Top Reasons to Visit Poland

Cities, holidays, heritage, castles, and food

The Old Town of Gdansk, Poland Gdansk, sailing boat on Motlawa in front of Crane Gate, Poland Details Credit:
••• The Old Town of Gdansk. David Santiago Garcia/Aurora Photos

Poland is a country often overlooked as a travel destination. However, Poland may be just the place you’re looking for if you seek a destination with great food, ever-present culture, and European charm. Check out these reasons for visiting Poland:

Polish Cities and Towns

The diversity of Poland’s cities and towns means that travelers won’t feel that their tour is a litany of sameness. Each city in Poland has a distinct feel and social culture.

From Warsaw’s urban pulse to Krakow’s historic pride, to Wroclaw’s whimsy, to Gdansk’s stately maritime heritage, Poland’s cities distinguish themselves from one another easily. Any tour of Poland should include several cities, as well as towns and villages in between. You will be hard-pressed to determine which is your favorite!

Poland’s World Heritage Sites

World Heritage sites designated by UNESCO preserve cultural and historical artifacts of Poland’s past. These sites make great destinations for travelers to this country; one of the most popular is Krakow’s Old Town, but if you’re in Krakow, it is easy to also see two other UNESCO-protected sites, the Salt Mines and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Others include the wooden churches of southern Little Poland or the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora Monastery.

Polish Holidays and Festivals

Holidays in Poland are memorable events for visitors. Christmas and Easter markets in Krakow, Warsaw, and other cities are only one way Poles showcase the importance of these holidays.

Decorations brighten city centers and concerts and performances contribute to the celebratory atmosphere. Travel during one of these extended holidays for seasonal foods, souvenirs, and other seasonal delights.

Festivals such as Wianki, Juwenalia, and the Drowning of Marzanna are long-standing traditions that will give visitors a unique peek into Polish culture.

Also check events calendars for annual music, theater, film, art, fashion, or science festivals.

Musical Heritage

Poland’s most famous composer is perhaps Chopin, whose statue presides over Lazienki Park concerts dedicated to the great musician. But Poland’s music scene ranges from jazz to medieval to opera music, which can be enjoyed in a variety of historic and modern venues in major cities. Outdoor concerts take place in parks and squared during the warmer months, while the church concerts and operas highlight the winter season.

Natural Beauty

Poland’s countryside, the seaside to the north, and mountains to the south provide visitors with a variety of landscapes to relax in. Resorts in the south attract skiers and hikers, while those who want to trawl the beach for amber will have to head to the coast. In between, forests hide flora and fauna and outcroppings and lakesides reveal manor houses or castles.

Castles

If you love castles, make Poland one of your top destinations. Poland’s castles can be found in various states of preservation, from foundation-only ruins to structures that maintain their original integrity. Some castles, such as the Royal Castle in Warsaw or Krakow’s Wawel Castle, can be easily visited.

Others require a spirit of adventure but will reward with magnificent views and an authentic taste of history. Malbork Castle is enormous and well-preserved and requires an afternoon to explore. Other castles in Poland include:

Food

What’s on offer at Polish restaurants varies according to season and region. For example, fish dishes prevail in northern Gdansk while hearty pierogi dishes are prevalent in the south. Autumn is mushroom season, which means that dishes will feature forest-fresh fungi. Polish pastries, from the simplest donut to the most elaborate stacked cake, memorably finish off meals.

Beverages from Poland should also be tried. Flavorful beers and delicate vodkas appear on restaurant and bar menus or can be purchased from shops.