Poland - The Crossroads of a Continent

With its location between Germany and the old Russian Empire, Poland has been sandwiched between major world powers, as well as playing an important part in European history in its own right.

We start in the city of Krakow, exploring its historic Old Town, with the opportunity to visit nearby Auschwitz for an insight into the country’s often harrowing past. Poland suffered enormously during the Second World War, and while not always easy, it’s difficult to understand the country without confronting this. From this we head to Wroclaw, one of the continent’s best preserved medieval cities with a wealth of impressive architecture and buildings to explore. In Warsaw we learn about the famed Warsaw Uprising, then move on the north east of the country, a land of thick forests and pristine lakes.

At Gierloz we visit the ‘Wolf’s Lair’ – the military headquarters of Hitler during the war – then continue to the Mazurian Lakes, visiting the picturesque old Jewish settlement of Tykocin on the way. In the ancient forests of Bialowieza we look for iconic wildlife including the European bison, and visit the Tatar village of Kruszyniany – a different and little known aspect of Polish culture. We make our way back to Warsaw through the pretty region of Podlasie, with its painted houses and pretty tradtional farms.

A mixture of cities, wildlife and rural traditions, this tour delves into the history and culture of a rather charming, and too often ignored, corner of Europe.

Highlights

  • Explore the historic cities of Krakow and Wroclaw
  • Look for wildlife in Bialowieza forest
  • Experience rural traditions in Podlasie
  • Visit Hitler's military headquarters

Day 1 - Krakow

Arrive in Krakow and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel Wyspianski or similar.


Day 2 - Krakow

Spend today exploring Krakow, one of Poland’s highlights. This is one of the architectural gems of Central Europe with a huge amount of well preserved monuments and buildings to see. We visit the Florian Gate, the old market square, Wawel Hill and St Mary’s basilica, among other sites. We also explore the historic Kazimierz district, once a centre for the city’s Jewish population. Overnight Hotel Wyspianski or similar. (BL)

Krakow
Deservedly one of Central Europe’s most popular cities for visitors, Krakow is packed full of exquisite old buildings, medieval streets and secluded courtyards, and was the only Polish city that escaped unscathed – in terms of its structures, at least – during the Second World War. Its population was less fortunate, as Krakow was a major centre for the Jewish population of the country up until this point. The legacy of this remains in the district of Kazimierz, with its collection of medieval synagogues.

The highlight of Krakow is the Old Town, and it’s here that its most striking architecture can be found. Churches from the early medieval period vie with well preserved merchants’ houses, museums and monasteries, and it’s easy to spend a few days here wandering its historic streets. On its edge sits Wawel Hill, the former Polish royal residence, where an Italian style castle and grandiose cathedral tower over an attractive central square.

Day 3 - Auschwitz

We make an excursion to the infamous site of Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps sited in Poland. Although not the easiest of destinations to visit, it provides an incredibly important insight into the recent history of the country and the horrors wrought by the Second World War. Return to Krakow for the night. Overnight Hotel Wyspianski or similar. (B)

Please note: if you would prefer to not to participate in this excursion we can arrange an alternative, as long as you let us know at least a month before departure.

Day 4 - Wieliczka - Wroclaw

We head first to the salt mines of Wieliczka, one of Poland’s most remarkable sites and consisting of several underground chambers, the most impressive of which is St Kinga’s Chapel. From here we continue to the town of Wroclaw. Overnight Hotel Europejski or similar. (BL)


Day 5 - Wroclaw

Spend the morning exploring Wroclaw. Highlights here include the well preserved market square, its numerous cathedrals, and the gothic Town Hall. The afternoon is free to explore this delightful town at your leisure. Overnight Hotel Europejski or similar. (BL)

Wroclaw
The capital of the Lower Silesia region, Wroclaw sits on the Oder River and is another of Poland’s great cities, although far less visited than Krakow. Dating back to the ninth century, the city was settled by German merchants and joined the Hanseatic League, a federation of trading towns in northern Europe, under the name of Breslau. It’s a strikingly attractive place with brightly coloured townhouses and towering spires, the best of which can be found in the Rynek, a charming market square.

Rather oddly, Wroclaw is also known for its collection of ornamental dwarfs, adopted as a symbol of the city during the Solidarity movement against Communism in the 1980s. Today around four hundred are dotted around the city, sitting outside banks, hotels and other buildings.

Day 6 - Warsaw

Drive to Warsaw. You’ll explore the old town with its 17th century Royal Castle, and the old market square. From here continue to the new town and visit the Krasinski Palace, the Palace of Justice and the Monument to the Warsaw Uprising, among other sites. Overnight Hotel Metropol or similar. (BL)

Warsaw
The history of Warsaw is a turbulent one, most notably during the 20th century. In 1944, Polish resistance fighters launched the Warsaw Uprising to drive the Nazis out of the city. The fioghting was savage and despite being outgunned and outmanned, the resistance fighters were able to hold out for almost two months, until their eventual defeat. Following this, the Nazis levelled most of the city ion retaliation with the fightwrs being executed or deported to concentration camps. After the war, the city was painstakingly rebuilt in the 1950s. As with most European cities, it’s the old town that is of most interest, where its old historic buildings were reconstructed according to the original designs, although the new town is home to some impressive Baroque architecture.

Day 7 - Kavzidlo – Myszyniec – Ryn

Head to the region of Kurpie in Poland’s north east, one of the more traditional parts of the country. We stop at the open air museum of Kadzidlo, displaying typical rural architecture from times gone by, giving us an opportunity to learn about some of the old customs. Continue to Myszyniec and visit its impressive neo-Gothic church, and end the day in Ryn. Overnight Hotel Zamek Ryn or similar. (BLD)


Day 8 - Gierloz

Today we head to Gierloz to visit the ‘Wolf’s Lair’, Hitler’s military headquarters in the Second World War. Hidden in the Masurian forest, the site consists of several bunkers, barracks and shelters, and was Hitler’s main base on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1944. Overnight Hotel Zamek Ryn or similar. (BLD)


Day 9 - Mazurian Lakes – Tykocin – Bialystok

Head into the Mazurian Lake district, a verdant land of rolling hills dotted with countless lakes and small farms amongst scattered tracts of forest. Take a cruise on one of the lakes, then continue to the picturesque town of Tykocin, once an important Jewish settlement and with a well preserved synagogue. Continue to Bialystok for the night. Overnight Hotel Bialowieski or similar. (BLD)


Day 10 - Bialowieza Forest – Kruszyniany

Head into the thick forest of Bialowieza, a haven for some of Europe’s most enigmatic wildlife including wolves, elk and the enormous bison. After a morning exploration of the forest, we continue to the village of Kruszyniany. Home to an old mosque and traditional cemetery, the village is home to a dwindling population of the Tatar ethnic minority, and its painted wooden houses are remnants of a largely bygone age. Overnight Hotel Bialowieski or similar. (BLD)

Bialowieza Forest
Bialowieza is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest which once spread across the European plains – some of the trees here are believed to be over 600 years old.

The forest was once a home and playground of Polish princes and Russian tsars, who spent much time here resting and hunting. Wildlife here is rich and diverse – the reserve is home to around 200 species of birds, including corncrake, eagle owl, white stork, along with 60 species of mammal, including wild boar, wild horses, elk, deer and perhaps most famously, bison, one of the symbols of the country.

Day 11 - Podlasie - Warsaw

We travel through the region of Podlasie, home to an Orthodox Belarusian minority who speak their own dialect. The villages here are often brightly decorated with painted wooden houses, ornate gables and neat farms, and we stop on the way to explore. Arrive back in Warsaw in the afternoon and this evening we attend a Chopin concert in Warsaw’s Old Town, before heading out for a final dinner. Overnight Hotel Metropol or similar. (BL)


Day 12 - Warsaw

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


This trip can be combined with our trip to Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova for a more comprehensive trip through Central and Eastern Europe.

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the

    same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English speaking local guide.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are included for those sites mentioned in the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most nationalities, including UK, EU and US travellers, do not need visas for Poland. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

Poland uses the zloty as currency. It’s not difficult to change money here if you need to, either at banks, exchange booths or the hotels and your guide can assist with this.

When to go

With its northerly location, the best time to visit Poland is without a doubt in the summer, from May to August. Temperatures are their best here, and late spring and early autumn are particularly pleasant as summer can sometimes be quite hot. Poland is quite pretty in the winter as there’s often quite a bit of snow, but the days are shorter and weather can curtail activities.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home.Poland has come a long way since leaving the Soviet Union, but still a few things are catching up.  Travelling requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not always be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Poland.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
24 May 2021
Price (PP) -
£2,499
Single Supplement -
£360
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
30 August 2021
Price (PP) -
£2,499
Single Supplement -
£360
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
23 May 2022
Price (PP) -
£2,599
Single Supplement -
£360
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
29 August 2022
Price (PP) -
£2,599
Single Supplement -
£360
Trip Status -
Available