Poland is a beautiful country known for its diverse landscape with flatlands to the west and mountains to the east and south. Many travelers visit Poland for the excitement that cities such as Krakow bring as well as the unspoiled beauty that can be found in the quieter areas of the country such as the Bieszczady mountains.
Just about anyone will find something to do in Poland whether it's fishing and yachting in the Masurian Lake District or hiking and camping in the primeval Białowieża Forest. Skiers will find much enjoyment in the alpine-like landscape of the Tatra mountains and in the surrounding resort towns. Poland has a rich cultural heritage and the people here are friendly and full of pride for their country. Poles are very welcoming to tourists which can make for a fun and educational vacation.
Kraków, commonly spelled as Krakow or Cracow, is Poland's third largest city and is the cultural hub of the country. The city is full of rich history and cultural heritage as it dates back to the 7th century. As well as having a beautiful location in southern Poland at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, Kraków is situated on the banks of the Wisła (Vistula) River.
Tourists come to Kraków to visit the Stare Miasto (the Old Town) which is the historical center of the city. The Stare Miasto is home to Wawel Castle, Rynek Główny (the beautiful main square in the old town), and an abundance of breathtaking churches and cathedrals. Kazimierz is a famous Jewish quarter in Kraków and attracts a large number of tourists who come to see the beautiful squares and synagogues.
There are several museums in Kraków that are worth visiting including Czartoryski Museum, Armia Krajowa Museum, Galicja Jewish Museum, and the Archaeological Museum. Anyone visiting Kraków must walk around the Planty which is a large park that entirely surrounds the old town as it is a breathtaking experience.
The Bieszczady Mountains
The Bieszczady Mountains are located at the southernmost tip of Poland. While the term "Bieszczady" is technically used to describe the entirety of the mountain range, many people only call the part of the range located in Poland by the name of Bieszczady while the part of the range that is located in Ukraine is called the Bukovec Mountains. While dense forest surrounds the mountains here, the area is known for grassy, treeless mountaintops.
The Bieszczadzki National Park is located here and contains over 200 plant and animal species that are unique to the region. Bieszczady is the perfect place for anyone who wants to see the unspoiled beauty of the mountains, valleys, and rivers in the region. A handful of small villages dot the Bieszczady Mountains offering accommodations for those visiting the area. Many of these villages offer sights of their own with beautiful monasteries and great views of the surrounding mountains. Those who enjoy hiking, nature, unspoiled wilderness or skiing are sure to find something they love in the Bieszczady mountains.
The Białowieża Forest, which dates back to the end of the last ice age, is the last remaining section of a forest that once covered most of Europe. Many rare species of plants and animals live freely here including the wisent (European Bison) which can now only be found in this region.
This forest is highly protected because of the rare species of plant and animal life, but there are still many tours that do run through the area. These tours allow people to view the unspoiled wilderness in the area. However, the innermost area of the forest is closed to the public in order to preserve it. Only small groups with guides and scientists are allowed in this section of the forest. The village of Białowieża lies in the forest providing tourists with food and lodging as well as Palace Park which is an area that allows tourists beautiful views of the surrounding forest.
The Tatra Mountains (or Tatry in Polish) are the highest part of the Carpathian mountain range, making it a popular tourist destination in Poland. This mountain range creates a natural border between Slovakia and Poland which make it a great place to visit for those who plan on traveling between the two countries. These mountains are smaller than the Alps, but the landscape here has a very Alpine feel to it.
This area is very popular among those who ski or snowboard as the mountains here are perfect for winter sports. There are several resorts in the area that cater to those who partake in these activities. Many of the towns that are nestled in the Tatra mountains such as Zakopane, which alone receives 3 million tourists annually, are famous for alpine skiing.
Tourists not only visit the area to ski or snowboard but to view the wildlife here as the Tatra mountains are known for housing several endemic species of plants and animals including the Tatra chamois and the caddisfly. There are several eco-tours that run through the area. These offer spectacular views of not only the mountain peaks but of much of the flora and fauna located here.
Masurian Lake District
The Masurian Lake District is an area located in Northeastern Poland that is known for having over 2000 lakes. Many of the lakes are connected by rivers and canals which create a massive waterway. There are so many lakes in the area, that 15% of the area is comprised of lakes, rivers, and waterways. The Masurian Lakes District is a prime place for those who enjoy water sports such as yachting, canoeing, and anglers.
These freshwater lakes are also a popular area for hiking and camping as there are a large number of nature trails in the area. The area is also teeming with plant and animal life which make is the perfect spot for anyone interested in eco-tours. In fact, the Białowieża Forest is actually located in the Masurian Lake District which is another reason that many tourists visit the area.
The beautiful scenery and the abundance of activities make this a popular destination for many Europeans. The town of Mikołajki is located in the heart of the Masurian Lake District. This beautiful town is a top tourist destination for those visiting the lakes of the area. Mikołajki contains many hotels and restaurants which make it the perfect place to stay after a day of fun out on the lakes.
© 2010 Melanie Palen
Laura on March 20, 2017:
You should visit Szczecin. I think that you'll fall in love with this city :) There is for example beautiful Pomeranian Dukes' Castle. Also many cultural events take place in Szczecin. If you are wondering where to stay, four-star Dana Hotel will be a good choice.
Monica on January 11, 2016:
Out of Polish cities Wroclaw impressed me the most. I‘ve been there this holidays. A very nice city, I visited it with Wratislavia Tour company, the tour guide talked about the city in a very interesting way. Once I will readily visit Wroclaw again!
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 04, 2016:
I was last in Poland a long time ago when it just opened its doors so I am sure there are more places now that have been developed. Time for another visit.
ytyt on December 17, 2012:
i went to poland this year
AudraLeigh on November 26, 2012:
It is nice to lean a little more about a country I have never been too...thank you!
Monisajda from my heart on March 16, 2011:
Thanks for describing my favorite places in Poland. Bieszczady will stay forever a part of my heart, I hiked there as a teenager and can't forget its raw beauty. Krakow is a mystical and magical place, too. Bialowieza is a birthplace of my mother so I have another sentimental connection there. Mazury was one of my favorite vacation spots as well. Have you been to Poland?
Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on January 24, 2011:
Oh I know, there are so many beautiful places in Poland. Thank you for your comments!
CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on January 08, 2011:
Hi - i so want to visit the tatra mountains- just need to convince the family
Andrea on November 16, 2010:
A beautiful site.
Loren's Gem from Istanbul, Turkey on June 16, 2010:
Wonderful country... and a well written hub! Thumbs up and voting it up! :-)
Hello, hello, from London, UK on June 11, 2010:
Here I am and this is a wonderfully written hub about a truly beautiful country. Thank you for pointing it out to me.