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10 Things You Need to Do in North Eastern Poland

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Foreign tourists usually neglect places located outside of main Polish cities. Big mistake. Here’s 10 reasons why your trip to North Eastern Poland will be simply unforgettable. This is our picks on what to do in North Eastern Poland – the lands stretching from Mazury to Bialowieza.

Kayaking on Czarna Hancza

Check the weather forecast and if there are no clouds on the sky, jump in a bus that wll take you straight to Augustów. It is a capital of Wigierski National Park. The town is located between the waters of three lakes and is a great starting point for kayaking trips or any other lakeside activity.

The waters of Czarna Hancza are crystal clear and shallow. The banks of the river are full of tiny quayas marking the pit stops on which you can take a rest, eat some pierogis with blue berries or potato pancakes and even order a cold ale.

You can go on a one day trip or decide for a few day travel through the forests of Eastern Poland. Sleeping can be arranged in numerous camping sites or guesthouses along the river.

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Forest Trekking in Białowieza

Białowieża National Park is one of the oldest and wildest natural reserves in Europe. Walking around few hundred years old trees is something that will please any nature lover.

You can do trekking by yourself or hire a guide who will take you to the most remote parts. And in early autumn you can try to experience rykowisko – the sounds of dozens of deers calling their mates heard in the middle of the night may really freak you out!

Beside that Bialowieza is naturally home of Polish bison. If you are lucky you may see it in the wild. There is also an option of seeing them in the Polish Bison Reserve.

Stay at the folk town of Białowieskie Sioło or rent some cheap room in Białowieża.

bialowieza polish bison what to do in eastern poland

Baloon flight over Biebrza river

Biebrza National Park is anything but crowded. Create to please nature lovers and misfcome its of the world, it will be perfect if you are running away from big city crowds.

Biebrza river is surrounded by the forests, meadows and swamps. What sounds not really appealing is actually a stunning kingdom of mooses bisons wolves and most of all birds. Hundreds of ornitologist come here every year in the spring to observe their gatherings.

If you are not a big fan of bird watching, jump on the deck of a balloon and see the valley from the sky. If you are lucky, you will be able to look down at an elk or two!

Poland tourist attraction what to do in north eastern poland biebrza baloon

Tasting sękacz

Are there any foodies on board? Sweets lovers? Cakes addicts? Sękacz is a traditional Polish – Lithuanian cake made with butter, egg whites and yolks, flour, sugar, and cream, cooked on a rotating spit in an oven or over an open fire.

Sękacz means brunchy. You might have seen it in the bakeries of Warsaw and Cracow, but there it is sold in tiny portions, that costs like 4 euro for a small piece. Which is just a fraction of the whole cake which you will get for the same price in North East.

Real sękacz is usually made in a pretty big sizes. Of course, it taste best when it is freshly baked. However, you can leave it for months in your kitchen and it will still taste great.

Sailing in Mazury

Mazury is a land of thousand lakes and since at least 50 years it is a most visited place in North Eastern Poland. Lakes connected by the system of canals it is a sailing paradise. You will find there all the sailors of Poland, including these inexperiences adventure seekers who go there for their first sailing experience with friends.

The attractions include sleeping in the wild and living like a pirate. Sailing is considered a perfect long weekend activity. The season in Mazury lasts from June and July and it is when it is the most crowded (plus two long weekend in May and June)

Sailing in Mazury what to do in north eastern poland

Walk on the bridges of Stanczyki

Ten years ago this paragraph might be called „Bungee jumping from Stanczyki”. The old bridges at Stanczyki used to be the first place in Poland where you could try this extreme sport. However since few years it is considered no longer safe.

Still, the pictoresque architecture of the bridges can be fully appreciated even without hanging on a rubber line.

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where to go in Poland bridges in Stanczyki suwalszyczna eastern poland

Sweating in sauna in Suwalszczyzna

Suwalszczyzna is one of the least visited places in Poland. And we cannot make up our mind around it. Yes it is remote and one of the coldest places in the country. But being cold is not a reason to not give it a try. Especialy since locals there have their ways to warm up.

Just like all the people of the North, locals in Suwałki practise a grand tradition of sauna, which here is usually called bania. You can easily book one with a lake view. 10 minutes in 80 degrees and a minute to cool off in the lake. What not to like?

One of the oldest banias is located in Wodziłki. Thanks to the great amount of smoke produced during preparation of the sweating session, it is called black bania. But don’t worry, the smoke is gone before you enter. All that last is crazy high temperature!

Bike through the whole Eastern Poland

If you are a fan of biking tourism try biking through North Eastern bike trail Green Velo. This way you can also go through all of the before mentioned places!

You will find more about biking through Green Velo here.

biking in Poland north eastern poland what to do

See colorful churches and mosques

Even if you are not a fan of sacral architecture you should not miss these. Colorful temples are a trademark of Eastern Poland and you will find them in many towns south from Augustów.

One of the most popular is a green mosque in a little village Kruszyniany almost at the border with Belarus. And if you need more recommendations, check our map of the wooden temples and towns in North Eastern Poland.

Green Velo Polish bike trails What to do in eastern poland

Discover Hitler’s headquarter in Wolvenshantz

If you are interested in history of WWII don’t miss a visit in the Hitler’s headquarter. A whole town hidden in the middle of Mazurian forests was a scene for the failed attack on Hitler in 1944.

You will find all the needed information in English and German here.

Now you definetely know what to do in the North Eastern Poland. Here’s the map of all the before mentioned attractions. Enjoy!

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Warsaw main polish cities

Main Polish Cities – Warsaw, Cracow, Poznan, Wroclaw and more

By | places to visit, polish cities and towns, Touristic Attractions | No Comments

We know – most of you would like to visit some serious big Polish  cities before they will consider going to the countryside. Also, this is were everything is happening – concerts, festivals, business. At least it seems so from the outside. If you are traveling by plane, these Polish cities are responsible for your first impression of Poland. So here they are.

Warszawa

Warsaw Łazienki

Our capital and the biggest city in Poland. Also, the biggest business hub. Comparing to Cracow, Warsaw might seem hard to like, but if you know where to look, you will probably fell in love with it. Just keep in mind one rule – come to Warsaw in summer – this is the best time to visit.

What to do in Warsaw

Best places to visit are definetely beaches and coast along Vistula river (voted one of the best 10 city beaches or riversides in Europe by the Guardian!). If during your summer visit you wonder where all the people went – they are on the beach!

Check also our parks. Pola Mokotowskie, Park Skaryszewski, Łazienki Royal Garden  – Warsaw is very green and local people love to spend their free time outside.

warsaw

Pole Mokotowskie park

The most touristic place is the Old Town. Which in fact is not that old, as it had to be completely rebuilt after WWII. However, it is still one of the most beautiful parts of Warsaw.

As fans of science centers we cannot forget about Copernicus Science Centre. If you have a kid and you wonder how to dazzle them, there’s a place for you. There are dozens of experiments to make and devices to use.

And during the summer season attend free Chopin concerts in Łazienki Royal Garden (every Sunday).

chopin concert warsaw

Chopin recital in Łazienki, Warsaw

 

 

Jazz festivals in Warsaw

If you are interested in jazz music, you should visit Warsaw during Jazz na Starówce (Jazz on Old Town) or Jazz Jamboree.

Jazz na Starówce takes place from July till the end of August and it is a free event. Every week anyone can attend free jazz concerts happening at the heart of Warsaw Old Town. The scene is placed outside and no booking is required.

Jazz Jamboree on the other hand is the one of the oldest and the biggest jazz festival in Europe. First time was in 1958 when it was organized in a student club Hybrydy. Back then it was called Jazz 58. Since then the event changed a lot. It is now a very prestigious festival that takes place in big concert halls such as Congress Hall in Palace of Science and Culture.

Warsaw’s  museums

If you are interested in a troubled history of Warsaw don’t miss Museum of Warsaw Uprising and many other modern facilities. You can also choose from the wide variety of city walks with local guides. Nowadays they are available in almost any language.

Fans of Chopin’s music will also not be disappointed. Beside free concerts in Royal Gardens you can learn more about Poland’s greatest pianist at Chopin’s Museum.

Closest airports Warsaw Chopin Airport (so called Okęcie, located in the city center) and Modlin (40 km from city center)

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Cracow

kraków cracow

Cracow’s Old Town

Cracow is the second biggest city in Poland, but doesn’t seem like that. Especially since most of its population lives very far from the city center. If you walk for an hour west from the Main Square, you will find yourself in the idyllic scenery that seems more like a Lesser Poland village than a main city. Cracow is green, full of students (who lives mainly close to the city center) and entertaining.

With its magnificent Main Square and gothic St. Mary’s Basilica, Jewish District Kazimierz and Castle on Wawel hill, it is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Poland. Closeness to Tatry mountains makes it also a perfect starting point for discovering the southern Poland.

What to see in Cracow

Even if you are alternative tourist, you shouldn’t even think about crossing out Main Square from your list. Full of colorful brickhouses and stunning architecture, it is a favourite meeting point of both tourists and locals. You will find here famous Sukiennice and St. Mary’s Basilica.

It is quite a good spot for souvenir shoping, especially during Christmas market season. This is when many local hand-crafts show their works in the little booths outside of Sukiennice.

Check also Jewish District Kazimierz. Visit Shindler’s Factory (book in advance). And don’t forget to try traditional Polish fast food zapiekanka at famous minibar: Endzior at Plac Nowy. Then try some craft beer at Omerta at Kupa. After that get lost in the narrow streets of Kazimierz.

In the afternoon take a walk around Vistula banks. Start from bridge called Kładka Ojca Bernatka and go up north. On the right you will pass Kościół na Skałce and then must see castle on Wawel hill. On the other side of the river you will see modern architecture of Manggha – Museum of Art and Technic.

Mystical Cracow

Cracow is full of mysteries. It is said that one of the points on Wawel hill emanates powerful spiritual energy. “(It) is said to be one of a few select places of immense power on Earth” (Wikipedia) – called chakra place.

There are also very interesting artificial grave-hills (called tumuluses) located around the city, some of which were built in the prehistoric times. They are perfect hiking destinations. And if you are a fan of discovering city by foot you should take a long walk to the top of Kosciuszko Mound.

 

A path leading to Kosciuszko Mound

Cracow vs Warsaw

Now it is time for some trivia. It is not a secret that people from Cracow doesn’t really like people from Warsaw. It is just a common knowledge, so don’t be surprised with their mutual skepticism. The atmosphere in each city is completely different, Warsaw being faster, more modern, business oriented and liberal. And Cracow being more laid back (because of the students) but at the same time more conservative (the paradoxes!).

Closest airport: Cracow Airport  (approx from from . 14 km from city center)

 

Wroclaw

Wroclaw (Wrocław) is a great example of an urban cultural mix. It is perfect touristic destination – historic buildings remembering the medieval times merged with modern museums and science centers. The jewel in the crown is the most modern ZOO in Poland. Not to mention over 300 dwarves that live there – in a form of little statutes left all over the city.

Wrocław is sometimes called the city of 100 bridges, but in fact there are 130 of them! However, it is probably underestimation as if you count train bridges, footbridges and so on you will find even greater number. Before WWII there were over 300 bridges and footbridges.

Long time no see

What makes Wrocław special? It became part of Poland not that long ago. Before the end of the WWII these lands  (called Silesia) belonged to Germany. And even before that, it Silesia consisted of many industrialized and trade oriented duchies, which usually satellite some of the more powerful monarchies such as Poland or Holy Roman Empire. Cultural and national mix made Wrocław flourish.

It is a shame that today we cannot appreciate the full beauty of the previous municipal architecture as during WWII the city was turned into a closed military fortress’ to be defended from the advancing Soviet army.

What to do in Wroclaw

If you are there don’t miss these picturesque spots

Main Square – we know it is trivial, but this is a must see starting point of your trip through the city. Check colorful brick houses and look for your very first dwarf.  If you are a fan of beer, check a pub in the cellar of XIX- century Town Hall. The place is called Spiż and they serve excellent craft product. When you are already here take a walk to Stare Jatki, which used to be a street dedicated to butchers. Today it is full of small cafes and art galleries.

Hala Stulecia – is one of the most important buildings in Wroclaw. If there is a significant event taking place in Wroclaw – like a national volleyball team game or a big concert – it will be held at Hala Stulecia. When built in 1911 it was a super modern facility and  even today it is impressive.

Tumski Bridge and the islands on the river – Since there are so many bridges in Wroclaw, you have to check at least some of them, and Tumski is one of the oldest. Full of locks left there by lovers is one of the most visited and photographed places in Wrocław. Tumski Bridge connects the islands with… an ex-island – Ostrów Tumski (Ostrow means “an island”). Go there before the sunset and check if you can spot a man in a black cape and a bowler hat, who lights up 90 Wrocław’s gas lanterns.

Wroclaw’s ZOO is considered the most modern in Poland. With its recently opened Africarium it becomed the must-visit place for           families from all over the country.

If you are already in Wrocław, don’t miss the opportunity to go further south as the mountains there are beautiful and full of mysteries, with Complex Riese and castle Książ to mention the least (read more).

Closest airport: Wrocław airport

Dolny slask

Table Mountains (Góry Stołowe) south from Wrocław

 

 

 

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Poznan

Poznan was always a little bit different, of course a little bit more western comparing to the cities from Austrian and Russian occupation zone (in the end of XVIII century Poland ceased to exist for a period of 123 years). People from Poznan are said to be very meticulous, well-organized and careful with money.

They are also very proud of the events that started in the end of December 1918. It was called Greater Poland Uprising and was the only one in Polish history of fight for independence that ended with victory.

If you are looking for a place to relax, visit Malta. And we are not talking about an island but a city lake. You will find there not only perfect facilities for chilling that includes aquapark, baths, bike paths and lots of green space.

Art in Poznan

Today Poznan is not only modern but also full of art. Check Old Browar – a shopping mall mixed with art gallery. This project was an investment of the richest Polish woman Grażyna Kulczyk, who is not only a businesswoman, but also an art lover.

Every year Poznan hosts one of the biggest international theatre festivals in Eastern Europe – Malta Festival.

Poznan was also home of one of the most extraordinary siblings in Polish literature – Stanisław Barańczak and Małgorzata Musierowicz.

 

Closest airport: Poznań Airport  (approx. 7 km from city centr) and  Warsaw Chopin Airport (in Warsaw)

 

Katowice

It is a center of the most industrialized part of Poland, not yet discovered by the wider audience. However, if you are interested in something different than beaches and drinks, this might be a place for you really alternative vacation.

Coal mine tradition

From the touristic point of you, coming to Katowice has sense only if you are interested in the specific kind of attractions – old mines. If you are there don’t miss Guido Coal Mine which is not only open for visiting, but is also a genuine concert hall.

You should also take some time to spend a day at Silesia Museum. The architecture of the Musuem is spectacular so don’t miss it if you are a fan of design and form. The Museum itself is a place where you can learn about the history of Silesia and dive deep into subject of Polish art.

Nikiszowiec and Art Naif Festival

One of a kind attractions is also Nikiszowiec, a 100 years old miners quarter. Visiting Nikiszowiec might be compared to visiting Boca in Buenos Aires. The placed is troubled by unemployment and other social problems connected with changes of industrial market. After fell of comunism many local factories and mines went bankrupt which radically changed the situation of Silesian workers, including citizens of Nikiszowiec.

If you are interested in getting to know Nikiszowiec, visit it in summer during international Art Naif Festival. It promotes naive arts. The events of the festival take place at Galeria Szyb Wilson. One of the elements of the festival is ArtJarmark, which is a street market with plein air painting, concerts and games. ArtJarmark takes place in Nikiszowiec.

Music in Katowice

For yeard Katowice where unofficial capital of Polish concerts. The reason was simple – they had Spodek. Spodek serves many purposes – it is a sport hall and auditorium. When in 1987 Metallica came to Poland, this is were they were performing. Then it hosted Deep Purple, Jean Michele Jarre, Alice in Chains and many others. It was a place where you could see your idols.

However today Katowice is a a host of a different great music event.  OFF Festival dedicated to alternative music is organized there by one of the most influential vocalists of Polish music scene – Artur Rojek

Closest airport: Katowice airport in Pyrzowice (approx. 35 km from city center)

 

Lodz

Lodz (Łódź) used to be a city of opportunity. The capital of Polish manufactures and so called light industry.  It was our little New York, where “I had nothing, you had nothing, so we had exactly enough to start a factory” (said the most famous line from a book and a movie “Ziemia Obiecna” (The Promised Land)).

The history of the city really started in XIX century. Within less than the century Lodz grow from the town of 800 people (in 1820) to metropoly of 120 thousand in 60 years! It quickly become city where Polish, Jewish and German traders lived like princes.

You can still visit their palaces as well as old manufatures and synagogues. Most of them have their best time behind them. Both WWII and fell of communism turned the city of opportunity into the center of unemployment.

Now it is definitely a place with its own characteristic, with a little bit darker atmosphere. Which is sort of inspiration for great artist.  It is worth knowing that it is one of the favourite places of the director of Twin Peaks series – David Lynch. He even shot here a movie “Inland Empire”.

What to see in Lodz

Piotrkowska Street is the most famous place in the city. As you may noticed Lodz doesn’t have a Main Square or other central municipal point. So the central point of the city become this street.

It is full of sophisticated brickhouses of non or all styles. They were created in the very eclectic style, which makes the architecture of Piotrkowska one of the kind in the whole world!

Today the street is of course full of restaurants, clubs and shop.

Trader’s city

If you are in Lodz don’t miss Palace of Izrael Poznanski. Poznanski was one of the richest traders of XIX century Lodz, called The King of Cotton. The legend says that during construction of the palace, Poznanski asked Russian Emperor if he can decorate the floor with Russian ruble. The Emperor is said to answer: “Yes, but only if you put them in upright position”.

After the Palace, check the empire. Poznanski’s old manufacture was turned into the cultural and shopping centre called… Manufaktura. You will find there cinemas, shops, museums, galleries.

After that go for a walk around Księzy Mlyn – the city quarter of female workers of fibre factories (pl: włókniarki). It is considere one of the most beautiful parts of Lodz, full of cobbled streets and old brick houses. And of course, it is still residented.

Film industry in Lodz

During communism, Lodz become the capital of Polish movie insudtry. It has internationaly reknown movie school, museum of cinematography and “Alley of Stars” at Piotrkowska. As a cradle of the best Polish directors, Lodz was immortalized in many brilliant movies. Kieslowski, Polański, Skolimowski, Koterski… – they all started in Lodz.

If you are here visit Se-Ma-For – a museum of animation movies. You can visit it and learn about the history of movies or signed up for movie workshops.

 

You will find more our recommendations for your trip to Poland in the posts about picturesque and tranquil towns and Polish national parks.

 

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most beautiful polish towns

Towns you cannot miss in Eastern Poland

By | Ecotourism, places to visit, polish cities and towns, Touristic Attractions | No Comments

We have to be honest – we love small Polish towns and will always put them first before the big cities. Our charming villages and towns were able to sustain their original beauty, when the rest of the country turn its face to concrete. You will find here fresher air, infinite horizon, beautiful gardens, nature at the tip of your fingers. It is also a place where folk traditions are still alive.

So if it sounds appealing to you, definitely visit:

Supraśl

Supraśl is a gem hidden in the vast forests of Puszcza Knyszyńska, east from Białystok. It is full of classic wooden houses which look like embodiment of summer holidays. There is also an atmospheric town square where you will get souvenirs, huge ice creams and sękacz (traditional eastern cake – you should try!). Supraśl is located on the bank of the river of the same name as the town. If you are looking for a refreshment take a slow walk along the boulevards that goes along the river. Maybe even take a swimming suit with you.

If you are already there don’t miss palace of Buchholtz family and an Orthodox monastery with a famous museum of icons.

When to visit: if you want to enjoy green scenery, visit Supraśl between spring and autumn

Zwierzyniec

Church on the island of Zwierzyniec

 

Another fairy tale place on our list. Just imagine a town with a scenic little church located on an island, situated in the middle of green forest. Take walk around and reserve some time to observe horses living in the wild – you can take a good look from the observation deck. There is also something for fans of a good beer – local brewery Zwierzyniec. You can try their crafts in a small pub at the entrance.

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The name of the town means: the place of animals. Situated at the banks of river Wieprz (which means: a Hog) is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Roztocze. Perfect for hikers, bikers (GreenVelo) and kayakers.

When to visit: from spring to autumn

Brewery in Zwierzyniec

Wild horses seen from the observation deck in Zwierzyniec

Kruszyniany

Mosque in Kruszyniany

 

Not that far from Supraśl, almost at the border with Belarus, there is a tiny village, which recently gains more and more popularity. Kruszyniany are so popular thanks to Tatars’ heritage and magnificent location.

Today Tatars are descendants of one of Muslims militaristic nomad tribes which join Genghis Khan during the rise of his Empire. After its fall, Tatars  build their own countries. Over 300 ago Polish king Jan III Sobieski decided to include Tatars warriors in his army and gave them a right to settle in Podlasie. One of the places of their settlement is Kruszyniany.

Today, in this tranquil place, you can find old mosques and cemeteries and also try delicious Tatars’ cuisine. Not to mention thousands of lupin growing all around the village.

When to visit: in summer, especially in June and beginning of July, when local roads, fields and forests are full of blooming lupin

Lupin in the forest near Kruszyniany

Kazimierz Dolny

Kazimierz Dolny – the main square

 

This place is mentioned in every single one guidebook about Poland that was ever published. And it happens for a reason. Kazimierz is just one of these hip places that won a genetic lottery. With its mix of art, culture, history and beautiful location is a number one weekend destination.

Historically Kazimierz was a trade hub. Jewish and Polish traders made this city flourish. Their colorful brick houses – symbols of the citizen’s status – are the jewels of town’s main square. If we add that the town is located on hills and is surrounded by the system of Tolkienish gorges, you will know why this place is the most fashionable location for a summer house.

When to visit – it is worth to come here any time of year, however if you don’t like crowds avoid warm weekends and festival time

Gorges in Kazimierz

 

 

You will find more our recommendations for your trip to Poland in the posts about main Polish cities and Polish national parks.

 

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