From charming old towns to modern cities, Poland is a cultural powerhouse with lots to show tour-goers wanting to explore Eastern Europe. A tour around Poland will offer any traveler a rich experience in food, history, nature, and music.
Poland is a vast country to explore with the Baltic coastline in the north and the snowy Zakopane mountain region that borders with Slovakia in the south. Because of such large expanses of land physically between places, cities and towns are shaped by regional differences -- creating unique experiences in each one.
Krakow offers visitors a medieval feel with Wawel Castle and cobblestone old town. The capital, Warsaw, features a stunning mix of steel skyscrapers and communist-era architecture as demonstrated by the Palace of Culture and Science.
With so much to offer, finding the right tour of Poland that focuses on what you are interested in experiencing is key. That said, you’re bound to find the right Polish tour that will appeal to your unique travel sensibilities.
Hiking & Outdoor Adventures
Poland is known for its stunning landscapes and pristine rivers. As such, anyone interested in exploring the outdoors will be well-suited for a tour in Poland. It often comes as a surprise to visitors that Poland has thousands of miles of well-marked hiking trails. There are also numerous national parks, like Góry Stołow with its strange but beautiful rock formations.
The Tatra Mountains are known as the "Polish Alps" and provide the highest elevations in the country. The Polish town of Zakopane -- lying at the base of the Tatras -- is a mecca for adventure seekers looking to hike, ski, or mountain bike depending on the time of year. This mountainous region, which shares a border with Slovakia, is also a protected national area for wildlife.
Explore History, Culture & Architecture
Poland has a rich history that extends from the early settlers in the area all the way to modern times. Poland is home to many beautiful churches, old towns, cathedrals, and buildings like St. Mary’s Cathedral in Krakow. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a very famous tourist attraction with a history that dates back to medieval times.
Modern Polish history is heavily influenced by the Second World War. In fact, this conflict continues to shape the identity of the country to this day. One of the major places to experience while touring around Krakow is Auschwitz Concentration Camp, the most infamous of the death camps used by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Indulging in Food & Drink
It often goes without saying that you can’t experience Poland without trying the food and drinks of the region. With a strong ethnic identity of Eastern Europe, the cuisine mimics that of its neighbors. You'll find rich and hearty meals from pierogi to all things that have been fried or pickled. Food is deeply connected to the history of the Polish people so travelers can learn about life in Poland by experiencing the food.
There are many food tours in the bigger cities like Krakow, Gdansk, and Warsaw -- with contemporary twists on authentic dishes popping up in these cities.
Poland is also known for its spirits and liqueurs. Learning about the process and the products themselves is important in learning about and understanding the Polish people. While Polish vodka remains a staple spirit that has been brewed for centuries, many types of beer and local ales are also brewed in Poland.
Planning Your Trip
Poland is an excellent country to tour around because of the country’s size. Planning a route via buses and trains on your own can be quite tedious and navigating the Polish transportation websites isn't that easy as an English speaker.
Best Time to Visit Poland
The best time to visit Poland certainly depends on the activities you wish to do there. While the summer months are sunny and beautiful, it is entirely possible to visit the country in the snowy winter to enjoy wintertime activities like ice skating and exploring the Christmas markets. In general, the summer months are more busy in Poland so the “shoulder season” of the spring and the fall might offer tour-goers relief from the summertime crowds.
What to Look for in a Tour to Poland
When choosing a tour around Poland, you’ll want to consider a few things like the kind of tour experience. Some tours around Poland focus on food, while others focus might on architecture and history.
You should consider the modes of transportation used during your tour. You will find tours of Poland that are shorter but done entirely by bicycle, while other tours make use of buses and trains around the country.
Another consideration is what accommodations you are booked into by the tour. Different tours might choose to book hostels versus hotels and this will certainly change the experience you have while traveling. In the end, think about your travel style and your personality and choose a tour you think might lend well to your personal enjoyments and interests while on the road.
Typical Tour Cost
The typical cost of a tour around Poland can vary greatly. However, Eastern Europe tends to be cheaper than in other parts of Europe. Costs are dependent on the tour length, type of accommodations booked, group size, and modes of transportation used. Generally, an 8- to 11-day tour around Poland costs between $1,100 and $2,200. In general, make sure you gather a detailed breakdown of the costs before you book anything.
Packing Tips & Gear Rentals
Typically, this area of Eastern Europe is well-developed. While you should aim to pack light, you can pack knowing that you will be able to purchase anything you need if you were to forget an item at home or while on tour. For a tour around Poland, a backpack is a good option since large suitcases can be a hassle to take on and off buses and trains.
Season depending, you’ll need to bring shorts and sandals or you’ll be bringing a winter coat, scarf, and gloves. It really depends on the tour type and the activities. In general, a sturdy pair of walking shoes or boots are an essential item for walking long hours around cities.
Other Tips for Travel in Poland
Since Poland is such a large country (by European standards), you can expect to be on buses or trains for longer periods of time between cities and towns. Knowing this, you can be sure to utilize this travel time for things like playing games with tour members or journaling about your experiences. To really immerse yourself in the experience, you could even learn the basics of Polish for conversing with locals.
Health & Safety
Before you travel, it’s always wise to have your vaccinations up-to-date. Poland is a developed country so healthcare is accessible and of high quality. It’s also typically a good idea to purchase travel insurance for the duration of your tour. In fact, some tours might even require you to purchase coverage so that you are medically covered in case of emergency while traveling.
Poland is a safe country with a low crime rate and a good reputation among European countries. That said, normal precautions should be taken in larger cities and in tourist areas. Pick-pocketing can and does happen so be sure to watch your belongings in public areas and also on buses and trains.