Things To Do In Poland
Poland is a beautiful land of rich history and richer nature. A country in the East-European region of the continent, bordered by nations like Russia, Germany, Belarus and the Czech Republic, Poland has seen its share of destruction during the gruesome World Wars. It has also seen the genocide of Jews that then formed its majority of population. And yet, after all this time, Poland comes out like e beacon of hope and happiness, suffused with its cultural, historical and nature tourism. Which means, there are a hell of a lot of things to do in Poland, you just need the right guide.
Explore the Wieliczka Salt Mine
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of Poland’s most highly rated tourist attractions. Located in the city of Krakow, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mine has been open since the middle ages and gives evident proof of the advancement of our ancestors. You will climb and descend around a hundred stairs, explore the lanes and passages and canals 140 feet under, get to touch walls made of natural crystal and come across some very beautiful underground churches (St. John Chapel being the best) and lakes. A two-hour sojourn into the womb of the earth is definitely worth it.
See the Sea in Swinoujscie
Yes, Poland has a sea too. The country is kissed by the azure Baltic; and Swinoujscie is an excellent port city as well as beach paradise where you will find yourself surrounded by lovely holiday resorts. There are around 44 islands here where you will be stunned by the gentle slopes that make for beaches and museums that show maritime and sea fishing in the area. Bird-watchers can head to Karsibor Island and those looking for Instagram-worthy photos head to Wolin Island and its epic lighthouse.
Stomp the Old Town of Krakow
The Old Town of Krakow is considered the most beautiful in all of Eastern Europe, and that is saying something; because the whole region is filled with cobbled street squares and statues out of ancient fountains in the centre, baroque architecture and old homes. In Krakow, visit the Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and escaped the bombings of World War II to retain its original charm. Visit its monuments, like the Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Basilica and the iconic Wawel Castle, each dating from hundreds of years ago. There are also many bars, clubs, jazz clubs and restaurants in heritage buildings - all very seedy and fun for the student crowd. So your nightlife is sorted in Krakow.
If most of Poland escaped the horrors of of the second World War then there was Auschwitz that bore the brunt of it. It was one of Nazi Germany’s worst concentration camps and finds reference in the most horrifying tales of survivors. Here you will find a Holocaust Museum detailing how the downfall of Europe’s Jews came about at Nazi hands. On of the most heart-breaking displays here is the glass enclosure that has a massive pile of shoes, probably a collection of millions; each once belonging to a victim who lived and breathed and was slaughtered here. It is gut wrenching how each shoe has a story to tell, of a man, a woman, even a child.
Visit the Castles
The castles in Poland might not be the best in all of Europe, but they definitely give a tough fight in that regard to its Swiss or Austrian counterparts. Explore the castles of Poland, the top one being Wawel Castle in Krakow; then there is the Malbork Castle - the largest brick castle in the world near Gdansk, the Książ Castle and some ruins of Krzyżtopór and Chojnik.
Eat at a Milk Bar
So what’s a Milk Bar? No, it is not a desert place or your regular bar that happens to serve milk. Milk Bars are Poland’s traditional eating houses that serve homemade food in a very traditional setting. You don’t have fine dining tables and fancy cutlery, or even waiters waiting on you. There are hand-scrawled menus in chalk on blackboards or a single laminated menu at best. You can order your food at the bar and collect the plates from a hole in the wall to the kitchen.
The most famous dishes in a Milk Bar are Pierogi dumplings (cream cheese filled), bubbling borscht (the classic beetroot soup patent to eastern Europe), potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage leaves and pickled veggies and cabbage on the side. Meat is also quite common nowadays but wasn't so in the olden, rationing times. The decor of most Milk Bars is very communist era and the feel is unique and rugged, a departure on the etiquette of European fine dines!
Check out Mleczarnia Jerozolimska in Warsaw and Milkbar Tomasza in Krakow’s Old Town.
Ski in Zakopane
Winters in Poland are spent skiing if you plan to vacation here in the season. Head to Zakopane, the little town surrounded by timber and built of little mountain cottages, highland tavernas and quaint streets. The town of Zakopane boasts of some of Poland’s best ski routes - Kasprowy Wierch and Bialka, along with skiing resorts that serve patrons as well as tourists with warm hospitality.