But as all the wonders of the world surround us we find ourselves dreaming about something special. We wish to go somewhere else, in some place unique. If you have your perfect place, good for you, but if you are not sure yet what is that you are looking for than I have a great offer for you. There is a magical place I wish to invite you to. The place is called Poland.
Probably your first obvious question is: where is it? I rush with an answer. Poland is the country on the suburb of the western Europe. If you travel east and live behind Germany you will find us. Poland is very fortunate to be located in the heart of the Europe between the Baltic Sea and the mountains Karpaty and Sudety so you do not need to choose. You have it all here. No matter if you love mountaineering or you are just a fan of the landscape, you can choose between monumental peaks of our highest range Tatry or the lower, picturesque Bieszczady or Świętokrzyskie Mountains. But that is just south of Poland. If you love sun, sand and water than at North, Baltic Sea greets you with its cristal waters and clean (not very crowded) beaches. And of course there is the rest of the country in between. With its lakes and forests, beautiful architecture and long, vivid history ready to be explored; with big modern cities and small climatic villages, with agritourist farms and hiking trails. Even the most demanding will find something for himself. Choose Poland and I guarantee you will not regret it.
However, there is so much to see in Poland and each one of us is different and has its own definition of the interesting holidays. Some like to just rest, some prefer sightseeing, some only need mountains or water, or closeness of nature. That is why I created a list for everyone. You may follow a history and/or architecture lovers’ path, wanderers’ path, the trail for water lovers and mountain fans, or simply those who like to be surrounded by nature. But there is also a special offer for cosmopolitans and people that love to party. Last, but not least I represent obligatory places to visit for all festival regulars. I’ve tried to select the places located near one another so there would be possible to visit shortly most of them. Of course these are just examples, it is you choice where to go and what kind of places to pick. Let me just represent you the options.
So let pack our backpacks and we head off on the adventure.
Path for history lovers
Poland is the country with long and complicated history with includes many magnificent and dramatic moments. We are fortunate that many of the places that tell the story of the past are still present in the landscape of Poland in quite good shape. It is practically impossible to see them all in one holiday, but there has been created a hiking trails to lead you through the country to most interesting locations.
The one of most popular is the Szlak Orlich Gniazd which can be translated into the “the Trail of Aeries (eagle nests)”. There is a 163,9 km path in the South of Poland that leads from Kraków to Częstochowa and allows you to visit the most beautiful group of fortresses from XII century. These medieval castles were built on the borders of Poland in order to protect the country from enemies and intrudes. They are called the Aeries because they are all located on high limestone hills.
The next interesting trail that allows you to visit a lot of related places is the Szlak Piastowski that leads you though the most important places connected with the first royal dynasty in Poland. You start form Poznań and visit among other Biskupin – recreated settlement from the fifth century B.C., Strzelno, Kruszwica with Collegiate Church from the twelfth century in the Romanesque style, Gniezno – first capital of Poland and Kalisz one of the oldest towns in Poland.
If you are a big fan of medieval architecture and military orders you will surely love the next trail which is the Szlak Zamków Gotyckich – the Trail of Gothic Castles. In the offer you may find – a fortress in Malbork – the capital city of the monastic state of Teutonic Order, Nidzica, Kętrzyn, Gniew and Ostróda. Each castle is very well preserved. They were all turned into museums with unique exposition. These are naturally only a few of all trails in Poland, but I can assure you there are all pretty special in their own way.
If you choose Malbork I would strongly recommend visiting a town Frombork nearby with a beautiful cathedral and the Nicolaus Copernicus museum and a planetarium. The famous astronomer Copernicus used to work and live there. Scientists even claim they found his remains there.
Another unmentioned, but beautiful location is castle in Mosznej and Czocha castle. The castle in Moszna is the XVII century monument in the western part of Upper Silesia. It is located in small village Moszna close to the city Opole. This gothic and baroque building was previously the residence of the Thiele-Winckler family. Now it is open for visitors and guests with lots of attractions for everyone. Zamek Czocha is a defensive castle located on the Lake Leśnia, between Zgorzelec and Jelenia Góra (southwestern Poland). Currently after renovations it is a great example of Renaissance architecture. The first mentions of the castle are dated back to XIII century. Both castles have intriguing histories and were the spectators of many events. With the places are connected many legends which hosts and guides of the castle will be pleased to tell.
Among other places worth seeing in case you are interested in history or architecture is definitely Toruń. This wonderful town, created by Germans, still carries signs of their presence which mixed with Polish culture creates very interesting effect. The climate of the Old Town is absolutely one in the kind. The city combines the modern with the past in truly unique way. Museums located there are also must-see. If you are lucky you may even encounter masterpieces of artists such as Rembrandt. To learn a bit about more recent history of Poland I suggest acquainting with Gdańsk and Szczecin. This two towns located on the coast of Baltic Sea witnessed first-handed rebirth of Polish freedom and independence. Gdańsk became a symbol for the Solidarity movement that strongly contributed to fall of communism in Poland. Many strikes and important events in our country took place also in Szczecin. Besides of that these are just lovely towns, very friendly for tourists with direct access to the sea and many other attractions like characteristic architecture and buildings and so on. Of course, it is impossible not to mention three cities that were the capitals of our beautiful country. Gniezno, Kaków and Warszawa can still charm you with their old towns, specific atmosphere and signs of history behind every corner.
Path of wanderer
If you like to wander around, get lost, but not necessary find your way back, Poland is one of a few best places where you can do it in particularly enchanting surroundings. As the first one, I would like to propose Ojcowski National Park. Natural green areas with unique limestone cliffs and rocks are a wonderful place to go for a long walk. If you prefer walk by the water you should definitely choose Masuria. Lakes, forests, peace and silence – it’s all included in Masuria’s offer. Should you feel the need to go sightseeing, towns such as Zamość and Lublin are perfect for a stroll. Another different idea is the Bieszczadzka Forest Railway. This narrow gauge railway built before the First World War is now one of the tourist attractions in Bieszczady mountains and original way to explore these part of Polish country.
Path for alpinists
Poland has a very wide range of mountains to pick from. There are majestic Karpaty with the highest range Tatry, lower but also charming Sudety with most famous range Karkonosze. Then, we cannot forget about the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (the Holy Cross Mountains) the oldest in Poland and the Stołowe Mountains (Table Mountains) – a part of Sudety – the most original one. If your passion is climbing you will love Tatry. Breath taking views, steep peaks and various hiking trails with cleverly located mountain hostels allow the tourist to hide from world for a while. Bieszczady are the perfect match for those who choose lower peaks, but still love the atmosphere and views. Particularly fascinating is late summer there when you can observe, covered with forests hills, in quaint colours such as red, gold and brown. Holidays in the mountains are also an opportunity to observe beautiful examples of rare flora and fauna that are kept protected in national parks. While visiting mountains you have also chance to learn a bit about culture of Polish people that live there. And there is no better way to do so than taste the traditional cuisine of mountaineers like oscypek.
The cost of week stay for two people in Zakopane for example costs around 700–1700 PLN (170 – 425 EUR) in good hotels but if you choose hostels it would be even cheaper. Add to it around 300 PLN (75 EUR) for food etc. and you may spend one week in Poland in quite comfortable conditions. Naturally, there are many options to make it even cheaper. It is all up to you.
The best way to get there is fly to Kraków and from there take a train or bus to Zakopane. After two-hours long journey that costs around 4 EUR you reach your destination.
Last, not least lets add a few words about Stołowe Mountains which represent the only one in Poland example of plated structure with sheer mountain ledges. There are two main massifs: Szczeliniec Wielki and Skalniak on which there is a labyrinth Błędne Skały (Errant Rocks). Unparalleled appearance of the mountains will intrigue everyone. To reach Stołowe Mountains you can use a train from Wrocław to the city Kłodzko than a bus to Radków or take a car and drive there by yourself. Ther is also way to get there traveling from Czech Republic.
One night for single person costs between 25–70 PLN (6–18 EUR), and prices of food and tickets are at European level or cheaper.
Path for sea fans
Polish northern border is marked by the Baltic Sea. Therefore, Poland has an access to very long coastline where you may encounter high cliffs and beautiful beaches. It is a wonderful place both for walking, spending a day sunbathing and swimming in the sea. When you feel tired of lying on the warm sand, there are many places you can go to for a trip. There is the Wolin Island, old lighthouses, aquaparks, horse riding schools etc.
The price of one night varies heavily depending on the location and the type of accommodation. In big cities like Gdańsk you will pay more. Prices there starts from 50 to 200 PLN (13–50 EUR) for a night. Cheaper rooms can cost even 20 PLN (around 5 EUR). Exclusive hotels offer higher standard but are more expensive, too. A similar situation is with food.
Path for cosmopolitans and people that love to party
There are a few places in Poland where you know you can always find a party and lots of parting people. The is, of course, Warsaw the capital with number of clubs, discos and pubs. There is Zakopane, where social life is also quite vivid. And obviously – the Baltic Sea. Parties on the beaches, in the discos are very popular on the North of Poland. You definitely will not be bored there.
Path for festival regulars
Poland is also open for all those who love music. There is lots of festivals throughout a year to choose from. There is Open’er Festival (1st–4th of July 2015) and Orange Warsaw Festival (12th–14th of June 2015) and a festival in Jarocin (17th–19th July 2015). There, you will definitely have a chance to listen to the best bands and the hottest hits form the chards from Poland and abroad. If you look for more rock sound then I recommend Przystanek Woodstock – the Woodstock Festival (30th of July–1st of August 2015) and Festival of the Rock Legends (3rd–4th of July 2015) and Rock Na Bagnie – Rock on the Swamp (3rd–4th of July 2015). But it is not all, the fans of gothic music will be happy to hear that from 16th to 19th of July 2015 there is Castle Party in Bolków. Finally, there is the city called Mrągowo where all country music fans will feel like at home. Their festival takes place this year between 24th and 27th of July 2015. This short list does not sum up all the festivals, but gives a glimpse of how popular they are in Poland. In the end we should mention just two other which stands out from those above, but are still quite wonderful. The first one, is the International Piano Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój (7th–15th of August 2015) which celebrates the music of our famous Polish composer Chopin and the Krakow Film Music Festival (27th–31 May 2015) which is one of the biggest festivals of music from movies in the Europe.
From the North to the South Poland is truly magnificent country with many mysteries and wide range of beautiful places worth seeing. Poland is a still developing country in which great respect to history and culture has helped keep the memories of the past alive. It is worth mentioning that 14 places from Poland are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is still quite undiscovered by the tourists from all over the world so it is easily accessible to anyone. Poland is wonderful place and has many to offer. Just come here and find out for yourself.