From the Baltic Sea's famous shipyards in the northern city of Gdansk to the snowy peaks of the Tatra Mountains and Krakow's Old Town, Poland has something for everyone. The central capital, Warsaw, may not be as beautiful as Krakow to the south, but has its own charm, as well as some of Poland's best restaurant and club action. Explore the relative newcomer to the tourist scene, Wroclaw, north-east of Krakow on the Oder River.
After gaining independence in 1918, Poland was involved in World War II from the start and today you can honour the country's distressing, yet inspirational, history in its world-class museums. See where the Solidarity Movement started in northern Gdansk and find the bullet-scarred remains of the Warsaw Uprising. Explore the southern city of Krakow with its Jewish legacy and make sure you try some authentic bagels washed down with a glass of vodka. South of Krakow is the year-long rural playground, the Tatra Mountains.
Most visitors head straight for Wawel Castle and the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz in Krakow. However, you should also marvel at Warsaw's totally reconstructed, UNESCO-listed Old Town and its excellent Rising Museum. Travel north to hunt for amber on the Baltic Sea shores around the port city of Gdansk. Wroclaw is an engaging city with Gothic towers that is currently undergoing something of a comeback. If you have time, take the road less travelled to explore the brainchild of Stalin, the new town of Nowa Kuta where brutal Socialist architecture merges with wooden churches and new hotels.
Poland has an enormous rural population, and travelling around the country involves passing through many villages. The most beautiful are in the Tatra Mountains in the south where Zakopane lures the crowds for some serious aprs ski. In summer, you can hike, track bears and bison, or fish on lakes and rivers. And although the Baltic Sea might not spring to mind as a number-one vacation spot, be pleasantly surprised as you relax by the crystal waters and beautiful white sandy beaches of Gdansk and Sopot.
Fast Facts - Poland
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