When hearing the word “Poland” oftentimes the first thing I hear from people is “I went to Warsaw, for holidays” or “I really loved Krakow”. But, to me, it’s my country, the place where I was born, the place that shaped me. And while both Krakow and Warsaw are main tourist destinations, Poland is so much more than those two places. Here are my six spots to see while traveling to Poland:
1. Hel: A city at the end of Hel peninsula, surrounded by beautiful forests as well as picture square beaches, is a perfect place to visit during summer. With neighboring Jastarnia, Jurata, and Chałupy, those are places most Polish families choose to visit during their summer break. This strip of land spanning the length of 35 km and width varying from 100 meters to 3 km is a perfect place to kitesurf, windsurf or simply sunbathe.
2. Bielsko-Biała: This choice is purely personal. As a city I grew up in, I know it like the back of my hand. Often called little Vien, the city is placed equally far from Warsaw and Vien. Before World Wars Bielsko was known for its textile factories and Sułkowski castle. A “local” tip is to go to the city center called “Rynek” buy something to go and sit on the wall surrounding the castle and overlooking the theater and old post office.
3. Wrocław: One of the oldest cities in Poland named the 2016 European Capital of Culture. But, a beloved meeting spot of students in Wrocłąw is a neon gallery, an outdoor space surrounded by bright neon signs. At night, it’s the best spot for an Instagram snap. Furthermore, for lovers of beautiful views and strolling, Dunikowski Boulevard overlooks a breathtaking panorama of the entire city.
4. Gdańsk: A port city is known for its historical-cultural background. Gdańsk is the home of the biggest amber fair as well as multiple museums. It is important to take into consideration that in August St. Dominic’s Fair takes place in Gdańsk. It’s one of the biggest in Europe and for three weeks artists and producers showcase their merchandise. The fair spans over multiple roads, thus making it nearly impossible to see every stall in only one day. Furthermore, for fans of good food and beverage, chefs from the neighboring Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, and Austria, bring delicacies from their nations.
5. Zakopane: A city located in the Tatry mountains, is the choice of most Polish families when it comes to winter break. A great mix of possible hiking trails, skiing slopes, and entertaining sites. It’s the perfect place to experience the culture of “górale” ( Polish way to describe people living in mountains). With picture square houses made of wood and Krupówki, a street filled with stalls with handmade goods and oscypki (Polish cheese snacks), Zakopane is a perfect spot for a winter retreat.
6. Warszawa: Yes, it feels anticlimactic to finish this list with a city I first named too basic to visit, however it sees such a number of tourists for a reason. As the capital of Poland, it houses a mix of important historical and political sights. The Old Town, destroyed during the bombing of World War II and rebuilt based on pictures and its portrayal in books, is one of the main attractions of this metropolis. Furthermore, for Chopin lovers, Łazienki Park organizes live music on Sundays (from May till the end of September), where fans can listen to musicians playing the greatest pieces of this world famous pianist.