POLAND

A student of mine has asked me to give him some tips aboout travelling around Poland and I think it´s going to be great fun trying to come up with a few ideas 🙂 Mind you, I´ll try not to be too predictible – after all, anyone can browse at Tripsadvisor.

If you do think the opinions of one person are not enough, let me recommend you another website instead – at Inyourpocket you can download dozens of exciting city guides ranging from Amsterdam to Zadar. Another option is just finding a free copy of the guide on your arrival – they are available at many hostels and cafes.

Finally, here is my itinerary for a 10-day trip:

Days 1&2 – Poznan (the 2nd capital of Poland)

A good place to start as the airport is not as hectic and the city not as overwhelming as Warsaw and its skyscrapers. Take the bus from the airport to the city centre – taxi drivers might try to cheat you.  The best place to stay is probably Melody Hostel, right in the Old Part and owned by a friend of a friend.

Poznan is a great place for long walk in one of its maaany parks. It´s best to visit it in June, when the 100,000 university students are still there crowding the pubs and sending thousands of hot-air lanterns into the sky on Midsummer Night.

Places to see: the Old Part with its narrow streets and colourful townhall (wait there until noon for an extra surprise); open-air market at Plac Wielkopolski, Stary Browar shopping centre with its impressive architecture and works of art everywhere; the surroundings of the opera house; the urban lake of Malta with its ski slope and a huuuge zoo (with white tigers and lots of elephants)

Other things to do: visit the Lech brewery and Kinepolis Cinema City with its 18 screening rooms and a climbing gym (“rocodromo”) and take a tram to Sobieskiego to see how many high-rise block of flats can be build in one place

Where to eat: traditional Polish food in Wiejskie Jadlo, Pod Koziolkami or Elite; Indian food by the Malta lake, Indonesian food in Warung Bali

Where to drink:  hot chocolate with alcohol in Cacao Republika, cherry vodka in Dragon, blueberry beer in Za Kulisami.

 

Days 3&4&5&6 – Krakow (Cracow, Cracovia – the 3rd capital of Poland) 

That´s a 6-hour train journey from Poznan but trains in Poland are much more exciting than in your country, especially if you venture into the restaurant car or choose a sleeper (think bunk beds, free cosmetic kit and you rown butler).

Places to see: the Old Part packed with Japanese tourists; the ex-Jewish neighbourhood of Kazimierz; socialist architecture in Nowa Huta; Skalka cemetery; Auschwitz (a train trip); salt mines in Wieliczka (another train trip). The guided tours both in Wieliczka and Auschwitz are available in many languages.

Other things to do: go to Ars cinema (I´m not sure if they still have the old-fashioned projector in their smallest room the size of your living room but the bigger casino-like rooms are cool enough)

Where to eat: traditional Polish food in Polakowski, vegetarian food in Chimera, Jewish food and “zapiekanki” in the Kazimierz disctrict, Thai food in Samui, Georgian food in Chaczapuri in Sienna street (choose the back room for its amazing views over the St Mary´s church)

Where to drink: beer in Pierwszy Lokal na Stolarskiej, cocktails in Budda (a string of fantastic patios)

 

Day 7&8 – Warszawa (Warsaw, Varsovia – the 4th and present capital of Poland)

I don´t know much about Warsaw but I guess if someone comes to Poland, they want to see the capital.

Places to see: the skyscrapers surrounding the biggest square in Europe;  the city panorama from the old NYC-style skyscraper called Palac Kultury; the interactive museum of the second world war (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego); the garden on the roof of the University Library; the little 16th century town of Kazimierz Dolny

Other things to do: buy souvenirs in Kazimierz Dolny

Where to eat: Vietnamese food as there is a large Vietnamese minority here, cakes in Blikle, chocolate and hot chocolate in Cafe Faktoria in Kazimierz Dolny

 

Day 9&10 Poznan

To relax before your flight take a stream train to Szreniawa and then walk through the forests of the local national park to Mosina. Or have a swim and a sauna session at Termy Maltanskie. Or enjoy one of the many street performances during the Malta Theatre Festival in June.

 

Optional: a 2-day trip to Kolobrzeg

If you like winter, check the weather forecast and come to the bilingual (Polish-German) town of Kolobrzeg when the sea is frozen to see green icebergs and beaches merging with ice caps under the snow.

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