Poland is an ancient country in Europe with a fascinating history that dates back to the medieval as well as World War II’s dark days. It is among the best European countries to visit because of its fantastic architecture, history, culture, and diverse landscapes.
Yes, folks! Every year, millions of tourists flock to Poland to see its beautiful nature and rich culture. Poland has beautiful national parks, mountains, lakes, and some of the best skiing spots in Europe waiting to be explored.
So whether you’re seeking a stunning mountain hike or want a weekend of cultural events, you must visit some incredible places in Poland.
Read on to discover the top 20 places every tourist should see when visiting this ancient country!
Poland: Is Poland Safe to Travel?
Poland is a safe destination to travel in Europe. Tourists rarely face any form of violent crime. However, petty crimes like muggings, carjackings, and pickpocketing are common.
Make sure to watch your belongings in crowded areas and around popular attractions. I advise you to stay alert while traveling on public transportation, too.
While going to the bar, some tourists have been victims of drink spiking and credit card overcharging. If you face scams like these, report them to the police and inform your bank.
European countries support LGBTQ tourists; however, everyone may not have the same ideologies. You may be a victim of harassment.
Poland: Top 20 Places to Visit
There are plenty of intriguing places to visit in Poland that are much less well-known and yet just as worthwhile a visit. Let’s look at some of these towns and villages that make Poland special.
Krakow is Poland’s oldest city, inhabited in the 7th century, and has also escaped most of WWII’s destruction. It used to be the royal capital, now with plenty of medieval architecture and other must-see attractions.
Krakow has 28 museums that you can explore. If you have limited time, visit the National Art Collection at Wawel. Here, you can check out the period furniture, Flemish tapestries, weaponry, and armor of the 15th century, and the royal jewels.
Another great museum is the Rynek Underground Museum, which offers a sight of ancient Krakow and its streets. To unwind on historical sites, go to the Wawel Castle. This castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an emblem of Polish independence.
Then, go to Krakow’s former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz.
Besides, Krakow has over 40 urban parks where you can walk, picnic, or relax. If you are feeling adventurous, go to the Lasek Wolski forest for a hike. There are great biking trails in this forest, too.
Visit the St. Mary’s Basilica and witness the Hejnal Mariaki (five-note melody played as a trumpet signal).
Warsaw, Poland’s capital, was founded around the 12th century and was destroyed during World War II. Currently, the city has risen like a Phoenix. It has reconstructed itself as a historical and cultural center.
Warsaw has over 60 museums ranging from art and history to a museum of posters and caricatures.
Visit the National Museum to learn about this city’s history and check out Poland’s most extensive collection of paintings. It even houses artworks from Adolf Hitler’s private collection.
Stroll the architectural street at the Krakowskie Przedmiescie. You will see beautiful old houses, monuments, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the Presidential Palace at this place.
For some hands-on activities, go to the Copernicus Science Center.
Now, for a great day trip, visit the Lazienki Palace. It is surrounded by urban forest and houses a planetarium, pavilions, an outdoor theater, and formal gardens. It, indeed, is a complete package.
Warsaw is also a great place to have a great nightlife. There are lots of bars and clubs you can chill at.
3. The Tatra Mountains
Bordered between Slovakia and Poland, the Tatra Mountains and National Park is one of the most visited sites in Poland.
Since there are no borders between the EU countries, you can hike between countries easily.
Visit Tatra National Park on the Polish side for a delightful hike on its 170 miles of trails. While hiking in the Tatras, you will also see some of the 650 caves and the limestone cave system.
Rysy, the highest mountain (2,500 meters) in Poland, is located on the Polish side of Tatras. You can climb the mountain without a guide.
Besides, the Tatras mountain also has waterfalls, streams, and lakes that make up a very serene scenery. Go on a two-hour hike to the Morskie Oko lake-the largest lake of Tatras.
With the influences of Austria, Bohemia, and Prussia on its development, Wroclaw became a part of Poland in 1945. It now boasts its architectural diversity and history to every city explorer.
There are many lovely parks and bridges at the Odra River where you can relax.
Wroclaw also has a lot of arts and cultural sites. Visit the Lubomirski Museum to learn about the history of the city. The Wroclaw City Museum is also a great place to get an insight into the city over the past 1,000 years.
Go to the Main Market Square to check out the St. Elizabeth’s Church and the Town Hall. It is the oldest area of Wroclaw that, dates back to the 13th century.
Wroclaw also has the largest zoo in Poland.
5. Bialowieza Forest Reserve
The Bialowieza Forest Reserve is the largest remnant of the ancient forest that once covered Europe. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the border between Poland and Belarus.
The forest is a superb place to hike or go for a guided tour. Here, you can see various wild animals as they wander freely. In the forest, you can find animals like European Bison, wolves, red deer, elk, roe deer, and wild boar.
Bialowieza is also a great place to bird-watch.
Later, you can check out the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture, where windmills, a tiny wood chapel, wooden huts, and a banya are on display.
6. Bieszczady Mountains
The Bieszczady Mountains’ large section is a part of the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. The mountains extend to Ukraine and Slovakia and are unique due to the polony in the Carpathian region.
Bieszzzady Mountains is also an excellent destination for a good hike, as some valleys and meadows make soft slopes. One of the famous meadow trails is the Polonyna Wetlinska.
Its national park offers a sanctuary for wildlife such as brown bears, lynx, wolves, and bison.
Ojcow is a small village that is situated 16 kilometers outside Krakow. It is the gateway to Poland’s smallest national park- the Ojcow National Park.
This heavily forested village houses limestone cliffs, caves, and river valleys. It’s a great place to see butterflies as there are about 500 species of them.
It would be best if you go on a hike at the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests. It is one of the most famous hiking trails in Poland. Besides the natural beauty, you will see over 25 castles, such as the Renaissance castle and the ruins of a Gothic castle.
You will also get to explore two museums in the park.
Gdansk is located on the bay of the Baltic Sea. It houses Poland’s principal seaport and the world’s largest brick church, St. Mary’s.
It is the largest city in northern Poland.
Gdansk has much history in its name. Germany and Poland ruled the city at different times and had fought over who would get this city, due to which the city was destroyed. It is a colorful and picturesque city that has risen from its past ashes.
You can find most of the colorful buildings in the central city. You can see the bronze ode to Gdansk’s mythical guardian, Neptune, held atop a fountain. This artifact was created in the seventeenth century and was concealed during World War II.
Go to the Museum of the Second World War to see the vehicles used in the war. There is a Polish Sherman tank and a German DKW motorcycle. You can also check out the documents and photos of the war and the holocaust.
Take a stroll in the old part of the city that dates back to the 17th century. Other places to visit in this beautifully preserved town are the City Gates, Gdansk Nowy Port Lighthouse, the Prison Tower, and the Wisloujscie Fortress.
The city has ancient stone gates as well as an industrial edge that gives it a mix of modernity and old-fashionedism.
You can also check out Gothic churches and Romanesque cathedrals. If you want to be amidst nature, go to Sobieszewo Island, which has magnificent flora and fauna.
Torun is situated on the Vistula and is renowned as the birthplace of an astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus. It is also famous for its Gothic town hall and other buildings that date way back to the Middle Ages, thanks to not being bombed during WWII!
Torun has beautiful architecture that will surely woo every tourist.
Besides the town hall, churches such as the Cathedral of SS. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist were constructed during the 14th century. This church boasts Gothic paintings and sculptures and has an amazing Baroque altar.
Visit the Muzeum Piernika to check out a type of gingerbread. (Fun Fact: Gingerbread originated in Torun). You can try baking gingerbreads here.
Also, check out the Teutonic Castle. It is party ruined but is still explorable.
Besides, there are also many bars and restaurants where you can chill at.
Chochołów is a quaint town bordering Poland and Slovakia. It is also famed as the place of the Chochołów Uprising against foreign oppression in 1846.
It is also renowned for the traditional Polish wooden houses that have decorated the village. The green forests entice hiking trails to add more fascination to Chochołów.
When in Chochołów, visit the Church of St. Jack. It is a Neo-Gothic building that was built in the 19th century.
Also, explore the Museum of Chochołów Uprising, which is situated in a historic highland cottage. You can learn about the history, culture, and ethnography of the Tatra region in this museum.
Usedom is an island on the Baltic Sea divided between Poland and Germany since 1945. Also renowned as “the sun island,” Usedom is an excellent place for beach time.
Usedom has white sandy beaches and many seaside resorts, making it the best summer vacation place. You can relax, swim or play summer sports at the beach.
The Usedom Island also has a private botanical garden open to tourists during the summer. You can also see the remains of the Karnin Lift railway bridge and the Dannenfeldt Mausoleum and cemetery.
Usedom is a natural paradise as the island has picturesque beaches, natural reserves, lakes, and gardens.
Zakopane is a famous resort town located on the lower slopes of the Tatras in Southern Poland. It is most famous for its superb skiing and hiking spots.
During winter, tourists flood Zakopane to carry out winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Well, why wouldn’t they? Zakopane is the winter capital of this country.
You can book your stay at a traditional goral cabin or picture-perfect wooden villas and visit Krupowki Street to try earthy beer and pair it up with delicious grilled cheese and blood-red sausages.
During the summer months, you can go hiking and mountain climbing. Zakopane is located in a gorgeous natural setting, due to which many artists, poets, and writers come here for inspiration. If you are one, too, you’re here for a treat!
Located in western Poland on the Warta River, Poznan is renowned as a university city with historical and cultural treats.
There are plenty of attractions to check out, the first being the Old Market Square and its Renaissance-style buildings. After the destruction of World War II, this Old Town went on a massive reconstruction.
Poznan’s colorful buildings have impressed millions of tourists with their authenticity.
You can go on a walk on the Royal Imperial Route. A visit to Malta’s artificial lake would be a great idea, too, since it has a ski slope, ice rink, and swimming pools. You can have fun here.
Poznan is home to Poland’s third-largest university, and since it is an academic center, the city boasts youthful energy and has a great nightlife scene.
It hosts international events and festivals. One of the events to not miss is the Malta International Theatre Festival.
Situated east of the Vistula, Lublin is an ancient city that dates back to the 6th century. Since it bordered Poland’s eastern side, it became a line of defense against the invaders. It suffered heavy bombings in World War II, so the city looks drab in some areas.
Currently, Lunin is a beautiful historic town whose medieval core remains unshaken.
One of the main places to visit in Lublin is the Krakow Gate. The gate was built as a fortification system part in the 14th century. Krakow Gate has gone through many phases of restoration to maintain its resonance.
Lublin was also the Jewish center of learning, due to which it was nicknamed the Jewish Oxford. It still holds the sights relating to its Jewish past.
Besides, Lublin has many cafes, restaurants, and bars where you can hang out. If you want to go wild on your trip, there are many clubs where you can dance the night out.
I suggest you also check out old wine cellars and the Baroque-style cathedral in town.
Malbork, also known as Marienburg (in German), is located between the waterways and wetlands of the Vistula delta. It is one of the most extensive fortifications in the world that stands over the Nogat River.
It is renowned for its 13th-century castle used as the headquarters by the Knights of the Teutonic Order. This castle houses three castles, making it the world’s largest brick castle.
Now, the castle’s gatehouses bar the mysterious tombs of the Teutonic knights and grandmasters. You can still explore the other areas of the castle, though.
Located in northeastern Poland, Bialystok is the Podlaskie Voivodeship’s capital and the largest city in its area. It is the main cultural center of Podlaskie.
Since it is situated near Belarus, it has some of that country’s cultural influence. The Nazis destroyed most of Bialystok and murdered half of the people.
Visit the Baroque palace built for the Branicki family in the mid-18th century.
You can visit the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Roman Catholic church designed by architect Jozef Pius Dziekanski. It is the main church of this city.
Or visit the Museum of Podlasie to know the history of this place.
Park Branickich w Bialymstoku and the Army Museum Bialystok are also great places to visit when in Bialystok.
Sopot is a former fishing village on the Baltic Sea in Northern Poland. Now, it invites tourists to relax at its seaside resorts and beaches.
This city has posh restaurants and cool bars to enjoy the nightlife.
Sopot is a great place to rejuvenate as the air is clean and has lots of spas to massage your body.
Visit the Church of St. George. Also, check out the Wooden Pier. It is the longest in Europe.
The mid-woods Forest Opera and the Monte Casino Streets are two places you should definitely take a stroll.
Located on the Baltic coast of Poland, Gydnia is a port city renowned for its modern architectural buildings. The cobbled streets lined with old churches make it an even more exciting place to visit.
When strolling around the city, visit the Museum of the City of Gdynia. Here, you can learn about the local history of Gdynia. There are more museums than are lined beside the shops and restaurants.
Speaking about restaurants, there are many beer gardens where you can take a sip of beer and relax.
Also, visit the Kościuszki Square to check out the unique fountain that leads to a waterfront. Since it is a port city, you should also take a boat ride to explore Gdynia.
Situated in Upper Silesia, Katowice is the leading industrial center of Poland. It has a rich cultural life and has a mix of modern and historical architecture.
Visit the St. Michel Archangel, a small wooden church that happens to be the oldest building of Katowice. The Cathedral of Christ the King is another great cultural spot that happens to be Poland’s largest arch-cathedral.
Visit the Silesian Museum to learn about the history of the Silesian people.
If you want some greenery and a place to relax, Katowice Forest Park and Valley of Three Ponds is perfect.
The Spodek concert hall is the emblem of Katowice. You can visit this hall and take a picture to send your family as a postcard.
There aren’t many historical sites in Katowice, but there are many restaurants and bars where you can have a hearty meal.
20. Slowinski National Park
Slowinski National Park is located on the Baltic coastline in Northern Poland. It is renowned for its remarkable giant, shifting sand dunes shaped by the wind.
Slowinski is a World Biosphere Reserve where you can see the sandy mountains by visiting the vantage points.
Don’t miss out on Lake Lebsko; it is a beautiful lake whose shores have observation points from where you can see the dunes.
The national park also has diverse flora and fauna. It consists of marshes, woodlands, and meadows. It also houses rare birds like the white-tailed eagle, black stork, and eagle owl.
To know more about the National Park’s ecosystem, visit the Natural History Museum at Smoldzino.
So here we have it: Poland’s top 20 best places to visit. As you see, it is a very diverse country with many historical sites dating back to World War II.