My Top Five of Poland
Poland is a country rich in culture and full of surprises. Nathanael and I spent about three weeks in Poland, but easily could have spent more if the Baltics hadn’t been beckoning. For people interested in history, Poland is a great country to visit; not only is it so rich in historical sites, but they’re easily accessible even for those on a budget. Just staying in Krakow for a few days we felt like we saw and learned much about Poland’s history and the people of today. Let’s not forget, the food is fantastic, don’t forget to check out the Milk Bars for hearty food on a budget! Anyway, without further ado, here were my favourite spots in Poland!
Nathanael and I had an amazing time staying in the old town of Krakow. Our hostel was just a few blocks away from market square, which always seemed to be bustling with activity. Some of my favourite spots: Wawel Castle, market square, the Cloth Hall (have a coffee on the roof, there’s a great view for people-watching), and Planty Park. If you’re interested in history, we went on a day-trip to Auschwıtz-Birkenau which is well worth a visit, and there are numerous other sites relating to the Holocaust, such as Schindler’s Factory and the remains of the wall surrounding the former Jewish Ghetto. You can also explore other parts of Krakows history at places like the Krakus Mound. After a long day, check out the Milk Bars, or in Polish, Bar Mleczny!
St. Francis’ Basilica, Krakow
St. Francis’ Basilica is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in. Imagine an oasis of brightly coloured walls, painted ceilings, and beautiful floral patterns. For a second I forgot I was stepping into Catholic church and thought I was stepping into nature worship. The stained glass windows are incredible Art Nouveau masterpieces done by the same artist who decorated the rest of the basilica, Stanisław Wyspiański. My favourite window was, ‘God the Father in the Act of Creation.’ Even if you aren’t into churches, you should really see this one simply for how unique the organic decoration is.
We actually hadn’t looked into Gdansk too much before we arrived, we were just thinking of staying overnight while we visited Malbork Castle. When we arrived, what a shock! What a beautiful port town! The old town and harbour are full of great places to see, including the various gates (Upland’s Gate, The Golden Gate, The Green Gate…), the Golden House, Długa and Długi Targ Streets, the medieval port crane, St. Mary’s Basilica, the Grand Mill, and so much more. The city has a long, rich history, so take some time to soak in the atmosphere and look around this pretty port.
Malbork Castle, Malbork
Malbork Castle, home of the Teutonic Order of Knights in Malbork, is a behemoth on the landscape. The largest castle in the world by surface area and the largest brick building in Europe, it towers over the Malbork. We had so much fun exploring the corridors, gazing out from the towers, and finding interesting spots around the castle. Unfortunately, it felt like a number of exhibits were closed though we didn’t understand why. But we still had enough to look at to keep us busy for hours. Definitely check this place out!
The Great Outdoors, Poland
Poland has some fantastic places to offer nature lovers. Close by to our hosts was Wigierski National Park, where we were able to rent a canoe for the afternoon down Czarna Hancza. It was so pretty, and there were even places to stop for a swim and buy a cup of coffee along the way! Rural Poland in general is a must-see; Nat and I loved taking walks through the fields, checking out the storks nesting on just about every barn and listening to them clacking away to each other. We didn’t get a chance to check out the area near the Belarus border, but our host recommended seeing Białowieża National Park, which contains Europe’s last fragment of primeval forest. Next time we’re in Poland, I’m making sure we pay a visit to the European bison herd living there 🙂