Is Poland worth Visiting?

Gdansk is Poland worth visiting

I’m here to rave about one of my favourite travel destinations today – Poland! So many people ask me ‘is Poland worth visiting?’ For me, it’s a no brainer. This country is full of stunning old town architecture, amazing food and fascinating museums full of history. I have visited Poland three times now and I can’t wait to go back for more! I recently spent four days in Poznań, and I’m now planning a second trip to Krakow.

Is Poland worth visiting Gdansk
Beautiful Gdansk at Dusk

So, is Poland Worth Visiting? Absolutely!

If you ask me, Poland is absolutely worth visiting. If you only have a short amount of time, for example, 3-4 days then focus on one manageable city such as Krakow or Poznań. If you have say 10 days you could do an epic trip such as Gdansk, Warsaw and Krakow.

Poland is an amazing country with great food, superb Vodka, exciting nightlife and friendly people. The architecture of most Polish old towns is often very colourful. This is a country rich in history and culture – there is a lot to learn about here, especially to do with WW2 history.

The other great thing about Poland is that its very reasonably priced for Europe and great for people backpacking on a budget.

Churches, architecture, museums, shopping… truly seems that Poland has it all! So, if you haven’t ever visited this fabulous country, what are you waiting for? With flights from UK cities starting from just £19.99 with Ryanair, there’s no excuse – get that flight booked!

Is Poland worth visiting
Jordan Bridge and Cathedral Island, Poznan

The Pros of visiting Poland

There are so many positives about visiting Poland. The main draw for me is the beautiful old town architecture and the interesting WW2 history. Food in Poland is great (not to mention the Vodka!) and you will find friendly people who are eager to speak English with you and chat to you about travel. So, here’s my summary of the best things about visiting Poland….

Accessible from UK and Good Transport links

It’s easy and cheap to get to Poland from the UK because there are so many cheap airlines running flights from various cities. I have flown to Krakow, Gdansk and Poznań all direct from Liverpool for less than £50! There are numerous other direct routes to Polish cities from Manchester (Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Poznań and Rzeszow), Birmingham (Krakow, Poznan and Warsaw) and London (Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Poznań, Szczecin, Warsaw and Wroclaw) with Ryanair.

If you are doing a road trip or inter-railing through Europe then Poland is a natural stop off. There is a Berlin to Poznań train direct which takes around 3 hours. You can spend a few days exploring Poznań before moving on to Warsaw or Krakow.

Amazing Food – and the best Dumplings in Europe!

I love Polish food! Although I’m not always a fan of the gherkins and the Polish sausage, their meals are amazing. We’re talking lots of meat dishes complimented with horseradish sauce or mustard (I recommend the Golonka!) Polish dumplings are a must – the ‘Pierogi’ come with a variety of fillings (savoury and sweet) such as pork, vegetables, duck and mango!

Pierogi dumplings Poznan Poland
Is Poland worth visiting? Yes – for the Pierogi! Polish dumplings in Poznan

Food in Poland is excellent value and you can wash it down with a nice Polish beer (I love the Miel – honey beer). Then why not finish your night off with a few decent shots of Polish Vodka – Wyborowa and Soplica are immense.

Polish Vodka

English is widely spoken

The Polish are very good at English. Most Polish people I met in cafes and bars when I was last in Poland as a solo traveller spoke excellent English. Not only are they strong English speakers but they are also eager and welcoming. Most want to speak English with you and ant to find out more about England. Either they will have been to the UK or have the desire to go. I have been to Poland 3 times now and never once had a big problem with the language barrier.

Fantastic Street Art

Countries that were behind the ‘iron curtain’ often now have a love for Street Art. Street Art took off n the 70s when it was used as a way to brighten up old grey (and quite ugly) tower blocks that emerged during the communist era. In Poland, this particularly expanded as a culture of open air museums and welcoming street artists from all over Europe around 2010. Cities like Warsaw, Poznań, Gdansk and Krakow are swarming with amazing murals. In short, if you love Street Art, you will love Poland!

Poznan Street Art Slusarska
Is Poland worth visiting? Yes – for the Street Art! Above – Street Art in central Poznan.

World War History and Museums

One of the things that I find fascinating about Poland is the WW2 history. Of course, a lot of it can be emotionally tough (in fact harrowing) but the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis is an important part of history for us to understand. I’ve learnt so much during my travels in Poland – more than I ever learnt about WW2 at school. or example, I didn’t realise before that many Polish cities had been renamed with German names. For example, Gdansk used to be ‘Danzig’ under Nazi Germany.

Tanks Poznan Artillery Museum
Tanks at Poznań Artillery Museum, Poland

I believe that Auschwitz is a journey that everyone should make, in order to understand the horrific result of racism at its extreme. It’s a tough day but vital to understanding European history.

But on of the most interesting places I have come across on my travels is the WW2 museum in Gdansk. It has over 16 exhibits and is so big that they had to build it underground. I spent around 6 hours in there and easily could have spent more. In fact, I asked a friend (another ex RE teacher) what she thought of that same museum, and she told me that she spent two full days in there!

Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland

Digital Nomad and Traveller scene

Digital Nomads and travellers love Poland. It has cheap food, excellent internet connections and lively nightlife – perfect for meeting new people after a day working online. Many digital nomads hang around in Poznan (it’s a cheap and comfortable city close to the German border) and Krakow (the Jewish quarter has some great cafes and coffee shops where people hang out to socialise and get some work done).

On my last night in Poznan I was out drinking with a Finnish busker, a Swedish medical student and a German software engineer – that just shows how easy it is to meet like minded people in Polish cities. And we had a blast! That brings me onto the next highlight of Poland – the vibrant nightlife.

Good Vodka and Exciting Nightlife

One thing is guaranteed – you will always have a great night out in a Polish city. Some of my favourite places include the Bunkier club in Gdansk and Kunzia Rock pub in Poznan. Bars and pubs are usually free entry, but some clubs you will need to pay on the door. You will be pleased to know that Shot Bars and Craft Beer Bars are found in most destinations in Poland.

Gdańsk Nightlife Bunkier club

If you are going clubbing in Poland, make a bit of an effort! Polish people dress well on the evening, so it’s a good idea to pack a nice dress and some scrappy shoes if you can carry them in your luggage.

Make sure that while you are there you try some good Polish alcohol. I’ve already mentioned my favourite Polish Vodkas which are Wyborowa and Soplica. Soplica comes in various flavours including Cherry and Plum – these are gorgeous and although they come as a shot, I like to sip and savour the taste! You might also be interested in trying Bimber (more alcoholic than Vodka but smoother to drink!), Krupnik (made from honey) and Starka (made from rye spirit, apple leaves and linden). If you’re into your cocktails, why not try a Polish Martini or Szarlotka – both are made with Zubrowka, the famous Polish Bison grass vodka!

Zubrowka Polish Vodka

Great Old Town Walking Tours

Is Poland worth visiting? Yes, purely on the basis of the beautiful old town architecture, Poland is worth a visit! Most old town cities including Krakow, Wroclaw, Poznań and Gdansk have walking tours to help you to get to know the city and learn a bit about the history. Many walking tours in Poland are classed as ‘free walking tours’, which means that you just have to pay what you can afford or what you think it was worth in tips. Remember to have some spare Zloty in cash for those.

You can also book walking tours and bike tours of Poland’s top cities in advance on Get Your Guide….

They also have bookable electric scooter tours of old towns, like this one that I did in Gdansk! Scooters and electric bike tours are great tours because you can learn lots from your guide and cover more ground.

is Poland worth visiting
Is Poland worth visiting? Yes – for the old town architecture! Wroclaw, Poland

Budget Friendly and Excellent Value

There’s no doubt about it – Poland is one of the best value destinations in Europe. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my credit card statement after a big night out in Poznań – I’d pent just £12 in a restaurant right on the old town main square (Stary Rynek) on a Golonka (Pork knuckle) with sides and a trio of beers. My drinks at the bars (beers and Vodkas) were around £1.30!

If you have a tight budget, you can get a room in a hostel dorm for around £15 in cities such as Gdansk, Wroclaw and Krakow. But, if you want some privacy and relaxation, hotels are not expensive at all. Last November I stayed in a double room at the Gdansk Ibis for just £36 a night!

Yes, Poland is very kind to your wallet!

is Poland worth visiting
Lodz, Poland

The Cons of Poland

Although I am a massive fan of Poland, every country has its down sides. It’s not the best place for a beach holiday and you will find that smoking is quite common.

Not the Best Beach Holiday

Poland does have some nice relaxing beaches in the North near Gdansk (Sopot). However, it’s not the best destination if you’re looking for a proper beach holiday. If you are looking to sunbathe, swim and relax then I would say go to one of the Greek Islands, or even Mexico or the Caribbean.

Language challenges in smaller towns

Although English is widely spoken in Polish cities, you might find some language barriers in more remote parts and smaller towns and villages.

Smoking can be a bit more common than in UK

Smoking is more popular in Poland than in the USA or the UK. A lot of people smoke at the outside tables in restaurants and there are many pubs where smoking can and does happen inside, giving a really smokey atmosphere. This is a downside, especially if you suffer from any breathing related health conditions (for example travelling with asthma).

Lublin Poland
Lublin Cathedral, Poland

Too Cold in Winter

I personally don’t do very well in the cold weather, and I avoid visiting Poland between November and February. In the winter months it can easily drop below zero. January and February are the coldest months in Poland and temperatures can average around -3 degrees Celsius. You would need a lot of layers – even snow boots! And so in the winter it is much more difficult to travel with hand luggage only.

Best Cities in Poland - Poznan
Warsaw, Poland

Getting bitten by Mozzies

Let’s look at the other extreme – warm summer temperatures. When I was in Poznan in early September, temperatures were frequently exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Of course, with this hot weather comes the risk of heat exhaustion and mosquito bites. Yes, I got a little dehydrated and feasted on at night! Pack sunscreen, a sun hat, a water bottle and anti-histamines when visiting in the summer months. if you have a particularly bad reaction to insect bites you might also want to pack hydrocortisone cream. Rest assured – the mosquitos in Poland don’t carry malaria, so there is no need to take anti-malarial tablets. The mosquito repellant bracelets that you can buy on Amazon are really good….

mosquito repellant bracelet

Most important Poland Travel Tips

  • Download the Uber and Bolt apps for booking taxis and renting scooters.
  • Have some cash in Polish Zlotys ready for small transactions such as toilet fees or buses.
  • Take your VISA, MASTERCARD or AMERICAN EXPRESS – they are accepted in most places in Poland including bars, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels.
  • Download Duolingo onto your phone to practice some basic Polish – it will be appreciated.
  • Food – make sure that you try Pierogi (Polish dumplings), Golonka (the pork knuckle with mustard or horseradish) and Gulasz.
  • Drinks – try the Miel (honey beer), Wyborowa Vodka and a Polish Martini.
  • Dress respectfully for visiting Polish Cathedrals (cover legs and shoulders) and don’t visit after alcohol or at mass times.
  • Don’t drink alcohol in public places (other than outside seats in bars and restaurants) – this is illegal in Poland.
  • Tips are not obligatory, but they will be appreciated.
Malbork Castle
Is Poland worth visiting? Yes – for the castles! Malbork Castle, Poland

What to pack for Poland

  • Jeans and jumpers and lots of layers for winter
  • Leggings, cycling shorts, T-shirts and Jersey dresses for summer
  • A refillable water bottle
  • The Lonely Planet Poland Guide – buy it here.
  • A pair of good walking boots or sturdy and comfortable trainers
  • Cash – Zlotys (Poland doesn’t use the € EURO!
  • Plug converter – you can get a pack of 2 with prices starting from £4.99 on Amazon

Lonely Planet Poland

Where to stay in Poland

Here are some ideas for places to stay in some of the best destinations in Poland, including Krakow, Gdansk and Poznań. I’ve offered a hostel, mid range hotel and luxury hotel for each destination…

  • Krakow – One World Hostel Krakow, Hotel Ibis Krakow Centrum, Wyndham Grand Krakow Old Town.
  • Gdansk – Moon Hostel, Hotel Ibis Gdansk, Hilton Gdansk.
  • Poznań – Blooms Hostel, B&B Hotel Poznań Old Town, Sheraton Poznań hotel.
  • Warsaw – Safestay Warsaw Old Town, Ibis Warszawa Stare Miasto, Sheraton Grand Warsaw.

Overall Decision – Is Poland Worth Visiting?

So, is Poland worth visiting? It’s clear that my vote is YES, absolutely! Choose the time of year that you visit very carefully (avoiding the harsh winter) and plan your route. You can even visit many Polish cities for a 3-4 day break with just hand luggage. With flights going to Poland from the UK for as cheap as £19.99 there really is no excuse! Book your trip to Poland now to experience the old town architecture, beautiful Cathedrals and amazingly cheap Vodka!

Further Reading on Poland

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