Although Poland is often forgotten among the “travel classics”, our eastern neighbor offers a lot to its visitors: Look forward to cities worth seeing, diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches (yes, you can swim in Poland), and a lot more!!), varied activities and an exciting culture. We have collected the best travel tips for Poland and a lot of interesting information here.
Let’s talk about Poland: First facts and information
If you want to go on vacation in Poland, you should inform yourself in advance. When is the best time to go there and what do I have to consider if I travel by car?? How to get to Poland by plane? How to pay? From cities to national parks to hiking areas – you can see exactly what you’ll find on this map:
The best time to travel
As with any other vacation destination, Poland also poses the question: When is the best time to travel?? Well, it depends on what you want to do. Spring and autumn are the best times for hiking, while your skiing vacation will logically start in winter – but more about these activities later.
The cities of Poland show their beauty especially in spring (then it is not too hot to explore the sights), while in summer you can enjoy the sun on the beaches of the Baltic Sea with pleasant temperatures.
How to get to Poland
How convenient that you can travel to our beautiful neighboring country also by car. All tips for self travel you get here:
By car to Poland: Important travel tips
You have several possibilities to come to Poland. If you live in the north or east of Germany, you can travel to Poland by car. Please note, however, that you have to pay a toll for the most important freeways in Poland. The amount of the toll depends on the type of your vehicle (motorcycle, car with trailer etc.).) and the length of the route you are taking.
You might know the toll system from Italy: You take your ticket in front of the highway entrance, the toll station at your respective exit collects the money.
Important: In Poland, the speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour in built-up areas and 140 kilometers per hour on highways. You should keep to this speed limit, because Polish police officers are not known for their “laissez-faire” attitude.
Arrival by plane
From the south and west of Germany, a car journey to Poland can be quite long, so that a flight is the best option here. All major cities in Poland have an international airport, the flight times are also quite humane. From Munich, you can fly to the Polish capital Warsaw (right in the center of the country) in just under two hours, and it takes the same amount of time by plane from Dusseldorf.
For comparison, the flight time to a southern Polish city: From Munich to Krakow you need 1 hour and 20 minutes. By the way: As a member of the European Union and the Schengen area, an identity card is sufficient to enter Poland.
Currency in Poland
The last FAQ is about dear money, as Poland, despite its EU membership, does not have the euro as its national currency – our neighbors pay with zloty. One zloty is equal to approximately 0.23 euros (as of November 2019). We recommend you to change the bills for the travel fund in a German travel bank, although in tourist regions and areas near the border you can usually also pay with euros.
The most beautiful vacation destinations in Poland
Poland is a very diverse destination. In the following we have thematically sorted places worth seeing for you.
Poland’s most beautiful cities: rich in history and diversity
Poland has not only a beautiful and diverse landscape, but also many great and colorful cities, bursting with history, old buildings and attractions. We present our highlights here:
Travel tip Gdansk: Poland’s “Baltic treasure
Gdansk on the Baltic Sea is not only one of the most important port cities in the entire region, but also one of the most beautiful cities in Poland. Gdansk, as Gdansk is called in Polish, has had a very eventful history, as the city has been under the influence of various powers over the centuries, all of which have left their mark on the city.
Gdansk combines the best of the famous Hanseatic cities and mixes it in an impressive way with medieval buildings and churches. In addition, there are numerous magnificent buildings and the canal-like harbor, where impressive (historic) ships anchor.
As you can see, there is so much to see in Gdansk – so much, in fact, that it would far exceed this post on the best Poland travel tips. So come and see for yourself.
Travel tip Krakow: Where all eras live
Poland’s second largest city also has a lot to offer: Located in the south of the country, Krakow was the capital of the Polish kingdom in the Middle Ages – a time that left its mark. Especially around Krakow’s main market you can admire numerous buildings and churches, which exude the flair of medieval days with their Gothic architecture.
But also the following style epochs of the Renaissance, Baroque and Modernism were formative for “Krakow”, so that the city can look back on a rich cultural heritage. No wonder that Krakow, which was the European Capital of Culture in 2000, is still considered by many Poles as “the secret capital of the country”. So, this is a travel tip that any Pole would give you, guaranteed.
Travel tip Wroclaw: Poland’s secret city tip
Wroclaw is located in the west of Poland, is the fourth largest city in the country – and still not really developed for tourism. Actually totally incomprehensible. The old town is a huge open-air museum with its huge market square (called “Rynek”: “the ring”), the Gothic town hall and the colorful Renaissance town houses. Especially in winter this area unfolds a magical effect, when one of the most beautiful (and colorful) Christmas markets in Europe takes place here.
The old town also has a lot to offer at night, because along the market square there are numerous cafes, pubs and clubs that show you how lively Poland is.
Travel tip Warsaw: The versatile capital
Of course, the capital Warsaw should not be missing from a list of travel tips for Poland! Poland’s only city with over a million inhabitants (1.7 million) looks back on an eventful and also sorrowful history – especially the terrible events of the Second World War gave the city a place in the history books for all time to come.
After the end of communism in the early 1990s, Warsaw quickly developed into one of the most modern and multifaceted cities on the continent, which also boasts numerous monuments and cultural highlights from the course of history.
In addition to modern architecture and a bit of rustic charm, you can expect to see historic sights such as the imposing, reddish-shimmering Royal Castle or the Gothic St. John’s Cathedral, especially around the central Castle Square and in the neighboring Old Town.
The absolute highlight of the city is the Warsaw Royal Route, a ten-kilometer-long row of streets lined with magnificent buildings, palaces, churches and monuments – here you will find virtually everything you need to see in Warsaw.
► We have hotel recommendations for you here as well
Beach vacations on Poland’s Baltic coast: charming resorts with a recreation factor
Poland as a beach destination is still underestimated. The wild and romantic Baltic Sea coast awaits you here. We show you the best seaside resorts here:
Swinoujscie seaside resort: Vacation feeling as it should be
Blue sea and miles of sandy beaches – yes, that’s what you get here! There is hardly any other place in Poland that is as “southern European” as Swinemunde (Świnoujście), which is located directly on the German border in the eastern part of the island of Usedom. The 41.000 inhabitants town has become one of the most important tourist magnets in Poland in recent years.
This is not surprising, because in summer you will find everything you need for a nice beach vacation. Sand, sea and many leisure activities.
The city itself also offers a number of sights and has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, ranging from souvenir stores, restaurants and shopping facilities to long beach promenades. In Swinoujscie you will realize that for a perfect beach vacation you really don’t always have to go south!
► Our hotel tip: the Hotel Polaris
Misdroy Baltic resort: bathing in enchanting nature
In the middle of the Wollin National Park, not far from Swinoujscie, you can visit another popular seaside resort on the Polish Baltic coast, Misdroy (Międzyzdroje). The extensive, fine-sand beach begins directly at the tourist town of Misdroy, where you can stock up on provisions for your day at the beach.
Our travel tip for you: Leave the “urban” hinterland of the beach along the sea in a northerly direction. After a good 15 minutes you will reach a beach paradise in the middle of untouched nature. The beach area is not overcrowded, so it is perfect if you are looking for relaxation and idyll. When you’ve had enough sun and splashed in the Baltic Sea, you can explore the beauty of Poland’s flora on one of the many paved paths leading from the beach to the hinterland.
► Hotel by the sea wanted? Then we recommend the Vestina.
Kolberg: health resort for the soul
About 45 kilometers west of the West Pomeranian city of Koszalin is the most famous spa town on the Baltic coast of Poland: Kolobrzeg. Here you will find everything you dream of from a vacation by the sea: wide and clean sandy beaches, blue water and a small, dreamy harbor.
The surroundings of Kolberg are also worth seeing. Above all, the romantically restored old town with its numerous cafes, restaurants and stores invites you to take a stroll.
By the way, Kolberg can call itself a health resort because of its brine springs, which were once the basis of the town’s wealth through salt production. In the whole town you can find numerous health resorts and various wellness offers, which promise relaxation for body and soul. You can find suitable hotels here.
Masuria: A landscape like from another world
In the northeast of Poland in the former East Prussia is the region Masuria. If you are a nature lover, a trip to this part of the country is almost obligatory. The reason for this is the Masurian Lake District – a true paradise consisting of countless lakes, small islands, untouched nature and a lot of idyllic scenery. Here you have the possibility to jump into a lake, to explore the forests or to glide with boats over the lakes from island to island.
Despite the breathtaking beauty and natural diversity, the vast lake landscape is still unknown to many tourists and guests, so the region is a perfect destination if you are looking for peace and relaxation in nature.
Top-5 destinations in Poland
Of course, in Poland’s cities you already have an incredible amount to discover while sightseeing. But in addition, there are great sights that are worth a detour. You can’t miss these destinations in Poland:
Furstenstein Castle: Silesia’s highlight
North of the city of Walbrzych (not far from the Czech border) you can visit a real “fairy tale castle” – Furstenstein Castle. The castle complex is surrounded by dense forest on a stately mountain. However, there are plenty of access roads and parking spaces available.
The origins of the castle date back to the Middle Ages, when Furstenstein was still a “simple” knight’s fortress. Over time, however, the complex was increasingly transformed into a magnificent building, as the ruling dukes and princes wanted to feel at home in their living room.
From a vantage point, you can see the different eras during which parts of the structure were built. Today, the frontal outer facade shines in a playful Renaissance style, which, however, was able to adopt the “stone-rustic” charm of the Middle Ages.
Highlight of this Poland travel tip is the extensive gardens surrounding the castle. When you walk here, you’ll understand why brides and grooms from all over Poland love this photo spot.
Our travel tip: Furstenstein Castle is a great starting point for a hike. Numerous signs show you the way to worth seeing spots in the surroundings.
Ogrodzieniec Castle: An impressive castle ruin
A good hour’s drive northeast of Katowice (Silesia’s capital), you’ll find scenery you’d probably expect to find in Scotland’s Highlands. The ruins of Ogrodzieniec Castle, built in the 14th century, are perched on a green hill. The castle was carved out of a rocky massif in the sixteenth century. Ogrodzieniec Castle was long the home of a Polish duke before it was sacked by the Swedes during the Second Northern War and abandoned after a fire in 1702.
Even from a distance, you’ll see the well-preserved towers, window arches and gateways topped by the Polish flag – the fact that the stones glow a rich white amidst the green landscape makes the scenery all the more beautiful.
Inside the second largest castle complex in Europe there is also a museum, where you can get an impression of medieval life in Poland.
Wieliczka salt mine: travel tip that takes you “underground
In the southern Polish city of Wieliczka, a very special sight awaits you, namely the Wieliczka Salt Mine – one of the oldest and most important salt mines in the world! As early as 1280, the first shafts for salt extraction were dug here, so that the plant contributed early to the salt trade, which was very important for Poland.
Today, you can take a special tourist route to get an idea of the working methods and underground conditions of that time.
Highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage Site include the underground Kinga Chapel with its chandeliers and sculptures made of salt, as well as a “healing gallery” that is supposed to help with respiratory diseases.
Marienburg: Fortress of the Teutonic Order
Even in the small Polish town of Malbork (Pomerania), the Middle Ages have left their mark in the form of Marienburg Castle. Located directly on the Nogat River, the red fortress complex with its tiled roofs is captivating in combination with the picturesque surroundings. By the way, the reddish color comes from the bricks used for the construction, which make the whole complex the largest brick building on the continent.
Builders of the fortress were in the 13. In the 16th century, the knights of the Teutonic Order, who wanted to Christianize Poland, which was still Slavic (and thus “pagan”) at that time – a time that numerous information boards, statues and exhibition rooms inside the castle tell you about.
Auschwitz Memorial and Museum: a memorial for all time
Auschwitz – a term that stands for all times for the extermination mania of the Nazis and thus for the greatest crime in the history of mankind. During the Second World War, several concentration camps were built in German-occupied Poland; in the Auschwitz extermination camp alone, 1.1 million Jews were murdered in the gas chambers.
When you walk across the camp area, you will feel a deep trepidation in view of the barracks, the gatehouse, the fences, the rails and the watchtowers and ask yourself how such a thing was possible – all the more important, even today, not to close your eyes to the darkest of all times.
About ten minutes east of the camp you should visit the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Here the incomprehensible is explained (or at least it is tried to be) and you get memorable impressions of the horror of the camp everyday life and the insanity of the industrial murder. You can reach Auschwitz from Krakow within an hour to the west.
High mountains, varied nature: activities in Poland
Especially for the hiking enthusiasts among you Poland is a great destination. Besides the Masurian Lake District, which you have already seen, there are a few more possibilities.
Poland’s versatile hiking spots
How about a hike in the High Tatras, for example?? The rugged mountains are largely untouched and are particularly attractive for their beautiful mountain lakes. Here the sea eye is the best known and most pristine.
Many regions of the Baltic Sea also have extensive dune landscapes, which are made for walking along the sea as if by magic.
For real professionals the mountain massif Giewont near Zakopane is suitable. Here you have a hiking experience that is in no way inferior to an alpine mountain tour.
Poland on ski? Skin hi’!
Admittedly, when you think of skiing, you probably think more of Austria, the Bavarian Alps or Switzerland than of Poland. But also in terms of skiing the country has a lot to offer. Szczyrk Mountain Resort in Silesia is considered the best ski resort in the country, mainly due to its modern lifts and well-groomed slopes.
In Lesser Poland, the Szymoszkowa area is a spot particularly suitable for beginners.
However, the winter sports center of Poland is located in Zakopane in the southernmost part of Poland. Here in the High Tatras you will find countless slopes, slopes and lifts just waiting to be used by you. In addition, Zakopane is home to the world-famous ski jumping hill. During the jumps of the professionals the atmosphere here is like in a soccer stadium. So it is worth to visit it ..
Poland’s most beautiful national parks
Speaking of enjoying nature: Poland also has plenty of protected areas, which of course can’t be missing from our travel tips:
Białowieża National Park: Europe’s last primeval forest
In the very east of Poland, on the border with Belarus, time seems to have stood still. Here is the Białowieża National Park, which represents the last remaining primeval forest in the temperate zone of Europe. Besides a lot of untouched, infinitely green flora and a varied animal world, the park is also home to a very special species, which you will see with a little luck: the bison, the European bison.
The national park and the primeval forest are one of the last retreats of the “half-ton” bison. The fact that the bison can graze and enjoy life here in peace and quiet makes this Poland travel tip all the more unique.
Ojcow: National park of caves
Ojcow National Park, located in the Krakow-Czestochowa Jura mountain range, is the smallest in Poland. That the saying “small but mighty” is also true here, is proven by the impressive caves that characterize the park. A total of 400 (!) You will find karst caves here, some of which were inhabited in prehistoric times. Of course you can visit some of these natural wonders.
In addition to the caves, the park also boasts an enchanting and untouched forest and mountain landscape, which invites you to explore it.
Bieszczady National Park: land of green hills
The last Polish travel tip in terms of national parks takes us to the southeasternmost tip of the country. Close to the border with Ukraine is the Bieszczady National Park, which enchants mainly by its unspoiled nature. Endless green hills invite you here to hike and explore. There is plenty to find: small streams, old stone staircases, abandoned wooden huts and picturesque chapels are scattered throughout the park area.
One thing is for sure: This landscape, which reminds a bit of Ireland, will give you one or the other great souvenir photo!
A little travel etiquette for Poland
Like everywhere else in the world: different countries, different customs. But do not be afraid. Even if Eastern Europeans are generally said to be somewhat aloof, the Poles are a very hospitable people. So you don’t have to worry about getting your head bitten off if you put your foot in your mouth – but that doesn’t have to happen if you can avoid it!
If you are invited by Poles, it is customary to bring a small gift (chocolates, wine, etc.).) for the hosts; by the way, street shoes have to be taken off. After dinner you are usually offered a vodka (also in restaurants). If you want to refuse, please do so in a friendly manner: a harsh “no” is considered very impolite in Poland.
A delicate subject in arch-Catholic Poland is the church. Sayings about the pope or jokes about the state of the catholic church should be avoided in Poland.
However, the Poles are no children of sadness, as their sense of “political correctness” proves – so don’t be surprised or even shocked if you hear one or the other joke about minorities.
Finally, two points you need to know, especially in restaurants: In Poland you will rarely find the “classic” toilet signs for gender. Here a circle symbolizes the ladies’ room, gentlemen choose the door with the triangle.
Tipping in Poland is comparatively simple: With ten to 15 percent on the consumption amount you do everything right!
Finally, it’s delicious: The cuisine of Poland
In general, you can say that Polish cuisine is quite hearty. The national dish already shows this: Bigos is the epitome of the classic Polish cuisine and is a cabbage stew consisting of steamed sauerkraut, various kinds of meat and sausages, as well as (depending on the recipe) various other ingredients. Often it is served in a loaf of bread, which can be eaten at the same time.
Pirogi also have the character of a national dish, as the maultaschen-like dish is equally popular in all parts of the country. Gołąbki and pulpety are known in this country as cabbage rolls and meatballs.
Poland is famous for its sausages, which have gained national fame through the Kabanos and Krakauer. As in Germany or Austria, the sausage is a typical snack dish.
That the Poles can not only “savory”, proves the numerous sweet delicacies of the country’s cuisine. You must try Sernik (cheesecake with chocolate icing), Placek (crumble cake) or Faworki (a lard pastry). In addition, there are several other cake variations that are eaten almost every day in Poland.
Traditionally, people in Poland have a liberal attitude towards alcohol. Poland is considered a “country of beers” along with Germany and the Czech Republic. Numerous breweries are located in Poland and “Piwo” is drunk with pleasure and often. The national drink of the country is vodka, which is usually drunk neat – in this sense: Na zdrowie, here’s to your trip to Poland!