9 Cities You Need To Visit in Poland
If we're being honest here, Wes and I arrived to Poland with no expectations. We had very little knowledge about the country and our plan was to complete our Workaway job and get out. We thought we could take advantage of a cheap flight to Warsaw and then venture off to more exotic places in Europe. There, I said it. But it's true and Poland caught us completely off guard! First by the amazing people, then the delicious food followed by the beautiful cities. Before you know it, 5 weeks had gone by and we still hadn't had enough of Poland.
Best Cities to Visit in Poland
So, naturally, we want to share the beauty of these Polish cities with as many people as we can. I'm sure we'll be back someday but, until then, here are 9 cities you need to visit in Poland. We vlogged all of our travels in Poland on our Feather and the Wind YouTube channel and hope the videos inspire you to see more of this beautiful country!
Warsaw is the perfect city to start travel in Poland and its central location makes it easy to venture off in any direction to continue exploring. After a devastating past, the city was entirely rebuilt and the people of Warsaw are more proud and resilient than ever. Spread across both sides of the Vistula river, the city's diverse neighbourhoods cater to a wide range of travellers from students on a budget to families enjoying their holidays. City highlights include the charming Old Town, Lazienki Palace and the towering Palace of Culture and Science. It's worth noting that you'll find a wide range of selection when it comes to foods and a surprising number of great vegan restaurants, too!
Krakow is considered to be the most popular tourist destination in all of Poland, and with good reason. It only took 5 minutes in the captivating Old Town Square to realize we were somewhere truly special. In Krakow you'll find one of the largest market squares in all of Europe, the grand Wawel Castle and a former Jewish quarter loaded with history. We happened to be in town for the annual Pierogi Festival and you can see a full list of Krakow events here. The city is also a great base for day trips to Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Of all the cities you need to visit in Poland, Wroclaw may come as the biggest surprise. My first reaction? "This is prettier than Paris!" Seriously, the city's town square is stunning. One of two European Capitals of Culture this year, Wroclaw truly impressed us with it's beautiful city centre and spotless streets. Even though the highlight of our visit was trying to find every dwarf possible, there is so much more to Wroclaw than these adorable figurines. I'm also just going to take a second to let you know that you're probably pronouncing it wrong. It took a LONG time to realize Wroclaw doesn't sound the way it's spelt (not at all). It's actually more like, Vratsuave.
Like most cities on this list, we hadn't even heard of Torun when we first arrived to Poland but I'm so glad we were able to sneak in a visit. This medieval town is among the oldest in the country and was essentially unharmed during the war. It was home to the famous Polish astronomer, Copernicus and is also well-known for the tradition of making gingerbread. Those with a sweet tooth will love the interactive Gingerbread Museum where visitors can make their very own cookies to take home as souvenirs. Torun's smaller size and overall charm make it a perfect destination for those looking to escape the bustle of Poland's larger cities. For a list of things to do in the city, have a look at our fun suggestions for Torun.
Call me crazy but I think if Amsterdam and Prague had a baby, it would look like Gdansk. This port city quickly became one of our favourites because of the picturesque setting and colourful architecture. Gdansk is located on the Baltic coast of Poland and is especially popular among locals looking to retreat to the seaside each summer. We loved that its location makes it easy to explore the surrounding areas and we noticed a lot of development underway so I think Gdansk will only get bigger and better over time. You'll also find shop after shop selling beautiful amber jewelry in Gdansk for those looking to bring home a shiny keepsake. We wrote a budget guide to Gdansk for anyone who plans to visit this seaside gem!
Once referred to us as the Cannes of Poland, Sopot is a great beach destination to visit. The seaside city offers a perfect combination of daytime relaxation and evening amusement. A highlight for us was the iconic wooden pier and we practically spent the whole day there people-watching and enjoying the sunshine. Don't miss the chance to get some fresh fish, enjoy the long stretch of beach and end the day with a beautiful sunset among the swans.
Malbork Castle, Poland
This is a must-stop city for any castle enthusiasts out there. Even though Wes and I aren't necessarily fans of castles or big history buffs, we really enjoyed our visit to Malbork Castle. If you're measuring by land area, this is actually the largest castle in the WORLD so you can tick that off your bucket list. The castle grounds are impressive and the audio guides do a great job of touring you through the Castle of the Teutonic Order. Malbork is easily accessible as a day-trip from the Tri-City (Gdansk/Sopot/Gdynia) but it's also worth staying a while to enjoy the town and the nearby Dino Park. Our tips on how to visit Malbork without a tour can be found in this post.
Another difficult-to-pronounce city is Lodz and I wasn't even surprised to hear that it sounds completely different than the spelling (instead, try Woodge). One of the biggest cities in Poland, Lodz is almost right in the centre of the country. Once famous for its textile industry, it is now well-known for its film school and Manufaktura, an impressive shopping and leisure complex with fun for the whole family. Most of the action takes place in the city centre off of Piotrkowska Street. A weekend visit is sure to reveal the city's bustling nightlife thanks to an excellent selection of pubs, bars and restaurants.
Lublin is located in eastern Poland and is a popular hub for those continuing their travels toward Ukraine. While it may not attract as many visitors as other cities in Poland, it is still a nice visit. Various festivals and street fairs can be enjoyed year round in the city while Zemborzycki Lake and the new Aqua Lublin complex are great spots for those looking to get wet. I'm not exactly counting the days I get to see Lublin again but we noticed a great deal of construction underway and I think it's only a matter of time before the city makes its way to more Poland itineraries.
Never has a country surprised us the way Poland has. We received such positive feedback from our YouTube viewers and every day we had new recommendations on cities to visit and foods to eat. To top it off, we would get messages from locals in Poland who were excited for our arrival and eager to showcase their beautiful city to us. We happily accepted and meeting such amazing people added to our crush on the country. Our itinerary this past month was all over the place but we listed these 9 cities you need to visit in Poland in the hopes that you'll find some travel inspiration. There are some standout places we have yet to see (Zakopane, Gdynia, Zamosc to name a few) so we'll have to add them to the Poland, Part II trip.