Short Breaks To Poland
Taking a short break to Poland is an excellent way to explore this up and coming tourist destination. There is plenty to see, with medieval towns, historic sites, and countryside that has remained unchanged for centuries. Add in an abundance of traditional and contemporary music, and lashings of hearty food, and you have everything you need for a relaxing few days away from it all.
The best preserved medieval city is Krakow, with its old buildings, Market Square, and Renaissance castle. However, there are a number of smaller historic cities too, such as Wroclaw. The capital, Warsaw, although largely reconstructed, retains an interesting Old Town, and several palaces.
Lovers of unspoilt countryside will head to the mountains, whose slopes are covered with ancient forests, and which are still home to animals and birds rare elsewhere in Europe, such as wolves, bears, and the golden eagle. Here you can indulge in winter sports, or hike or cycle in the summer.
Elsewhere, you will find lakes, spas, and national parks. Everywhere you go, the countryside is scattered with wooden churches, monasteries, and castles. One sight not to be missed is the old Wieliczka Salt Mine, with its underground halls, corridors, and chapel. Another popular alternative for a short break are the resorts of the Baltic Sea.
No trip to Poland is complete without food and music. Enjoy local specialties such as soup and dumplings, or potato pancakes, possibly washed down with Polish vodka or Slivovitz. Musical offerings include classical concerts, rock and jazz, or traditional folk music.
Things to Do and See
Facing out towards the Baltic Sea, Poland’s Northern shores aren’t the warmest of climes outside the peak summer months, but during the European summer, the beaches around Gdansk have been – and continue to be – a place to which to escape for some sun and sand. The city of Gdansk itself is an excellent place to spend a short break, with over 1,000 years of history and a number of cultures assimilated over the years, evident in both the buildings and traditions.
Eating and Drinking
Many people see a city break as an opportunity to experience new cuisine or revisit a favourite dish not available at home. Restaurants in Poland are perfect for both the adventurous eaters and those that like to stick with what they know, with a safe meat and potato meal always on the menu alongside the more unusual dishes. For beer lovers Poland does not disappoint, particularly for those fond of the darker and stronger beers popular in this region of Europe.
One of the common characteristics shared across some of Poland’s best cities to visit are the magnificent main squares. Both Krakow and Wroclaw are renowned for their traditional market squares which are bustling hives of activity throughout the year, not to mention colourful and wonderful examples of architecture from different periods of Poland’s history. The market squares used to be the main area of commerce within a town, nowadays they provide the ideal setting in which to eat a meal or enjoy a drink.
In addition to its culturally rich towns, Poland has more than its fair share of geographically diverse national parks: from the sand dunes of the Slowinski National Park on the northern Baltic shore, to the southern Tatra Mountains which form a natural border with Slovakia. Mountains, lakes and forests make Poland’s national parks popular with hikers, while skiing is available during the winter, with Zakopane a cost-effective alternative to other ski destinations in Europe.
Although vodka is an alcoholic drink strongly associated with Russia, its origins can be traced back centuries to Poland, and as such it’s a drink that’s never too far away. If visiting Poland during the colder winter months, a shot of wódka could be just what you need to keep the cold away, although any more than a single shot is probably best left to the locals!
Each of Poland’s main cities has a number of operators providing activities popular for stag groups, which are equally suited to small groups of friends on a weekend away. With Poland keeping their own currency the zloty, visitors from the UK tend to find Poland cheap in comparison. Go-karting, paint-balling, even shooting automatic weapons can be done in Wroclaw, Krakow, Warsaw or Gdansk.
While exploring one of Poland’s popular cities, it’s not uncommon to turn a corner only to be suddenly blown away by the unexpected sight of an intricately detailed behemoth of a building. Medieval castles, churches and the main market squares themselves provide wonderful examples of designs with Gothic, Renaissance and baroque origins.
Where to Go
Krakow is Poland’s second city and one with a strong medieval tradition, which makes it an excellent destination for those looking to take a city break somewhere in spectacular settings. The favourable exchange rate for visitors between the zloty and the euro or pound, make Krakow an extremely affordable destination. Delicious food and drink combine with intricately detailed buildings to provide travellers with an interesting city to enjoy and explore. There are also a number of things to see on the outskirts of the city itself which includes the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz museum.
- Skiing in the Tatra Mountains
- Take a summer dip in the Baltic Sea
- Stroll around Europe’s largest medieval square
- Explore the hidden underground world at Wieliczka