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It’s no secret that I have developed a slight obsession with Poland since visiting in 2020. I’m currently still posting photos on my Instagram, so that goes to show you just how many photos I took within my three weeks there. During my time in Poland, I had no idea that I would fall in love with the country so easily and so deeply. The places I saw, the people I met, the food I ate and the unique situations that I seemingly fell into, shaped that love without a doubt.
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Poland is a country that is full of contrasts. Cities such as Warsaw, are filled with commanding views of tall skyscrapers that tower over the streets below, while a few kilometres out of the city centre, you’ll found yourself walking among the Old Town streets, which transport you back in time. If you head further south in Poland, you will be surrounded by greenery, tiny villages and mountain views. There is literally something for every sort of traveller, whether you’re a city slicker, or a nature enthusiast.
Poland is a massive country situated right in the centre of Europe and is the ninth largest in continental Europe to be exact and sits east of Germany, north of Czech Republic and Slovakia, west of Ukraine and Belarus and south of Russia and Lithuania.
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From stunning valleys dotted with villages, to the colourful Old Towns filled with vibrant and fairy tale-esque architecture, this may sound cliché, but Poland was a country that I didn’t want to leave. There was so much to do, so much to see, so much to learn and I think my 2000+ photographs I shot over my three weeks there, proves just how photogenic each and every single city, village and town is.
The history that helped shape Poland to the country it is today and that in which the Polish people are very proud of, was inspiring to me. Talking to those people that have been through hard times, reminded me of my own family and hearing the stories of their struggles from years gone by.
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Every Polish person I spoke to sheepishly asked, “Why are you here? In Poland!?” I would reply with, “Why not? Your country is beautiful and I want to share its beauty with others through my blogs and photos!”
Their faces lit up every single time. Once I would say that, they’d always give me suggestions on where to visit, what to see and places I should eat at.
There are many reasons to visit Poland, but here are my top 11 reasons why Poland should be your next travel destination.
Poland’s landscapes range from flat, vibrant green valleys, sprawling forests, to the craggy peaks of the Tatra Mountains in the south. One of my favourite Polish landscapes was definitely Morskie Oko. Seeing such a large lake surrounded for mountain peaks was truly special after a long uphill hike. You’ll also be shocked to hear that Poland is home to beautiful sandy beaches up north, which hug the Baltic Sea and is home to year round holiday makers from around the world.
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Poland is one of the safest places I’ve travelled to. Not once during my travels throughout Poland did I feel unsafe. I walked around alone at night, down dark streets and never felt scared. I never felt any hostility and was only greeted with kindness. Of course, I’d be naive to say that crime and unsafe areas of Poland don’t exist. While travelling, especially as a solo female, always make sure to be vigilant of your possessions, surroundings and trust your gut. The term “traveller’s gut” is a real thing and I’ve touched on it many times during my other posts regarding solo travel. If something, someone, or somewhere doesn’t feel right to you, remove yourself from the situation strategically and carefully. Oh, and take off the headphones while walking alone.
When I even hear the word history, Poland immediately comes to mind for me. Poland’s borders have changed many times over the centuries. Its present borders were set after World War II ended in 1945. Poland has seven neighbors: Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. Under communist rule, Poland became a highly industrialized country. Mining, steelworks, and machinery production are still the major industries there. In 1980, Polish workers began protesting communist rule under the now-famous union banner of Solidarity. In 1989, after nearly a decade of clashes between the government and Solidarity activists, democratic elections were held, and the country was renamed the Republic of Poland. In 1990, the Polish Communist Party was dissolved.
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Family values and religion are very important to the traditional Polish household. They consider extended family members, grandparents and even a child’s long -time boyfriend, or girlfriend a crucial and respected member of the household. While most Polish families identify as a nuclear family, extended members of the family are often around each other and congregate for many family functions and celebratory get togethers. Although Polish culture has changed since the Soviet Communist Regime, traditionalism and conservatism remain very evident in Poland’s religious beliefs, social customs and core values.
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The prices in Poland were absolutely incredible. More incredible than I initially thought to be honest. Actually, I’ll go right out there and say it. Travelling through Poland is cheap! Yes, prices will vary depending on the city you stay in, the location within the city, the time of year etc. That’s a given. With a little research, planning and yes, a bit of budgeting, you can plan a trip to Poland without breaking the bank. I put myself on a “cash only diet,” as I like to do most of the time I travel to keep me from spending unnecessarily. Even though I was mostly using cash, I was still able to treat myself whenever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about going over budget.
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Charming Cities, Towns & Villages
I spent a full three weeks travelling from north to south, east to west. Big cities such as Warsaw grabbed my attention and dazzled me with the tall skyscrapers, bustling traffic and comforted me with its spectacular and quiet Old Town. Smaller cities such as Poznań, Bielsko-Biała, Gdańsk and Wrocław wowed me with their beautiful architecture, delicious foods, friendly people and pedestrian friendly streets. Small mountain villages such as Nowy Targ, Poronin and Zakopane left me speechless with their incredible mountain views, cozy chalets, green spaces and hiking trails.
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Polish people have the tendency to have a “cold, or unfriendly” reputation put upon their personalities by others, but I can tell you first hand that I truly experienced warm Polish hospitality and kindness. During one of my most stressful travel days to date, I had two of the kindest people help me reach one of my destinations and didn’t expect anything in return. I met welcoming hosts that greeted me with open arms (literally) because during the devastating drop in tourism to Europe, I wasn’t afraid to travel and to stay in their accommodations, which helped them pay some bills. The people in Poland were extremely welcoming and friendly towards me. Don’t let the reputation of a country’s people put you off. Most of the time you’ll find that those reputations are pure bullshit anyway!
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I found Poland to be extremely clean. I didn’t witness people throwing trash on the ground, there were little ashtrays around the larger cities for cigarette butts, the trails in the mountains were spotless, but the one thing I did notice on the ground? MASKS! They were the one thing that I noticed on the ground while walking around. I’ll give people the benefit of a doubt though because more than likely, they fell out of people’s pockets and weren’t intentionally discarded on the streets. Other than that, the streets, train stations and town squares were well looked after by street cleaners and early one morning I even saw a water cleaning truck dousing down the main square in Kraków and making it sparkly clean.
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Polish architecture is an eclectic mix of years gone by. From the medieval barbican remains of Kraków and the communist era style buildings within Warsaw, to the Gothic and Dutch style townhouses and cathedrals of Gdańsk, Poland is chalk full of different architecture styles. The colourful Wrocław Rynek is filled with Baroque and Classicism architecture in an array of bright colours that would make a box of Crayola crayons green with envy. Then there’s the unique architecture found in the south of Poland. Zakopane is home to many traditional wooden homes that are famously found in the Tatra Mountains. The inspiration for this style was heavily influenced by the folk art style within the Podhale region of Poland. No matter which corner of the country you find yourself in, you’ll be snap happy with your camera while enjoying some of the most beautiful buildings in all of Europe.
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Easy To Get Around
Poland’s public transit infrastructure is very thorough and easy to use. Although I had to rejig some of my transit plans some days, I found that despite that, travelling through Poland by train and bus was easy, efficient, cheap, fast and comfortable and I highly recommend travellers to do the same if you plan on visiting Poland. You don’t have to worry about the weather (although there are sometimes disruptions to to heavy snowfall in the mountain regions), traffic, or any of the hassles of road rage; just sit back and enjoy pure relaxation as the mountains, villages and greenery surround you on your epic rail or bus journey. The Polish State Railway, Polskie Koleje Państwowe S.A., or PKP, is the dominant railway operator in Poland and operates all the major lines within Poland, so getting around to all ends of the country isn’t a problem. There are many other regional and local train companies as well, plus a slew of buses that range from mini buses to large coaches to whisk you comfortably around the country. Many of the cities are easily walkable as well, which make it a great alternative to taking transit and getting some exercise after eating too many pierogi. 😉
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Food & Drink
Polish food is typically quite heavy, hearty and definitely filling. There is a slim chance that you’ll be walking around Poland hungry and maybe an even slimmer chance of staying, well…not so thin. 😉 That being said, Polish food is extremely delicious and I can’t recommend it enough.Poland is extremely proud of their traditional dishes, but they have been successfully diversifying their gastronomic range over the years with veggie and vegan restaurants, Indian and Asian cuisine and even Middle Eastern kabobs, which are also very popular throughout Central Europe more and more these days. Poland is also excellent at brewing (and drinking) beer and some of my favourites, which can also be found in Canada, are brewed right in Poland. I even visited some towns that my favourite beer is brewed, such as Żywiec. Another thing that Poles do well is dessert. Whether they are traditional, or not, the Poles know how to turn flour, sugar, butter and fruits, or nuts into something truly delectable and addicting to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
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Poland holds a special place in my heart and I cannot wait for the day when I can hop on a plane and head back to visit the people that I met, eat all of the delicious foods and wander those adorable little Old Town streets again. There are so many reasons why Poland should be your next destination. I hope that this list of my top 11 reasons sparks an interest to those looking to get away and enjoy nature, architecture and great food, all while doing it on a budget! xo
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