7-day route through Poland in summer
When thinking about summer holidays, many people think of beaches, hammocks, palm trees and piña colada. But there are many travelers who prefer to visit the capitals of northern Europe in the warmer months. It is a good opportunity to see these cities with more life than ever. Both tourists and locals go out to the street to enjoy the terraces and parks making the experience totally different to what they would find traveling during other months.
Today we propose a 7-day tour through three of the main Polish cities with advice on what to see and what to do in Poland in summer. If your trip lasts less days, you can easily adapt it and choose the options that you prefer.
The cities that we propose to visit are Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw. The distances between them are similar (3-3: 30h) which makes them perfect to visit in the order you want. In addition, you can organize the trip to make the transfers by train or car and you can choose the arrival and departure airports that best suit you since the three cities have good connections with the main Spanish airports.
Day 1 Warsaw
The first thing that draws attention when arriving in Warsaw is the contrast between the modern office buildings, the Soviet buildings and the old town. But the old Town with cobbled streets is not such. After the World War II more than 85% of the buildings in Warsaw were destroyed, forming a mass of rubble. After the war, began the reconstruction of almost everything you will see during your visit and today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you want to know more about the subject, you can visit the Warsaw Museum in the Market Square, in the old town. Nearby you will also find the Miniatures Park where some of the most interesting buildings that were destroyed or severely modified throughout the history of the city are reproduced.
You can also take the first day to visit the old town, or Stare Miasto, where you will also find the Royal Castle, the Column of Sigismund III and the Mermaid Fountain. And in the immediate vicinity you can visit the Marie Curie Museum or get closer to watching the multimedia fountain show (at dusk or at night it is best to see the lights and the effects of the fountain while you take an ice cream).
Day 2 Warsaw
Once you've seen the old town, it's time to take the Royal Route as if you were one of the ancient kings of Poland. The Royal Route begins at Royal Castle (at Stare Miasto) and exits southwards through Krakowskie Przedmieście, continues through Nowy Świat, Aleje Ujazdowskie, Belwederska, Sobieskiego and ends at Aleja Wilanowska. This route of more than 11 kilometers is what the kings did to move from their usual residence in the old case to their palaces outside the center: the Ujazdów Palace, the Palace on the Island in the Łazienki Park and the Wilanów Palace.
Although there are regular buses that will take you to the main tourist attractions of the route, we recommend you to do the first section that goes from the old town to Aleje Jerozolimskie on foot (or by bike). In this area, a large part of the city's gastronomic, shopping and nightlife offer is concentrated. You can also get closer by taking a walk to the Frédéric Chopin Museum.
Day 3 Warsaw
For the last day in the Polish capital, we recommend you to get away from the center to discover other charms of the city. It may be a good time for you to look for a "milk bar" or Bar Mleczny where you will regress in the early twentieth century eating traditional food, without artifices and at a cheap price.
One of the historical facts for which Warsaw has been known throughout the world is the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi invasion. In the Museum of the Uprising you can learn everything that happened before, during and after the rebellion. If your visit coincides with August 1, the anniversary of the start of the uprising is celebrated in the city. On the street you will see men and women dressed in typical clothing from the 40s, there are concerts and many activities to remember this day.
For the last day's sunset, reserve a moment to climb the PKIN viewpoint or Pałac Kultury i Nauki w Warszawie. It is a palace that Stalin once "gave" to the Poles. Nowadays it houses offices, exhibition halls and movie and theater halls. From the viewpoint you have the best views of the city.
Day 4 Warsaw - Krakow
On the fourth day of travel, we change city to go from Warsaw to Krakow, about 300 kilometers to the south. You can do this journey by train or car rental. Both options are fast and not very expensive.
The first thing to visit in Krakow is its old town. The Stare Miasto in Krakow is surrounded by a green belt that is where the city wall once stood. It has a horseshoe shape. In the south is the Wawel Hill, with its Castle and its Cathedral. To the north is the Barbican, one of the doors that gave access to the city through its wall. In the center is the Market Square, the largest medieval square in Europe, with the Cloth Hall in the center and surrounded by several historic buildings such as the St. Mary's Basilica. Near the Market Square you will also find the Jagiellonian University where they studied, among others, Pope John Paul II or Nicolaus Copernicus.
In addition to contemplating the passers-by of the square, you can have a drink or a meal in one of its numerous bars and restaurants or you can also buy souvenirs. But, undoubtedly, the most curious thing you can see (or rather, listen to) in the square is the trumpet call every hour on the hour from one of the towers of the St. Mary's Basilica.
Day 5 Krakow
For the second day in the city of Krakow we propose you to get to know one of the neighborhoods with more atmosphere and more activity of the city, the Jewish district Kasimierz. It is the neighborhood where the Hebrews of the city traditionally settled until the Second World War. Its streets and buildings are very well preserved.
There you will find synagogues, exhibitions, basilicas, museums and countless restaurants and bars that animate its streets and squares. It is a good option to try the specialties of kosher cuisine and traditional Hebrew dishes.
South of the Vistula River you can expand the history of the Jewish population of the city during the Nazi occupation at the Oscar Schindler Museum and the Pharmacie Under The Eagle. Both buildings contain exhibits so visitors can see how they were trying to save the lives of Jewish citizens of the Krakow ghetto.
Day 6 Krakow - Auschwitz - Wroclaw
On the sixth day of travel we leave Krakow to travel to Wroclaw, 270 kilometers away. Again you have the possibility to go by rental car or to make the trip by train. But, as you will see, our recommendation is to take a car (at least from this day) to have more freedom on the move.
About 70 kilometers from Krakow is the Extermination Camp of Auschwitz Birkenau. We leave to your choice if you want to make this type of visits during your holidays or not, since they are not pleasant visits. But it can be a good option to become aware of the magnitude of what happened not only in Poland, but in much of Europe. If you decide to see it, keep in mind that in summer there are usually many people, be patient with the queues.
For the first day or the first afternoon in Wroclaw you have to take a walk through the old town with its Market Square. You can see the St. Mary Magdalene Church or the St. Elizabeth's Church whose bell towers stand out above the buildings of the city. In the center of the square stands the City Hall Building with different architectural styles that reflect the passage of time. In a corner of the Market Square you will see the Hansel and Gretel houses. And you can entertain yourself during the walk by looking for all the figurines of the dwarves of Wroclaw (which are not only in the old town, are spread throughout the city).
The Oder River that crosses the city, passes through the north of the old town, at the foot of the University of Wroclaw. On the river there are several islands with landscaped areas to stroll through and also several churches and historic buildings. And on the other side of the river is the largest concentration of religious buildings in the city with the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Church of St. Giles, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Faculty of Theology and the Archbishop's Palace between others.
Day 7 Wroclaw
For the last day in Poland we propose a curious and not at all overcrowded visit, since the vast majority of tourists traveling to Poland are unaware of this place. It is about the underground city of Osowka. The city is located about 80 kilometers southwest of Wroclaw. It is a network of tunnels dug by the Nazis under the mountains of the area. Being a wooded area, they were not easy to detect by enemies. The purpose of this construction was kept secret and nowadays it is not known for what purpose they were created, although it is speculated that it could be a hideout to hide if they lost the war and could survive for a few years until they could leave again or they could be the new secret headquarters of Hitler. The total complex has 7 excavations in different parts of the Owl Mountains, next to the Polish border with the Czech Republic.
The guided tour is in Polish (if you're lucky one of the guides speaks Spanish) but you can take the audio guide in English.
Back to Wroclaw you can make a stop in Ksiaz, to visit its Castle or in Swidnica to visit the Church of Peace.
We hope you find this post helpful to organize your next vacation in Poland. And before your trip, remember to change Euros to Polish Zlotys for the purchases and payments you make during your stay.
Enjoy the trip!
July 1, 2019