<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=766060260189124&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Eleven Cities In Poland To Add To Your Trip

Posted by Jen King on 1/2/24 1:06 PM


If Poland isn't on your "travel list", it needs to be. 

I planned a visit here for just a few days while I was volunteering with ILP in another European country ... and I walked away wishing I had so much more time there. It was the best food I had had in Europe, so charming and relaxed, and I just couldn't get enough. There was so much history which put a new spin on my trip. I got to step foot in important places like the Jewish Quarter in Krakow and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. It was truly life-changing.

Come volunteer in Europe with us 
Click here to start your application to volunteer! 

Poland lives up to the hype. It's a country hiding glacial hikes, trips out to the Baltic Sea, colorful architecture, and oh the castles! So many castles. It's almost weird if a city doesn't have a castle. Poland is a gem and I'm not sure why travelers aren't talking about it more. But that's okay, let's keep it our little secret.

You'll have endless destinations in Poland to keep you busy, but here are a few highlights to get you started.

  1. Warsaw
  2. In the North
  3. In the West
  4. In the South


We have to start with the capital because not only is it so fun to see, but it's the gateway to the rest of the country and the transportation hub of Eastern Europe.

Warsaw is a vibrant city with a great atmosphere and quite a story to tell. Just walking around is like a mini history lesson, and ducking into one of the many palaces and museums is just a deeper dive into the past of this now-colorful city. The Old Town is so walkable too — they've created several pedestrian-only streets in the city center so that you can shop and explore easily. A visit to this country without visiting Warsaw means missing out on a huge slice of what Poland is all about.

Now, you'll find countless photo ops for the many tourists who stroll around the main square, lined with some of Warsaw’s most colorful buildings and the imposing brick of the Royal Castle. These stacked buildings are mostly four stories high, peppered with little rectangular windows against pastel colors, and topped with steep shingled rooftops. It’s a gorgeous slice of architecture ... and that's just the beginning of what this city has to offer. 

Help planning your trip: Get way more on Warsaw, here. 

stare miasto old town anna-holodna-XPxHWtTw0tU-unsplash
Old Town, Warsaw
Old Town, Warsaw
old town kateryna-hliznitsova-pke3vJEwy7o-unsplash
Old Town, Warsaw
castle kateryna-hliznitsova-S5loJqY9pF0-unsplash
Royal Castle, Warsaw

In The North


Gdansk is one of Poland’s most beautiful cities, tucked up against the Baltic Sea, and known for its history and architecture. The coastal town is a unique aspect of this Polish town, with a waterfront flooding with delicious restaurants and fun shops, not to mention Instagram-worthy architecture of buildings stacked side by side painted in pastel hues.

When the weather is nice, you can also hang out on the sandy shores of the Baltic Sea. In cooler weather, the beach is still worth a visit (just be sure to bundle up). From Old Town the closest beach is Brzeźno Another perk of visiting Gdansk is the chance to visit some of the top museums in the country. 

You're also 30 minutes away from the biggest castle in the world, so make time to take the train over to Malbork while you're here.

Help planning your trip: Here's more info on Gdansk — you definitely won't get bored here! 
Getting here from Warsaw: It's about 2.5-3.5 hours by train. Find tickets here.

old town polina-kuzovkova-ruooYeijjuc-unsplash
Old Town, Gdansk
Old Town, Gdansk
Old Town, Gdansk
Old Town, Gdansk


About 20-30 minutes down the coast from Gdansk is another coastal city. Although both locations are right on the coast, some say to go to Gdansk for the architecture and then head over to Sopot for the beaches!

One claim to fame is the long wooden pier, Molo, which is the longest in Europe. There's really only a short period of time where it's warm enough to enjoy a swim in the Baltic Sea (August-early September), but it's still a fun place to hang out through the rest of the year ... think Oregon coast vibes.

Getting here from Gdansk: There are several options. Train is the quickest and most affordable option, but because it's so close you could also do Uber, take a ferry in the summer, or even ride a bicycle for the 14 mile trip.

Screenshot 2023-12-14 at 3.41.09 PM-1

Sopot in the summer

Screenshot 2023-12-14 at 7.06.08 PM
The Molo Pier


If you only see one castle, it's got to be Malbork's. The Malbork Castle is not only a UNESCO Heritage Site, but it's also the largest castle in the world! We're telling you, Poland doesn't mess around when it comes to castles.

You'll want to put aside at least half your day to explore the sprawling castle grounds. The castle is the real pull to this city, but there are also churches and a park to explore if you have time. Oh and even the train station is photo-worthy, so your trip starts the moment you step off the train. Gdansk is just a 30 minute train ride away, so I recommend heading there after you visit the castle.

Help planning your trip: Head here for more tips on Malbork.
Getting here from Warsaw: It's 2-3 hours by train. Book tickets here.

Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle
anna-hunko-XWP3pDNcfZo-unsplash (1)-1
Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle
Malbork Castle


Intrigued by medieval history? Come to Torun! They have one of the most well-preserved medieval Old Towns that will take you back in time and is the reason the entire town has been marked as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Old Market Square dates back to the 1300s and is the heart of the city. 

If you're not tired of castles yet (Poland has so many!), come see the ruins of Teutonic Castle. It's also home to a unique gingerbread called pierniki, so make sure to give that a try before you leave town. So yummy!

Getting here from Warsaw: A train will get you here in about 2.5-3 hours. Book tickets here.

Screenshot 2023-12-14 at 10.27.24 AM
Old Town, Torun
Old Town, Torun


No that's not a typo, that's really how it's spelled! It's pronounced like "bid-gaasht" — there you go, speaking Polish already.

While you're in Torun, make sure to stop over in nearby Bydgoszcz. This cutie city is such a charmer full of pastel-pink architecture with influences from Art Nouveau. This is another city you may not have heard much about before (if anything), but that's only a testament to what a hidden gem Poland is in general. Little spots like this are sprinkled across the country and are all so worth a visit.

It's as laid back and vibrant as it is charming. The river Brda runs through town creating a scene of its own. That and all the canals are the reason so many people call Bydgoszcz the "Polish Venice". While wandering, definitely explore Gdanska, Dworcowa, and Cieszkowskiego streets to catch some of the photogenic architecture.

Getting here from Torun: About 40 minutes by train. Find tickets here.
Getting here from Warsaw:
It's about 3-4 hours on the train. Find tickets here. 



In The West


Want to visit Germany without leaving Poland? Come to Wroclaw, a city bordering Germany with an iconic German influence. This is another city that always pops up as one of the must-sees in Poland.

The city was originally built across several islands and still has a lot of beautiful bridges because of this ... and who doesn't love a European city with ribbons of bridges and canals to admire? Like quite a few cities in Europe, Wroclaw is a nice destination for pretty architecture and unique buildings, especially if you go to the city center.

While in Wroclaw check out one of the many museums, walk through the Japanese Gardens, relax in city square, and grab some traditional Polish food.

Getting here from Warsaw: About 4-5 hours on the train. Find tickets here.



Keep heading west from Wroclaw and you'll find Poland's "pink castle": Książ Castle. It's a castle on the hill, surrounded by forests and painted in peachy pinks and deep orange hues. 

Książ was home to Polish nobles until WWII when the Nazis took siege and turned it into Adolf Hitler's headquarters. Interesting note — at that time they also created a system of tunnels under the castle and throughout the city. Today though, you can tour the impressive castle grounds that have become such an important part of history.

Help planning your trip: Check out the castle's website for hours and costs.
Getting here from Wroclaw: About 1-1.5 hours by train. Find tickets here.
Getting here from Warsaw: About 5.5-6 hours by train. Find tickets here.

Książ Castle
Książ Castle
Książ Castle



Might this be the most underrated city? It often gets shadowed by the more popular cities, but we absolutely love Poznan and it's worth checking out during your semester abroad in Europe. You'll get all the classics of a European city — a charming Old Town with colorful buildings sitting side by side, little cafes, a castle, and open-air markets ... even a museum for croissants!  The crowds are typically smaller in Poznan though, which we are big fans of.

Help planning your trip: Head here for more tips on Poznan.
Getting here from Warsaw: About 2.5-3 hours by train. Find tickets here.

Mural Śródka, rondo Śródka, Poznań, Poland maksym-harbar-K59KDtBn61Q-unsplash
Mural Śródka, Poznan
courtyard of the Poznań City Hall bartek-lewandowski-l5oyfNmpsro-unsplash
Courtyard of the Poznań City Hall

In The South


Krakow is a city you simply can't miss while visiting Poland. Go ahead and work it into your schedule right now because you'll regret it if you don't make it here.

You'll find ah-mazingly delicious street food and delicious restaurants, a historic town center, beautiful cathedrals, a handful of fascinating museums, and a castle on the hill overlooking the city (plus so much more). You can spend a few days here and not run out of things to do.

Another perk of the city? There are half a dozen day trips from Krakow that are more than worth your time. We especially love swimming at the lake In Zakopane, the haunted Niedzica Castle, and Zalipie. 

While visiting Krakow, a visit to Auschwitz is easily done in a day, and an opportunity to pay your respects to a tragic chapter of history. There's also other important pieces of WWII history here including the Jewish Quarter and Schindler's Factory, both of with you can (and should) tour.

Help planning your trip: Check out our guide to Krakow
Getting here from Warsaw: It's about 2-3 hours on the train. Find tickets here.




There is a little painted village outside of Krakow that is surpisingly not very well known. It's a bit out of the way, but it's so unique! It makes for a good day trip from Krakow if you're already in the area.

The story goes that over a century ago, single female residents began painting their homes to cover up faults and this tradition has just been passed down over the generations, making the town more and more colorful as every year passed. Home owners take the liberty to paint their home in their chosen design, so each is uqnie and it's become a bit competitive to be the best house! It's like an open air museum here, so you can just come wander the neighborhoods and admire what they've created.

Like I mentioned, it's not the easiest place to visit. It's possible to take the train from Krakow to Bogumilowice, and then take a taxi out to Zalipie if you want, but there's some area to cover getting around to each house. A tour is probably your best bet (definitely the most convenient). There are several options from Krakow, like this one or this one.

This blog post has lots of pretty photos of Zalipie if you're looking for more!


Living in Europe while you're volunteering in an
orphanage or teaching English? Yes please!

We've got opportunities for you to live in Europe for an affordable semester abroad with other college-age volunteers. Just drop your number below to get in touch — we'll answer all your questions to see if our program is a good fit for you.

 Text Me! I've Got Questions



Topics: Europe

Hey friends!

We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

Need More Travel Tips + Volunteering Updates?

Popular Posts