Poland was an amazing country to visit, and truly one of my favorite trips I’ve taken during my three years living in Europe. But you know what the funny thing is? The trip almost didn’t happen. I have always wanted to visit Poland because when I look at my varied European ancestry, I’m more Polish than anything else. I’ve always wanted to step foot in Poland and connect to my roots on some level. But each year, for some reason the trip seemed daunting to plan, so we kept putting it off. Until Michael just put his foot down and booked round trip airfare to Krakow, knowing that this commitment would motivate us to pull it together.
If you’re interested in going to Poland but are in the same boat, I want to encourage you to put your reservations aside and plan a trip! The hardest part for me was putting together an itinerary that captured the highlights of this large country. Here are some ideas to help give you a head start.
Here’s the breakdown of our 16-day trip :
Krakow: 4 nights
*It is possible to do both these sights in one long full day excursion if you choose.*
I think all of these destinations were worthwhile to visit and sample on our first trip to Poland.
Here’s what could have been adjusted:
- Warsaw - There is a lot to see and do in Warsaw. I could have added another night to Warsaw to explore more of this huge city. I did though feel like three nights gave us plenty of time to do the things we really wanted to, and I’m happy leaving a few stones unturned for a return visit someday.
- Toruń - There really isn’t a need to spend more than one night here. Toruń marked the midpoint of our trip, so we did welcome the extra downtime to recharge a bit from the sightseeing whirlwind. Many people day trip here, either from Warsaw or Gdańsk, or as a stop in between the journey from one city to the other. While that’s possible, I did appreciate staying the night to hang out at the Jan Olbracht Browar Staromiejski brewery and walk through the quiet town in the evening. Verdict: one night is great, two is overkill.
- Gdańsk - We were in Gdańsk in the beginning of May when it was still chilly. Had we come in the peak of summer, we could have extended our time to take advantage of being alongside the Baltic Sea and logging some beach time.
With more time…
I don’t think we possibly could have squeezed any other destinations in our itinerary. Anything more and we wouldn’t have been able to get a feel for each place, and would have burnt out. But if I had extra days in Poland, here’s what I would have considered.
- Zakopane - You can get to these mountains south of Krakow by bus (it's a 2 hour 15 minute ride). From what Cynthia shared in her guest post, this looks like a beautiful place to hike and experience some of the natural sights of the country.
- Poznan - I was between this city and Wroclaw as we made our way down from Gdańsk towards Krakow. I decided to stop over in Wroclaw, which I loved. I have no regrets about that decision! I’ve heard that Poznan is really lovely too though, and with more time I would have loved to spend some time there as well. (They have a croissant museum. Enough said!)
Inspiration for another visit:
At the time, the above were the places I was seriously considering trying to fit into our itinerary. After the fact, I got more information on other cool places to see in Poland through the awesome bloggers who guest-posted in my Poland series.
- Karolina and Patryk shared on 5 hidden gems to see in their homeland.
- Cynthia wrote about the highlights of her 3-week backpacking adventure through Poland, where she got to see additional sights like Zakopane and the Hel Peninsula.
- Joanna gave a complete insider’s guide on her country, which has me dreaming of many more trips to dive deeper into the wonders of Poland.
How to narrow down your own plans
Weekend trip - If it’s your first time in Poland and you can only go for a weekend / up to 4 days, I would suggest going to Krakow. This city was as charming as I could have dreamed and more. It’s close enough to some great day trip options, making it an easy trip where you can stay the entire time in Krakow, yet have freedom to explore outside of the city.
Alternatively, it’s easy to fly into Warsaw. There are a few other airports throughout the country, like in Gdańsk and Wroclaw, but flying into them internationally would require a transfer likely in Warsaw. Alternatively, if you’re planning a trip from Berlin, there is an express train that connects Berlin to Warsaw direct in 5.5 hours.
If you have more than a long weekend, I would situate myself within "the Polish triangle” of Krakow, Warsaw, and Gdańsk.
4 days - stay in Krakow
5-7 days - add Warsaw
8-11 days - add Gdańsk
And with more time (lucky you!), pick and chose from some of the places I've mentioned above!
As my gym in Paris says, #pasdexcuse. Or in English, there are no excuses now! With the problem of coming up with an itinerary solved, it is time to grab a loved one or two and plan a trip to this wonderful country!
What do you think? Is there something else in the way of planning a trip to Poland? Or have you been before and have other ideas for an itinerary?