Long escaping its turbulent past, Poland has risen from its former days of communism towards a brighter future. Though many believe the country is still full of subdued, grey, concrete buildings, it has thoroughly surpassed its prior communist traits and is now complete with colourful buildings and town squares packed with culture and life. Considered a Central European nation, it is just that. Different than Western Europe but also Different than Eastern Europe, I would compare it most similarly to Czech Republic or Germany. In comparison to European standards, it is a very affordable country chocked full of art, history, excellent food and good nightlife. Poland is the travel destination of 2019.
Warsaw Uprising Monument, Warsaw, Poland.
The capital city of Poland. It is a city of rebirth and regrowth, 90% of the city was flattened during the campaigns of world war 2. Though it has endured many struggles that you will surely learn about whilst in the city, it has overcome its tragic past and is on the move to a brighter future. While here make sure to visit the “Praga” district, located on the east bank of the city and is famed for its street art and ‘local’ feel. I definitely recommend taking a free walking tour through Walkative, they are very informative and have tours in surrounding cities as well! Visit the “Warsaw Zoo”, made famous by the book and movie “The Zookeeper’s Wife” based on the true story of how the zoo managers during world war 2 successfully helped jewish people escape Nazi sentencing.
Street Art in Praga, Warsaw, Poland.
Suffering minimal damage in the second world war compared to other Polish cities. (As Hitler was envisioning it as the new capital of Poland had the war gone to the Nazi’s). Today it is one of the larger tourist cities in the country. It is a truly captivating city with major history, fantastic food, large green spaces and some very friendly people. With plenty to do within the city it is hard to get bored, the town square is charming and inviting with local vendors selling flowers and one of a kind art of the city for reasonable prices. Krakow is located a day trip from Auschwitz Concentration Camp, it is hard to comprehend the immensely important history of this site until you actually visit. As well as many other tours oriented on the jewish residents and their history in Krakow. Preceding ww2 Poland had the largest population of jewish people in the world, (roughly 3.3 million). I recommend staying at the Mosquito Hostel, they have a great atmosphere, are super helpful and even help with setting up day trips to locations outside of the city.
Known as the amber capital of the world. Jewellers line the cobblestone streets daily, selling any kind of jewelry imaginable containing amber. Like many sites in the country, Gdansk played a major role in world war 2 that altered the country forever. The unofficial start of war for Poland started in this city by neighbouring Germany. While in Gdansk I highly recommend some walking tours pertaining to information surrounding the “Defence of the Polish Post Office” for knowledge of ww2 in this part of the country. A highlight of this charming city is the old town, though completely destroyed during the war, it has since been rebuilt similar to what it would have been prior. The people of Gdansk are super friendly and have a strong sense of pride in their city that clearly resonates through out. If you are looking for a travel destination with more of a ‘town’ feel, this is the place for you.
Things to note beforehand:
->Poland uses its own currency, the Polish Zloty (PLN), not the Euro like many other surrounding nations.
->Don’t consider yourself in Eastern Europe. The Polish people I have met would rather be thought of as Central European.
->The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw is not as beautiful as you would expect and has a rocky history to it. When the Soviets had control of the country, they offered the citizens two options.
A metro system to unite the city
The Palace of Culture and Science
The people of Warsaw clearly chose the first option but the Soviets decided to give them the second.
Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland.