Poland is covered by the vast open plains and rolling hills that stretch eastward from Germany to Russia. The most fertile land in the hills of the south is mostly an agricultural region while cattle and sheep graze the southern pastures. In the far south region, forested mountains stand close to each other which are home to bears and wolves. To the north lies the Baltic coastal region that has thousands of lakes and is dotted with peat bogs.
The coastal plains are connected by streams and rivers. Many Poles and tourists come here to windsurf, fish, sail and canoe.
Here are the top ten places that must not be missed when in Poland.
The Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny) is located in the old Krakow, the capital city. It is the largest medieval square in Europe. In the center is the Cloth Market, a lively market of souvenirs and traditional Polish items (boxes, dolls and wooden items decorated handmade, lace, silver and amber jewelry and, of course, vodka). It is surrounded by colorful restaurants, cafes and gift shops and fashion, which make the square a lively place.
The market square serves as a meeting point to the main streets of the old town where you can find everything you need and serve as a good starting point for browsing the rest of the other attractions and cities in Poland. You can hire a tour in electric cars, have a beer or vodka, take a romantic carriage ride, or just stroll watching the various craft stalls site. This city is extremely cozy and you can explore the vast square and stop for a beer at one of its terraces.
Have a bit of history as the trumpet sounds off every hour from the belfry of the Church of Santa Maria (Kosciol Mariacki). It is the significant church in the city that is within the proximity of the market square. At every hour, a trumpeter goes to the top of one of the towers in the windows, playing four times. It’s amusing to hear and when you have a few days in Krakow it becomes an hourly soundtrack of how once the city was assaulted which is part of Poland’s colorful history. This church has an elaborate colorful blue and gold star ceiling that is reminiscent of other Italian churches.
In the Krakow’s Historic Center you can roam around the streets and walk from the Barbican to the Tower of Wawel. It is all flanked by a park where a pit once stood. There are great restaurants and clubs to enjoy a cold beer or vodka. Krakow is a city which is easy to do everything on foot. Every corner, there is something going on and so much to discover. The city is kept very clean and safe for tourists and locals. The capital city is always a busy center for trade and culture. Today, Krakow stands as a popular tourist spot and the center of the history of Poland.
The Lazienki Park is a huge park that is reminiscent of English parks, all green, clean and welcoming. It is the ideal place to walk and enjoy nature with live wildlife animals running around. On weekends, Chopin concerts are held outdoors. If sunny, it is pleasant to walk by and see so many people (couples and whole families) lying in the grass or sitting on the benches listening in absolute silence as Chopin music is being interpreted by professional musicians. The Orangerie Palace contains a collection of sculptures that is truly amazing for its quantity and quality. One path through the park is bordered by red Chinese lanterns (a gift from a Chinese company) and gives the landscape a surreal atmosphere amidst the greens. It is definitely a good place to spend a few hours and learn about the Poles and their interesting ways and traditions.
The history of Warsaw in World War II is shown in full detail and in an informative way at the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Inside you can see remnants and photographs of how war devastated this country. There is one part of the museum where you can watch an audio visual presentation of Poles who have a real narrative of their horrible war experiences (with English translations). There is a relatively large collection of weapons used during that era. The new museum (opened in 2004) has provided so many articles and public documents. All exhibits, articles, and films are each written in Polish and English. This helps everyone to understand everything about the impact of WWII to Warsaw.
The Old Town of Gdansk is one of the most interesting places ever in Poland. The restored and reconstructed buildings and alleys provide a good picture of the former Hanseatic city and its former wealth and influence. Especially in summer, the old town is filled with life and there are many colorful festivities and national events.
The rise of this city is inspiring because it was mostly destroyed in the last days of the war and it is really impressive as the Poles manage to rebuild the old town to its former glory. The entire old town is worth seeing and presented with great flair and style.
At the Market Square (Rynek) you can find colorful houses that are decorated with great taste along with a plaza that withstood many generations. In the basement of these houses there are plenty of shops and restaurants where locals and tourists come in for a few drinks. In the middle of the square is the town hall. It is the center of the city, which is divided from the center, a square with a great variety of architectural buildings, government offices, souvenir shops, pubs, and restaurants. It is worth pausing to look around, to sit on the benches and just enjoy people watching. Do not fail to find the gnomes that are scattered throughout the square.
Ostrow Tumski is one of the oldest parts of the Old Town Wroclaw. The main attraction is the Cathedral of St.John the Baptist and other religious buildings such as; the church of Santa Cruz and San Bartolomé, St. Martin’s Church, Church of Sant’Egidio. A characteristic feature of Ostrow Tumski is a bridge where lovers place a lock on its railings. This bridge is studded with padlocks left by couples. Wroclaw is a paradise for photographers and walkers, because it is photogenic, clean and the climate is very ideal and all the attractions are just a stone’s throw away from the city center.
The Old Market Square (Stary Rynek) and its side streets is truly a sight to behold. The houses that line the street are of different colors while the statues and fountains are unique. A place that stands a little less than a thousand years, Stary Rynek is a meeting place of the inhabitants of Poznan and tourists. The town hall is designed by the famous Italian architect John Framework in 1550. It is very reminiscent of the central square of Krakow, both in style, concept and layout of the buildings.
It is the central heart of Poznan because it houses the Town Hall and a large number of restaurants, clubs for drinking and dancing, etc., and the evenings are filled with people of all ages. One thing to see is the clock of the City where at noon, two mechanical goats (the goats are the symbol of the city), exits through a small door and gore their head to each other up to twelve times. The square is a colorful symphony of Gothic buildings with artistically painted facades, fine dining restaurants and souvenir shops.
Witness the ornate and artisan craftsmanship of the Poles as can be seen all over the wooden structure of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima when you visit the city of Zakopane. The church is a picture perfect example of the rich spiritual wealth of the Poles as is shown by the striking architecture and connection of woodwork quality in craftsmanship and opulence. It is beautiful from the inside and the outside.
The Sarnia Skala is a trekking valley that provides a good view of Mount Giewont on one side and the city of Zakopane on the other. The entrance to the valley begins with a descent to the slopes of the White Strazyska Mountain as its jump off point. Sarnia has a rocky entrance that is quite steep but short and not particularly tiring. You can take some nice pictures and admire the landscape from the top of this magnificent valley.
The Waly Chrobrego Promenade (Hakenterrasse) consists of a panorama of the city of ports. There are numerous old structure buildings, monuments, parks ideal for dating or meet up point to chat and meet friends plus the reverie. In addition to pubs and charming nooks, there is Terraces Haken. From here you can watch the panorama of the Oder River and the harbor. The terraces are 500 meters long and lies 19 meters above the shore along the harbor.
You can visit one of the restaurants that architecturally blend into the architecture of the historic Ramparts Brave. There is the National Museum, the Contemporary Theatre, Maritime Academy, Provincial Office, etc. There is everything that a tourist wants. The city is indeed charming, especially in the evening as it entertains its visitors together with an illuminated fountain.
The small town of Wadowice is home to its most famous resident, the late Pope John Paul II. In this town you can see the house where he was born that is now a museum. You can wander the streets where he walked and eat sweet papa – the Kremówka Papieska. Visit the church where he was baptized and make a short tour of the town where the Birthplace Pope John Paul II is the only attraction. You just have to see for yourself everything that helps create the background of this holy man.
Every corner is proud that he was once a resident of this city as evidenced by the parks and streets named after him. The church makes a great impression as well as the famous papal ice cream, which everyone should try. In the museum you can see the pictures, books, various documents about the entire Wojtyla family. The museum is payable. It costs a few pounds, but it is really worth it.
The Jewish Cemetery is the largest cemetery of this religion in Europe that is now the famous attraction in the city of Lodz. Created in 1892, it now contains about 160,000 graves. Among them there are real masterpieces of morbid art and architecture. The largest were built by industrialists in Lodz: the Poznanski, the Silberstein, the Prussak, the Stiller and the Jarocinski.
On this cemetery lies the mass grave of the victims of the ghetto and also the tomb of Arthur Rubinstein (the protagonist of the film “Pianist” by Polanski.) The cemetery consists of graves decorated with works of art and extends over a large area that is surrounded by old trees. It is an open air museum that tells the story of the Jews. For these reasons, a visit to the cemetery is absolutely obligatory. Before entering or planning a visit it is advisable to read up on the meaning of the Jewish symbols and markings.
The Bydgoszcz Basilica is a quaint church that offers interesting neoclassical architecture. It is impressive especially at night when the lighting is switched on and the entire tower or main dome is illuminated. The easiest way to get to the church is by bus. The entrance to the church is free and the holy mass is offered every day. It is simple and huge without the elaborate ornamentation that is very common among older churches. The whole church retains the proportions despite its vastness.
The church is a great example of Neoclassicism at its finest. Even children are delighted by the sheer size, wide proportions, space and sunlight playing with the stained glass windows and naturally lights up the church from within.