Poland Best Cities To Visit – Our 8 Favourite Cities
Poland is an amazing country that is often overlooked by tourists exploring other parts of Europe. While it suffered greatly during WW2 and many cities were almost completely destroyed (such as Warsaw), today it is a fantastic destination to explore.
There are charming old towns in thriving cities, lively squares filled with restaurants, quirky museums, and grand churches.
So if you are planning a trip to Poland or just looking for inspiration, this article focuses on the best cities to visit in Poland.
Poland on the map of Europe – Poland best cities to visit
We spent two weeks around Poland and this list is a compilation of our favourite cities.
Since the car rental is cheap and the highways and roads are great, why not plan a trip to see more of Poland?
Kraków is one of Europe’s oldest cities and was once the capital of Poland. It is also known for its rich history and heritage and it will without a doubt leave a great impression. In fact, we came here a few times before exploring other parts of Poland and most people consider Krakow the best place to visit in Poland.
Apart from its stunning main square Rynek Główny, the castle on Wawel Royal Hill is the main attraction. To learn more about the castle and Poland’s history, it is best to join this guided tour.
You might be familiar with the story portrayed in the Schindler’s List movie from 1993, the tour explains more about the everyday life of the Jews here in Krakow and the story that this factory played.
Try to find the best pierogi or paczki (Polish donuts) and don’t miss out on obwarzanek – a braided ring-shaped bread that is boiled and sprinkled with salt and sesame or poppy seeds. This bread is only sold in Krakow.
Krakow is also a fantastic place to spend a few extra days and do some recommended day trips listed below:
We always wanted to see Gdansk after seeing some photos of its beautiful old town. Well, nothing actually prepared us for the size of the Old Town. It is huge!
Gdansk is an important port in Poland and it is also the place that started WW2. It was also known as Danzig and had a predominantly German population.
It was destroyed during the war but it has been beautifully restored.
You can easily spend a few days here, in fact, it is one of Poland best cities to visit for a long weekend. The beaches around Sopot are a short drive away and don’t miss out on the Museum of the Second World War.
Gdansk is also home to the world’s largest brick church, St. Mary’s, and inside it is a unique astronomical clock similar to the one in Prague.
For many Germans and Scandinavians, Gdansk is easy to get to so it is the best place to visit in Poland if you are from this part of the world.
Gdansk Old Town is full of surprises – Poland Best Cities To Visit
We almost didn’t visit Wroclaw and we were so glad we did. Wroclaw used to be part of Bohemia (today’s the Czech Republic) as well as Prussia (Today’s Germany).
The oldest area is the Main Market Square from the 13th century. Don’t forget to look up at the buildings – notice all the details.
Wroclaw is one of Poland best cities for a family as well, the city is known for statues of gnomes.
Over 350 tiny bronze figurines of gnomes (of dwarfs) can be found throughout the city, hiding around corners, on the main square, and even on lamp posts.
Poznan is one of Poland’s largest cities. It was founded by German settlers in the 12th century and became part of Prussia in 1793 to be later on absorbed into Poland.
Poznan is known as a very youthful city due to its student population and its famous for its gorgeous merchant’s houses and a beautiful renaissance Town Hall.
As of 2021, Poznan’s Old City has been going through a major redevelopment. The entire old town is currently under construction, but it should be ready by summer in 2023. The locals seemed to think it might take a bit longer. Either way, it will be well worth seeing once the restoration works are completed.
When you come to Poznan, try the famous St Martin’s Croissant. It is made with semi-puff pastry and white poppy seed and it was created here in the 19th century.
On November 11 each year which is known as St Martin’s day, Poznań locals and many tourists eat around 250 tonnes of croissants – that is about 1.25 million individual pastries!
Poznan Main square before the restoration works started – Poland Best Cities To Visit
The most famous city on the Northern Sea coast, Sopot was a former village that has quickly redeveloped into a hip seaside destination.
Most people don’t think of Poland as a country with beaches! Yet another surprise for many.
If you come during the summer, it offers a nice “holiday vibe” away from all the cities you might’ve already visited.
Don’t miss Sopot’s main pier and for quiet beaches, simply visit the beaches next to Sopot.
Sopot beach – Poland Best Cities To Visit
This brick-built city located on the Vistula river is the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. Torun was a nice surprise! We wish we stayed longer.
The small, compact city seemed to have a few great things to keep visitors busy. From a leaning tower, the Museum of gingerbread (Torun is where gingerbread originated) to the Planetarium that provides some fun and education for any age.
The city can be seen from above after climbing to the top of Town Hall Tower in Old Town square. And there are legends everywhere! Look out for the golden statue of a donkey, a dog with an umbrella or a fountain with frogs!
Torun old city from above – Poland Best Cities To Visit
We have been told to visit Zakopane many times when mentioning our visit to Poland.
Zakopane is a city located close to the Polish-Slovakian Border on the edge of the High Tatra Mountains. It’s definitely a popular place for the Polish people to escape the bigger cities, they come here to go hiking, skiing, or to enjoy some wellness while surrounded by the mountains.
Much of Poland is quite flat, so these landscapes are something else.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but we found Zakopane to be simply too much. The downtown was way too busy with people, even on a weekday. So, we didn’t linger too long.
Zakopane is often listed as one of Poland best cities to visit, but if you are looking for some relaxation in mountains and some decent hiking, why not cross the border and stay in Zdiar in Slovakia and enjoy the peace and amazing views of the High Tatras.
We based ourselves in Zdiar at Penzión Bachleda and hiked to Green Pleso. It was gorgeous.
Confused about Slovakia and Slovenia? Read this blog to see how these two countries are different: Slovakia vs Slovenia
Warsaw has virtually risen from its ashes after being completely destroyed in 1945 during WW2.
As the capital city of Poland, Warsaw is synonymous with what Poland is all about.
Poland was once one of the larger empires in Europe under the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth empire only to be partitioned and completely carved up by neighbouring countries – in 1775 Poland completely disappears off the map of Europe!
It later on reappears but suffers greatly during the 2nd World War and Warsaw, its capital city is left in ruins. It was rebuilt in the last 80 years.
Warsaw is one of Europe’s largest cities and its capital city. It is also home to the Royal Castle, the National Museum, and Old Town Square.
But today Warsaw is so much more.
Incredible nightlife in the student’s part of town, the Palace of the Culture and Science which is a perfect example of communist architecture, and not to forget many gorgeous parks, such as Lazienki with the statue of Chopin.
As for museums, Warsaw has without a doubt some of the best ones in Poland.
For a full list of the best things to do in Warsaw, check out Get Your Guide.
And the food scene in Warsaw is next level. This would be featured on Poland best cities to visit for foodies list.
Of course, Warsaw is on our list of Poland best cities to visit, but there is one more place to add.
Warsaw the capital city of Poland Best Cities To Visit
9. Zalipie Village
Of course, this doesn’t really belong on the list of the best cities in Poland to visit, as it is a tiny village about 2 hours away from Krakow. However it adds a unique experience in Poland and if you are road tripping around Poland, add it to your itinerary.
Zalipie is a tiny village best known for the folk flower paintings that decorate houses, the outside and inside of them.
This tradition started hundred years ago when women of the village used a mix of powdered dye to cover dirty surfaces darkened by soot. Then they painted flowers on the walls and interiors and a tradition was born (or you could say, it bloomed).
Today you can visit the small museum which includes 3 different houses that you can visit as part of a guided tour for 10 Zloty ($2.20).
The tour is only in Polish, but you get to see the interiors of the houses! Everything is decorated with flowers, the walls, lamps, and furniture too. Then you can drive around to spot other houses around the village.
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A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide, and endless optimist. The mastermind of logistics and chief navigator for Very Hungry Nomads, two women on an adventure to visit EVERY country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".