How to Spend 10 Days in Poland

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Poland is a culturally rich country in eastern Europe, bordering Germany to the west, Czechia and Slovakia to the south, and the Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east. Many of these nations have visible influences in the country and, with a tumultuous history, there's plenty to discover here. We were pleasantly surprised by Poland, and thoroughly enjoyed the cities we visited. Poland offers so much more than the common misconceptions!

Poland joined the EU in 2004 so visitors from the EU do not need a visa and other passport holders have the same access and rights as they do the rest of the EU and Schengen Zone.


ARRIVING IN POLAND

Most major cities in Poland have an international airport, although you'll find the cheapest flights arrive in Warsaw, the capital city. We chose to travel by train from Brussels through Germany as the Deutsche Bahn runs regular trains to the major cities - we arrived in Poznań and departed from Gdańsk.

GETTING AROUND

By far the most popular and affordable way to travel around the country is by train. I recommend buying a Eurrail (for non-EU residents) or Interrail (for EU residents) pass for Poland. We bought an 8-day pass which allowed for unlimited train travel on 8 days within a 1 month time frame. It saved us so much money compared to buying individual tickets every time. All you need to do is add the journey to your trip (if you use the app) or write it in your pass (if you've got a paper pass). Be aware that you may need to get a seat reservation (costs 1 PLN) for certain popular routes; I recommend booking these at least a day in advance as the trains can get busy!

MONEY

Even though Poland has been a part of the EU since 2004, they do not use the euro. Instead, Poland still uses the złoty (marked as PLN). I złoty is equivalent to ~ €0.20. Overall, this means that Poland is a very affordable place to travel - especially in comparison to other typically expensive European destinations! Most places accept debit/credit card, but a few hole-in-the-wall places and transportation methods are cash only, so it's good to have a few złoty on hand.

WHERE TO STAY

In all of the six cities we visited, we stayed in an AirBnB. Unfortunately, we didn't have great experiences with most of our bookings resulting in either unpleasant experiences or cancellations on us. I would still recommend AirBnB for an authentic stay, however I would recommend booking in the mid-range budget instead of the cheapest! The cheap AirBnBs in Poland are questionable! Also be sure to check if they have wifi (not all of them do) and which floor they're on, as the buildings we ended up in didn't have lifts and you may be lugging heavy bags!

LANGUAGE

In Poland, the official language is Polish, which uses certain letters with diacritics which means that written words are not pronounced the way they would be in English (ie. Wrocław is pronounced vro-swav). In big cities, you'll usually be able to find someone who speaks English, but not always. It's a good idea to have a translation app on your phone for when you need to ask for help or advice. It's also a good idea to learn how to say thank you in Polish as it shows politeness to your hosts or servers: Dziękuję Ci (pronounced jehn-kwi-yah).

WHAT TO EAT

While Poland is well-known for it's traditional meat- and cheese-based dishes, and most famously their pierogi, a dumpling stuffed with various fillings, we found some exceptional vegan food while traveling. In fact, Warsaw, the capital, is considered by National Geographic as one of the world's top eight cities for veganism! Check out my detailed vegan food guide for Poland here. Another traditional dish to try (which you can find plant-based or not) aside from pierogi is bigos, a sauerkraut, plum and meat/meat-replacement stew with vegetables.


Day 1 - POZNAŃ

ARRIVE: we arrived at Poznań Główny, the main station in the city, from Berlin. There is also an airport in Poznań.

GET AROUND: Poznań is a very walkable city, with all the main attractions in the Old Town being in walking distance from the main train station. However, there are also trams if you want to get around quickly.

LUGGAGE LOCKERS: there are lockers right in the station for just 16 PLN for 24 hours (about €3,50) which is where we left our heavy suitcase for the day.

DO: learn the history of the Imperial Castle, the newest royal residence in Europe. Visit the stunning Basilica Minor of St. Stanislaus. Wander around the Old Market Square with its four fountains.

EAT: homemade vegan pierogis at the delightful little hole-in-the-wall shop on Wrocławska street called Pierożak Pierogarnia.

READ MORE: check out my post about Poznań here.

WATCH: check out my YouTube video about Poznań here.

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Basilica Minor of St Stanislaus

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Old Market Square


Day 2-3 - WROCŁAW

ARRIVE: the train from Poznań to Wrocław takes about 2.5 hours direct.

GET AROUND: the tourist attractions and old town, including the market square and church islands, are all in walking distance of the train station.

LUGGAGE LOCKERS: there are lockers right in the station for just 16 PLN for 24 hours (about €3,50) which is where we left our heavy suitcase for the day.

DO: climb the stairs of the tower of the Cathedral of Mary Magdalene to take in the view from the Bridge of Penitents. Explore the beautiful Market Square. Go for a walk around the Islands where at night, the old lanterns are still manually lit by hand every night, which is apparently quite the romantic and quaint sight to see. Take refuge from the heat in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

EAT: at the oldest vegan restaurant in the whole country at Vega, right in the middle of the Market Square, where absolutely everything on the menu is 100% vegan!

READ MORE: check out my post about Wrocław here.

WATCH: check out my YouTube video about Wrocław here.

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View from the Bridge of Penitents

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Cathedral of St. John the Baptist


Day 3-4 - Kraków

ARRIVE: the train from Wrocław to Kraków takes about 2.5 hours direct.

GET AROUND: the tourist attractions and old town, including the market square and Wawel Castle and Cathedral, are all in walking distance of the train station.

LUGGAGE LOCKERS: there are lockers right in the station for just 16 PLN for 24 hours (about €3,50).

DO: visit the bustling Old Market Square and visit the St. Mary's Basilica. Visit the tapestries and state rooms of the famous Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral, considered Poland's most important buildings.

EAT: delicious vegan pierogis at Przystanek Pierogarnia. A massive plate of vegan mixed fresh salads and dishes at MOMO. Vegan brunch at MO-JA Café & Bistro.

READ MORE: check out my post about Kraków here.

WATCH: check out my YouTube video about Kraków here.

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Wawel Royal Castle & Cathedral

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Old Market Square


Day 5 - Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau

ARRIVE: the train from Kraków to Oświęcim takes just over an hour direct. The walk from the train station in Oświęcim to the entrance of Auschwitz I is just under half an hour.

GET AROUND: book a guided tour. The 3.5 hour tour will take you to both the concentration camp at Auschwitz I and the death camp at Auschwitz II or Birkenau. The tour guides are exceptional - they give a moving, heart-wrenching tour that teaches you everything there is to know about the history of the camp.

LUGGAGE LOCKERS: there are small lockers available at the museum for a fee.

READ MORE: check out my post about Auschwitz-Birkenau here.

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Arbeit Matcht Frei entrance gate to Auschwitz I

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Entrance gate to Birkenau (Auschwitz II)


Day 6-7 - Tatra National Park

ARRIVE: the train from Oświęcim to Zakopane takes 4.5 hours via Kraków. Zakopane is the mountain town that is the entrance to Tatra National Park.

GET AROUND: the town of Zakopane is very walkable. To get to the trailheads for the various hikes in the park (we did one from Kuźnice), you need to take little local shuttles which leave from the Zakopane train station.

DO: wander the bustling mountain town of Zakopane. Get out into the mountains of the national park and go on a hike - I recommend avoiding the most popular one (Morskie Oko) and trying Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy instead which leads to a stunning alpine lake.

EAT: groats at Dobra Kasza Nasza. Try the traditional bigos with a vegan twist at Restauracja Las, a tiny vegan/vegetarian hole-in-the-wall on the edge of town.

READ MORE: check out my hiking guide for Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy here.

WATCH: check out my YouTube video about Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy here.

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Day 7-8 - Warsaw

ARRIVE: the train from Zakopane takes 5 hours via Kraków. Warsaw is Poland's capital city.

GET AROUND: Warsaw is a large city, well-connected by buses and trams. Once inside the Old Town, everything is in walking distance.

DO: head south of the city to explore King Jan III's Palace, one of the few surviving pre-war structures. Join a walking tour to learn the fascinating history of Warsaw. Enjoy the Old Town Square and spot the mermaid of Warsaw. Take in the views from the old city walls over the Barbican.

EAT: Warsaw was named by National Geographic as one of the world's top eight cities for veganism, so you'll find fantastic vegan options all over the city. We tried two places and loved them: the incredible 100% plant-based Italian food at Leonardo Verde and the best pierogis ever at Vege Miasto.

READ MORE: check out my post about Warsaw here.

WATCH: check out my YouTube video about Warsaw here.

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Old Town Warsaw and the column of King Sigismund outside the Royal Castle

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Streets of Warsaw


Day 8-9 - GDAŃSK

ARRIVE: the train from Warsaw to Gdańsk takes just over 3 hours direct.

GET AROUND: Gdańsk is a very walkable city, although trams run regularly which can be useful especially if you're staying just outside the city.

DO: take a walking tour to learn the fascinating history of this port city (and the official site of the start of WWII). Wander the Long Market and spot Neptune's Fountain. Browse the amber shops on Mariacka Street; Gdańsk is the world's amber capital. Take in the famous view from Green Bridge. Time your visit with the annual St. Dominic's Fair which has been running since 1260 where you can rummage craft and antique stalls.

EAT: vegan cakes and drinks at Drukarnia Cafe, also a great spot to sit with your laptop and get some work done. Try global-inspired cuisines at Manna 68 (it's tough to choose what to get, it's all great!).

READ MORE: check out my post about Gdańsk here.

WATCH: check out my YouTube video about Gdańsk here.

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The Long Market

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The view from the Green Bridge


CHECK OUT ALL MY VLOGS FROM POLAND HERE!


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