Neither wildly popular nor completely unknown, the central European country of Poland continues to charm those who visit. This great wide country rivals many more popular European destinations with its wealth of cities, towns, castles and national parks. It’s very much a country steeped in turbulent history, both medieval and modern, not to mention delightful culture and hearty cuisine.
With such a long list of options available to you, there’s little chance that you’ll run out of places to visit in Poland. But this can make working out the perfect Poland itinerary a challenge; Where do you start? The answer – right here, with this 10-day sample itinerary that takes you around the best of this storied land.
What You’ll Find in This Article
- Best Time to Visit Poland
- How to Get Around Poland
- Accommodation in Poland
- The Perfect 10-Day Poland Itinerary
Best Time to Visit Poland
Like much of Europe, Poland’s busiest months for visitors are generally the summer months of July and August. Gdańsk, for example, gets extremely busy during summer as cruise passengers disembark and fill the city centre. The shoulder season months of May, June and September are likely to be less crowded and offer cheaper options.
The other time to consider following this Poland itinerary is the month leading up to Christmas, as cities like Kraków and Wrocław hold popular Christmas markets.
How to Get Around Poland
As a moderately large country, getting around Poland might seem like a challenge, but that’s not the case. If you get around by rental car, you’ll find roads and infrastructure that rival much of central and western Europe. Plus, you’ll have the freedom to stop at places along the way and make day trips at will. To get the best rate on your rental car, we recommend you check out Rentalcars.com.
However, Poland is also home to a particularly extensive and reliable public transport network. Trains in Poland allow you to conveniently transition from one city to another painlessly as the network crisscrosses the country. Between major cities, like the ones included in this itinerary, there are high-speed InterCity trains that reduce your travel time considerably.
Regional trains are also quite comfortable and offer a cheaper option when necessary. You can find timetables and buy tickets for InterCity and regional trains on Intercity.pl. It’s worth noting that destinations use the Polish spelling, eg. Warszawa for Warsaw.
Alternatively, the country is also connected by a network of buses. Taking the bus generally is a slower option but also usually cheaper, depending on the route and time of day. For instance, a 2.5-hour train ride from Kraków to Warsaw takes 5 hours by bus.
Accommodation in Poland
Accommodation is in great supply for each of these destinations, all the way from high-end hotels to self-catering apartments and hostels. As with high season elsewhere, it’s always best to book in advance to find somewhere you like.
If you’re a budget-minded traveler, you’ll be pleased to hear that hostels are plentiful here in Poland, especially in Warsaw and Kraków. You’re sure to find ones to your liking in nearly every city, whether you want to party or just need somewhere quiet to sleep. For the best hostel prices check our Hostelworld.
But if you don’t feel like searching through millions of listings, no worries. For your convenience, we went ahead and listed our highly recommended accommodation options for each stop on our Poland itinerary.
The Perfect 10-Day Poland Itinerary
This Poland itinerary takes you on a circuit that starts and finishes in the capital of Warsaw. Along the way you’ll take in many of Poland’s most popular cities and sights. Occasionally you’ll have the chance to venture out on day trips to uncover more of what this remarkable country has to offer.
To align longer journeys with certain cities, it helps to travel this particular itinerary circuit counter clockwise. However, it’s not hard to make some minor changes to alter the direction or starting point either, as both Kraków and Gdańsk feature significant airports as well.
While you can plan shorter trips, spending at least 10 days in Poland really allows you to see the depths of the country’s culture, history and cuisine. Even with 10 days, there are vast sections of the country this itinerary doesn’t reach, so don’t be surprised if you quickly start planning a return visit.
However, before we get to itinerary we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you don’t wanna get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
Now with that out of the way, let’s get to this Poland itinerary already!
Day 1: Warsaw
It’s only natural that you start your visit with Poland’s capital, Warsaw. This great big city has a bit of everything really, which can make it a hard place to quickly figure out. It won’t take you long to notice that the city still bears many hallmarks of the country’s socialist past.
A perfect place to start a visit to Warsaw is with the towering Palace of Culture and Science and its observation deck. With sublime views out across the city, it also helps you get your bearings by identifying the city’s landmarks and points of interest.
From the city centre, a walk along Nowy Świat takes you past dozens of historic palaces and elegant buildings. This includes the grand Presidential Palace, the seat of Poland’s president, and numerous stately churches and monuments.
The street leads you up to Warsaw’s Castle Square by the Royal Castle and brings you to the colorful and scenic Old Town. You’re then able to wander through this completely rebuilt old town and its surrounding fortifications, either on your own or with one of the numerous free walking tours that begin at Castle Square. Don’t miss the Old Town Market Square and the Mermaid of Warsaw statue, the symbol of the city.
Day 2: Torun
Welcome to Torun, home to famed astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus! Not particularly well-known by tourists, this medium-sized city features a memorable historic centre by the banks of the Vistula River. There may be many historical Old Towns in Poland, but none are quite like Torun.
Make sure to linger in the Old Town Market Square and take in each of its brilliant brick buildings, from the old post office to the Artus Court. In the centre of it all, the Town Hall hosts an enlightening city museum and its narrow tower provides spectacular city views. Other noteworthy landmarks down the charming medieval streets include the Copernicus House where he was born in 1473, plus a number of churches and cathedrals, each worth a look.
Did you know that Pisa isn’t the only one with a leaning tower? Follow the remains of the town walls south from the Łuk Cezara Gate and soon you’ll come to the Leaning Tower of Torun.
Follow the walls to find other old city gates, not to mention what’s left of the old Teutonic Castle. With a visit to the ruins you get to learn more about the city and how the locals fought to gain independence for themselves.
Maybe take a stroll by the riverfront as the sun begins to set. It’s also worth exploring at night as the historic buildings light up under the street lights. Afterward, return back to the city centre to indulge in some delectable and hearty pierogi – Polish dumplings – at Pierogarnia Stary Torun.
Day 3: Gdańsk
Up by the Baltic coast lies the wonderful city of Gdańsk. Unlike many European destinations, the most interesting part of this city isn’t its oldest district. Instead, visitors flock to the heavily reconstructed city centre that had to be rebuilt after WWII. Still, you’d never know by looking at it.
The perfect place to start any visit to Gdańsk is the picturesque Long Lane that spans the city centre. As you stroll along, the street will present you with scenic landmark after scenic landmark. Both the Golden Gate and Green Gate that bookend the street are pure works of art, as is nearly every house that lines the Long Market.
Wander northward and you’ll be treated to the beautiful Ulica Piwna or Beer Street, perfect for a break *wink wink*, and Ulica Mariacka or Amber Street with its numerous amber jewelers. Between the two you’ll find the Basilica of St. Mary, who’s stunning tower offers unparalleled views of Gdańsk.
It doesn’t hurt to go for a stroll along the city’s canals to admire the Gdansk Crane that has become a city icon. Across the canal you’ll find the modern Amber Sky Wheel, which offers a view without all those stairs.
For dinner, why not delve into everything potato at Pyra Bar, with its range of potato-centric dishes.
Day 4: Gdańsk
Today is a chance to shape your Poland itinerary by what interests you the most. There’s definitely more to see in Gdańsk but northern Poland has plenty of other compelling sights as well. Any of the following would be a welcome addition to your Poland trip, but one of the following may jump out at you more than the others:
- War History of Gdansk: The Free City of Gdańsk has the unfortunate honor of being the first city the Nazi’s seized at the start of World War II. Take a river cruise through Gdańsk to Westerplatte, the coastal site of this tragic moment in history, or visit the Gdańsk WWII Museum.
- Beaches of Sopot and Gdynia: Together with Sopot and Gdynia, Gdańsk is part of what is known as the Three Cities. Its smaller northern neighbors make up for their size with great, wide sandy beaches. Just a quick local train away, you can find yourself sunbathing and swimming on many different beautiful beaches in record time, although the Sopot city beach is probably the most popular choice.
- Malbork Castle: Ever wondered where the largest castle in the world is? Well, Poland is the answer; Malbork to be specific. A colossal Teutonic castle from the 13th century, you’ll be stunned by the sheer scale of the building, not to mention the state of its many halls and chambers.
Day 5: Wrocław
Say farewell to the north with a considerable car or train ride down to the elegant city of Wrocław. Actually pronounced “Vroczwav”, the city’s name is just one of many challenges visitors have with the Polish language. Regardless, Wrocław is home to some beautiful and pleasantly kitsch attractions.
It’s best to not to be too ambitious after the lengthy journey, but thankfully the centre of Wrocław isn’t all that big. Of course, the best place to start is the city’s Market Square that centres on the elaborate, gothic Town Hall.
Make your way south to take in impressive landmarks like the Royal Palace of Wrocław, the Opera House and the Corpus Christi Church. But first, treat yourself for making it through a long day with the sweet goodness of a traditional Polish donut at Stara Pączkarnia.
If you still have some energy left, take a stroll along the southern part of the canal that stretches around the city’s old town like a moat. Otherwise, why not kick up your feet at the laid back Bułka z Masłem pub?
Day 6: Wrocław
Today’s a great day to learn more about this special city and go hunting for dwarfs… let me explain!
A walking tour is a great way to get up to speed on the history of Wrocław and learn more about the sites you visited the day before. The tour will also take you through other pockets of the city centre, like the grand old buildings of the city’s university and the local delights of the Fair Market.
Beyond the town centre, you should make your way across the Oder River to Ostrow Tumski and its wealth of churches and cathedrals. If you have a spare padlock and a romantic soul, why not leave it on Most Tumski with the thousands of other trinkets?
Now… the dwarfs. While walking around the city, you may have noticed small bronze gnomes here and there. Your tour guide will have hopefully explained the story behind these “dwarfs”or krasnal and how they’ve become a symbol of the city. There are over 300 unique ones out there, how many can you find?
Day 7: Kraków
And finally, we reach the darling of Poland, the exquisite city of Kraków. It’s rare to hear a bad thing said about this delightful, historic city. Unscathed physically through WWII, Kraków is an authentic, yet often troubled slice of history.
A true highlight of Kraków is the city’s Main Square that lies at the heart of the wonderfully preserved Old Town. Here you’re introduced to some of the city’s most superb icons, such as the grand Cloth Hall and uneven St Mary’s Basilica with its hourly trumpet call. There’s even an underground museum beneath the Main Square for those who aren’t claustrophobic.
Wandering the Old Town on foot, find your way to St. Florian’s Gate and the Kraków Barbican, the remains of the city’s walls. Cross the Old Town via the Grodzka pedestrian street or the park that encircles the historic centre to reach the mighty Wawel Castle, a true beauty.
Dig into a hearty Polish meal at the traditional Pod Wawelem Kompania Kuflowa opposite Wawel Castle or head to the Jewish quarter of Kazimierz. You won’t have trouble finding places to drink and party either.
Day 8: Kraków
There are two ways you can approach this second day in Kraków: you can either dedicate another day to exploring Kraków or choose to do a day trip. This will really depend on what you want to do the next day, but options can be:
- Auschwitz Birkenau: The infamous Nazi death camp, a tour to Auschwitz is one of the most frequent trips made by people visiting Kraków. Detailing the heartbreaking history and tales from this place, this trip may not be for everybody, as it can be an emotionally taxing experience. To get the most out of our visit, consider booking a tour from Krakow.
- Jewish History of Krakow: It’s also possible to learn about actions undertaken within Kraków against Jewish victims. Besides walking tours, there’s the chance to tour Oskar Schindler’s Factory (of Schindler’s List fame). The haunting memorial in Ghetto Heroes Square is not to be missed.
- Ghost Stories Tour: Either way you choose to spend your day, why not change things up with something a little spooky? Most nights of the week you can take a walking tour that takes you into Kraków’s macabre side. Wait for ghosts to appear and learn about local urban legends. A fun scare to shake off the heavier moments of the day.
Day 9: Kraków
One of the aspects of Kraków that make it such a mainstay on most Poland itineraries is the various options for day trips from the city. As mentioned above, you could visit Auschwitz Birkenau today, but other Kraków day trips include:
- Wieliczka Salt Mine: Ticking multiple boxes at once, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a UNESCO listed, historic, underground salt mine. After descending into the mine, you’re able to explore numerous caverns and even visit an elegant underground chapel. Some tours actually combine a tour of the salt mine with a visit to Auschwitz Birkenau, like this one for example. However, you can also book a tour of just the salt mine.
- Zakopane: At the foot of the Tatra Mountains that border Slovakia, Zakopane is a retreat perfect for outdoor activities. While visiting in the winter will mean skiing and snowboarding, a trip in the summer leads to mountain hikes. Either way, you can expect some amazing views after taking the cable car up Gubałówka mountain to overlook the town below.
Day 10: Warsaw
Return to the nation’s capital and your starting point for one final day in Warsaw. Although you may have seen some of this vast city, there’s plenty more to explore.
For instance, you can learn more about the city’s tragic Jewish history at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews or with a walking tour that leads you through the city’s WWII ghetto. That is, of course, if you’re not too emotionally drained after visiting Auschwitz Birkenau.
A lighter option is to venture to the far bank of the Vistula River and explore the alternative Praga neighborhood. This bohemian district almost feels like a different city, which it actually was for a long time. It’s said that many locals still treat it that way.
For a slice of serenity and scenery, consider taking a tram down to Łazienki Park. This huge park is great for a romantic picnic or casual stroll, and Łazienki Palace is quite the stunning spot. Here, it certainly feels like you’ve left Warsaw behind.
Naturally, there are plenty of places you could include to extend this 10-day itinerary. It’s certainly possible to further break up this route with other stops or detours, given how easy it is to get around Poland. Other great cities you could look to add to your itinerary include:
- Poznań: For those not yet tired of ornate old towns, the city of Poznań, near the country’s centre, should be next on your list. Don’t miss the mechanical goats that perform daily at noon on the city’s marvelous Town Hall, or the remodeled castle that locals say looks like it’s from The Smurfs.
- Katowice: Not every city in Poland is necessarily a historic gem, and Katowice is proof of that. Once an industrial city, the city has undergone quite a transformation creating an interesting mesh of modern and urban grittiness. You’re bound to find a different, more modern side to the country in this up-and-coming destination.
- Szczecin: Off in the country’s west, not far from Berlin, lies the mouthful that is Szczecin. With a scenic riverfront embankment, the city is also known for its grand old Ducal Castle and ultramodern Philharmonic Hall.
And well, that pretty much sums up what you can see in Poland in 10 days. I hope it has become clear that there are many more cities, sights and regions to explore throughout Poland. In fact, you could happily spend even longer in each stop listed in this itinerary. After all, this is your trip and this itinerary is just a guide.
Happy trails as you go explore Poland, you won’t regret it!