Poland Country Guide – European Health Insurance Card
For a truly unique European adventure filled with the perfect blend of quintessential culture and modern development, we recommend that you visit Poland. Well-known for its medieval architecture and Jewish heritage, this historical treasure has plenty for you to see and do regardless of where in the country you decide to jet off to.
We understand that when you travel abroad, you sometimes need an extra helping hand to know where the best places to visit are, in order for you to truly make the most of this spectacular country during your visit. Therefore, we have put together a quick guide to help you kick-start your plans for your incredible trip to Poland, so you can guarantee an experience of a lifetime.
No European holiday would be complete without an exploration of local culture and Poland certainly has it’s fair share of precisely that. If you’re looking to embrace the local way of life, explore a spot of history or simply wander amongst charming streets filled with architectural wonders, there is a true abundance here.
Fan’s of castles will feel right at home here, as you will find a castle on pretty much every hilltop you can find in Poland! With each one being unique in their own way, you will be able to spend hours exploring their history and have a different experience to cherish every time. With the likes of the Royal Wawel Castle, Malbork and Krasiczyn being available for you to view throughout the year, you’ll be given prime opportunity to live out a fairytale right then and there!
For architectural treasures, this charming country has an abundance, all from different periods of the country’s rich history. Travel through 40 years of communist ruling, and see the mark it made on the country’s buildings. We recommend that you visit destinations such as the Kielce Bus Station, Nowa Huta and Katowice to check out their unique, fascinating structure and design for a truly unforgettable insight.
You may or may not be aware that Poland is known for its folk culture – in fact, the summer calendar is full of folk-music festivals! we suggest that if you are a fan of folk, or you simply just want to embrace another country’s culture to it’s fullest, then you should organise your trip to coincide with one of these incredible festivals. You could make a trip to visit Kashubia for a little insight into one of Poland’s most prominent and unique ethnic minority groups.
For something free, or reasonably priced, to do while you’re there, why not take a trip to a museum? Not only are museums a fantastic choice of activity on a rainy day, but they are also a great way to discover the history of Poland by indulging in the chance to see key artefacts in person. From Schindler’s Factory, where you can learn the story of Kraków during WWII, to the Chopin Museum, which gives you a musical experience, you can really explore different aspects of Poland over the years.
If you are a night owl and you love to put on your dancing shoes and hit the town, then you will love Poland. Known for loving to party, the Polish enjoy nights across the country, drinking, socialising and partying. If a lively, vibrant nightlife is something that you want to experience in Poland, then we recommend that you visit Praga, Kazimierz, Pozmań and Sopot, where you can party all night long with the locals!
What Should I Wear In Poland?
Unlike some countries around Europe, a casual, relaxed style of dress, such as shorts, jeans and t-shirts, is perfectly fine. You can dress as you might at home, but take note that their summers are much warmer than the UK in most cases, and their winters are much colder!
If you plan to visit a church, trousers, longer skirts and covered shoulders are required and preferred dress styles, in order to show respect.
The Best Experiences Poland Has To Offer
Step onto the soil of this vibrant, yet peaceful destination and have an experience like no other European country has to offer. The following are an insight into some of the beautiful, unforgettable places that are guaranteed to give you an extraordinary experience when you visit Poland.
The widely-known city of Kraków is home to some mythological legends. The unique atmosphere here offers you a new experience to cherish, with some fantastic attractions, you won’t want to visit any other area of the country. Krakow is home to the famous Wawel Castle, Schindler’s Factory and Kościuszko Mound, in addition to the unique Rynek Underground – here you can visit synagogues where you can reflect on the 20th-century tragedy, in addition to discovering the lively 21st-century backstreets, which show clear, momentous movement between the two centuries.
The very well-known capital Warsaw is the home of some very diverse architecture, showing the rebirth of the city. The many museums, interpret the complex story of destruction and survival of the capital, from WWII, through to today. This lively city, day and night, offers excellent and affordable wining and dining, and is a capital, which knows how to have fun!
This town is a Gothic revelation, which should definitely be on every traveller’s list! Thankfully, the disaster of WWII didn’t demolish the medieval city’s defences and this diverse town stands strong and lives on. Toruń is famous for its speciality gingerbread and if you visit the Muzeum Piernika, you can be taught how to make the traditional sweet treat, which tastes as good as it looks!
Known for its medieval castle built in the 13th century by the Knights of the Teutonic Order, Malbork is perfect for castle-lovers. In fact, the Malbork castle is the world’s largest brick castle! Since it was destroyed in WWII, the castle, which took 230 years to be built, has recently been restored.
This city is a perfect destination for student travellers, as it is known for its academic centre and is home to the third largest university in Poland. This busy, lively city is a host for many international events, including the Malta International Theatre Festival. It is also an ideal location for athletes, who can enjoy the use of the ski slope, ice rink and swimming pools.
The Top Places To See In Poland
When you visit Poland, there are so many unmissable sights that we hugely recommend that you visit during your stay. Here are just a few:
Biatowieźa National Park
The oldest National Park in Poland is home to elk, wild boars, wolves, over one hundred different species of birds and even the brilliant European bison, who have been recently reintroduced to their ancient natural home after being extinct outside zoos for quite some time.
The Tatras mountain range has perfect terrain for skiing during the winter months and hiking in the summer, with easy access to the town from Kraków via bus. The range stretches across the Polish-Slovakian border for about 60km, so you can plan the perfect trip on the towering peaks of the Carpathians. Although there are no glaciers in the Tatras, there are some patches of snow, which remain on the mountains all year round.
If you are interested in the historic heritage of Poland, take a tour around Auschwitz-Birkenau and enrich your knowledge on the awful disaster that happened here during the dark time of WWII. Pay your respects to all the memorials and take a walk through the grounds and exhibits. You won’t ever experience anything quite as intense as this.
What Are Traditional Poland Dishes?
You wouldn’t be diving straight into the Polish culture if you didn’t get a taste of the traditional dishes. Poland is home to some unique flavours, which will defiantly excite your taste buds. The ultimate Kind of Polish cuisine is Bigos. This dish is essentially known as ‘hunter’s stew’ and is a combination of cabbage, sausage, mushrooms, and other secret ingredients.
A very unique Polish speciality is Żurek, consisting of a combination of flavours, served in a bread roll, alongside egg and white sausage.
In fact, Poland is home to the biggest variety of flavours in a sausage. From beef, veal, pork and many more, you will have a challenge trying all the different flavours! If you are a fan of cheese, Oscypek, sourced from local sheep, is a very traditional smoked cheese and originates from the Polish mountains. If you want to try and buy some, you will be able to find it in almost any shop throughout the country.
What Is The Best Way To Travel Around Poland?
With all the exciting places to visit being distanced away from each other, you will need to find a way to travel! We recommend that you travel by train in Poland – not only does it give you the opportunity to see the picturesque countryside stretched across the country, but it allows you to experience the different unique personalities of Poland’s cities all in one trip. Moreover, the stations in Poland are a stunning sight themselves- with the spectacular architecture they uphold, you may find yourself getting lost in the history long before you reach your given destination!
With the vast selection of comfortable places to stay the night surrounding the stations, travelling from one city to another has never been easier. Work your way around the country, stop off in each area and enjoy a luxurious night’s sleep.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Poland?
High season in Poland lands between May and September, when you will expect to see sunny skies and warm weather, though with some chances of rain. Even if there is a downpour, all the museums, national parks and other tourist attractions will be open during this peak time of year. If you want a quieter, calmer trip, the high season may not be your best bet. Expect to see very busy crowds, in particular over weekends and school holidays.
The low season, which runs between November and February, is an ideal time to visit Poland, especially if you are a keen skier. With snow in the mountains, and the southern resorts all equipped for the season, there is no better time and place to take to the snow, with your old friend, the skis! Furthermore, Christmas is an incredible time to visit, even if you don’t celebrate the holiday yourself. The streets are filled with decoration and stunning lights to marvel,
What Is The Healthcare Like In Poland?
For Polish citizens, providing they fit into the ‘insured category’, there is free healthcare service. However, as a UK resident travelling to a European country, you need to have an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) so if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident or illness, you can receive medical treatment in Poland. If you would like more information about this card, click here.
We hope that firstly, this guide has opened your eyes to the amazing opportunities this wonderful country has to offer, so you can plan your trip and get the most out of your journey overseas. Secondly, hopefully, this insight has also shown you that this country has something on offer for the whole family and is jam-packed full of character, history and heritage. Lastly, we sincerely hope that you have an extraordinary trip to Poland, and you enjoy every minute of your well-deserved break abroad. Happy travelling!