Be thoroughly entertained by Poland’s numerous charms on an immersive holiday there. With its picturesque cities full of culture and history, bountiful nature and unique attractions, the country is one of Europe’s most underrated destinations and it’s truly a pity for travellers to treat Poland as a mere stopover during their visit to the continent.

Trying out local delicacies, relaxing amidst breathtaking nature while you explore a mountain range and retracing the devastation of World War II are just some of the top experiences you can expect to have when you visit Poland. Find out what else lies in wait and why exactly you should put this destination on your radar!

Learn about Poland’s colourful history in its old towns. Photo by Arian Zwegers / CC BY 2.0

Stroll around historic old towns

Quaint and endearing in their own ways, the old towns of Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk each have something compelling to offer. With the latter sitting on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites and the former two already possessing the designation, it comes as little wonder that the centuries-old buildings and cobbled streets of these respective places paint a colourful picture that draws you back to the bygone past. Each of the towns, which boast different architectural styles, have been rebuilt after they were damaged in World War II so it’s particularly interesting to look at how the old and new constructions presently coexist.  

Rejuvenate yourself by soaking in nature’s beauty. Photo by barnyz / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Explore the Tatra Mountains

Part of the Carpathian mountain range that lies between Poland and Slovakia, the Tatra Mountains are significant for having the highest elevation. Part of a UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the mountains are a favourite amongst locals looking for a relaxing getaway from the city. In the warmer seasons, hike the variety of trails available and admire the beautiful peaks, lakes, valleys and waterfalls you’ll see along the way while skiing is the preferred activity during winter. Or, just take in the amazing views when you travel up one of the mountain’s peaks by cable car. If you’re lucky, you might even spot wildlife such as brown bears and lynxes during your activities.    

Visit the Holocaust’s largest concentration camp. Photo by Dennis Jarvis / CC BY-SA 2.0

Relive the sobering past at Auschwitz

The largest concentration camp operated by the Nazis during the Holocaust and World War II, Auschwitz is a haunting reminder of a dark time in human history. Comprised of 48 different concentration and extermination camps, it’s estimated that a total of 1.1 million people passed away in these premises. Now referred to as the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum, visitors pay respectful visits here to learn more about the camp’s history through witness accounts and archival documents and items. The camp is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Taste traditional Polish fare. Photo by Alpha / CC BY-NC 2.0

Sample local delights at a milk bar

A Polish milk bar or bar mleczny doesn’t actually serve milk so don’t be confused by its name! Simple, cosy restaurants that serve hot and hearty food you’re likely to find in a traditional home, milk bars are a staple of the local culture. Try the pierogi or filled dumplings, placki or potato pancakes and milk soups for a true taste of Polish fare. Since the first milk bar was established in 1896, they have suffered through a period of dwindling popularity but a recent resurgence has grown these inexpensive eateries in number, which is good news for us all!

Explore nine levels of an underground salt mine. Photo by ~dgies / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Be fascinated by the Wieliczka Salt Mine

One of Poland’s largest attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wieliczka Salt Mine will entertain you for hours on end. With its intricate system of numerous corridors, chambers, chapels and bridges that are impressively decorated, the construction of this underground world is simply amazing — you’ll even get to enjoy a light show on the shores of one of the emerald salt lakes accompanied by music composed by Chopin. As you uncover its nine levels, you’ll learn about salt extraction and the different legends revolving around the mines since it opened in the 13th century.

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