We only got to spend 2 days in Krakow but would have happily spend an extra 1 or 2 days there. The city center is charming and great to walk around and there are several other neighborhood to explore in Krakow. As a day trip make sure to go to Auschwitz concentration camp (you can book a tour through your hostel or just take the local bus which is what we did). Though this is a painful site to visit it is important to learn about this horrific historical event.
I was sick for a couple days when we got to Warsaw so we didn’t get to do too much sightseeing but did enjoy our stay in the city. We loved the old city center and the Uprising Museum, which you could spend hours in. If you’re visiting in the summer try to come on a Sunday when you can enjoy a free concert in Lazienski Park.
Torun 1 day
Torun is a beautiful medieval city on the Vistula River. It was able to escape bombing during World War II and so the gothic architecture has remained intact. This is also the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and you can explore the house where he was born.
Gdansk is located on the Baltic Sea and has had a turbulent past. This is the city that ignited the start of World War II and was unfortunately mostly destroyed. Though reconstructed the city still remains beautiful with an incredible museum – The Roads to Freedom exhibit which describes life under Communist rule in Poland and the Solidarnost movement which brought democracy to Poland. A must visit.
Gdynia is a city right on the Baltic Sea. While there aren’t a ton of attractions here there is a nice beach where you can just relax and enjoy the warm summer weather. From here you can go on a day trip to Sopot – another nice beach city, which a small city center and lots of nightlife options.
We were in Leba to visit Slowinski National Park and see the sand dunes. The dunes are a 10 km ride outside of Leba – perfect to do via bike. Just past the dunes in a small beach where you can relax and go for a swim. A nice place to spend 1 day.
Would we do it the same way?
We liked every place we visited in Poland and were happy we went there. We would have liked to visit some of the mountains and done a bit of hiking but it didn’t work with our schedule. Overall there is a lot you can do in Poland so just plan your visit based on the activities you are interested in.
Poland was the first Eastern European country that we explored. We weren’t quite sure what to expect. We had just been spoiled by the beauty of Western Europe for two months and weren’t sure that Eastern Europe could compete. Well guess what? It certainly can. Poland was a great country to travel through. The locals are super friendly (knowing a bit of Russian helps!), the food is good, the cities are beautiful and there are many different things to see and do. From fascinating museums, to beaches, sand dunes and mountains Poland seems to have a little bit of everything. We definitely consider this country highly underrated, and would have loved to have more time to explore some of the other regions. On top of all that, Poland is a fairly cheap country to travel through – we spent almost the same amount per day as we did in South East Asia – a nice surprise for a European country!
Bests And Worsts
We loved the Polish pierogi. These are little dumplings (with various fillings) that are boiled and then sometimes served with a shallots/onions fried in butter. A good place for the pierogi was Pierogarnia U Dzika – a restaurant in Gdansk. A simple yet hearty meal. Other Polish favorites include Zurek, a sour rye soup – hard to explain the taste but definitely a winner. Try the soup in one of the milk bars — cafeteria like settings.
As in other countries one of our best experiences was through couchsurfing. We stayed with a family in Torun, Anna, Chris and their baby and had a great time with them where they took us on a tour of the city and we enjoyed the best ice cream in Poland together. In Gdynia we stayed with Oscar who showed us around Gdynia, Sopot and then arranged for a barbecue for us on top of a cliff overlooking the beach. We had a great time with both hosts, sharing laughs and stories.
We took a few local buses and trams around town. Make sure to buy your ticket from the driver or from small kiosks in the city. Some bus/tram stops have machines where you can buy tickets.
We took a couple trains in Poland and just bought our tickets at the train station.
We did not take any cabs in Poland.
Long Distance Buses
We took a couple long distance buses and we just bought tickets at the bus station.
We were able to get a few student discounts at museums so make sure to carry the student id with you!
We don’t remember having problems with finding bathrooms.
We felt very safe in Poland.
Food and Restaurants
Plenty of good food options in Poland. Food was not very expensive so we ate out plenty of times and had lots of good meals. For a cheap meal option you will find milk bars – more like cafeteria type food establishments where for a set price you can get a main dish, soup, salad, side, etc.
Credit Cards And Money
We were able to use our credit cards sometimes, though we have cards without the chip so this gave us trouble sometimes.
Internet is widely available.
Accommodations ( 3.9 Polish = ~1 USD)
We stayed in a mix of hostels, apartments and couchsurfer. A good mix.
Krakow– Momo Town Hostel, $18 per person for a 4 bed dorm with shared bathroom, nice hostel good vibe, various activities on different days
Warsaw – rented an apartment $35 a night for small studio with kitchen and loft bedroom, wifi, nice place
Torun – we couchsurfed
Gdansk – Baltic Downtown Hostel – walking distance to city center, basic double room, shared bathroom, $20 for a double room (simple but fine place to stay)
Gdynia – We rented an apt and couchsurfed for a night $40 for 1 bedroom apartment walking distance to beach (wifi, tv, kitchen) (decent apartment)
Leba – Dom Atalia like a bed and breakfast with kitchen facilities, wifi, double room for $50 a night (seemed a bit overpriced but was a fine place to stay)
We had no problem finding couchsurfers in the places we were interested in finding them.
Cost Break Down
We kept track of every cost we had down to the purchase level and categorized it into 5 groupings:
Entertainment – Mostly sightseeing.
Food and Water – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks (little things we bought in the middle of the day, chips, ice cream, etc).
Gifts – For couchsurfers, usually a bottle of wine or some chocolates, sometimes treated to dinner.
Transportation – all forms but not including any flights in and out of the country.
Utilities – Things like lockers for bags, pay phones, small purchases like detergent.
Accommodation – All hotel/hostel/guesthouse stays
Car – gas, tolls,
So where did we end up?$35 per person, per day.
Would we go back to Poland? YES
We were pleasantly surprised with Poland. We saw many quaint cities and several stellar museums and sites. We were impressed. We weren’t sure what to expect but did not think we would meet so many friendly people and see such interesting places. People would literally walk up to us if we were standing with a map just to help us out and point us in the right direction.
If you enjoyed this article, join others and get free email updates!