By Meryl Hanmer
Each year, more and more visitors are drawn to the great Polish cities, including Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk. Each city offers its own take on the country’s turbulent journey through the ages. Having said that, Poland is not short of natural attractions, from the Masurian lake district in the north-east, to the Tatra mountains in the south, each as equally enticing as the vibrant cities. Poland is as historically and architecturally captivating as it is surprising, with its wild forests and imaginative cuisine.
The vibrant and modern capital of Poland is bustling with street musicians, fine restaurants and world-famous museums such as the Warsaw Uprising museum and the national museum. Whilst in Warsaw, a walk along the Trakt Krolwski (the royal route) will provide the splendid views of five connecting streets that boast the most significant buildings of the city.
Spared the worst of the Second World War destructions, Krakow is without a doubt Poland’s cultural jewel. With picturesque sites such as the old market square and Wawel castle, Krakow looks like it has been directly lifted from a fairy-tale book. Located around 75km from Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum, which is by no means a pleasant visit but does offer a window into the Holocaust horrors that are scarcely imaginable today.
Situated on the Baltic coast, Gdansk is a city that, each year, grows in popularity among tourists. Despite being known for the shipyards and docks, the city also claims home to the magnificent amber trade of Poland. From the charming churches to the colourful and ornately decorated mansions that adorn the streets, Gdansk is definitely a Polish city on the rise.
A small town with tumbling rivers and adventure-inviting mountains that in the summer, are dressed with luscious vegetation, and in the winter, are enveloped in thick white snow. Boasting authentic cuisine and a truly ‘Polish’ experience, Zakopane ranks top of my list of must see destinations in Poland.
A note on Polish cuisine
Contrasting greatly to Western cuisine, Polish food is demanding in preparation and has a definite hearty flare. A typical Polish dish will combine the rich flavours of meats such as pork or beef with simple vegetables such as cabbage or potato. Pierogi, which is a filled and delicate dumpling, features as one of the most popular and tasty of all national dishes.