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A country that carries the secret of the medieval period with extraordinary architecture with lakes, woods, rivers, and fresh air fun, Poland is one destination that completes all your European dreams. And all this did not come quickly to this beautiful country.
Located in eastern Europe, the country has withstood numerous invasions and destructions over the centuries. It was one of the worst casualties during World War II when a massive segment of the population, including its large Jewish community, was taken away to Nazi concentration camps.
The indomitable Polish spirit refused to buckle, nevertheless, and the country rose out of the ashes like a Phoenix. Today, the medieval architecture of this nation, along with its many lively cultural activities, gives tourists numerous options when looking for places to visit in Poland.
Besides architecture, Poland is also known for its Jewish heritage and hearty cuisine. Visit Poland and traveling beyond the city limits will allow tourists to witness a nation that remains unspoiled by time.
The mountains, the sea, and every imaginable outdoor sport offer itself to the tourist to make the most of in this resplendent nation. Here is an overview of the best Poland points of interest to visit and enjoy your holidays.
Table of Contents
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Poland
A medieval town that is likely better known by its German name Marienburg, Malbork is famous for its castle that was built under orders from the Knights of the Teutonic Order back in the 13th century who wanted to set up their headquarters.
It is the largest Gothic fortress in Europe and gets its name after the Virgin Mary, who is known to be one of the principal religious patrons in the city. It’s three castles rolled into one, which makes it the largest brick castle in the world.
Having been built over 230 years, a significant portion of it suffered destruction during World War II through much of this destroyed portion has been restored ever since. So, the best thing to do in Poland when visiting Malbork is to carry your camera and capture these beautiful fortresses and castles and get the best of the views.
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Located to the east of the Vistula, Lublin is another ancient city that has a marketplace possibly dating back to the sixth century. Owing to its location along the eastern border of Poland, the town found itself becoming the first line of defense against invaders who carried mass destruction in the city down the centuries.
If you are wondering what to see in Poland while traveling to Lublin, the town also housed one of the largest Jewish communities in the country. The Holy Trinity Chapel, where a blend of Russian-Byzantine and Catholic styles can be found, is a testimony to this place being a connection between the eastern and western cultures.
The medieval Old Town architecture and cobblestone streets can deceive tourists’ perception of the city’s culture – there is a lively nightclub and arts scene that Lublin boasts of.
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There used to be a time when much of Europe was covered with primeval forests, and the Bialowieza Forest is a sizable remnant of the same. It stretches across the borders of Poland and the neighboring Republic of Belarus with border crossings where tourists can proceed on bicycles or foot.
This one of Poland’s points of interest is the only habitat where the European Bison continues to enjoy the freedom of life in the forests just the way they once did all over the continent.
Other inhabitants include Roe Deer, Elk, Wild Boar, Red Deer, Lynx, and wolves. The bison are mostly kept within fenced areas with guided tours available in horse-drawn carriages or on foot.
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The city of Torun that stands on the Vistula River is probably best remembered as the birthplace of Copernicus. There is also a Gothic town hall and an old marketplace that has been featured in the National Geographic Polska top 30 lists of most beautiful places in the world.
The city was lucky to escape bombing at the time of World War II, so some structures from it can still be seen here. The town hall construction began in the 13th century, while some other churches such as the Cathedral of SS John the Evangelist and John the Baptist came into being around the 14th century.
Travelers who take an interest in Baroque altars, and Gothic sculptures and paintings should make it a point to see this church.
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Tatra National Park
Tatra National Park is the place to be in for those travelers who are always on the search for scenic beauty. This park was established in the year 1954 in south-central Poland and comprises large tracts of rock formations, meadows, and forests that cover the Tatra Mountains.
Spelunkers can tour six of the 650 caves in the park open to the public. Other attractions include the 70 meters high Wielka Siklawa waterfall and over 30 alpine lakes. Considered the most visited among Poland’s national parks, Tatra is a delight for hikers with trails stretching over 270kms. The neighboring part of Slovakia also has a similar national park that goes by the same name.
Students who travel to Poland on vacation and are interested in meeting their Polish peers should consider Poznan as the ideal spot to meet up. The city has long been revered as an academic center, and the country’s third-largest university can be found here.
The town hosts various international events, which include the Malta International Theater Festival taking place every summer. A stroll on the Royal Imperial Route will help tourists access the principal points of interest quickly. The artificial lake of Malta is an excellent draw for the athletes with swimming pools, ice rink, and a ski slope.
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Wroclaw is the largest of the cities in Poland to the western side and stands on the Oder River. Over the centuries, the city has been under the governance of Bohemia, Germany, Poland, and Prussia but was inducted as a part of Poland in 1945.
Wroclaw used to be the capital of Silesia and continues to be underestimated as a tourist destination on Poland travel. Nevertheless, it can put up a worthy competition as far as fantastic architecture is concerned.
The impressive Old Town Hall and the market square are among the leading attractions alongside the largest zoo in the country. St. Elizabeth’s Church, along with its observation deck, overlooks the city and is another exciting tourist attraction. Taking a sail on the Oder River is one of the best ways to relax and enjoy a feel of the medieval city of Wroclaw.
Gdansk also goes by the name Danzig and is the largest North Poland city. It is the primary seaport in the country owing to its position on the Baltic Sea.
Gdansk was founded sometime around the 10th century and carries a mixed political history. There were different times when it belonged to Poland and Germany before emerging as a free state and then eventually becoming a permanent inclusion in Poland following World War II.
After the devastating events of the War, Gdansk looked to rebuild itself with the restoration work of the Old Town, which is well known for its Royal Road that the Polish kings would travel on while visiting the historic city. Among other places to visit in Poland, Gdansk is the St. Mary Church, considered the world’s largest brick church.
Warsaw is the capital city of Poland, perhaps one of the best places in Poland to start your journey. It would not be wrong to compare its rebirth to the emergence of a Phoenix out of the ashes.
Warsaw was founded close to the 12th century before being primarily destroyed at the time of World War II. However, subsequent rebuilding has turned it into a thriving center for culture and history, complete with the Old Town that has been restored to its past glory.
Warsaw used to be known as the “Paris of the North” and is famous as the home of Fryderyk Chopin, a classical composer. The Copernicus Science Center is a popular draw for tourists of all ages and abounds in hands-on activities.
Read the full blog post: Top 11 Things to do in Warsaw
To say that Krakow is a city of rags to riches would not be off the mark since it emerged as the second most relevant Polish city having started out as a village in the seventh century. Krakow is well known for its economic, academic, artistic, and cultural activities.
The Krakow Ghetto became infamous during World War II as Nazis herded Jews over here before sending them off to concentration camps. The town is located on the beautiful Vistula River and was once the Polish capital.
It is easy to get around with all major tourist attractions radiating out from the Old Town, and if you want to experience living at vintage gallery hotels in Poland, the town has some classy stay options. Krakow’s Old Town is considered to be the best of the lot in Poland.
Read the full blog post: Top 10 Things to do in Krakow
While you travel to the outskirts and think of what to do in Poland, the charming town of Chocholow straddles the border between Slovakia and Poland and sits on the cusp between the Low and High Tatra Mountains.
The place is famous for its split-timber homes that dominate the streets in a show of bucolic, rough-hewn woodwork. As the town gradually fizzles out towards the edges, dense evergreen pine forests take over behind which is concealed a snow-laden realm of woodlands in the winter that makes way for enticing summer hiking trails.
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When you look for Poland points of interest, and its famous places, you will find Zakopane on the top of the list as the city has long been dubbed the “Winter Capital of Poland” thanks to the ice-caked Tatra Mountain summits that surround it.
The first flakes of snowfall bring visitors flocking to the charming city center that is adorned by the rustic traditional exteriors of Gorale cabins. The iconic curled lampposts are another highlight, illuminating the plumes of cold air drifting between the snowflakes.
The bubbling Krupowki Street is where all the Poland travel action is concentrated around with a mass of aromatic grills, and earthy beer halls are dishing out blood-red sausages and regional smoked cheese to the snowboarders and skiers fresh down from their travels to the pistes.
Olsztyn is an elegant historic town that serves as the gateway to the lush hills and rolling wetlands of Warmia. The place is draped over a rocky outcrop above the winding Lyna River.
The modern city center is full of the culture that one would typically expect of a settlement that had been established over 700 years ago by the Teutonic Order, the Poles, and the Prussians.
The influence of history is visible at every corner to the Poland travel visitors with beer halls on cobblestone side streets, ivy-clad timber-framed homes, and a castle that is filled to the brim with old Teutonic relics.
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Situated on the banks of the Vistula, this place used to be a booming town trading in grains. Today, it is the best-preserved historical center in the country apart from Krakow and perhaps offers you the best sightseeing in Poland.
Besides the prevalent urban beauty tourists who travel to Poland, Kazimierz Dolny will also be treated to lush green woodlands running all around the hillsides. The slow-flowing Vistula waters lap the sandbars, and rolling farms stretch out for as far as the eye can behold.
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Situated very close to the Ukraine border, the east Polish city of Zamosc lies deep in the heartlands of this region. As a splendid and proud settlement, it is adorned with an array of baroque and renaissance constructions that are sublime.
The curious yet colorful line-up of municipal buildings that form a ring around the central square is hard to miss along with the opulent town hall characterized by a soaring metal spire.
Anyone sitting down to pour over the places to visit in Poland will have a hard time deciding which one to include and which ones to leave out from the itinerary. Every destination has its unique charm and attraction, which makes it hard to miss.
There are tons of tourist attractions in Poland and to experience that all you need to do is to research a bit about the best time to travel Poland and about the activities in Poland and you are all set to go.
However, for anyone who is running on a tight vacation plan to Poland, these are the places that should not be missed if the trip is to be regarded as worthwhile.
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.