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Where to go on your first trip to Poland

Updated: Apr 1

Discovering Poland: A Travel Expert's Guide to Your First Trip

About the Author: Stefanie Lambert - I have spent years traveling around Europe and now I want to share my first hand knowledge and expertise to help others fall in love with it as well.

Warsaw, Poland

Embarking on your first trip to Poland is an exhilarating adventure, promising rich history, culture, and picturesque landscapes. In this post I will guide you through where to go on your first trip to Poland. These must-visit cities will make your Polish journey truly unforgettable. Although Poland is not as well known or popular as other European nations, it has so much to offer and is well worth a visit. We took our four daughters there and all of them count it as one of their favorite European trips. These stops should be at the top of your list - along with a few extras if you have time.

Warsaw: The Dynamic Capital

Warsaw, Poland

As the capital city, Warsaw is a perfect starting point for your Polish adventure. Begin your exploration in the Old Town, meticulously reconstructed after World War II. Stroll through the cobbled streets, marvel at the Royal Castle, and absorb the lively ambiance of Market Square. We like to walk the Royal route. This is an old communications route that begins in old town and is now one of Poland's official historic monuments. It comprises of palaces, churches, squares and parks. Wilinow Palace and gardens is definitely worth a stop as well. This 17th century palace was built for John III. You can tour the extravagant interior as well as the breathtaking gardens. Lazienki Palace, Copernicus Science Center, Polin Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, Zacheta National Gallery of Art and the Warsaw Uprising Museum are just some of the impressive museums Warsaw has to offer. Warsaw's rich cultural scene, encompassing museums, and characteristic old town ensures there's always something captivating to discover.

Krakow: The Jewel of Poland

Krakow, Poland

Known for its medieval charm, Krakow is a city that effortlessly transports you back in time. It is one of the top sites in Poland and it is easy to see why. UNESCO-listed Old Town boasts the stunning Wawel Castle and the iconic Cloth Hall. Some churches to visit are St. Francis Basilica, St. Mary's church and Wawel cathedral. The Schindler's museum is a must see as well. Explore the vibrant Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, to experience a lively blend of history, art, and cuisine. Try to attend a Klezmer concert (instrumental music of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe). Wander through Ghetto Heroes square with its empty chairs representing the belongings of the ghetto's inhabitants as they were strewn all over the streets when the ghetto was emptied.

There are a few easy day trips that I would highly recommend as well.

Auschwitz, Poland

Don't miss the somber yet essential visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, a poingnant reminder of Poland's history. We struggled to decide if we should take our children but ultimately decided that it was important they go. It was a difficult day but it was very impactful for them and they often tell us how grateful they are that we went.

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Another easy but amazing day trip is the Wieliczka salt mine. This Unesco World Heritage Site was excavated continuously from the 13th century until 1996 and is unlike any other mine you have seen. Its attractions include the shafts and labyrinthine passageways, displays of historic salt-mining technology, an underground lake, four chapels and numerous statues carved by miners out of the rock salt, as well as more recent sculptures by contemporary artists.

Gdansk: Maritime Magic

Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk, Poland

Nestled along the Baltic coast, Gdansk offers a maritime escape. The old town is absolutely delightful. Wander through the colorful facades of Long Market and be enchanted by the intricate architecture of Neptune's Fountain. Stroll along the Royal Way, ending at the imposing Gdansk Crane. Although Gdansk is wonderful to leisurely stroll around, carve out some time for the Solidarity Museum, commemorating the city's role in the fall of communism. Also, make sure you buy some Amber as Gdansk is famous for it.

Poznan: A City of Firsts

Poznan, Poland

Poznan, one of Poland's oldest cities, is a charming blend of history and innovation. Poznan Cathedral and the Imperial Castle both have impressive architecture and Old Market Square, where the iconic mechanical goats butt heads daily at noon is so characteristic. Poznan's youthful energy, thanks to its university population, adds a dynamic flair to the city.

Wroclaw: Bridges and Islands

Wroclaw, Poland

Known as the "Venice of the North," Wroclaw captivates visitors with its numerous bridges, islands, and charming architecture. Explore the enchanting Market Square, home to the Gothic-style Old Town Hall. The iconic Wroclaw Cathedral and the whimsical gnomes scattered across the city add to its unique charm and visit Ostrow Tumski, the oldest part of Wroclaw, for a tranquil escape. Wroclaw's picturesque setting and cultural treasures make it a hidden gem awaiting your discovery.

Additional Gems:

While Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, and Wroclaw are essential stops, consider adding a few extra gems to your itinerary:

  1. Zakopane: Alpine Escape

For nature enthusiasts, Zakopane, nestled in the Tatra Mountains, offers breathtaking landscapes and opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing.

2. Torun: Birthplace of Copernicus

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Torun's well-preserved medieval architecture and the legacy of Nicolaus Copernicus make it a fascinating stop for history and astronomy enthusiasts. It is also famous for gingerbread. We went to the gingerbread museum and took a class on how to use gingerbread molds. This was a fun way to get a unique souvenir.

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I didn't realize how charming Poland looks! Definitely adding this to my list of places to visit in the next few years!

Replying to

It really is charming. Give it a try!


Krakow and Gdansk both look beeeautiful, but if I am honest, I'd want to spend all my time in Zakopane for the hiking! I also understand your hesitation about taking kids to Auschwitz... but I think you did the right thing. It's upsetting, but better to know that awful things can happen so we can prevent anything similar again.

Replying to

Zakopane is wonderful! You would love it!...And you are right about the importance of educating the next generation so we don't repeat history.


Poland looks amazing. I love the architecture of the buildings. Totally understand the initial hesitation to take your kids to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Glad they were able to see a piece of history.

I’m looking forward to one day visiting the sites you listed!


Christy (

Replying to

Poland really is beautiful and has so much to offer. Hope you get there some day!


Wow, I’ve never been to Poland! But the gingerbread museum sounds awesome, I’ll have to save this for later! Thanks!

Replying to

It was awesome! And very unique.

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