Poland is a large country that is worth taking the time to explore. Whether you’re interested in the complex history, seeing the beautiful architecture of the Main Squares in each city or are just here for the pierogi, there’s something for everyone in this country. I first feel in love with Poland while studying abroad in Krakow during college, and have continue to visit over the years, never tiring of the rich culture and hearty cuisine. Ten days is ideal to explore the main cities and get a feel for Poland, though of course if you have more time it will allow you to discover other less-visited destinations like Lodz, Poznan and Czestochowva. Here’s a Poland itinerary for 10 days that gives you a sample of the major cities, starting from the north near the Baltic Sea and heading south.
Train Travel In Poland
The best way to travel around the country is via Polish trains. It’s not always the cheapest way to travel, but it’s less of a hassle where you don’t have to worry about security and all the headaches that come with air travel. It’s also a great way to take in the beautiful Polish countryside, when traveling from city to city. One of my personal favorites is the Warsaw to Krakow route (and vice versa). The train stations are often centrally located near the Main Square in most major cities, so it’s also more convenient than having to make your way to an airport, which is often on the outskirts of a city.
Best Time to Plan A Poland Itinerary For 10 Days
Poland has four seasons, with warm summers and brutally cold winters. Crowds in popular destinations like Krakow can be overwhelming during the summertime. The best time to visit if you want mild weather and less crowds is September-October, before the weather starts to cool down significantly. Spring can be nice, but can be cold (with snow!) especially during the earlier part of the season. Christmas time is a memorable time to visit with the holiday markets, but just remember to pack a warm jacket, since December can dip into the 30s.
Gdansk (2 Days)
The seaside city of Gdansk is a great place to start your Poland itinerary. As a main port city, there is a lot of international influence that is seen through the local architecture. Start out by wandering around the Długi Targ (Long Market) in the Main Town, among the colorful building facades that were rebuilt after World War II and the famous Neptune Fountain, which has the oldest secular monument in the country. Nearby the Golden House has one of the richest facades in the city, boasting twelve different elaborately carved historical scenes. Make sure to stop by St. Mary’s Church nearby, known as one of the churches with the most bricks in the world.
Gdansk is historically significant because it’s the birthplace of the Solidarity movement that eventually stamped out Communist rule. In the afternoon, visit The European Solidarity Centre, which has informative permanent exhibits about this important moment in Poland’s history and is free to enter. Expect to spend between 2-3 hours inside. Afterward, head over to the Gdansk Shipyard and the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970, where a local electrician Lech Walesa led strikes with fellow shipyard workers, and went on to become the first president in post-war Poland.
Spend your last day relaxing by the Baltic Sea in the neighboring resort town of Sopot, which is known as the Polish Rivera. Stroll along the wooden pier in Europe or drink a Aperol-prosecco spritz in one of the many seaside cafes. For fresh fish at reasonable prices stop by the Bar Przystan. The easiest way to get from Gdansk is a train ride that’s under the 30 minutes. If you prefer a more history-oriented itinerary, the Malbork Castle is an hour train ride away, where you can easily spend a few hours exploring one of the largest castles in the world. The train ride from Gdansk is between 30-50 minutes depending on the train you take. For more information on visiting and train schedules check here.
Torun (1 Day)
The next stop on your whirlwind Poland itinerary for 10 days is this small, but fascinating city. Begin at the medieval Old Town of Torun, and see noteworthy sights like St. Mary’s Church, Holy Spirit Gate, the Copernicus Monument, and the Leaning Tower of Torun. Afterward, visit the House of Copernicus, the childhood home of the astronomer who proved the sun revolved around the earth and not the other way around.
In the afternoon, stop by the Teutonic Knights Castle ruins, which is one of the oldest structures of its type dating back to the 13th century and separates the Old Town from the New Town. Afterward, head to the Muzeum Piernika, and learn how to make the famous Torun gingerbread and bring some home for souvenirs.
Warsaw (2 Days)
Get your bearings in the capital city by walking the Trakt Królewski (the Royal Route), which passes by major landmarks and stretches for over a mile. The route starts at the edge of Old Town where you can wander among the UNESCO-listed sights. Afterward, walk on Krakowskie Przedmieście street, where you can see the beautiful University of Warsaw’s campus, Church of St. Anne, Nicolaus Copernicus’s monument, and the Polish Academy of Sciences. Pass by Nowy Swiat, a street lined with hip cafes, and then Aleje Ujazdowskie street where you can view the Three Crosses Square with St Alexander’s Church. End at Lazienki Park, the largest city park where you can admire the peacocks, ancient amphitheater, palaces, and the famous Chopin statue.
Head to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, that provides informative exhibits detailing the events of this significant moment in the city’s history. Note that the museum is closed on Tuesdays. Afterward, lighten the mood a bit by touring the Wedel Factory in the Praga neighborhood and picking up plenty of the signature chocolate at the gift shop to stash in your bag.
Make your way back to the Old Town and visit the Royal Castle, which was the home of Polish royalty from the 16th-18th centuries. During WWII the entire palace was destroyed, but was rebuilt in the 1980s. In the afternoon, take a relaxing stroll on the banks of the Wisla River, and check out the Plazowa, which is central area that includes cafes, an outdoor theater, a beach pavilion, and free concerts.
At sunset, head to the top of the Palace of Culture and Science, where you get some of the best aerial views of the city.
Wroclaw (2 Days)
This is the largest city in Western Poland, where you can start out your tour at the stunning Main Square, which was built in the 13th century and is one of the largest market squares in Europe. Make sure to stop by the Gothic Old Town Hall, one of the two town halls in the square. Keep your eyes on the ground for the many dwarfs scattered around the city. Afterward, head to the Panorama Raclawicka, where the Panorama of the Battle of Raclawicka is located in a rotunda, and its circular nature makes the viewer feel like you are immersed in the painting.
Take a walk around Ostrów Tumski, the oldest part of the city that goes back to the 10th century. This charming area is very walkable, where you can view sights like the Gothic Cathedral and the numerous bridges that connect the rest of the city over the Oder River. Stop by the Gothic Catherdral of St. John the Baptist for a panoramic view of the city from its spires. At night, make sure to stop by Wroclaw Multimedia Fountain, which features an impressive water show with accompanying music and lights.
Krakow (3 Days)
Start your day out in the historical Main Square, where you can visit St. Mary’s Basilica and climb to the top for a spectacular aerial view of the city. The neighboring Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) is a great spot to browse for souvenirs and admire the Renaissance architecture. In the afternoon, head to nearby Wawel Castle, which boast scenic views of the Wisla River and has a Dragon’s Den (the city’s unofficial mascot) worth checking out. Later on walk the perimeter of the Planty, the lush city park that borders the Main Square.
Spend your day at the sobering grounds of Auschwitz. It’s located about an hour outside of Krakow, and you can take a bus or train by yourself, but a private tour is a great alternative where the van usually picks you up at your hotel. At night head back to Krakow, and spend the evening in trendy Kazimierz (the historic Jewish quarter) where there’s a dizzying number of great restaurants, bars, and side streets to explore.
On the last day of your 10-day Poland itinerary, head to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, where you can see the St. Kinga’s Chapel, which is an underground chapel made entirely of salt. The mines are located in Wieliczka, a town that is about 20 minutes outside of the city, and you can get there either by signing up for one of the local tours in Krakow or take a bus, train or minivan.