If you ask someone whose never been to Poland what it’s like, they’ll tell you it’s all industrial and drab. And sure, in certain areas it is, but for the most part Poland is beautiful. What people don’t know is that Poland is home to quite an array of different landscapes: cobbled cities, snow-capped mountains, golden sand beaches, forests and lakes. This 2-3 week backpacking route around Poland encompasses all of those cityscapes and landscapes.
Wrocław, part of Poland since 1945, sits in the south-west corner of the country. The city is abuzz with university students and quirky bars, but also steeped in history, full of museums, churches and cathedrals, and a cobbled Old Town. (2 days)
From Wrocław, you can head into the forested mountains surrounding the small village of Karpacz. There’s not much up there except for a small castle and some nature trails, but it’s a good place to find peace and quiet. We journeyed up there to the winter venue of the Angloville programme, located right next door to the Czech border. (2-3 days, or 5 if you’re attending Angloville)
Retrace your steps back through Wrocław and head to one of Poland’s oldest and most touristic cities, Kraków. Put on your World War II history hat and explore the Jewish Quarter (the former ghettos), Oskar Schindler’s Factory, and Auschwitz. (2 days)
Flee the busy city for the snow-capped Tatra Mountains in Zakopane. If you’re keen for hiking then get a map and set off to Kościelec, a peak on the border of Solvakia in the High Tatras. If you’re not fond of walking, you can take a gondola up there for 40 PLN (£8). (3 days)
Pass back through Kraków on the way to Poland’s capital city, Warsaw. Walk along the Royal Road to take in the castle before stopping for coffee in one of the many boutique cafés lining the streets. After that, I unfortunately couldn’t wait to get out of the gloomy streets of Warsaw and I wouldn’t suggest a visit except for the fact it’s positioned bang in the middle of Poland. (2 days)
Gdańsk, gorgeous Gdańsk, is a sight for sore eyes after Warsaw. The city is one of three adjacent cities which make up Poland’s tri-city area. Amble, breakfast, drink wine and enjoy the atmosphere in Gdańsk before taking a tram to the golden sand beach that connects it to the other two cities, Sopot and Gdynia. (4-5 days for the tri-cities)
You can also take a day-trip to the small but beautiful Malbork. Despite what local advertisers would have you believe, one day is more than enough in Malbork – although the largest Teutonic castle in the world should not be missed. (1 day)
After our first taste of travelling in Poland, we’ve already planned another trip. The Polish were so welcoming towards backpackers and we stayed with some really lovely couchsurfers, so we can’t wait to return. Next time we visit we’re keen to take a road-trip down through Latvia and Lithuania and around the lakes in Poland’s north-east side. Ending, of course, with another visit to Gdańsk. We’ve also heard great things about Torun and Lublin, so we’ve penciled them in on the list too. If you’d like to know how much this trip cost, check out our cost breakdown.
How do you fancy travelling around Poland?
Or do you know somewhere awesome that I’ve missed?