Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Travelling to Poland: the lowdown

I've been on 8 trips to Poland over the years, and I always get asked loads of questions about travelling to Poland - so I thought I'd do a post that covers my experience(s) and hopefully answers those questions!

Buildings in Lublin Old Town
Lublin old town

Why you should visit Poland


Basically, I go to Poland so often because I love it and it's bloody cheap. Most of the time I can get a return flight to somewhere in Poland for less than £30, and as I'm happy to explore anywhere in Poland it's even easier to get a cheap flight. I find SkyScanner the easiest for finding cheap flights, as it gives you option to search for flights to anywhere in one country rather than having to look city by city. From the UK you can get to various Polish cities with Ryanair, Wizz Air and sometimes EasyJet.

I've always been able to find cheap accommodation in Poland too - the first three times I visited, I stayed in hotels (the first time was with college, so that wasn't my choice) and the next two times were before I realised how easy and convenient Airbnb is. The hotels were cheap enough and well located, but with Airbnb it's much easier to find a hidden gem for a really low cost. For example, in Poznan I stayed in a studio apartment - double sofa bed, kitchen with oven/fridge-freezer/dining area, well equipped bathroom - for £19 a night between two people. It wasn't in the city centre, but it was within walking distance of a supermarket, a bakery, a couple of restaurants and the bus stops; I think it took about 20 minutes on the bus to get into the main area of the city, which was absolutely fine and so worth it for how cheap the apartment itself was. If you're new to Airbnb, sign up through my link HERE to get £25 off your first stay - not just in Poland but anywhere!


In terms of when to go to Poland, I can only speak from my experience of visiting in winter: it's bloody cold. I'm yet to go to Poland in the summer, though I really want to, but the winter for me just feels really special. It often snows, and they celebrate Christmas for a lot longer than we do, and even though it's freezing if you wear your thermals you'll be absolutely fine. I think I will visit in the summer, maybe even this year, but if you do want a bargain city break then November-March is probably the best time of year to go to Poland.

Update: I visited Poland in May of this year (2019) and went to Gdańsk, which is right on the Baltic. So it wasn't snowing, and at some points it was quite warm, but that wind off the sea was FREEZING and we had a bit of rain, too. 

Snow on the ground in Lublin, Poland
SNOW (Lublin)

Where should you visit in Poland?


So, where should you go? Like I said, SkyScanner gives you the option of just picking wherever is cheapest in Poland but if there's not much in it you might want to know a bit more about each city that pops up. Well, I've been to Kraków, Poznan, Lublin, Warsaw, Gdańsk, Wroclaw and Szczecin so I can offer you some wisdom on those 7 cities...

Kraków 


Probably the most popular city to visit in Poland at the minute, Kraków is definitely somewhere that holds a massive piece of my heart. Flight prices are creeping up as it becomes a more in-demand destination, but it's easy to see why so many people want to go. It was my first Polish city, and the one I've visited the most (4 times) - with such a rich history and access to places like Auschwitz, it's somewhere you can take a real learning trip. But it's also somewhere full of bars, escape rooms, malls, museums, restaurants and loads more. It is a bit of a tourist haven these days, but I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland
Wawel Castle, Krakow
Kraków top 5: Schindler Museum, the shisha bar at Grodzka 41, Wawel dragon statue, Buddha Bar, Nova Krova.

Poznan 


This is definitely one of the lesser-visited cities in Poland, but it's one you shouldn't overlook if you're planning a trip. It's the fifth largest city in Poland and has a massive student population, and a really chilled out vibe. There's a huge man-made lake called Lake Malta, which has an artificial ski slope, a zoo, an ice-rink and a narrow gauge railway as well as being a rowing venue and host to a theatre festival. I do think Poznan would be best visited in the summer, given the amount of outdoor activities on offer, but I went in March as it was just heading into spring and it was still wonderful.

Pink monastery in Poznan, Poland
Poznan
Poznan top 5: mechanical goats, Park Cytadela, the palm house, croissant museum (we couldn't get in but I've heard great things), the zoo.

Lublin


Another city that's kind of under the tourist radar, Lublin is perfect for a relaxed couple of days because there isn't loads to cram in. However there's history there if you look for it, and honestly Lublin has some of the best restaurants I've ever been to (more on that here) so if you're a foodie, I'd highly recommend. Coach travel within Poland is really good, and Lublin is only a couple of hours away from Poland's capital, Warsaw, so I was able to take a day trip there for about a fiver.

Me at Lublin Castle, Poland, at sunset
Lublin Castle at sunset
Lublin top 5: G20 resto-bar, Majdanek, Czarcia Lapa, the open air museum, Lublin castle.

Warsaw 


It's Poland's capital, but don't be fooled into thinking it's a bustling and expensive city like other capital cities are/can be. I've just posted a travel diary series about Warsaw if you want to know more about my most recent trip (find the first instalment here) but we were able to visit Warsaw for 4 nights for just over £100 each including the flights and a city centre apartment. There's so much to do and see, and as a city it feels really safe.

Buildings in Warsaw old town
Warsaw old town
Warsaw top 5: the neon museum, Rock Friends, the Gestapo HQ/museum, Mamma Mia Never Closed, the 30th floor view point at the Palace of Science & Culture.

Gdańsk


My most recent trip, and a city I'm now head over heels in love with. It's got a big waterway, plenty of bars and restaurants, a myriad of museums and just a lovely vibe. It's definitely one of the busier Polish cities, and there's really easy access to other cities from here. Would highly recommend; I have more info about Gdańsk here!

Gdańsk architecture
Gdańsk top 5: St Mary's Basilica (for the view), Pub Bruderschaft, pirate ship ride to Westerplatte, Machina Eats & Beats, ww2 museum.

Wroclaw


I visited here with a small group of friends, and I'd say that's the best way to do it - it's definitely a great destination for a drinking holiday, so if Kraków is coming up too expensive for your stag do then definitely look at Wroclaw. It's such a pretty place, though, and there's plenty to do!


Wroclaw top 5: Czupito, the dwarf trail, St. Elizabeth's Church tower, Vivere Italiano, Neon Side.

Szczecin


Another fairly forgotten city when it comes to visiting Poland, but one I loved - absolutely barmy, but brilliant. It also offers great access to other cities (in Poland and beyond) so with the cheap flights available, it's a good base for exploring. There is loads to see, and it's really big too.


Szczecin top 5: Piwnica Pub, access to the Crooked Forest, Pub Exp, the Museum of Happiness, the Red Route.

There are so many other Polish cities on my bucket list, but I'm yet to visit them all. I found a blog post from Kami about Katowice HERE, and Silvia wrote a blog post about Łódź HERE. I'll write my own entries for these cities soon, I'm sure...

Other things to note about visiting Poland


As I've mentioned above, I felt really safe in Warsaw and I'd like to point out that I've never felt unsafe anywhere I've visited in Poland - everyone is so friendly and I've never had or seen any trouble. Taxis and public transport in Poland are really efficient and easy to use - I have the iTaxi app downloaded on my phone which works right across the country (you can pay by cash or card) and each city tends to have an app or online information regarding bus and train times. For inter-city travel, look at Flixbus as they are brilliant and really affordable.

My favourite Polish snacks (from the supermarkets/corner shops) are pizza monster munch by Lorenz, the Wedel Karmellove! Czekotubkas which are basically the consistency of Nutella in the flavour of Caramac in a little squeezy tube, 7 Days Bake Rolls in pizza and tomato-olive flavours, and also Tymbark orange juice which technically isn't a "snack" but is utterly amazing.

Crisps from Poland

I also LOVE the different beauty brands you can pick up in Poland, especially Ziaja for their incredible range of skincare but also Green Pharmacy, Bielenda, and L'Biotica (their hair masks are amazing).



So, I hope that's covered everything that people have asked me about - Poland is a beautiful country with so much culture and history. It's my top choice for cheap city breaks and I'd recommend it to everyone; if you do have any specific questions feel free to get in touch, but otherwise I hope this post has been a helpful one! Sorry it's so long...

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8 comments:

  1. This was so helpful. I am hoping to go to Krakow later on in the year, it looks like such a beautiful city and I also would like to visit Auschwitz. I feel like it's somewhere that we should all visit given the chance; I also read The Tattooist of Auschwitz over the summer and it really hit hard. xx

    Jessie | jessie-ann.co.uk

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  2. This was so helpful! My friend and I are hoping to go on holiday this year but still have to decide on a location. I've been scouring Ryanair for cheap flights and had seen there's quite a few for various places in Poland. I cross referenced on air b and b and found cheap accommodation for nearly every area so I was finding it a pain to choose between them all! This has definitely helped - I loved that you included info about iTaxi which I had never heard of. The snacks sound interesting! I have saved the air b an db link you provided to use when my friend and I eventually book something somewhere :) It's a shame I didn't come across this post yesterday when I booked Bologna...much love - Amy x I can't work comments on this website it won't let me post as anamywhowrites.wordpress.com x

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  3. I've never been to Poland, thanks for inspiration..

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  4. Great insight! Definitely going to keep this in mind when I start planning a European adventure!

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  5. Would love to go to Poland, thanks for all the tips!

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  6. I haven’t been to Poland yet but have definitely considered it! Lublin and Gdańsk look especially beautiful!

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  7. So packed full of information and helpful tips. Thanks for sharing.

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