From the Gothic church spires and the medieval castles of Krakow, to the chilling red-brick buildings of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland’s architectural treasures are equally striking and intriguing, and continue to tell stories from its turbulent past. Soak up the culture and history of this fascinating country on one of our escorted tours in Poland.
With the balmy Baltic coast in the north, and the lofty Tatra mountains in the south, Poland is one of the largest countries in Central Europe – covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres. Its landscapes are dotted with ancient towns and historic cities, woodlands, rivers, mountains, beaches and stunning lakes. Warm hospitality, hearty cuisine, and beautiful architecture add to the country's ample charm.
Poland’s former capital, Krakow, is also one of Europe’s most popular destination cities. This is due both to its long, fascinating history (people have lived here since the Stone Age, and the city was the Polish heart of culture, learning and politics from the 10th Century to the 20th) and to its proximity to some of the country’s biggest draws – the Tatra Mountains, the Wieliczka Salt Mines and the historic, heart-rending site of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Head to Krakow on one of our Poland tours, and you’ll discover a city filled with remarkable buildings, including many lovingly restored synagogues and so many churches that the city was once known as “Northern Rome”.
In the face of such riches, you might expect the current Polish capital, Warsaw, to be a poor reflection of its older neighbour. But it really isn’t. The city was all but flattened in World War Two, but the elegant architecture was largely and lovingly restored from 1945 onwards, and the city is now a charming blend of architectural styles from the Baroque to the sharply modern. From the markets and characterful buildings in the Old Town to its gorgeous parks and great range of eating and drinking spots, it offers plenty to visitors.
The landscape between Poland’s cities is one of largely untouched natural beauty. It’s also mostly flat – a carpet of pastures and pine forest, criss-crossed by rivers and dotted with lakes, sweeping up to the Baltic, but the Tatra mountains to Krakow’s south rise into an Alpine landscape much-loved by hikers and skiers who flock to the pretty resort town of Zakopane in their respective seasons. The district of Mazury, with its stunning lakes and rivers, is the ideal place to try your hand at canoeing or kayaking - novices are more than welcome!
Wherever your holiday in Poland takes you, you’ll find it a friendly place filled with history but still very much alive, energetic and ready to welcome visitors. Discover the very best of this fascinating country on one of our escorted tours in Poland.
There is more to this country than meets the eye – from its lively bars and music clubs, to its quieter more tranquil views of mountains, lakes and beaches. With 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Poland is a visual masterpiece brimming with history giving its visitors plenty to discover. Here are some of the top things we think you should add to your list of things to do.
Most escorted tours in Poland include a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the notorious concentration camp complex that has been left as it was discovered in 1944. The chilling UNESCO-listed site offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reflect and to pay your respects to those who suffered there. For more history, pay a visit to the spectacular underground chambers, full-sized chapel and stupendous concert hall of Wieliczka's astonishing salt mine. Find out about life in the mines at the on-site museum and browse the subterranean gift shop and cafe before catching the lift back to the surface.
Explore the stunning city of Krakow, from the spires of St Mary’s Basilica to the royal Wawel Castle. There's a wealth of history to discover here, from medieval to the more recent communist era. Previously the royal city, you'll see picturesque views at almost every turn here. The city is particularly breathtaking at Christmas time, when glittering lights and traditional festive markets add an extra layer of charm. Take a look at our Krakow Christmas Markets holiday for the full experience.
There's plenty to see and do in Poland tours to other major cities, too. Stroll through the Warsaw Old Town, see the Royal Castle and eat in one of the upscale restaurants that are scattered across the historical centre of the capital city. Wander through the charming medieval streets of Gdańsk, or visit the picture-perfect market square of Wroclaw; you're sure to be impressed by the range of beautiful architecture and happily affordable restaurants and bars.
Things to see and places to visit on your escorted tour of Poland
From traditional local eateries serving warming hearty dishes, to fine dining at Michelin-star restaurants, Poland doesn't disappoint with its culinary scene. Dishes here are usually focused around local ingredients like pork, duck, potatoes, mushrooms and cabbage, all cooked simply but perfectly, and with different regional specialities. The food is comforting, with big portions and delicious additions of things like sour cream and butter -- perhaps not the healthiest, but so tasty and the perfect fuel for all of that sightseeing!
Perhaps the best known Polish dish, pierogi is a must-try during your visit. These dumplings, made from flour, are filled with things like ground meat, potatoes and cheese, and lentils and spinach. If you're in Poland at Christmas, be sure to try fried pierogi. Completed with sauerkraut and mushrooms, it's a traditional staple for families during the festive season. Another much-loved and highly delicious Polish dish is schnitzel. This can be either a mix of ground meats, or just pork, breaded and fried. Served with potatoes in some form, as well as a side salad known as surówka, it's a humble, yet tasty and filling dinner option.
All Poland tours should include ample samplings of the local desserts -- and there are plenty to choose from. It's no secret that Polish locals love cakes and pastries, so those with a sweet tooth are very well catered for here. From 'pączki'; glazed doughnuts with a variety of scrumptious fillings, to apple strudel and pancakes, you're never far from your next sugar fix.
Polish locals also love a tipple. From beer and mead to liqueurs and, of course, vodka, you'll have ample opportunity to taste the country's locally produced staples. For a refreshing alcohol-free drink, order a glass of 'kompot'. Made from fruits such as strawberries, apples, and peaches, this sweet and fruity drink is served cold in summer and hot - with festive spices added in winter.
First time to Poland? Here are a few questions/ answers you might find helpful...
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Poland is during spring (between March and May) and autumn (September and November), outside of the hot summer and harsh winter.
Poland is one of the cheapest countries to visit in the European Union, and much cheaper than France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Despite being a member of the European Union, Poland does not use the Euro. Instead, they use the złoty (abbreviated to PLN). For the latest exchange rates, please see XE.
Poland is known for its delightful medieval cities, none more so than Krakow, and its stately castles and churches. The country is home to an incredibly diverse array of geographical features, including nearly 400 miles of coastline, the Tatra and Carpathian mountain ranges, and huge sand dunes in the Błędów Desert.
Near Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, an underground city carved entirely of salt, and the Aucshwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, a harrowing reminder of one of humanity's darkest hours.
Typically, Polish cuisine is rich in meat, especially pork, chicken and beef, and features a wide range of vegetables, spices, and herbs. Food in Poland tends to be hearty and heavy in its use of butter, cream, eggs and many seasonings.
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