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Budget Travel Tips for Exploring Warsaw in 24 hours

This is a guest post by Agness of eTramping. eTramping is famous for its travel guides ‘How to travel for less than 25$ a day’ and it was created by…

This is a guest post by Agness of eTramping. eTramping is famous for its travel guides ‘How to travel for less than 25$ a day’ and it was created by two Poles- Agness and Cez. Quickly it became one of the most popular travel blogs and the number one source for budget travel tips. You can also follow eTramping on Facebook and Twitter.


 

If you have never been to Warsaw, you don’t know what you’ve missed. It is the largest city of Poland, located in the eastern part of the country, in Mazowsze, on the Vistula River. What is so special about Warsaw? – You may ask. First of all it is the scientific, cultural, political and economic center of Europe commonly known as the “phoenix city” as it has survived so many wars throughout its history. Secondly, you will be astonished here by historical museums, cathedrals, churches, its rich history and traditions as well as delicious Polish cuisine. In fact, nobody can resist the taste of pierogi (traditional Polish dumplings) or rosol (chicken soup). By the way, did you know that Warsaw is considered to be the most sophisticated city in Poland where you can experience the real local hospitality? Yes, it surely is, trust us! Here are some tips on exploring Warsaw in 24 hours;

Must-see spots in Warsaw in 24h

Warsaw is divided into two parts: the Old Town and the New Town and it can be simply explored in just 1 day for less than $21. Atmospheric alleys, squares and cafés create a very unique atmosphere, and these two historic squares become a stage for musical and theatrical performances and open-air galleries in the summer.

Old Town Warsaw

When in Warsaw, you should start exploring the city from the Old Town. Here is what you can see there:

The Royal Castle

It was built in the 15th century as the residence of the Dukes of Mazovia. With the transfer of the capital from Krakow, it became the seat of the king and the government. It was rebuilt several times when destroyed during the 2nd World War. Today, the segment of the clock tower (from which daily at. 11.15 bugle call is played) opens the way to the Old Town. Museum attractions include two original paintings by Rembrandt and works by Bernard Bellotto.

Royal Castle Warsaw

Column of King Zygmunt III Waza

That’s the oldest and tallest secular monument in Warsaw, built in 1644. The monument is 22 meters high, and the figure of the king measures 275 centimeters. Held in the right hand sword symbolizes his bravery, and the cross on the left – a constant readiness to fight evil. According to legend, the King’s sword downwards will herald the imminent defeat of the city.

Old Town Square

It was founded between 13th and 14th century and it is currently one of the most picturesque corners of the city and the main square of Warsaw. Visiting the Old Town Square will certainly be a highlight of the day. You will be surrounded by affordable cafés and restaurants as well as charming alleys.

Old Town Square, Warsaw

The Monument of Warsaw Mermaid

This monument of mermaid has been a symbol of Warsaw from the beginning of the 20th century. The statue stands in the center of the Old Town and it is surrounded by a fountain, where guests can cool off on hot days.

Historical Museum of the City of Warsaw

The museum is housed in several buildings rebuilt after the war and includes three courtyards. The exhibition presents the history of the capital since the dawn of modern times. From Tuesday to Saturday at 12:00 you can watch a documentary film about Warsaw between 1939 and 1945. The video is available in Polish, English, Spanish, French and German language.

The New Town also has a lot to offer. This part of Warsaw was founded in the late 14th century and it functioned as a separate city to the 18th century with its own administration, the town hall and the church. Most of the baroque and neoclassical houses around the Market are a post-war reconstruction as they were destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising (1944).

Warsaw centre - New town

Here are the highlights of the New Town:

Church of Holy Spirit

The first wooden church was built in the 14th century. It’s one of the biggest and oldest churches in the city, definitely worth paying a visit if you are Catholic.

The New Town Square

It was built in the 15th century. There are plenty of historical churches and monasteries here so if you are a big fan of history and architecture, don’t miss it out.

Top Warsaw’s activities on the cheap

Walking across Royal Lazienki

Royal Lazienki is a place visited by many local and tourists daily. It’s a Palace-Garden complex offering one of the most picturesque views in Warsaw. It’s placed at Agrykoli Street, nearby the city center. Here you can go for a relaxing walk, have a picnic, jog or even meditate. Many locals go there to breathe some fresh air and have a morning coffee. Moreover, here are some peacocks, pigeons and squirrels you can take a few pictures of.

Royal Lazienki Warsaw

Get to the top of Palace of Culture and Science

The Palace of Culture and Science is one of the best places to see Warsaw from above. It’s definitely the highest building not only in the city itself, but also in the whole country. Built between 1952 and 1955, it quickly became one of the main Warsaw’s attractions. There is a free entrance but you should pay 15 PLN (only 10 PLN if you have a student ID card) for getting to the 30th floor of the Palace to see the scenery of Warsaw.

Palace of Culture and Science Warsaw

Where and What to Eat and Drink

Warsaw has a lot of cozy restaurants where not only traditional Polish dishes are served, but also Vietnamese, Chinese, Portugal or Italian. If your budget is really tight, you should eat from street vendors or visit milk bars.

Here is the list of cheapest and yummiest restaurants in Warsaw you may want to try:

Street Restaurant & Club

Location: al. Jana Pawła II 19, Wola – the place offers a great variety of dinner options such as gyros kitchen with potatoes and salad (30PLN), Polish dumplings stuffed with meat (19.50 PLN) or cherry pancakes (14 PLN).

Milk Bar “Zlota Kurka”

Location: Marszalkowska Street 55/73 – That’s the cheapest milk bar in Warsaw. You can get a homemade soup (chicken, mushroom, vegetable) for only 1.30 PLN, a typical Polish dinner which are potatoes, salad and pork chop for 5 PLN.

Zapiexy Luxusowe

Location: Francuska Street – That’s definitely the best place for having a   typical Polish zapiekanka which is simply a halved baguette or bread topped mainly with mushrooms and cheese, also ham or other types of meat, and vegetables. Here you can get a massive zapiekanka for only 3-4 PLN.

Ways to Get In and Around on a budget

Getting in

There are many different ways to get to Warsaw. If you’re flying, you will probably arrive at the Frederic Chopin International Airport. It is located 10 km south west from Warsaw city centre. There are two buses no. 175 and 188 which go from the airport to the city centre. They leave every ten minutes. If you need a ride late at night catch the bus N32 and you’ll get right to Warsaw Central Station (Dworzec Centralny) from where you can take another local bus going to the city center. Tickets for the bus cost a mere 2.80 PLN.

If you are somewhere nearby like Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic or the Netherlands, you can get to Warsaw by bus or a van. Eurolines and Polski Bus have the cheapest tickets when it comes to bus services (the prices start from $10) and there are plenty of van companies charging around 50/60 euro for a ride (Amsterdam – Warsaw costs 60 euro and Berlin – Warsaw costs 35 euro).

You can also reach Warsaw by train. There is the Berlin-Warsaw Express (commonly knows as the Berlin-Warszawa Express). It is operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB), the German national railway company and PKP, the Polish State Railways. It unites the revitalized city of Berlin in Germany with the city of Warsaw in Poland. The trains are modern with air-conditioned carriages and restaurant cars. One way ticket costs between 29 and 46 euro.

Getting around

You can’t really get around the area easily with a car as there is a heavy traffic in Warsaw. However, you can catch a tram or a metro at any time. The tickets vary from 2 zloty to 5 zloty per ticket (60 cents to$1.50).

Where to sleep

If you are short of cash, you can go Couchsurfing, which is extremely common nowadays. Many Polish people want to meet foreigners this way and show them what Poland has to offer to its visitors. There are couchsurfing meetings in Warsaw every Wednesday, so you can meet other people and hang out with them if you want to. The meetings are held in Warsaw at 7PM local time at Lorelei, Widok Street no. 8.

Best budget accommodation options:

1) Hostel: Aga Hostel. Address: Topiel street no. 27. Contact: 694 372 321.

2) Camping: Camping 123. Address: Bitwa Warszawska street no.15/17. Contact: 228229121.

3) 5-Star Hotel: Warsaw Marriott Hotel Address: 79, Aleje Jerozolimskie 65. Contact: 22 630 63 06.

Do you have any tips to share on how to explore Warsaw in 24 hours? Feel free to comment below.

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Top 5 things to do in Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw may not be your typical ‘beautiful city’ as some other Central European capitals are famous for, but if you give it a chance and are prepared to explore its…

Warsaw may not be your typical ‘beautiful city’ as some other Central European capitals are famous for, but if you give it a chance and are prepared to explore its inner beauty, you will realise it’s a city full of energy. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed during WW2, and the Warsaw you will see today is still a result of the vast damage it suffered during the war, especially after the reconstruction and remodelling of its architecture. Even the famous ‘Old Town’ is actually fairly ‘new’ as it’s only about 40 years old, but due to its amazing reconstruction it has reserved a place on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Warsaw also provides a great twin centre holiday with Krakow, giving you the chance to really see the best of Poland.

Everybody asks me how many days are enough for Warsaw, and two are probably enough if you want to see the major attractions and places of importance in the city, but note that the longer you stay the more you will discover and fall in love with. No matter what, Warsaw today represents a vibrant and cultural city that definitely deserves a visit during your journey through Poland, because its finer features do eventually stand out.

So let’s start. Top 5 recommended things to do in Warsaw include;

DISCOVER THE OLD TOWN

This is the best place to begin your sightseeing in Warsaw, simply because this is the oldest historic district of the city and the location of Warsaw’s most important landmarks. At the entrance of the Old Town you will discover the Royal Castle, where I definitely recommend you a visit as you will learn a lot about the history of Warsaw’s Old Town. The palace used to be an official residence of Polish monarchs, which after WW2 was totally demolished, today stands as a red brick building serving as a museum after the reconstructed interiors were finished in 1984. I recommend you grab a ticket and have a wonder through its impressive interiors at one of Europe’s most important royal residences. (Regular ticket: 22PLN)

Right in front the Royal Castle you can find a 22 meter high column, which is known as the Sigismund III Vasa Column. The column was moved from the previous capital of Poland, Krakow, to today’s capital city Warsaw. During the Warsaw Rising the column was demolished by the Germans but was repaired and placed four meters away from the original place.

Walking further from the Castle Square you will move into the heart of the Old Town Square, which is filled with tourists enjoying the architecture, artists and numerous cafes and restaurants nearby. The Old Town Square is the most famous for the statue of Syrena (Mermaid), which is a symbol for Poland’s capital.

The Old Town is also home to one of Warsaw’s oldest churches, which is St. John’s Cathedral, famous for it’s neo-Gothic pieces of architecture. When heading north you will spot the Barbikan. The Barbikan represents the remaining relics of the historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw, and it is also the border between the Old and New Town.

What surprised me is that sometimes we simply do not pay attention to the details and are only attracted by big things, but if you look deeper, you will find many of Warsaw’s hidden sights in the Old Town and you may even spot some of the original bullet marks caused during WW2.

WARSAW RISING MUSEUM

Without a doubt, this is a MUST visit for anyone who is travelling through Warsaw! Dedicated to the Warsaw Rising of 1944, the museum officially opened its doors in 2004, and very quickly became one of the most popular museums in Poland. For an individual ticket of 14 PLN you can see the hundreds of exhibition items, photographs, films and other educational material. For 2 PLN, you can see a 3D movie titled “The city of ruins” which you should definitely do after visiting the whole museum grounds to have a better understanding of how Warsaw looked after WW2. As soon as you step in the museum the clock goes back to September 1st, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. As you explore the museum, you chronologically go through the stages of the war and see the affects it had on past and present Warsaw. One of my personal highlights was a scale model of the Warsaw sewers which were used for transportation and communication during the Warsaw Rising for the city’s citizens. If your interest is perked by history, I recommend before visiting Warsaw to watch the film titled “Kanal” by the Polish director Andrzej Wajda, as the movie documents the history behind Warsaw’s sewers during the Rising. After viewing the movie, personally my understanding and interest was enhanced whilst visiting the museum. Plan to spend about 3-4 quality hours here.



PALACE OF CULTURE AND SCIENCE

The Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

The tallest building in Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science, is usually visible from most parts of the city. The palace itself represents a ‘gift from the Soviet people’ and it was commissioned by Stalin himself. The building wasn’t initially accepted by the Polish people, and even today many Poles hate it as they consider it to be a symbol of Soviet domination and refer to it as a “Russian Wedding Cake”. Today it serves as an exhibition centre and office complex, and also offers cinemas, theaters, museums, bookshops, conference halls and more. So you are probably wondering, why should I go there? Well, for the price of 20 PLN and after a lift ride with a lift attendent, you can admire Warsaw’s panoramic view from the viewing platforms situated on 30th floor of the building. If you are interested in learning more about the Palace of Culture and Science, there are numerous travel agencies who give a whole tour of the place.

THE FRYDERYK CHOPIN MUSEUM

The Fryderyk Chopin Museum

Wherever you are in Poland, you won’t escape the name of one of the most famous Poles; Fryderyk Chopin. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this museum, because to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of classical music. However, my impressions of the museum were really good in the end and here’s why. This is one of the most interactive museums I have ever visited, and as you move through the museum, the technology and features of the museum sparks your interest more and more, which is obviously a positive thing for those who are not much in touch with classical music. You can see many of the autographs, notes, works of art and personal items of Chopin in the museum. From the moment you enter the museum you will learn about the begin’s of Chopin’s life, see where he travelled during his life, and you will finish the route by visiting the big black box which represents his death. And that moment when you sit and listen to his works, accompanied by animated video, and feel like you are in a fairytle, you know this museum is a success. No matter how old you are or what your tastes are, there is something for everyone in the museum! The museum is also very family friendly and it even has a kids play area.

EATING AND SHOPPING

Polish pierogi

As the capital, Warsaw offers a vast variety of not only traditional restaurants but also international cuisine. A must in Poland is to try one of their most famous dishes; Pierogi. These dumplings are prepared in many ways and filled either with meat, cheese, spinach or various other fillings. Before your main meal, try the Polish barszcz which is a vegetable soup, although there are many variants of recipes on offer. If you are not really keen on the most popular Polish drink, vodka, maybe you’ll enjoy having a Tyskie beer to accompany your meal. Try the Zapiecek restaurant for pierogi.

Before you leave Warsaw, a little shopping is in order for some local souvenirs and some traditional Polish arts and crafts. Check the Cepelia store and Desa store, as they offer the biggest collection of traditional souvenirs in the capital, and even amber which Poland is famous for worldwide. When looking for amber, check out some of the designer shops located in the Old Town as they usually have bigger stock on offer and are specialized in selling just amber itself and not souvenirs. And don’t forget to check out this guide to Krakow too!

Have you been to Warsaw? What are your personal favourites? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂



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Auschwitz – Crossing The Line Between Mass and Dark Tourism

We all know the story behind the Auschwitz concentration camp. We learned about it from the history books, saw documentaries and movies about Holocaust, visited museums, etc. But how does…

We all know the story behind the Auschwitz concentration camp. We learned about it from the history books, saw documentaries and movies about Holocaust, visited museums, etc. But how does it look today as one of the most popular destinations of dark tourism and how has a high number of visitors impacted it?

The feeling is of course different and much more poignant once you’re at the actual place. The ride from Krakow to the village Oswiecim where Auschwitz is located is beautiful. You’re passing through the lush forests and by beautiful countryside houses. It’s hard to imagine you are going to a place where more than 1 million people were killed by the Nazi regime.

Auschwitz entrance 2

The first thing you see before entering the grounds of Auschwitz I is a sign that says “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work will set you free). Auschwitz I used to be the main camp and today it serves as a museum while Birkenau used to be an extermination camp. Both are protected by the Polish government. At the beginning of a tour it was surprising to see inappropriate behavior of some visitors. It started with taking selfies in front of the sign and then continued with loud and chatty behavior and no interest in hearing what the tour leader had to say which was annoying for the rest of us.

Auschwitz concentration camp

Taking photos with no flash is allowed by the museum but taking smiley selfies or posing in front of the personal things that used to belong to prisoners is just disrespectful. You would think that this happens among young people only but no, others do it too. Many tourist attractions worldwide have banned selfie sticks and that’s what Aushwitz should do too.

The situation in Birkenau which used to be an extermination camp is even worse. People walk across the camp like they are robots, young high school students climb on a Holocaust train and take photos. Grafitti that was left by the visitors can be seen in the barracks. Auschwitz I is a museum so it’s better protected than the Birkenau complex which is huge and more exposed to the vandals. In some areas there are even anti semitic graffitis but some tourists have managed to leave them also in the barracks, bunkers and even the crematorium.

Birkenau complex in Auschwitz

 

There have also been stories of people who have taken barbed wire as a souvenir or smoked in forbidden areas.

So why exactly does this happen?

Tourism is usually associated with positive feelings and enjoyable times but not always. Where do we cross a line between mass and dark tourism? The places of dark tourism serve to educate us and they keep the memory of tragic events alive. Here we pay respect for the victims, we think and learn.

Birkenau barracks

One of the issues is in the way tour agencies in Krakow advertise their tours. Many other bloggers and travelers have noticed the same. Tourists get approached all the time by the tour agencies who are trying to sell tours to Auschwitz, Wieliczka salt mines or the Krakow walking tour. These are completely different tours though, and the result of that are visitors who don’t realize the seriousness of this place and who head to Auschwitz with no dress code. This isn’t a casual tourist attraction.

Tour agencies want to earn money which is fine, but they also need to put an effort in educating people and focusing their strengths on a smaller group of tourists who are really interested in learning. Their job shouldn’t be just selling the tour but also providing more information to visitors before arrival such as a little history, the details of the tour, things that are allowed or not allowed etc. The places of dark tourism need to be advertised in a more sensitive manner and they need more quality instead of quantity.

One thing I really recommend before ending your tour is visiting the museum store. Buy a book and learn more! A great one is Smoke over Birkenau by Seweryna Szmaglewska.

And to finish this… Not everybody behaves badly, on the contrary, the majority of visitors are respectful. If you have a chance you should definitely pay a visit because as George Santayana has said:

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

 

 

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7 Fantastic Walks in Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe offers some fantastic opportunities for walking and not just in the countryside and wilderness, but also in its cities rich with culture and history. Not only will you…

Eastern Europe offers some fantastic opportunities for walking and not just in the countryside and wilderness, but also in its cities rich with culture and history. Not only will you explore new places, but walking is also a fun recreational activity suitable for all ages. Here are my picks for the 7 fantastic walks in Eastern Europe:

The Castle District and The Old Town, Prague

Prague is definitely one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and the best way to explore it is to start from the Castle District. The Prague Castle is the seat of the Czech president and it’s one of the most famous attractions in the city. The views from the top are amazing and from here you can get down to the Charles Bridge which is flooded by tourists, musicians and painters. Continuing to the Old Town you’ll see numerous historic buildings including the famous Astronomical Clock.

View from the Charles Bridge Prague

Meteora, Greece

You don’t get to walk in “the middle of the sky” every day. Well, that’s what Meteora basically means in Greek. This complex consists of 24 monasteries located on immense rocks which were split by earthquakes a million of years ago. This place served as a shelter for those people who seeked spiritual isolation, and considering that they had to use ladders and ropes to inhabitate this unfriendly area, it’s pretty amazing to imagine what they’ve done. However, only six remain today and they are part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Walking is definitely the best way to explore Meteora and to enjoy truly breathtaking views and that’s the reason why so many tourist agencies offer interesting hiking tours.

Meteora monasteries

Durmitor and Northern Montenegro

The best way to explore Durmitor national park is to start from Zabljak, which is the highest populated town in the Balkans. 18 glacial lakes also known as the “mountain eyes” add so much to the beauty of this place. The park has more than 200km of marked hiking trails that pass through pine forests and numerous springs. I also suggest a visit to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Pljevlja which is hidden in the woods and has one of the richest art collections in the ex-Yugoslav countries.

Holy Trinity Monastery Pljevlja Montenegro

Old Town, Warsaw

Surely there are more beautiful historic centres in Europe but Warsaw deserves to be a part of this list mainly because of the reconstruction of its urban core after the WW2. It’s just amazing to walk its streets and to imagine that 90% of the city was completely demolished and that exactly looked like this. The historic centre is surrounded by Barbican  – one of the few remaining fortifications in Warsaw. Other prominent tourist attractions in the Old Town include the Royal Castle, St. John’s Cathedral and the Sigismund’s Column.

Old town Warsaw

Eastern Serbia

If you want to escape from civilization Eastern Serbia is a place to go! This hidden gem is famous for its fascinating beauties, waiting to be discovered by more travelers. Picturesque villages located below Stara planina, the highest mountain in eastern Serbia, Zavoj lake with ideal places for camping and interesting geological forms are definitely gonna attract more travelers interested in adventure tourism to this area. For instance, Dry Mountain is a great place for hiking as it offers breathtaking views from the top and it often gathers mountaineers from various parts of the Balkans.

Zavoj lake Serbia

Skocjan Educational Trail, Slovenia

You definitely shouldn’t miss Skocjan Caves once in Slovenia as this place ideally combines beautiful nature and cultural heritage. The underground canyon of Skocjan caves is the largest of its kind in the world and touring this place will make you feel like you’re in an Indiana Jones movie! The most impressive part is walking down the stairs and reaching the bridge inside the cave which is located above the Reka river, some 45 meters above. The cave is surrounded by Skocjan and Betanja villages which are also part of the Skocjan Educational Trail and they are also worth exploring because of the rich cultural heritage and great hiking paths.

Skocjan caves Slovenia

Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul

Walking down this street for the first time will surely never leave your memory. With a never ending flow of people, art galleries, cinemas, libraries, historical patisseries, cafes and restaurants you’ll be like Alice in Wonderland.  The only thing that can interrupt your walk are beautiful historic red trams which are the symbol of the city.  However don’t just walk the Istiklal street, but also explore the alleyways with markets and restaurants.

Istiklal avenue

What’s your most memorable walk?

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Top 5 Things To Do In Krakow, Poland

This is a guest post by Nic and Paul of The Roaming Renegades. The blog chronicles their escape from the 9-5, reports on their experiences, gives advice and offers destination…

This is a guest post by Nic and Paul of The Roaming Renegades. The blog chronicles their escape from the 9-5, reports on their experiences, gives advice and offers destination guides. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter too!

We visited Krakow late last year and were blown away by its beauty, history and culture. We had heard great things about this city but the depth of our admiration for it took us by surprise. By the time we had roamed its cobbled streets and weaved our way through its maze of bohemian districts we had fallen head over heels in love with it! It offers up so much for so less, it is full of exquisite architecture and rich culture but yet financially, it is one of the cheapest places we have ever visited!

Here are our top 5 things to do in Krakow!

1. Pay your respects at Auschwitz

A haunting and truly memorable place to visit, Auschwitz is somewhere which is difficult to stomach and will forever stay with you. But in that sense it is even more important to make the trip out from Krakow to this place of horror and suffering. To see the worst that humanity is capable of is an overwhelming torrent of emotion which is almost too much to take in. Walking on the grounds of the most infamous symbol of the Nazi regime, the death place of over 1.1 million people really brings into focus the need for the people of the world to overcome our differences and work together for peace.

How to visit

You can either book a tour from many stalls dotted around the city or even your hotel which will include a guide and transport. This usually costs around Zl: 100.

Or you can take the bus from the main station headed to Oswiecim (Zl 12 each way, buy singles as there are a few different bus companies on the route) and tour the site on your own.

Entrance to the camps is FREE and a shuttle bus runs between Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau.

Auschwitz camp near Krakow

2. Visit the ancient churches

Krakow really is the city of churches, each one spectacularly detailed and decorated and they represent an entrance to a world of color, artistry and devotion. No matter what you might think of religion or how strongly you feel, these churches are one of the most notable features of this grand old city. Many have survived generations of instability and war to stand as testament to the spirit of Krakow and its people. A visit would not be complete without silently taking in these awe inspiring architectural wonders and also observing the local passion for their religion.

Some of the most notable churches to visit are:

St. Mary’s Basilica:

Located in the centre of Old Town, this twin towered cathedral is the focal point for the city and one of Poland’s most important buildings.

St Mary's basillica Krakow

Wawel Cathedral:

At over 900 years old this church has seen plenty of history and monumental changes in Poland. It sits as part of the castle complex and contains the famous Royal Sigismund Bell.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul:

This is one of the most beautiful and certainly one of our favorite churches! It was the first baroque building to be built in Krakow and it’s famous for its impressive white domed interior.

St Peter and Paul's church Krakow

3. Climb the Town Hall Tower and take in the view

You cannot fail to notice the Town Hall tower whilst strolling through the Rynek. The massive gothic tower stands at 70 metres tall as it’s the last remaining section of the Old Town Hall. The walk up the narrow stairwell is a tough 100 steps but it is worth the effort for the amazing panoramic views of the city the tower affords! The tower also leans to one side by 55cm due to storms in 1703!

Town Hall Tower - Krakow

4. Explore the Wieliczka Salt Mines

Located 10 kilometers outside of the city itself, this UNESCO listed site is the pride of Poland and stands testament to generations of miners and their work ethic. It is one of the oldest salt mines in existence anywhere in the world, having produced salt from the 13th century right the way up until 2007. The mines themselves stretch for over 178 miles and most visits, which take around 3 hours, only cover 2% of that! The mines not only served as the work place for thousands of miners but they also made this place their own. One of the most spectacular features is the exquisite Chapel of the Blessed Kinga, a cathedral standing over 200ft below the surface and carved entirely out of salt. This really is a must see!

To visit the mines you must take a guide and as such the best way is to book a tour from either a stall in town or your hotel which will include transport as well!

Wieliczka salt mines in Krakow

5. Roam the Old Jewish district (Kazimierz) and Ghetto (Podgorze)

Old Town may be the main attraction for most visiting Krakow but make sure to visit the other fascinating districts this city has to offer, each with their own features and history. Kazimierz was once the bustling heart of the Jewish community in Krakow, which was infamously ripped apart by the occupying Germans. Although the Jewish community still hasn’t recovered to its pre-war numbers, many families have returned and their culture is celebrated on these streets. The area is also home to many of the alternative and artistic communities and has a distinct feel from the rest of the city. Much of this area hasn’t changed since the war and it is one of the reasons why Schindler’s list was filmed here. Make sure to explore its authentic and winding streets and also head over to the Old Synagogue to delve more into the history of the Polish Jews.

The Jewish Ghetto of Podgorze sits just over the river and was the place many of the events depicted in the Schindler’s list actually took place and as such a visit over here would not be complete without visiting Schindler’s factory itself. Now converted into a massive museum, telling the story of not just Schindler himself, but of the occupation of Krakow from the Nazi’s to the Soviets and paints a both fascinating and horrific picture of what the people of this city endured.

Jewish ghetto Krakow - top 5 things to do in krakow

Liked what Nic and Paul recommended? Have something to add? Feel free to comment below and if you are heading to Poland soon, don’t forget to check out my “Top 5 Things to do in Warsaw, Poland” too.

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5 reasons to visit Poland

As one of the biggest European countries, Poland has a lot to offer to tourists. Check out these 5 reasons to visit Poland; History Wherever you are in Poland you…

As one of the biggest European countries, Poland has a lot to offer to tourists. Check out these 5 reasons to visit Poland;

History

Warsaw Poland

Wherever you are in Poland you won’t be able to escape its turbulent history especially from the Second World War. Being located in a very central position in Europe, between two powerful neighbors, Poland was forced to protect its sovereignty numerous times and its history is therefore very eventful. Some of the elements that represent Poland is its rich historical monuments and respect to other traditions.

Under The Jagiellonian dynasty, Poland was the largest European state extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea, but then was slowly destroyed as a country during the two World Wars with the population being devastated. Today Poland is an EU and NATO member and its rich and proud history is being showcased in museums and other cultural institutions which definitely deserve attention from tourists, especially the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

Unspoiled nature

Traveling through Poland by train is simply beautiful, as you can admire its landscapes and forests’. Besides that Poland is famous for its Baltic sea beaches, lakes and rivers that offer rest, relaxation and adventure for travelers. The beaches of the Baltic Sea are famous for amber which is called as Polish gold due to its beauty and health qualities.

Masuria is another amazing nature spot in Poland being known as the land of a Thousand lakes which are mostly small and medium in size and are hidden in forests that offer rest and more adventurous experiences of life. Another untouched pearl in Poland is Białowieża Forest – an ancient woodland famous for being home to European bison. Although most of the country is flat, with the average attitude of only 173 meters, Poland can also be proud of its mountains, with the Tatra mountains, within the fascinating town of Zakopane, attracting many mountain trekkers and skiers.

Another must is the Słowiński National Park, famous for its sand dunes and the tourist trails extending about 140 km. In total Poland has twenty three national parks and among them eight are part of the UNESCO list.

Culture

Frederyk Chopin Museum

Warsaw and other Polish cities are attractive destinations for those wanting to learn more about history and culture. Despite being heavily destroyed during WW2, nineteen UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Poland. 90% of the Polish capital was almost flattened during the WW2, but due to amazing reconstruction, Warsaw’s Old Town secured its place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as well. Warsaw also has a big selection of museums with one of the most popular ones being the “Warsaw Uprising Museum”, the National Museum and several others.

The capital has also a lot to offer to music lovers with the most popular events including; the Mozzart Festival, International Chopin Competition (which takes place every five years), International Warsaw Summer Jazz Days and others. Krakow, the historical capital of Poland, is another attractive spot for culture and art lovers, with numerous museums and two UNESCO World Heritage sites around the city. Wroclaw, Gdańsk, Poznań and Łódź are other major Polish cities that have a lot to offer in terms of cultural and religious tourism.

Polish Hospitality and Cuisine

“A guest in the house, God in the house” – Polish proverb

That probably best represents the reason number four why you need to visit Poland. Polish cuisine is influenced from French, Italian along with Jewish, Hungarian and Lithuanian cuisines. Żurek is a sour rye soup that along with pierogi best represents Polish national dishes. Kiełbasa is Polish sausage and is available in dozens of varieties, while Gołąbki is another Polish traditional dish in the form of cabbage rolls which are made of lightly cooked cabbage filled with pork or beef.

Other traditional Polish dishes include bigos, roast, tomato soup and others. Besides that Polish people are some of the most hospitable people you’ll meet and are always there ready to help you and assist you in anything you need.

Budget

Visiting Poland will definitely not break your bank, as it offers great value for money. Warsaw has some of the cheapest overnight accommodation prices among all European capital cities. You can search for accommodation on Booking and HotelsCombined.  If you are flying to Poland, check out Momondo as it will compare the best prices from different airlines.

The price of food and products bought in shops are still relatively inexpensive comparing to capitals of countries in Western Europe. Beer in Poland costs between (0,25 – 2,5 €) and dinning in one of the better restaurants from 12 to 25 €.

A meal in an inexpensive restaurant is around 4 €. Also note that the bus transportation throughout the country is cheaper than using the train but the travel time in most cases increases. For example if you book in advance with the Polish bus coach Polskibus.com, you can get bus tickets from just 1 PLN (0.23 €). Trains are also inexpensive, plus faster, and you will probably enjoy the natural landscape much more.

And these were only 5 reasons to visit Poland but be sure there’s way more! So go, explore and find out by yourself! 🙂

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