We only had 7 days to explore the beautiful country of Poland. We decided to stick to Poland’s two main cities during our visit – Warsaw and Krakow. Here are our suggestions for a 7-day itinerary covering these two awesome cities.
Day 1-3: Warsaw
Your first stop should be hopping on a free walking tour in Warsaw. There are a number of tours on offer, including tours of the Old Town, Jewish Warsaw and World War 2 in Warsaw. These tours really are the best way to see the main sights of the city, and to learn more about Poland’s history. Some of the tours also include free food and a shot of vodka – Tom did shot of vodka followed by some pig’s lard and pickle on bread at 10am… yummy!
Here are few must-see places for your visit:
- Pawiak Prison
- The Warsaw Uprising Museum
- Old Town
- POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
- Monument to the Warsaw Uprising Fighters
- Jewish Ghetto Memorial
Warsaw has plenty of great restuarants and bars, so make sure you try a few Polish staples such as pierogi (dumplings), golabki (cabbage roll), and bigos (meat stew). Warsaw also has a surprisingly good Vietnamese food scene! So if you are pining for a taste of something different, head to a local Vietnamese restaurant for a pho.
Day 4-7: Krakow
We caught the bus from Warsaw to Krakow using Polski Bus, which is affordable and comfortable. Krakow is definitely more “touristy” than Warsaw, and you will notice more hostels and foreigners around.
Again, the free walking tours in Krakow are a great way to see the city. There are a number of tours on offer, including tours of the Old Town, Jewish Krakow, Communist Krakow and street art. We particularly enjoyed the Jewish Krakow tour, which included visits to the Jewish Quarter and Schindler’s Factory.
Other must-see attractions include:
- The Main Market Square
- Church of the Virgin Mary
- Wawel Royal Castle
- Ghetto Heroes Square
- St Florian’s Gate
- Church of St Peter and St Paul
- A visit to a traditional Soviet milk bar for a cheap and tasty lunch
The Weiliczka Salt Mine is only 10 kms from Krakow, and definitely worth a day trip. This UNESCO World Heritage site has been mined since the 13th century and is the oldest of its type in Europe. The mine has hundreds of kilometers of tunnels chiselled out of rock salt, featuring sculptures, arts, and stunning underground chapels. Entry tickets cost 84PLN, which includes a guided tour of almost 3 kilometres of salt corridors. You can get there by train, bus or minivan.
We visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp on our final day in Krakow. We found our visit very overwhelming, and find it hard to describe how heavy our hearts were afterwards. Over 1.1 million men, women and children were murdered at this camp, and it is hard to fathom the sheer scale of what happened here. Without trying to sound cliched, I really would describe a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau as life changing. It will change your perspective on life, love and family, and make your everyday worries seem trivial. A quote from a plaque at the camp summed it up best – “For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity…”
What happened here can never be forgotten, and we would recommend giving yourself time during the evening after your visit to reflect as it will be a very emotional day. Group tours from Krakow are very affordable, and include a guided visit with an educator. Speak to your hostel or the tourist information office to organise your seat.