38 Reasons Why Poland Is More Awesome Than You May Think
Bucket List Worthy Hot off the Press
By Courtney McCaffrey | March 31, 2015
Many travelers know little about Poland aside from its pierogi, kielbasa and other mouthwatering national fare, but the country’s magic extends far beyond its foods. From mountain vistas to leisurely canoe rides, Medieval architecture and alluring nightlife, Poland is a country that always surpasses visitors’ expectations.
#1. The Mystifying Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains are more than the highest mountains in Poland, they’re an outdoor wonderland full of fairytale scenery. Valleys, mountain pastures, forests, lakes and countless other unique geological wonders turn this section of the Carpathians into an outdoor playground that’s fun in all seasons.
#2. The Villages
Traditional Polish villages are just as picturesque as the landscapes in which they lie. Many of the houses built before World War II in Poland were either palaces or two- to four-room wooden houses. After World War II, brick homes became more popular, but in some rural areas and small Polish towns, examples of the old wooden architecture still exist.
#3. Poznan’s Old Market Square
Poznan’s historic Old Market Square was established in 1253. The square is the third largest in all of Poland, and it’s an ideal place to grab a coffee, a beer or a meal while admiring the ancient sites. Visit in the summer months, and you’ll enjoy outdoor beer gardens in the square and a number of exciting cultural events.
#4. The Medieval Malbork Castle
The Malbork Castle, or the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, is the largest castle in the world in terms of surface area. The castle was constructed by the Teutonic Knights in Prussia after the conquest of Old Prussia, and its size and beauty are astounding.
#5. The City Life
Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, is full of history, culture and enough action to please any city lover. Whether you’re into funky festivals, nonstop nightlife, museums, art galleries, fine dining or shopping, Warsaw is one of those cities that won’t let you leave disappointed.
#6. Gdansk’s Old Town
Gdansk’s Old Town offers visitors a modern-day trip back to the Middle Ages. It’s one of Europe‘s largest historical centres, and a majority of the streets are in the exact same places that they were in Medieval times. Plenty of authentic, historic buildings still stand, and a walk down the wide pedestrian street Dlugi Targ is a must for any first-timer.
#7. The Breathtaking Baltic Coastline
Poland’s coastline along the Baltic Sea offers some of the most picturesque scenes in the entire country, including sandy beaches, quaint towns and stunning rocky shores.
#8. The Wildlife
Wherever you are in Poland, there is likely some rare and wonderful wildlife nearby. From swans in the marshlands to grey wolves in the Carpathians and European Bison in the Bialowieza National Park, Poland is a nature-lover’s dreamland.
#9. The Motlawa River
The historic city of Gdansk sits at the mouth of the Motlawa River. It is believed that the Motlawa Ferry in Gdansk has been crossing the river to the island of Ołowianka since 1687.
#10. Wroclaw’s Market Square
Wroclaw’s Rynek, or market square, was reconstructed from ruins after the famous Siege of 1945. Although, the square and its surrounding urban grid are said to date back to 1241. It was one of the largest squares in all of Europe when it was first constructed, and it remains one of the largest to this day.
#11. The Nightlife
Warsaw is known for offering an incredibly diverse mix of pubs, bars and nightclubs, and it has been said that the country’s second largest city (Krakow) has the highest density of bars in the entire world. Whichever city you’re visiting in Poland, it’s likely you’ll get roped into the exciting nighttime scene.
#12. The Masuria Region
Northern Poland’s Masurian Lake District is famous for its more than 2,000 gorgeous lakes that make for some of the best outdoor scenes and activities the country has to offer.
#13. Lublin Old Town
Lublin, once a centre of trade and diplomatic activity in Poland, has become a gathering place of students, musicians, business people, scientists and artists. Lublin Old Town is one of Poland’s most prized complexes of historic buildings, and the combination of history and colourful culture make for one of the country’s must-visit cities.
#14. The Excitement of Torun
Torun, one of Poland’s oldest cities, lies beautifully along the Vistula River. The city is so breathtaking that its medieval section was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, its Old Town was added to the list of the Seven Wonders of Poland in 2007 and it was ranked as one of the “Best Cities to Live in Poland” in 2009.
#15. The Lake Lifestyle
Poland’s thousands of lakes are hot spots for outdoor activities in the summer months. Sailing, swimming, kayaking, fishing and an endless array of other water sports draw tourists in for leisurely lakeside vacations.
#16. The Gorgeous Świętokrzyskie Province
The Świętokrzyskie Province, also known as the Holy Cross Province, is the second smallest of Poland’s 16 provinces. Its location in central Poland offers the famed Swietokrzystkie Mountains, historic sites and charming small towns that provide a look into everyday life in this captivating Central European country.
#17. Oscypek from the Tatra Mountains
Oscypek is a smoked cheese made from salted sheep’s milk and a touch of cow’s milk that is exclusively made in Poland’s Tatra Mountain region. The exact recipe is carefully protected, and the cheese production process isn’t easy, so your best option is to eat your fill while you’re in the country.
#18. The Forests
Many travelers don’t know that Poland is an ideal destination for outdoors enthusiasts. The country’s thousands of pristine lakes are known for the exciting water sports they offer, but the forests that surround the lakes provide visitors with endless amounts of hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and sightseeing.
#19. The Photo Ops
Whether you’re admiring Medieval castles, taking in the city culture, basking in the sun on a sailboat or hiking to mountain peaks, you’ll never want to put your camera down in Poland.
#20. The Beach Scenes
Poland may not be as famous for its beaches as other more tropical destinations, but those that are in the know are aware that Poland offers some of Europe’s most charming beach towns and romantic seaside scenery. The Baltic Sea offers big advantages over the Mediterranean, like expanses of shallow water and gorgeous fine sand.
#21. The Mountain Homes
One of the best features of the Tatra Mountains is that you can experience their enchantment up close and personal on your travels by staying at one of many mountain vacation rentals.
#22. The Colours
Poland’s vibrant colours shine from the city centres out to the traditional wooden country homes.
#23. The Lighthouses
This Lighthouse in Swinemunde, known as the Świnoujście Lighthouse, is one of Poland’s many fascinating lighthouses. This particular lighthouse is the tallest one in Poland and the fifteenth tallest in the world.
#24. The Farmland
Farming has always been an integral part of Poland’s economy. In fact, one of Poland’s nicknames is the “Land of the Fields,” for its expansive meadows and pastures with soil and climatic conditions that are favorable for many different crops.
#25. The Polish Soups
It’s tough to talk about Poland without commenting on the country’s eclectic, and absolutely delicious, cuisine. Zurek is a traditional Polish rye soup that is known for its delicate and pleasantly sour taste. In many homes, Zurek is a traditional food eaten on the Easter holiday.
#26. The Pieniny Mountains
Poland’s Pieniny mountain range consists of breathtaking limestone and dolomite rock formations. River rafting trips on the Dunajec are a popular Pieniny activity that tourists have been enjoying for roughly 165 years.
#27. The Gdynia Beaches
Gdynia offers a number of nice beaches within the city limits and slightly beyond. The most popular (and beautiful) city centre beach tends to get crowded when the weather is right, but nearby Orłowo is always a bit more mellow. Orlowo’s towering cliffs, paragliders and scenic forest trails add to the beach’s unforgettable atmosphere.
#28. Wroclaw at Night
Wroclaw is a people’s favorite when it comes to Polish towns. Its unique location on the Odra River makes for idyllic scenery, and the city’s colouful cultural scene, fun nightlife, unique architecture and large student community combine to create a hip atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the country.
#29. Tatra National Park in Winter
You don’t have to be a fan of cold weather to fall in love with the Tatra National park in winter time. And the area’s incredible alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and mountaineering are ideal for adventure and winter sports enthusiasts.
#30. The Tranquility
It’s easy to find a balance between outdoor excursions and leisurely activities in Poland. Exciting days on the lakes of Masuria are often followed best by slow evenings fishing, lounging on the docks and snapping photos of the sunset.
#31. Summers in Sopot
Sopot is a must-visit town if you’ll be visiting nearby Gdansk or Gdynia. And when you’re paying a visit to this thriving seaside town, don’t miss a walk on Sopot’s famous pier. At right around 511 meters in length, it’s the longest pier in all of Europe.
#32. The Handicrafts
Polish pisanki are eggs that are richly decorated with Poland’s symbols of Easter. Different regions in the country have developed their own floral and geometric designs, so it can be fun to shop for the various types of “written” eggs throughout your travels.
#33. The Fishing Boats
These fishing boats seeking shelter on Northern Poland’s Hel Peninsula are just a few of many that venture into the Baltic Sea in search of fish and other sea life on a daily basis.
#34. The Beach Towns
This image of the Bay of Gdansk from the lovable seaside town of Sopot proves that Poland can truly be an ideal beach destination.
#35. The Ogrodzieniec Castle
The Ogrodzieniec Castle, standing 515.5-meters high, has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times in its tumultuous history. Although, it is expected that the remaining version, which is open to visitors on the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests, was originally constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries.
#36. The Spring Flowers
The Chocholowska Valley in Poland’s Tatra Mountains is gorgeous in all seasons, but those who choose to visit in spring enjoy the valley’s picturesque blankets of blooming flowers.
#37. The Unforgettable Sunsets
It doesn’t matter if you’re in Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw or Tatra National Park, Poland is home to some of the world’s most spectacular sunset.
#38. Discovering Kraków
Kraków is the second largest city in Poland and also one of the oldest. The city’s charming streets, squares and positioning on the Vistula River make it a must visit for travelers seeking historic sites, shopping, countless restaurants, museums and so much more.
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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey
Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves. View all posts by Courtney McCaffrey
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