Surrounded by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Belarus, the country of Poland is a key stop on any trek through eastern Europe. Medieval cities like Krakow and Gdansk mesh with more urban spots like Warsaw while the rivers, lakes, hills, and mountains of the areas outside of the cities provide all the beauty and wonders of nature. Poland witnessed many battles during the second world war, and monuments and museums dedicated to some of these epic attacks are riddled throughout the country. In addition, the country has perfectly preserved many of its buildings and structures from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. From breathtaking Gothic castles to rustic, wooden churches nestled in the Carpathian hills, the region offers a rich history, making it the ideal country to visit for any history buff.
When it comes to lodging, Poland has a wide variety of accommodation options designed to suit most budgets, and these include hotels, pensions and guesthouses, hostels, apartment rentals, and camping grounds. You’ll find many of the amenities at these places to be comparable to those you’d find in the western Europe.
Bialowieza National Park
Established in 1921, the Białowieża National Park (Białowieski Park Narodowy) is Poland’s oldest national park and is part of the larger forest known as the Białowieża Forest (Puszcza Białowieska), which is located on the border between Poland and Belarus. The park is famous for being the original home of the European bison and contains several bison breeding reserves. In addition, much of the park contains what is considered to be Europe’s largest swath of original lowland forest, known in Polish as puszcza. While there has been some human influence on the park landscape, much of it has remained undisturbed for centuries, making an interesting quagmire of old and new forest growth.
The Panorama Raclawicka is a monumental cycloramic painting depicting the Battle of Raclawice during the Kosciuszko Uprising in 1794. Located in Wrocław, the canvas of the painting measures 15m by 114m, and is wrapped around the internal walls of the rotunda. Visitors can view this fascinating piece of art from an elevated central balcony while three-dimensional elements like trees, weapons, and roads and sound effects bring the artwork to life. Tours for Panorama Raclawicka are 30 minutes long and depart every half-hour. What’s more, a ticket gives you access to the National Museum on the same day.
The premier attraction in Malbork, the Malbork Castle is seated along the banks of the Nogat River in the eastern part of the Vistula. The Fortress of Mary, or Marienburg, was constructed by the Teutonic Knights and was their headquarters for nearly 150 years. Construction of the castle started in 1276 and was completed three decades later. Spread over 21 hectares, encircled by three rings of defensive walls, and a myriad of dungeons and towers, the Malbork Castle was the largest fortress built during the Middle Ages. Today the fortress operates as a museum with numerous rooms and chambers and historical and archaeological exhibits for visitors to enjoy.