Poland is really small .In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that two provinces in China put together are bigger than our country. Still – you will be impressed how diverse it is and how many various travel destinations it has to offer.
In this post, check out top 5 areas that you need to visit when it Poland and…what to eat there!
1.POLISH SEASIDE – MORZE BAŁTYCKIE
The Polish seaside by the Baltic sea –Morze Bałtyckie – the area the Poles used to fight for so vehemently in the past – is a very popular summer destination for Polish tourists and our German neighbors!
When I was a kid, most Polish parents would get an annual leave specifically to take their offsprings to the seaside and have them inhale iodine there ( whoever made that rule, thank you!).
I rememer how excited I would get each time when we were getting on the night train with bunk beds to sleep on, that would get us to the very north of Poland the next morning!
The coastline is over 200 miles long and the most popular resorts are:Sopot, Międzyzdroje, Kołobrzeg, Łeba, Władysławowo, Hel peninsula , Jastarnia, Darłowo, Mielno and Rewal.
Warning! The water in the Baltic sea is VERY cold ( from 18 – 23 C degrees) but it is refreshing and salty.
Besides big resorts, you can choose the homestay to immerse more in our culture ( I am sure they will offer you pierogi if you ask!)
However, if you want to mingle with Polish celebrtities, head for The Sofitel Grand in Sopot – a 5 star, lavish hotel with sea views, adjacent to Europe’s oldest wooden pier!
Of course, fish! The traditional Baltic sea lunch or dinner will definitely include fried fish with bread or french fries.Very simple but delicious!The fresh fish you will get most of the time during summer is sole, trout, eel.
As for snacks you can’t miss the symbols of my chidlhood’s summer – waffles with whipped cream and wild Polish blueberry ( that is very small and black!) and ‘jagodzianki‘ – sweet , yeast buns stuffed with wild Polish blueberries!
2.POLISH LAKESIDE – MAZURY
I haven’t been to Mazury many times.Only once but ‘intensely’. My mother used to be a member of a professional sailing team and when I was 16,she decided it was about time for a survival camp for me!That’s how I ended up on a 2 week sailing camp,where every day we would explore different part of the lakes and stay the night at a different harbor ( most of the time – in the middle of the forest!). The experience was unique and I recommend all of you to try!
Mazury lake district – also known as ‘Land of thousand lakes’ –consists of 2000 lakes and stretches over 200 miles.It is surrounded by forests and meadows.
The largest lake is called ‘Śniardwy’ .It is over 10 miles long and 8 miles wide, up to 75 feet deep in places, has 8 islands and connects with numerous other lakes and canals all part of the Mazury waterways.
The most popular tourist resorts, include Węgorzewo, Olecko, Mrągowo, Giżycko, Mikołajki and Ruciane Nida, many of the resorts are interconnected via canals and lakes
Mazury have a wide range of accommodation choices, from luxury hotels,through homestays,traditional agricultural holdings or traditional timber cabins.But! To experience the spirit of Mazury, I say go yachting and sleep on the yacht or in a tent! It will be an experience of a lifetime!
Again, fish! Pollock, carp,sturgeon,whitefish to name just a few.Altogehter, there are around 30 different types of fish you will get in Mazury!
Since Mazury is also a land of forests, you can enjoy a big variety of mushrooms. Don’t forget to try delicious game (my favorite type of meat) that Poland is famous for !
3.PODHALE – TATRY MOUNTAINS
I am definitely biased putting Podhale on the list.Everyone who comes from Kraków, grew up visiting Podhale and Tatry mountains on regular basis ( especially in winter), since it is only about 2 hour drive from the city. The striking beauty of the landscape and folk culture as well as food from this area is our Polish pride, so I consider myself really lucky that my hometown was in such a close vicinity to it.
The Podhale is Poland’s most southernmost region and its name literally means ‘under the mountain meadows’.Sometimes it is referred to as Polish highlands.It is located in the foothills of the Tatra range of the Carpathian mountains.
The most disctinctive peak of the Tatra range is Giewont – also known as ‘The sleeping knight’ due to its silhouette. According to the legend, ‘one of the bravest Polish kings from 11th century– Boleslav the Brave and his knights went into the mountain.Withing the mountain, there is ahuge dark cavern where Boleslav and his knights sleep.They are mounted on their horses with their swords beside them and lances couched.If Poland needs them in the time of great danger,then someone must awake them and they will ride forward to serve.However, once they have gone forward, they will never return…’
The most popular resort is undeniably Zakopane with the lake known as ‘Morskie Oko’ – ‘The Eye of the Sea'( the local legend claims it is connected to the Adriatic sea by subterranean passages). However, it can be really crowded, so you can check out the place called ‘Kościelisko’ where I spent a lot if winters as a kid!
Just like the seaside, in Podhale you will find lots of luxurious hotels as well as private homestays.And again, if you want to experience the local culture, I definitely recommend private rooms in or around Zakopane!
Podhale is particularly famous for OSCYPEK – cheese made of mix of cow and sheep’s milk (that I described in one of the previous posts!).Try it warm with cranberry sauce!
Of course,in any local restuarant you can also get your set of pierogi!
4.BESKIDY MOUNTAINS WITH KRYNICA ZDRÓJ
The Beskids (Beskidy mountains) are a series of mountain ranges that stretch from the Chech Republic in the West, along the border of Poland with Slovakia up to Ukraine in the east.They are situated in the south of Poland and pride to have one of the best equipped skiing resort in Krynica Zdrój.
Krynica is situated in the heart of the Beskids.Before it gained popularity among snow sports lovers thanks to Jaworzyna Krynicka, it was and still is known as the biggest spa town in Poland.Therefore, it is also called ‘The Pearl of Polish Spas’.
As a kid I would go there almost every summer to drink the natural mineral water ( and you could get at least 10 different kids of it) and the mineral water spa treatments.
Just like in Podhale, you will find a big variety of hotels, spas as well as homestayB&B.
Since it is mountain area, you will also find here a lot of ‘oscypek’ and other traditional foods.But when you are in Krynica, you should mainly focus on getting all kinds of mineral water as they have multiple health benefits!
5.PUSZCZA BIALOWIESKA – BIAŁOWIEŻA FOREST
This is the only place on this list I haven’t visited in Poland and really regret it.
Białowieża Forest straddles the border between Poland and Belarus and there is even border crossing available for hikers and cyclists!
It is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain.It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an EU Natura 2000 Special Area od Conservation.
The forest is home to 800 European Bison – Europe’s heaviest land animal . If you have ever had the famous Bison Grass Vodka – in Polish – Żubrówka (Joanna loves to serve it with apple juice and actualy she learned how to make this vodka herself!),then this is the animal you see on the bottle!
The forest contains a large number of large, ancient oaks, some of which are individually named, with Emperor of the South and Emperor of the North among them!
You will find lots of homestays/guestrooms in the area which can be as cheap as 30 RMB per night.
You will be spoilt by a big variety of Polish foods here.The must try is local dumpling called PYZY made with raw,grated potatoes and cooked, mashed potatoes in the dough.Served with bacon topping, of course! Besides that, try the local milk and goat cheese, local bread, Polish pancakes and smoked sausages.
ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS IN POLAND!