With the advent of budget airlines, the popularity of Poland as a tourist destination has exploded during the last ten years and with very good reason.
It’s cities are home to some of the most beautiful medieval architecture that can be found in Europe. Nature lovers on the other hand will not be disappointed with the wealth of forests and snowy peaks within the Tatra Mountains district. And those looking for a beach holiday will certainly not be disappointed with the beautiful Baltic Coast.
Despite all of these things however, what most people go on to treasure the most about the country is it’s warm and welcoming people.
To fully outline the many attractions available in Krakow would take an entire article in itself and should you visit the city, you will be left with little doubt as to why it is by far the most visited city in Poland. Enjoying both the largest town square in Europe and the highest number of bars per square kilometre, visitors of all persuasions will find something to love about the city. There is an incredibly young and cosmopolitan vibe to the city which is attributed not only to the number of tourists that flock here annually but also to the ridiculous number of students both local and international that call the city home.
Although not quite as popular with tourists as Krakow, Wroclaw has plenty to offer to visitors of the country. It is frequently referred to as the Venice of Poland due to the fact the city is built on top of twelve islands. Because of said islands, the city actually has more bridges than any other city in Europe aside from Venice, Amsterdam and Hamburg. Many people who visit both Krakow and Wroclaw agree that there is generally a far more relaxed vibe in Wroclaw. The city also gets significantly less tourists than Krakow and it is therefore an ideal excursion should the Summer crowds begin to get you down.
Warsaw is both the capital and the business centre of Poland. The city is home to some 1.7 million people and thus is also the largest by population. Although certainly not as beautiful as the other cities on the list, no visit to Poland is complete without at least spending a night in it’s capital. Highlights of the city include a beautiful town square and of course the magnificent Royal Castle. The business district is also worth a look if only for how clearly it illustrates just how fast Poland’s economy is currently growing.
While certainly not as popular as the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea offers beach lovers plenty to enjoy. The picturesque town of Gdansk offers the perfect introduction/base to enjoy the surrounding beach towns, one of the most popular being Sopot. While this part of Poland is absolutely booming during the Summer, many Winter visitors claim that there is something magical about a snow covered beach.
The sleepy town of Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains comes alive each Winter as the premier skiing destination in Poland. Offering visitors both lower prices than the Alps and beautiful scenery, the town is a popular Winter vacation spot for both Poles and the world at large. And while the crowds head there in the colder months, there is some pretty incredible hiking opportunities throughout the region during Summer. Should you be heading there in the near future, it may be worth noting that the best views can be enjoyed every morning by staying at the many pensions near the top of the main ski lift..
Prices in Poland
· Accommodation: During the off season, a hostel bed in a Polish city can be found for as little as twenty zloty with private single rooms in central locations frequently being found for around eighty zloty. During busier periods such as Summer and Christmas however, you can expect to pay twice this amount.
· Food: Polish dining is both delicious and incredibly cheap. A three course meal in a respectable restaurant can frequently be found for as little as fifteen zloty. While traditional Polish food is certainly worth experiencing, the range on offer is highly varied with Asian, Italian and vegetarian food all easily found within large cities at very low prices.
· Drink: The price of both caffeine and alcohol flavoured drinks vary widely depending on where you go. Coffee and tea can be found for between five and ten zloty whereas a pint of beer can cost anywhere from four to fourteen zloty. The Polish love of vodka can be witnessed in the fact that it is frequently the cheapest thing to drink in almost all bars.
Money Saving Tips
· While money can be saved in many countries by eating in, both the high prices of small shops in Poland and the low prices of many restaurants combine to make the savings made from cooking your own food at your hostel to be from minimal to non existent. Therefore to save money on food, either eat in local restaurants or shop exclusively at the larger supermarkets such as Lidl or CarreFour.
· Prices of accommodation in Poland vary drastically between Summer and Winter. The harsh temperatures of Winter lead to many empty hotels which means that the price of an average hotel during Winter is half that of Summer. Many hotels in Poland also charge a different price depending on whether the room is booked in advance online or whether you just arrive at the door. For the lowest prices, always book online.
· The cost of rail travel in Poland varies drastically depending upon the company that you travel with. The cheapest trains in Poland are labelled “TLK” and can often be used for half the price of other trains. It is worth mentioning however that the difference between the expensive and cheap trains is rarely very visible at train stations and that a ticket for one company will lead to nothing more than a no ticket fine on another companies train.