Rich history, vibrant culture await visitors to Poland

Stunning architecture, rich and haunting history, picturesque cities, lovely seaside beaches, breathtaking mountain ranges, birthplace of vodka, all those phrases and more describe Poland.  If pierogis and Poland are in your travel plans, GetAway Travel is happy to plan your adventure. 

Speaking of Pierogis…

 Warsaw: a thriving capital city 

 With 1,000 years of history behind it, Warsaw boast unique architecture, culture and museums. 

Warsaw was the last residence of Polish royalty and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural significance. 

Warsaw Royal Castle and Old Town

The scars and legacy of World War II are visible around the city. 

A 15-or so minute walk from the city’s Old Town to the Monument of Ghetto Heroes at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto. It is near the Warsaw Rising Museum which offers a fascinating personal glimpse into the Polish underground that took a stand against the Nazis as they sought to destroy the ghetto where they had herded the Jewish population. 

Rappaport memorial to Jewish uprising in Warsaw ghetto during World War II

It is not the same as the POLIN Museum which is about the same distance in a different direction from Old Town. The POLIN Museum covers the broader aspects of the history of Polish Jews through exhibits and collections.  

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Krakowskie Przedmieście is the mile-long avenue that links Old Town and the Royal Castle. Along the avenue is some lovely Baroque churches, Warsaw University and the Copernicus Science Centre. The famous scientist and mathematician was born in Poland and he formulated the theory that the earth revolved around the sun. In the middle of the centre is a planetarium devoted to space and how it impacts our lives. 

Christmas Decorations on Krakowskie Przedmieście

The Royal Castle was the official residence of Polish rulers for centuries. It dates back to the 14th century. It’s a pretty spectacular building with a tower in the center and it has served as a design inspiration for other buildings in Warsaw. 

The Royal Castle and Sigismund’s Column – called the Kolumna Zygmunta

Wilanow Pałace is one of Poland’s most important monuments. Originally built as a residence for King John III Sobieski, it “survived” WWII because its furnishings and art were removed and then reinstalled after the war. It now functions as a museum which showcases the country’s artistic and royal heritage. 

Wilanow Palace

 The National Museum in Warsaw has seven permanent galleries with a great collection of works from European artists including Botticelli, Tintoretto, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. The galleries have artifacts from ancient civilizations as well, including from Egypt. 

Yes, the Vodka Museum in Warsaw which chronicles the history of the beverage DOES have tastings at the end of the tour! 

Traditional Polish appetizer – Pickled herring, cucumber and vodka shots

 Picturesque, quaint Krakow 

 In medieval times Krakow was the national capital, now it is second to Warsaw. But it has one of the first Old Towns in the world to be honored by being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Krakow is a fabulous blend of architectural styles, from Gothic churches to Renaissance palaces to Baroque style buildings. 

Krakow, Poland

Just outside of Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a UNESCO site because it’s the only mining facility that has operated continuously for 700 years. There are 2,350 chambers and almost 150 underground miles of tunnels. The two miles open to the public have statues, chandeliers, chapels, floors and artwork carved or entirely made of salt. The grand chapel is dedicated to Princess Kuga whom miners believed brought them good fortune. The chapel is still used for weddings and concerts. 

Wieliczka Salt Mine – a must see!

Another UNESCO site near Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the Nazi death camps. A stop there is thought-provoking, somber and emotional. The camps are a heart-wrenching piece of history. Schindler’s factory is open to the public. Oskar Schindler is credited with saving more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories. His main factory is now a fascinating interactive museum which chronicles the history of the city from 1939 to 1945. 

View of gatehouse and train tracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Holocaust Memorial.

Perched on a hill overlooking Krakow is Wawel Castle, a marvel of Gothic architecture. It is culturally and historically important because it was the residence of the country’s kings for centuries and is a symbol of Polish statehood. Now an art museum, the castle is a treasure trove of paintings, prints, sculptures, textiles, goldsmith work and arms. You can tour the private apartments of the royals. 

 Gdansk: A beautiful city by the sea 

 Located on the Baltic Sea for hundreds of years, Gdansk had a bit of an identity issues because it bounced back and forth from German to Polish rule. Near the end of WWII, a barrage of air raids damaged much of the city and it was rebuilt in the 50s and 60s with architects leaning away from heavy Germanic architecture to an architectural style that reflected Dutch and French influences. It truly is a lovely city. 

Gdansk, Poland, Royal Way


Take a 10-minute stroll down Dlugi Targ, also known as the Long Market or Royal Way. At the West end is the Golden Gate, a triumphal arch with allegorical statues of Peace, Freedom, Wealth, Fame and Piety. Neptune’s Fountain is another popular landmark of Long Market. The spectacular buildings around the fountain make it a great photo stop. Make another stop or two or three, down Mariacka Street. Amber, known as Baltic gold, is plentiful in the Gdansk area and the shops on Mariacka Street sell fabulous amber jewelry from simple to ornate settings. 

Gdansk river front at night

At the waterfront is the National Maritime Museum including a 15th century crane that loaded and unloaded cargo powered by people walking a treadmill. The waterfront is also where the union movement, Solidarity, was born in the 80s. The European Solidarity Centre is a museum and library devoted to the history of Solidarity. 

Gdansk waterfront

A short train ride from Gdansk takes you to Malbork, a UNESCO World Heritage site because the Castle of the Teutonic Order is there. By land mass it is the largest castle in the world and was once home to the Catholic Order of Crusaders. It is the most complete and elaborate castle complex built in the unique style favored by the Teutonic Order.  

Malbork, Poland

 The fabulous food that attracts foodies to Poland as well as the Vodka Museum and streets devoted entirely to establishments that serve craft beer are adventures to be told in future blogs. If you are a fan of great food, culture, fabulous architecture and castle visits, then GetAway Travel can plan your adventure. We can be reached at: (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

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