Poland is a large country in Eastern Europe on the Baltic Sea that is rich in food (make sure to try some pierogi) and culture! The national language is Polish (however, in large cities, those under the age of thirty usually are fluent in English) and despite being part of the EU, they still use the Polish zloty as their currency. It is a generally safe country, with easy access to public transportation, breathtaking buildings and views, salt mines, and unfathomable concentration camps.
Getting around Poland is easy (for major cities or points of interest). They have a vast public transport system. Remember, that as is true with many European countries, generally, the further out you book from when you plan to leave, the cheaper it is to get around from city to city, especially when traveling by train (which is most likely going to be your form of transportation between cities). Many tour companies visit Poland (mainly Krakow, Warsaw, and Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau). When visiting Poland, Krakow and the concentration camps are the most popular sights and should not be missed.
When visiting Krakow, there are many sights to see -- the Old Town, the main square (which may be hosting an open air art exhibit during certain times of the year), Schindler's Factory, Wawel Castle, Wawel Cathedral, Saint Mary's Cathedral, The Ghetto Heroes Square (a very interesting installment), the Jewish Quarter, and museums. You can also find many restaurants serving traditional Polish food in the Old Town (including pierogi!). If you like unusual things, you may enjoy a visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located within the Krakow metropolitan area (there have been weddings and political events held in this beautiful salt mine). If you are looking for the best club- or bar-hopping scene, try the Kazimierz district (which used to be an old Jewish district before World War II but is now full of bars, clubs, and pubs).
While Krakow offers vibrance and history, another historically significant place in Poland includes the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau. These places are simply astonishing in their vast sizes (especially considering they are just fractions of their original sizes) and speak to unfathomable tragedy that should not be repeated. These museums offer insights into life and execution at the camps, among other tragedies. To reach the camps from Krakow, you can take public transportation (which generally isn't recommended), take a tour, drive, or hire a car or take a taxi (which is very affordable if you have a small group). If you use public transportation or a taxi to get to the camps or you want to leave your vehicle in one of the parking lots, the museums offer a free bus between the two.
There are many other cities and places to visit in Poland, like the Great Masurian Lakes, Białowieża National Park, Carpathian Mountains, the Baltic Sea, and Gdansk. Whether you are into architecture (especially from the Middle Ages), nature, history, food, vodka, or art, you can certainly find something to tickle your fancy in Poland.
There are a lot of accommodation options, including hotels, camping, guesthouses, and hostels in Poland. There is something for every budget. The hostels in Poland tend to be of a regular standard and are mainly in major cities (Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk). If you are traveling during the peak season (from June to September), it is worth booking in advance, as places book up quickly, and prices tend to go up as the date nears. If you do not want to venture out on your own, many tour companies frequent Poland.
Remember when traveling to always exercise caution, especially in Eastern European countries where morals are more loose regarding cheating and stealing. When getting in a taxi, always ask the price beforehand (or an estimate of the most it will cost) and generally it is best to make sure the meter is running (unless you agreed upon a price beforehand).
Hi, I'm Kari,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Poland hostels. Welcome.
An interesting city, more than in any other place I've been to are eastern and western European influences exactly in balance here. Particularly peculiar are the one truly tall skyscraper of the city (a greyish brown monster that was donated to the country by Soviet dictator Stalin out of gratitude for Poland's …
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