Poland is a country full of rich history and detailed architecture. Something will catch your eye around every corner. While there are many cities in Poland worth seeing, we visited two in 4 days time.
How did we do this? We began our journey by flying into Warsaw. We spent two days here and on the morning of the third, we took the high speed (ICC) train to Krakow. The train ride was a little over 2 hours. We flew home from Krakow on the evening of the fourth day.
TIP: Book your train ticket the day before. Head to the train station and use one of the machines to check the times the train is running on the day you want to leave. There are obviously many different times you can leave, however at specific times the train will make many stops or only a few stops. Our train only made two stops which is why our ride was only 2 hours long. Don’t just look at the time you want to depart, look at arrival time as well!
What to do & see –
Barbican and City Walls – Nowomiejska 15/17, 00-001 Warszawa, Poland
This barbican might look like a castle but it was actually built as a defense mechanism back in 1540. It was meant to protect the city from attack but was destroyed during WWII. It was then rebuilt in 1952 and is now a popular tourist attraction. Here you can walk along the walls which line the city or step inside and explore the multiple shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to spend time reminiscing on the history of Warsaw.
Tara’s Widokowy Tower/Castle Square – Krakowskie Przedmieście 68, 00-322 Warszawa, Poland
Widokowy Tower is located in Castle Square and is an open air observation deck where you can experience views like the one pictured. There is a small entrance fee and you have to climb about 150 stairs to reach the top. But once you get there, the views are stunning. It is recommended that you head up a few hours before sunset so that the square is not fully shaded yet. This way you’ll be able to get pictures and experience the full color of each building. Before you go up or after you come down, spend some time walking around the square and explore the shops and restaurants. A few we loved are mentioned below.
Old Town Market Square – Rynek Starego Miasta, 00-001 Warszawa, Poland
This square is another popular tourist attraction since it holds so much history. This square was also destroyed during WWII and rebuilt after. There is a famous mermaid statue that many people take pictures with. The legend of the mermaid is special to Warsaw and her statue stands as a protector of the city and its citizens. Here there are some great souvenir shops and some fun cafes you can relax in while taking in views of the square.
Nowy Swiat Street – 00-001 Warszawa Poland
This street is full of fun shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re looking to spend an afternoon or morning relaxing, take a stroll down this street and see what catches your eye. There is mostly only bike traffic in the street making it a peaceful place to have a bite while enjoying the fresh air.
What to eat –
Gosciniec -Krakowskie Przedmieście 29, 00-071 Warszawa, Poland
There are actually a few different locations of this amazing restaurant throughout Warsaw so I would recommend doing a Google search since there might be one closer to you depending on where you are at the time. Literally, the most amazing Pierogis in Warsaw! And if you do a Google search for ‘best pierogis in Warsaw’ this restaurant will be #1! I mean just look at them! Is your mouth watering? Mine is! This was our first pierogi experience and boy where we satisfied. If you aren’t familiar with pierogis, they are a Polish delicacy and are essentially dumplings filled with something savory (like meat or cheese) or sweet then boiled or fried. So simple, yet so delicious! This place is very traditional so I highly recommend it as one of your first places to eat in Poland. And obviously, order the pierogis!
Bulke Przez Bibulke – Zgoda 3, 00-018 Warszawa, Poland
If you’re looking for a breakfast or brunch spot, make this your place! With chic interior and delicious food, you can’t go wrong. I ordered the pancake breakfast and my husband ordered the bacon and egg bagel sandwich. We also had juices and iced coffees (not pictured but definitely recommended). They have great hours and are open as early as 7:30am on every day except for Saturday and Sunday when they open at 9am. They close at 11pm everyday too making it a go-to spot for lunch or dinner as well.
Karmnik – Piwna 4 a, 00-265 Warszawa, Poland
Are those MORE pierogis?! Yup! We literally ate pierogis every day while in Poland, and you should too! There are so many different varieties of them and every restaurant makes them a little differently. Try as many as you can and see which ones you like best! There is also a traditional meat stew that you can find at a lot of different restaurants that will have potatoes or even pierogis in it. If you’re visiting Poland in the winter, I can imagine this soup would warm you right up! Restaurant Karmnik is the perfect spot for lunch or dinner and located off of the main square in Old Town. Check it out!
Where to stay – Since a majority of the shops and restaurants are located here, I recommend you stay as close to Old Town as possible. While it could be on the noisy side if you stayed inside Old Town, staying within walking distance is preferable. We stayed at the Hampton by Hilton Warsaw City Center. This hotel was not very close to Old Town (20 min. walk) but I booked it because it was one of the only options for me to earn my Hilton points and it was actually a very nice and affordable hotel. If you’re interested in checking it out, here is the website. However, there are other options for you if your hotel is farther than you’d like to walk, like ours was (see below).
Getting around – Poland is one of the most inexpensive countries in the EU. With a conversion rate of 1 Poland Zloty being equal to around .26 US cents or .23 euro, hotels, food, and transportation are all relatively cheap.
There are many different modes of transportation in the city as well. While we were there we mostly took Uber. From our hotel to Old Town the ride was about $2.50 one way! There is also the underground which I recommend if you’re going to visit a neighboring city or even Auschwitz. They also have Lime Scooters which we had so much fun on! These electric scooters work by downloading the Lime app onto your phone. When you want to ride the bike you simply scan the QR code from the scooter into the app and away you go! Lime costs $1 to activate then .25 cents per minute you ride the bike. There is also a similar option called Bird which I hear is a little cheaper at .15 cents per minute. There are scooters everywhere in the city making it easy to ride one from your hotel to breakfast then take an Uber to somewhere further if you wish. Due to all of their modes of transport, I don’t feel there’s a need to rent a car while traveling around Poland.
What to do & see –
Wawel Castle – Wawel 5, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
A true castle designed for a King, Wawel Castle consists of multiple structures and sits amongst a vast Italian-style courtyard. During opening hours (9a-5p T-F, 10a-5p S-S, closed Mondays) you can enter the castle grounds for no entrance fee and walk around at your leisure. There are some restaurants and shops for you to enjoy on the grounds. For a small fee you can pay to enter the castle which has a small church, crypts and a viewing deck. In my opinion, the view from the grounds is much more spectacular than the inside. But I’ll leave that for you to decide!
Check out my instagram to learn a cool photo tip for shooting at Wawel Castle!
St. Mary’s Basilica – Plac Mariacki 5, 31-042 Kraków, Poland
This 263 ft. high gothic style church is the first thing that will catch your eye when you walk into the Main Market Square in Krakow. It was built in the 14th century and much of its original architecture is still in tact today. If you think the outside is impressive, you should definitely take a look inside! I don’t have any pictures for you since pictures are forbidden but you can find some on Google if you are interested in a preview. To check this church out for yourself, visiting hours are everyday between 11:30am and 6pm (with the exception of special holidays).
Main Market Square – Rynek Glowney
This square is one of the largest in Europe. Here you will find St. Mary’s Basilica and various places to shop and eat. There is a long hallway full of Medieval type souvenir shops that’s fun to walk through and look at all of the hand crafts. Here is a good place to purchase something authentically Polish if you wish to do so.
What to eat –
Bistro Bene – Świętego Krzyża 17, 31-023 Kraków, Poland
Open from 8am-11pm daily, this restaurant is a bit of a walk from the main square but so deliciously worth it. There is a beautiful outdoor garden to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or dinner in and the ambiance inside is worth a visit as well. They have a full list of mouthwatering coffees, teas and juices as well as a diverse menu offering a little something for everyone. I ordered the Bene breakfast which came with tzatziki, salad, eggs, bread, bacon spread, jam, and a chocolate muffin. Yum!!
Krakowiacy Pierogarnia – Szewska 23, 33-332 Kraków, Poland
Yes! More pierogis! Located near the Main Square, this restaurant is a great place for a quick bite. It’s an order yourself then take your seat type of restaurant but although it’s more casual it’s still very traditional with amazing food and a great menu. Definitely check it out while in Krakow!
Lody Ice Cream
With multiple (and I mean MANY) locations throughout Warsaw and Krakow, this is the most popular ice cream chain in Poland. You will see the name ‘Lody’ in shop windows while you walk around. They have many different flavors and it is very similar to Italian style gelato in my opinion, flavorful and creamy. Unfortunately I was too excited when I got mine to take a picture but trust me, it’s worth the try!
Where to stay – You’ll want to stay close to the Main Market Square while visiting Krakow. There are many hotels or Airbnbs near here and a majority of them are pretty affordable. Our hotel was not super great so I won’t share it with you but it was a 5 minute walk to the square so that was nice!
Tip: If you are visiting Krakow in the summer months, make sure your hotel has air conditioning! A majority of the hotels here do not have AC, only heat so make sure under ‘accommodations’ on the hotel website it lists “air conditioning”.
Like what you see? Have a question? Drop a comment below! Xoxo, Megan