Poland is a country rich and diverse, often misunderstood, but for visitors who explore and discover the tremendous depths this large central European country has to offer, the rewards are immense.
Few countries offer such an array of wonders: blending magnificent natural landscapes of lakes, forests and mountains with the varied cities reflecting history from the Renaissance to the modern day.
Visitors to Poland are spoilt. Spoilt with wonder, spoilt with history, spoilt with the unknown magic of a country once hidden behind the Iron Curtain. You will not be disappointed, you will simply be left wondering when you can come again.
Whether you take in Warsaw, one of the most modernised capitals of Europe, largely rebuilt after World War II; or want to explore the stunning history-rich city of Krakow (the former Royal Capital) with its architectural marvels including churches, monasteries and abbeys in both Gothic and Renaissance styles, this will be a trip to remember. It is no accident that Krakow was one of the first two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. No two cities in Poland are alike, each reflecting its own diverse heritage and unique nature.
Step Back in Time
Step back in time to a culture where tradition matters. Young and old live harmoniously alongside each other, blending the old Poland with the up-and-coming new. The friendliness that this culture therefore extends to the visitor is tangible.
The history of Poland, reflected in its architecture and cultural heritage, will leave you spellbound. Combined with a burgeoning tourist haven, visitors can make the most of experiencing a rich and diverse European country at minimal cost.
Poland doesn’t neglect, or turn its back on, the horrifying parts of its history such as being home to
the worst concentration camp from the Holocaust: Auschwitz. However, it does encompass the lessons of the past with an outlook to the future. Somehow old and new blend together in perfect harmony, and reflect a European and Polish outlook with positivity for the future.
The Modern Poland
Visitors to Poland are enticed by cities and landscapes that will delight the senses. Poland has an excellent public transport network making touring this large and diverse country both easy and relaxing. Modern Poland is eminently family-friendly. With plenty to entice families, and a naturally young outlook, even the very youngest of visitors will find themselves at home in Poland. Each city, museum and café welcomes both young and old alike.
World War II took a heavy toll on much of Poland, including on the northern sea port of Gdansk. In its place, the town has been rebuilt and reflects the contemporary heart of this booming Baltic area. This is the home of Polish democracy. Gdansk, and similarly rebuilt cities such as Warsaw, reflect Poland’s desire to move forward away from the hard times of the past.
As well as the array of diverse cities, towns and villages reflecting the different ages and styles of Polish history, Poland draws visitors to its natural wonders and gloriously diverse scenery.
From the Baltic Coast, exposed yet beautiful, to the ethereal forest, bogs and sand dunes of the Slowiński National Park; from the hundreds of natural lakes making up the Great Masurian Lakes nestled in dense forest to the alpine surrounds of Zakopane and this Polish ski resort; there is something for every nature lover. Outdoor adventurers can enjoy a range of activities from downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking and more.
Surrounding Krakow are natural limestone caves and medieval castles, leading you to believe you are in the heartland of classic fairy tales. Head to the far south for the Carpathian Mountains for panoramas that will leave you awe-struck. Poland encompasses so many different natural landscapes reflecting Europe as a whole.
Visitors to Poland will be spoilt with a blend of contemporary European fare with roots in traditional hearty fare. Whatever your taste buds seek, you’ll find something to suit you in Poland. The traditional style of Polish cooking is now being elevated to high class fine dining.
Local produce and ingredients include pork, cabbage, mushrooms, beetroot and onion, so these feature heavily on menus across the country. However, the different regions tend to also focus on their specific seasonal produce such as duck, boar, goose, trout, and for the Baltic areas, cold sea fish.
No visit to Poland would be complete without a sampling of classic Polish fare: rich in hearty, filling meat and game offerings. You must try the national favourite soup, Zurek, and Pierogi: Polish-style dumplings. Wash this down with the very best Polish vodka for an authentic experience.
The Poles also love their sweet tooth and you will be able to find cream cakes, apple strudel, various pancakes as well as fruit filled Pierogi. The Polish also have a love of ice cream (lody).
A Brief History of Poland
Generally speaking Poland has, more often than not, been dealt a tough hand. However the focus now is that Poland truly is a post-communist success story. World War II is perhaps the most defining moment in Polish history, Poland was shaken to its very roots, but the remarkable of survival of history, culture, and even architecture, is evident everywhere.
Poland’s roots go back to around the 10th Century when the nation accepted Christianity. In the 14th Century Poland entered a union with Lithuania. Soon Poland in this union became one of the strongest states within Europe (the Jagiellon Dynasty). The last Jagiellon king died in 1569 and at that point Poland became as elective monarchy. Not long after the Polish Parliament, the Sejm, became the main legislative power.
Poland, previously powerful within Europe gradually lost its strength during the 17th and 18th Centuries and was ultimately partitioned by the former Austria, Prussia and Russia. In the 19th Century Poland saw an unsuccessful uprising against the Tsar.
After the end of World War I Poland was able to regain its independence which lasted for two decades.
World War II was the catalyst for severe change in Poland. Poland was indeed the first country to fall in World War II. Ultimately 6 million Poles lost their lives to the Nazis, and 2.5million were taken to labour or extermination camps. The country was integrally forced to bear witness to many of the horrors of the Holocaust. Many Poles also served in the Allied Forces.
With the end of the War, Poland now became one of the satellite states of the Soviet Union. Here began the regime of Communism that brought difficulties of a different kind for the average Polish national. In 1956 and 1968 there were uprisings against the communist regime, but both were suppressed.
Eventually, in 1989, a reform movement called Solidarity led the country to become the first Eastern European state to liberate itself from Communism.
A decade later, in 1999, Poland became a part of NATO, and in 2004 Poland became a member state of the European Union.