourists. Athletes may enjoy a visit to the artificial lake of Malta, home to a ski slope, ice rink, and swimming pools.
6. Bialowieza Forest Reserve
Europe’s largest remaining section of the primeval forest that once covered much of the continent, the Bialowieza Forest Reserve has definitely earned its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The forest sits on the border between Poland and Belarus — a border crossing for hikers is actually located within the forest itself — and covers an area of over 1,400 square kilometers.
Bialowieza is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and aficionados can join bird-watching tours headed by local ornithologists, but the forest is also home to bison and other large species.
The small village of Bialowieza is within the forest, and so is the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture — windmills, wooden huts, a tiny wood chapel, a barn, and even a banya.
This small coastal town is definitely off the beaten track (at least for non-Germans). Szczecin is a mix of several cultural and architectural influences from several different ages. Reconstruction has been long and difficult here which means that you’ll find German-era Art Nouveau buildings alongside modern steel and class buildings – both of which are alongside crumbled and overlooked ruins from the war.
You’ll want to stop at Bismarck Tower and the National Museum located primarily in the Landed Gentry House. And finally, there’s the Ducal Castle, home of the dukes of Pomerania-Stettin for roughly 500 years.