• 27 September 2022

Poland offers travellers the perfect mix of vibrant cities, rich royal heritage, impressive architecture and scenic outdoor spaces. With a history stretching back 1,000 years and a wealth of cultural, historic and natural attractions, Poland should find itself on everyone’s bucket list! 

However, as is the case with many countries in Eastern Europe, Poland is a hugely underrated European travel destination. From the breathtaking Tatra Mountains in the south and the medieval castles dotted throughout the countryside, to the vibrant culture of Warsaw and the famous historic Old Town in Kraków, there is no shortage of incredible things to do in Poland! To celebrate this underrated European gem, Expat Explore has put together a list of the top places to visit in Poland. Take a look below and find out why Poland deserves a spot on your Europe travel bucket list. 

Tourist taking photo of St. Mary's Basilica Krakow Poland Destinations
Keep your cameras ready for the incredible sights in Poland!

Expat Explore’s top 5 destinations to visit in Poland:

1. Warsaw

Let’s begin with Poland’s bustling capital city! Often overshadowed by picturesque neighbours Kraków and Gdańsk, Warsaw absolutely holds its own as a top travel destination. The city is a vibrant metropolis complete with contemporary culture and buildings. Pre-World War II, Warsaw was known as the “Paris of the East” thanks to its impressive collection of architecture. Today, it is a city of contrasts and diversity. Here, historic monuments share streets with modern skyscrapers. Journey through history during strolls through the Old Town and visits to one of Warsaw’s fascinating museums. In the evenings, find yourself indulging at some of the city’s trendy bars and restaurants! 

The Mermaid of Warsaw statue Poland destinations
The Mermaid of Warsaw in the city’s Old Town.

Similar to the rest of the country, Warsaw tells a tale of survival and rebirth. Much of the city (including the historic Old Town) was destroyed during WWII bombing and has been rebuilt in the years since. Warsaw survived the Cold War years and, today, flourishes as a 21st century travel destination. 

Warsaw’s top attractions: The Old Town, the Royal Castle, the 17th-century Baroque Wilanów Palace (once known as the “Polish Versailles), Łazienki Park, the Palace of Culture and Science, the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews and the Warsaw Rising Museum.

Wilanow Palace in Warsaw Poland destinations
Explore the architecture and pristine grounds at Wilanów Palace.

Did you know? Poland is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Several of these are in Warsaw, including the Historic Centre of Warsaw. Discover more of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe.

2. Kraków

Now, on to one of Poland’s best known travel destinations! Kraków is nothing short of picture-perfect. Kraków’s Old Town (Stare Miasto) is the real star of the show. Think cobbled streets with Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture lining the pavements. In fact, this former royal capital is often described as being a “living museum of architecture”. A walk through the famous Old Town feels like meandering through the ages. The sprawling Old Town main square is the largest medieval town square in Europe. In 1978, Kraków’s historic centre was one of the first UNESCO Heritage Sites ever inscribed!

Krakow Main Market Square, Old Town Poland Destinations
Kraków’s famous Old Town and Main Market Square!

Kraków’s top attractions: The Old Town and Main Market Square with St, Mary’s Basilica, Wawel Royal Castle, Kościuszko Mound, the Royal Tombs and Kazimierz (the old Jewish quarter). 

Day trips from Kraków:

Excitingly, you can embark on several great day trips from Kraków. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is 14km south of the city and is one of Poland’s most popular attractions! The subterranean maze of chambers and tunnels, complete with chapels, monuments and statues carved from salt, is spread over 300km and nine levels. A small section is open to the public. Visit and see the famous Chapel of St. Kinga which is completely made of salt, the salt lake in the Erazm Barącz Chamber and more.

Also within a day-trip distance of Kraków is Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Located 70km from the city centre, this destination offers a sobering look at one of the worst chapters in human history. While it is harrowing, it is important to learn from the tragic events of our past. 

Chapel of St. Kinga in Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland Destinations
Chapel of St. Kinga in Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Did you know? Travellers will have an included tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum and have the option to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine during the free day in Kraków on our Eastern Highlights tour!

3. Gdańsk

Next, we move north to Gdańsk. This beautiful port city is situated on the Baltic Sea. It forms part of Poland’s “TriCity” made up of three coastal cities: Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot. Over the years, Gdańsk has been an important historical and commercial centre. Today, it oozes historic charm, making it a top destination for Polish travel!

Gdańsk will quickly nestle its way into your heart. Visit the old town to see The Crane, an iconic harbour crane used in medieval times, and admire the architecture of the Gothic St. Mary’s Basilica. Take historic walks to see the Gdańsk Granaries and Mills, the Main Town Hall, the Royal Way (a long street stretching from the Golden Gate to the Green Gate) and the monument to King Sobieski.

Gdansk Harbour featuring "The Crane" Poland destinations
Gdańsk harbour with famous medieval monument “The Crane”.

Perhaps most captivating, is one of Gdańsk’s newest additions. The Museum of the Second World War* is a striking modern landmark on Gdańsk Waterfront. Made up of 18 sections and a sprawling underground area, the 5,000 square metre space houses striking exhibits. The exhibits chronologically depict the impact of WWII on Poland from the rise of the nazis to the fall of communism. Dedicate several hours to exploring the space which includes a life-size recreation of a bombed Warsaw courtyard. Complete with a Russian tank, it feels like a film set!
*Please note, the museum is described as not suitable for children.   

Gdańsk’s top attractions: The Old Town, the Royal Way, the harbour and the Museum of the Second World War. 

Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Poland destinations
Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk.
Day trips from Gdańsk:

Looking for a day trip from Gdańsk? Add Malbork Castle to your itinerary! This impressive complex is perched on the Nogat River and was constructed by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. This was the largest fortress built anywhere during the Middle Ages! Today, it looks much like it did nearly seven centuries ago. This is one of Poland’s best attractions!  

Psst… For the best views of Malbork Castle, walk across the footbridge to the opposite side of the river. 

Aerial view of Malbork Castle, Poland destinations
The Sprawling Malbork Castle in Poland!
4. Poznań

Poznań is another Polish city rich with history. As one of Poland’s oldest cities, Poznań boasts several historical monuments and an impressive Old Town. Excitingly, there is even more to this city than the centuries-worth of history! Poznań has worked hard to cultivate a modern atmosphere that is fresh and relaxing with a mix of historic and modern architecture as well as contemporary street art and cuisine. 

Visit the Old Town and take a trip to the Town Hall at lunchtime. Here, as the clock strikes 12, you’ll see two mechanical billy goats appear and butt horns. Also in Poznań, you’ll find the Croissant Museum. While this may feel like more of a “French thing”, croissants are important in Poznań’s history! Visit to learn about the history and legend of St. Martin’s croissant – a symbol of the city. These are croissants, Polish style! 

Poznań’s top attractions: The Old Town and Old Market Square, Town Hall, Poznań Cathedral (Poland’s oldest) and the Croissant Museum. 

Statue of Apollo and colourful Reniassance facade buildings in Poznan, Poland destinations
Statue of Apollo and colourful Renaissance facade buildings in Poznań.

Travel tip: While visiting any city in Poland, be sure to try the local cuisine! Poland is well-loved for its hearty, homestyle cooking which features local ingredients and delicious dishes such as pierogi (Polish dumplings), gołąbki (stuffed cabbage), bigos (stew) and Kielbasa Krakowska (Krakow sausage). Don’t forget to finish off with some famous Polish vodka!

Plate of pierogi, traditional Polish dish. Poland destinations
Don’t miss your chance to try traditional pierogi while in Poland!
5. Masurian Lake District & the great outdoors!

Finally, we couldn’t complete the list without giving a shoutout to Poland’s beautiful natural spaces! One of our favourite outdoor destinations is the Masurian Lake District. Here, you can explore around 2,000 lakes! The impressive natural scenery including blue waters, rolling hills and dense forests along with the fun activities available (kayaking, anyone?) make it a top summer destination for locals.  

Aerial view of the Masurian Lake District. Poland destinations
Scenic views are all around in the Masurian Lake District!

Travel tip: You’ll get to visit the scenic Masurian Lake District on Expat Explore’s Helsinki to Warsaw and Best of Scandinavia and the Baltics tours.

While there are several bustling cities, much of Poland remains unspoiled and “off the beaten track”. To the north, you’ll find beautiful coastal cities and seaside towns, perfect for summer adventures. Further south, in the Tatra Mountains and ancient Carpathian Hills, hiking and skiing are the perfect outdoor activity depending on the season. Wherever you venture to enjoy the outdoors in Poland, it’s sure to be memorable! 

Young hiker in Tatra Mountains, Poland Destinations
Admire the views and historic dwellings on a hike through the Tatra Mountains in Poland.

By now, we’re sure Poland has secured a spot on your European travel bucket list! If not, what are you waiting for? Take a look at our multi-country Europe tours that visit Poland and start planning your next adventure, today!

Questions & Comments

Exploring Europe’s most spectacular theatres

Few places in the world offer a cultural holiday experience quite the same way that Europe does.  Wonderful cities are filled with world-famous theatres, muse ...

Join the Expat Explore family!

We’ll deliver top travel tips, insider info and travel inspiration right to your inbox.

By submitting this form you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Secured by thawte

256 bit SSL encrypted security

Mastercard Visa