Planning to go on a trip to Poland?
Poland is becoming ever more popular among tourists, and after reading this article, you immediately see why.
Starting with the main cities and the most important sites to see in Poland, we’ll also mention places you cannot miss in Poland if you are an admirer of natural beauty, and, of course, all that delicious Polish food you have to try while there!
So, let’s get to it.
Here is our list of the best things to do in Poland:
1. Explore the Old Town in Warsaw
If you have only a few hours in Poland, or in its capital, Warsaw, the Old Town is the first place you should head to. This is the spot where you can find many important sights, such as the Marketplace with the famous Mermaid of Warsaw monument (who is the symbol of the city), the Royal Castle, and the Sigismund Column. Though the original Warsaw Old Town was destroyed during World War II, it was meticulously reconstructed, so new generations (and of course visitors) could appreciate its former beauty.
After exploring the Old Town, head down Krakowskie Przedmieście to Nowy Świat Street, where you can find plenty of restaurants and coffee shops to catch your breath and try some of the best Polish food.
Related Read: Riding Along the Berlin-Warszawa Express
2. Hit the Warsaw Museums
If you are lucky enough to spend a few days in this quirky city and have plenty of time to walk around and admire its architecture, museums are some of the best things to do in Warsaw. At the top of the list will be the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which tells the story of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944,
Other great options include the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, or POLIN, the Copernicus Science Centre, which is an interactive museum that will be fun for both kids and adults, and the National Museum, where you can find an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures.
3. Explore Łazienki Park
Łazienki Królewskie, which translates from Polish as the Royal Baths, was the summer residence of King Stanislaw August in the 18th century. Except for the beautiful Palace on the Isle right in the middle of the park, you can also visit the Old Orangery, which accommodates the Royal Sculpture Gallery. The garden itself is divided into four zones – the Royal Garden, the Romantic Garden, the Modernist Garden, and the Chinese Garden.
With a bit of luck, you can also spot the most famous residents of Łazienki Park – the dignified peacocks and energetic squirrels.
Our Tip: If you find yourself in Warsaw in summer, make sure to visit the free live Chopin concerts at Łazienki Park, which takes place every Sunday next to the Chopin Monument.
4. Feel the History at the Main Market Square in Kraków
Kraków is another city you must see while visiting Poland, as it was the capital of the country until 1596. And, of course, it’s gem is the Main Market Square, which was constructed in the 13th century. For centuries, it was the main place for gatherings and celebrations, and even now it hosts a lot of concerts, festivals, and an amazing Christmas market. The dominant structure of the square is the Cloth Hall (Sukiennice), a Renaissance structure built in the 14th century and since then serving as a market.
5. Check Out Wawel Royal Castle
Wawel Royal Castle was a residence for Polish kings for 5 centuries, being expanded constantly by every subsequent monarch. That is why in the castle so many architectural styles meet and intertwine, such as Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. No wonder it found its way to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
After visiting the castle, make sure to stop by the fire-breathing statue of the Wawel Dragon, the character of the most famous Kraków legend.
Related Read: Check out the full story of the Kraków Dragon here.
6. See the Wonders of Wieliczka Salt Mine
This is another extraordinary place and one of the best things to visit in Poland. The first excavations in the mine started as early as the 13th century (yes, everything around Kraków is pretty old), and soon enough it became the largest source of salt in Poland. Sounds like a boring place to visit?
Wait until you get inside!
There are two routes you can choose from, the Tourist Route and the Miners’ Route. Choosing the Tourist Route, you can expect to see the breathtaking halls, chambers, and saline lakes – all of it underground and without any extra work involved! If you decide to feel like a true miner, be prepared to search for salt in the shaft and learn the mining trade.
7. Visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Opened in 1940, Auschwitz, or Auschwitz-Birkenau, was the largest Nazi concentration camp with more than 1 million murdered here during World War II. It is not a fun attraction you will be eager to visit during your vacation in Poland, but nevertheless, it is a must-see place for any tourist who comes to Poland for history or remembrance.
Auschwitz, with the painful history that is hidden behind its walls, will leave you with a heavy feeling long after the visit, but it is an important place that allows its visitors to learn and reflect on one of the biggest tragedies in history.
8. Go Dwarf Haunting in Wroclaw
The fun figurines of dwarfs are scattered all around Wroclaw, so you will definitely see at least a dozen of them while wandering around the city. The first dwarfs appeared in 2005 to commemorate the protest against the communist regime, and right now there are 382 of them and the amount is still growing — each of them having a name and a unique personality!
To make sure you will not miss any while exploring Wroclaw, you can even download a map with their locations.
9. Walk Through Other Famous Old Towns
We have already mentioned the Old Town in Warsaw and Krakow, but actually almost every Polish city boasts a lovely Old Town (starówka in Polish). There are still a lot of debates as to which one can be named as the most beautiful one, with the main contestants apart from those mentioned before being those in Poznań, Wrocław, and Gdańsk.
If you are planning a major trip to Poland and have a chance to visit a lot of cities, check all of them out to find your favorite one, from the very Gothic and strict to the colorful and fun. By the way, for me, it is the Old Towns in Toruń and Lublin — two lesser-known, smaller cities each with a charming atmosphere.
Related Read: Polish Holidays: Important Events & Days Off for Poland
10. Spend the Day in Malbork Castle
The town of Malbork, Poland, situated in the country’s north not far from the Baltic cities, might not have had much to visit for if it hadn’t been for what is the world’s largest castle by surface area, built within its borders.
Claimed to be the largest castle in the world by land area, Malbork Castle (officially the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork) is located near the town of Malbork in the north of Poland. Built in the 13th century by the Teutonic Order, it is a perfect representation of medieval architecture — no wonder it also found its way to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Completed in 1406, it is an impressive brick structure constructed by the famous German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, the Teutonic Knights, in what was then Prussia. Called in German Ordensburg Marienburg, UNESCO dubbed it the “Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork” when it listed it as a World Heritage Site in 1997; The Teutonic Knights named it “Marienburg” (Mary’s Castle), and the town was also named Marienburg until it received its current Polish name, Malbork.
No matter the time of your visit, you can admire the glory of this massive construction, but you might have most of the fun coming during the re-enacting events that regularly take place in the castle.
Our Tip: For extra chills, pick a night tour of Malbork Castle when the guide is dressed as a Teutonic Knight!
11. Relax on the Masurian Lakes
Except for many important and fascinating historical sites, Poland also has a beautiful and diverse amount of nature to behold. One of the most stunning natural wonders in Poland is the Masurian Lakes area, or Mazury, in northeastern Poland. There are over 2000 lakes, forests, little villages, and farms, a true paradise for all nature lovers.
The best time to come would be in the late spring or the beginning of autumn, as it gets a bit too popular in the summer. And of course, try to avoid coming there during long weekends to avoid crowds!
12. Conquer the Tatra Mountains
Another place to explore in Poland if you cannot imagine your trip without getting close to nature are the Tatra Mountains, located in the south of Poland, on the border with Slovakia. The Tatra Mountains are the highest mountain range in Poland, with the highest peak being Rysy (8199 ft).
If hiking is not your forte, you can delve into Polish culture in one of the picturesque towns at the foot of the mountains, such as Zakopane, or visit a stunningly beautiful lake, Morskie Oko.
Our Tip: While you are in the Tatra Mountains, don’t forget to try the original oscypek – smoked cheese made of sheep’s milk and usually served with cranberry jam. Mmmm…
13. Party in Trójmiasto
We will not recommend you to go only to Gdańsk if you want to head to the Baltic Sea, but instead, enjoy everything the whole Tricity, or Trójmiasto, has to offer. It is a metropolitan area with three cities (as the name hints) connected: Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot.
Fun and vibrant during the whole year, in the summer it reaches its peak with a plethora of parties, concerts, festivals, and gatherings happening. Add to this the opportunity to sunbathe and swim in the chilly Baltic Sea, and you have a recipe for a perfect weekend.
14. Get Chills in the Skull Chapel
Most definitely the creepiest thing on our list, the Skull Chapel was built in the 18th century in the Czermna district of Kudowa. The bones of over 3,000 people decorate the walls and ceiling, and the remains of another 21,000 people are crammed into the crypt below. The bones come from people who have died from different kinds of misfortunes, including wars, cholera, plague, and other diseases.
The Skull Chapel is a one-of-a-kind place in Poland, and there are only a few similar historical sites in Europe. It makes you meet with death face to face, reflect on mortality, and leaves you with a very uneasy feeling after the visit.
15. Eat as Much Iconic Food as Possible
No matter which city you visit, the top thing to do in Poland is to try as many foods as possible. The most important include pierogi (dumplings), bigos (sauerkraut with meat), gołąbki (cabbage rolls with meat), and Polish borscht. Some of the regions or towns also have their specialties, such as the mentioned above oscypek or gingerbread cookies in Torun.
On the topic of alcohol, it would be a crime not to mention Polish vodka, but for those who prefer softer alcoholic drinks, we could totally recommend trying some of the local beers from the microbreweries.
Related Read: Jelenia Góra: Spending a Day at Poland’s Deer Mountain
16. See Bisons in Białowieża National Park
Lying near the border with Belarus, Białowieża National Park covers the central part of the Białowieża Forest, and is considered to be the oldest national park in the country. Apart from many species of plants, birds, and mammals, Białowieża Forest is a home to the European bison – the biggest European land mammal, which also became a symbol of the park.
Visiting this place is a great opportunity to learn more about the nature of Eastern Europe and spend some time away from the overwhelming cities.
Related Read: A Day Trip Guide to Kielce, Poland
Well, those were the most important things to do and places to see in Poland. Got any questions, feedback, or other Poland things to do? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!