A Travel Guide to Poland
Located in the center of
Poland has found its purpose as a holiday destination. In the first
years after the 1989 revolutions, Prague and Budapest were appearing
in all the newspapers’ headlines. Now, the travelers seek something
new and further away. Poland’s beauty can be admired in both the old
towns and in the wild landscape from the national parks and national
reserves. The country’s regions are largely divided horizontally –
the Baltic coast and the post-glacial lakes region.
The center of Poland is divided
in the northern low territories and the southern high ones, which
the calcareous area of Krakow-Wielum, grottos and medieval castles.
In the south there are the Tatra and Carpathian Mountains, which offer
facilities for various sports and folkloric tradition. Poland is a
that is proud of its cultural heritage and the theatres and the music
and opera companies are abundant. In the former textiles city of Lodz
there is a film school, alma mater for the directors Roman Polanski
and Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Even though this is the place
where the composer Frederick Chopin was born, and also Marie Curie and
the astronomer Nikolai Copernicus, Poland is best known for the strikes
that took place on the Gdansk dockyard, when Lech Walesa and the
syndicate rose for the first time against the communist government,
Poland Tourist Attractions
- Visit Warsaw, where the
center was restored using the original plans and the paintings from
the 17th and 18th centuries. Visit a café from
the market in the historical center, the Museum of History and the
- Take the elevator to the
30th floor of the Culture and Science Palace, where you will
find an observation bridge that offers you panoramic views of Warsaw.
This building was given to Poland in 1953 by Stalin, as a symbol of
the “Polish-Soviet friendship”.
- The Warsaw Riot Museum offers
educational and interactive experiences through films, testimonies and
artifacts from the times when the Warsaw’s inhabitants were activists
in the resistance movement.
- Visit the manor where
Chopin was born, in Zelazowa Wola, 53km west of Warsaw. The attractions
include a lovely park, summer time concerts and 19th century
musical instruments and furniture.
- Visit the Renaissance style
square in Zamosc, one the many places in Poland that are enlisted as
UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Pass through the Krakow Gate,
which was built at the end of the 14th century and was
in 1782. This gate is considered to be the architectural symbol of the
city Lublin and is the main entrance in the historical center. It also
houses a museum of history.
- Dive in the historical center
of Krakow. In the middle you will find the biggest market in Europe
and the city hall, which was rebuilt in the 19th century,
in a commercial center from the 14th century.
- Also in Krakow, visit the
Jagiellonski University, founded in 1364, one of the oldest in Europe.
In the former Jewish district Kazimierz there is the Remuh Synagogue.
The Wawel Castle contains the largest collection of tapestries in the
world, and nearby there is a gothic cathedral.
- Discover the Wieliczka salt
mine. Of all the 359km of corridor, only 2km are accessible to the
The tourist track goes up to 135m deep and contains impressive chambers,
bass relief, chandeliers and a chapel sculptured in salt.
- Admire the miraculous icon
of the Mournful Virgin from the huge monastery complex Jasna Gora in
Czestochowa, 100km north of Krakow.
- Look for the 100 bridges
in the city of Wroclaw. Other attractions include the 15th
century city hall, the Ethnographic Museum from the Royal Regal and
the cathedral on the Ostrow Tumski (the Cathedral Island).
- Go towards Gdansk to see
the biggest gothic church in the world – the St Mary basilica. The
nearby seaside resort, Spot, has the longest pontoon in Europe (500
meters). A short distance from here, you can find the Hel Peninsula,
the Kashubian lakes region and the Teutonic castles from Malbork and
- Visit the medieval city of
Torun and its historical center, built in gothic style.
- Go hiking in Poland’s
parks and national reserves – the Kampinos National Park is located
near Warsaw. Further away, the Bieszczady National Park is part of the
Carpathian mountain chain and contains large portions of the great
Bieszczady, where brown bears, lynxes and wild cats roam. The Bialowieza
National Park is one of the last refuges of the European buffalo.
- Go skiing or alpine climbing
in the Tatra Mountains. Zakopane is a center for alpinism and winter
sports, which offers a fairytale atmosphere – wooden houses and locals
that still use their traditional outfit. Visit the Koscieliska valley,
the Kasprowy Wierch Mountain and the Morskie Oko glacial lake.
- Relax on the beaches on the Pomerania – Kolobrzeg coast or Leba. The beach is connected to the Slowinski National Park, famous for its sand dunes that move a few inches every year.
- Pay homage to the Holocaust’s
victims in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, 70km away from
Krakow. It’s a sad experience, but it will offer you a perspective
of the historical facts.
The Polish cuisine has a
flavor and its main ingredients are the dill, sweet marjoram, fennel,
mushroom and sour cream, which are added to soups, sauces and boiled
meat. The soups are an important part of any regular meal and are
thick and rich. For dessert, apple pie (szarlotka) is served, jelly
doughnuts (packi) and opium poppy pie (makowiec). The national
include – bigos, cabbage and meat, herring fillet with pickles and
onions, sausages, pierogi, meat dumplings, cabbage, cheese or fruits
and kasza (buckwheat).
Nobody knows for sure who where
the ancestors of the modern Polish. It seems that they were living
in Europe-Asia and they were descendants of the Slavs. In second half
of the 10th century these tribes formed Poland, this
kingdom soon becoming a regional power. Then almost two centuries of
domestic battles and decline followed. After the restoration of the
Polish kingdom in 1320, with Krakow as its capital city, it succeeded
in dominating the eastern half of Europe, in the 15th and
16th centuries. Meanwhile, Poland became Europe’s main
crops supplier and a republic that was lead by chosen kings and an
parliament. The continuous fierce wars in the 17th and 18th
centuries drained Poland’s strength, which was eventually shared between
the nearby empires – Russia, Austria and Prussia. The next century
was marked by a series of Polish riots. In 1918 Poland regained its
sovereignty, sealed in 1920 with the victory against the Russian Red
In 1939 Hitler’s army joined
forces with Stalin’s troops, and this union of evil invaded Poland,
which became the first Allied nation that fought in the Second World
War. The Polish troops fought battles with the Nazis in Norway, France,
England, Africa, Italy, Normandy and Russia. When the war ended Poland
had lost the eastern half of its territory to the Soviets, who also
took the leadership of the country. In 1956, 1968, 1970 and 1976 the
population engaged in waves of riots, followed by drastic
The riot that took place on
the Gdansk dockyard in 1980 aroused solidarity movements all over the
country, forcing the communist regime to agree to the liberalism. This
is how the Solidarity syndicate was formed, which eventually lead to
creating democracy in the entire Central and Eastern Europe. In the
end of the year 1981, the communist Polish had to use terror – hundreds
of activists were arrested, but others continued to secretly develop
a strong democracy. Since the communists had brought Poland into a state
of bankruptcy, they agreed to the peaceful transition towards the