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Help with a travel plan to Poland

renier8 3 | 30
30 Dec 2017 #1
Hi there. My name is Renier. I am planning a trip to Poland. I hope to do this at the end of January or begging of February.

Time and resources will limit me to the south. The plan is:


I am not sure if you will be able to see my map here:

I will have around two weeks to spend. So that could work out to two days per city in the list. But I am worried that some cities / areas justifies less time, and others would be better to have more time.

Thank you so much.
gumishu 12 | 6,098
30 Dec 2017 #2
are you sure you want to visit Poland in the middle of the winter? it can be pretty cold you know (like below -15 degrees sometimes even less)

Kraków and Warsaw - but especially Kraków are worth more than 1-2 day visit - while I doubt Białystok and Lublin can match them - Wrocław is definitely worth a 2 day visit
30 Dec 2017 #3
limit me to the south

Your plan is taking you all over Poland! Białystok and Lublin are in the East, Wrocław is West, Poznań West Central for example.

Where are you starting from? Your map doesn't make it that clear.

My personal opinion, and I've been to all places on your list bar Białystok, is that you are trying to do too much in a short space of time. It's not impossible that you could visit all those cities but I think you would be very rushed and your holiday would be far from relaxing. There is plenty to see and do in Kraków, Warsaw and Wrocław for example. I would spend a minimum of 2-3 days in Kraków and Warsaw, you could probably get away with 2 days in Wrocław. Lublin is a lovely city and well worth a visit, you could probably see a lot in 2 days there. Personally I would spend longer in each city but I am quoting minimum times if you are insistent on seeing every city.

Poznań could be done in a day, not sure about Białystok as I haven't been there. If I had to skip any cities on the list due to time, these two would be the ones.

How do you plan to get around? Will you be hiring a car or relying on public transport? Some of these cities are quite far apart so don't forget to factor in travelling time between them. It may take longer than you think.

Have a look through the travel forum, there are lots of threads about what to see and do in these cities, although you may already have a list of what you want to see. If you need any more information just ask.

Poland in the middle of the winter?

Probably not the best time to visit, but I've been several times in Winter and actually quite enjoyed it.
30 Dec 2017 #4
I would spend a minimum of 2-3 days in Kraków and Warsaw,

2/3 days in each city, not for both.
DominicB - | 2,709
30 Dec 2017 #5
I hope to do this at the end of January or begging of February.

The weather can be downright awful at that time of the year. From May 1 to August 31 is when the weather is best. April can be cold and wet, as can November. September can be cold already, and October is usually cold. December, January, February and March are the worst months to travel because there is a real possibility that snowfall can paralyze air and surface traffic. It's not unusual to have two weeks of solid horrible weather from the beginning of November to the end of April.

Three cities are more than enough for two weeks. Four at the outside. In terms of tourist friendliness, I recommend Kraków, Wrocław and Poznań. Or Kraków, Toruń, and Gdańsk. You can also see a bit of Warsaw if you land and depart from there. It's a matter of taste, but Warsaw just doesn't have the charm that these cities do. Others may disagree, but I personally don't like it.

Białystok is not at all charming. The draw there is the countryside, which is incredible in the summertime. You could easily spend two weeks canoeing in the wetlands and river valleys that surround it. As for the city, though, a single day is more than enough to see all there is to see. Lublin just isn't set up for tourism like the cities I mentioned are. It has a lot of potential, but it just hasn't been developed yet.
Lyzko 36 | 8,462
30 Dec 2017 #6
Hi, Renier!

Sounds like an ambitious road trip. Might also be a not half bad idea to pick up a bit of basic Polish before embarking on your trip:-) Outside of major urban areas and specifically tourist-class hotels, English won't get you that far. Just a thought.

Have a good time,
OP renier8 3 | 30
30 Dec 2017 #7

Thank you everyone. This is helping a lot. I am updating and altering plans as I go, with your help.
For starters - here is the updated idea and new map:

Just some stuff that I can say, that might help you to help me.

I am happy to stick to three or four towns as per your recommendation.
I prefer local / cultural / old towns, and authentic experiences as opposed to "westernized" cities.
I heard there are forests to the east. Would love to see that and any other recommended sceneray (withou

I don't really worry about monuments and stuff, unless it is really significant or impressive. I don't want to go where tourists go and stay in hotels and eat McDonalds :-) ha ha ha.

I would rather find my own way with some local advice. Local people. Local accommodation. Local food.

And finally - believe it or not - but I have never seen snow (besides in movies). So I want show - and lots of it :-)

But having said that - I guess it would be pointless to get there and be stuck with roads closed etc. So I don't know how to approach that.

Your continued help and input will be greatly appreciated.
gumishu 12 | 6,098
30 Dec 2017 #8
I think the best form of transportation in the winter is trains (though they too can get delayed in very adverse conditions) - fortunately there are quite decent railway connections between the major cities you want to visit

as for snow - even at the turn of January and February there is a chance there will be no snow in most of Poland (I know it sounds weird there can be as well over one foot of snow in many parts of the country at this time) - your best bet to see and experience snow is to go to the mountains - my advice is to visit Zakopane which is about 2 hours away from Kraków by train - you can make a visit in Kraków say 4 days with a day trip to Zakopane if there is no snow in the cities you are going to visit
Lyzko 36 | 8,462
30 Dec 2017 #9
Renier, unless planning a super compact trip with door-to-door pick-up service and luxus accomodations nearly 24 7 in which case no language knowledge of any kind is required, then for G_d's sake, you certainly don't have to burden yourself learning Polish!!

Other than that, some even cursory knowledge of the local lingo might save you lots of aggrevation and frustration:-)

But, suit yourself.
kaprys 3 | 2,286
30 Dec 2017 #10
As gumishu said, there's no guarantee there will be snow. Especially in town and cities.
And if there's snow ...
It looks breathtaking soon after it falls, especially when it's a bit frosty but the reality is that it soon gets dirty or melts away.

So it'd be best for you to go to the mountains but since you don't know the language and you're not really used to winter, go to a touristy place like Zakopane. Just remember not to go on tracks on your own or with anyone as inexperienced as yourself. Mountains require respect.

There's usually snow in the mountains and the nature is beautiful.
All our mountain ranges are in the south.
Don't worry too much about the language if you go to touristy places, even if the people you meet don't speak fluent English, they'll know it better than you'll be able to learn Polish in a month. A phrase book may come in handy, though.
OP renier8 3 | 30
31 Dec 2017 #11
Hello everyone,
Again - thank you for the input.
I will keep you updated as the plan unfolds.

OP renier8 3 | 30
31 Dec 2017 #12
I have another question.
I really, really don't want to do this trip through a group / tourist holiday.
I don't see it as a holiday, but rather an adventure.

Do you think this is a bit ambitious?
I mean I will stick to the beaten path. I am not going into the woods where there are ghosts. Not alone anyway :-)
31 Dec 2017 #13
I prefer local / cultural / old towns, and authentic experiences as opposed to "westernized" cities.

I'm afraid that all the cities you plan to visit are westernized to some degree. All have large shopping malls for example, just as you would find in London or Paris. You would have to go off the beaten track a bit to avoid this. Smaller towns such as Toruń and Zamość are well worth a visit, but English will not be as widely spoken in the smaller towns as it is in the cities.

I heard there are forests to the east. Would love to see that and any other recommended sceneray

There are indeed. Białystok would be a starting point for visiting Białowieża forest, a UNESCO world heritage site ( the one which has been in the news often as unfortunately extensive logging has been allowed to take place there ). Here are a couple of links so you can read about it:-

I would love to go myself but I think it's probably a better idea to visit in summer. Poland can be very cold in the winter.

In the South East is Bieszczady National Park which I have been to and is well worth a visit:-

If you want to see snow then Zakopane is the place as others here have suggested being a ski resort, but it is VERY touristy. Think wooden chalet style shops, although they are mixed in with original Goral wooden buildings typical of the region. If you have a clear day you will be able to see the Tatra mountains. Despite it being touristy I am glad I went to see it, and I'm sure you would enjoy it. I went by car but I'm pretty sure there is a bus from Kraków which takes about 1.5 hours.

Do you think this is a bit ambitious?

Go for it! You will be fine. Although I have stayed with friends in Poland, I've also gone on my own many times. LIke you, the last thing I would want to do is go on a group type holiday. Plan carefully, book e.g train tickets in advance if you can as this will save time and queues, and most importantly, have fun!!
OP renier8 3 | 30
31 Dec 2017 #14
@Chemikiem and others.
Thank you very much.
I do realize like any country it is impossible to experience everything. I just want a "taste" of Poland for two weeks.
So here is another travel route option:
I don't mind spending time in Warsaw and Krakow, but ideally more time away from the big towns.

What do you think about that route? It is just a rough idea.
31 Dec 2017 #15
What do you think about that route?

Not having been to Białystok, I can't comment on that city, but I do know that Wrocław is lovely. If you are going to Białystok only to try and see Białowieża forest, then I would advise against it simply because of the time of year.It would be far better to visit in summer in my opinion.
OP renier8 3 | 30
31 Dec 2017 #16
Not having been to Białystok, I can't comment on that city

Thank you. So this previous plan is still viable:

What would you change? I am staying within those parameters to limit travel and spend more time in the towns.
NoToForeigners 10 | 1,016
31 Dec 2017 #17
Get yourself a gas mask lol.

Greetings from Zielonha Góra with as clean air as a developed coutry wished for.
Dougpol1 32 | 2,673
31 Dec 2017 #18
Get yourself a gas mask lol.

That's Krakow for you.... depressing.

If the OP likes towns so much, shouldn't he be visiting the towns/cities with old towns still standing/ rebuilt to some extent (Torun/Gdansk etc.)? And what about out east (Zamość...)? Old spas like Krynica, rather than Zakopane, aka Polonia in the mountains.
OP renier8 3 | 30
31 Dec 2017 #19
Thank you all. Getting there.
Considering inputs and some more research online, please have a look at my new map and plan. I think this is version 11 already :-)
kaprys 3 | 2,286
31 Dec 2017 #20
What are you going to do in Hajnówka? There's a narrow gauge railway there that will take you into the Bialowieza Forest to see Topilo lake but there are just like two shops there and the lake ... Not in Hajnówka as it's a town but I have seen more interesting places in Poland. Or are you going east to see the bisons at the Białowieża National Park?

Check in advance the opening hours etc.
Białowieża is very popular with foreign tourists but not sure how popular it is in winter.
You're going to travel long distances between these places.
OP renier8 3 | 30
31 Dec 2017 #21
Thank you for the input.
I just read somewhere that the forests there are worth seeing. But it is a bit out of the way.
I might give that a miss.

Updated map:

Updated with Białowieża,

Okay so that Bialowieza is not the same one :-)
Either way - I don't think I will be able to do that kind of detour for the forests.

Further input would be greatly appreciated.
OP renier8 3 | 30
2 Jan 2018 #22
Good day all, and wishing you all a great 2018. More fun and less work!

I am in the process of looking at my documents. I think my last map is good enough for me for a start.
I have one more thing that I need some input please. The time that I spent in each city /town. Can you please see this link and let me know:

You will see two nights in Warsaw when I land and one when I leave, just to make sure I am on top of flight schedules.

I appreciate your help.
DominicB - | 2,709
2 Jan 2018 #23
You're going to be so exhausted just from traveling and adjusting to new locations, that you are not going to have much energy to want to see much. It's way to ambitious. And are you planning on renting a car?

Again, seriously rethink coming in January and February, when the roads can be totally impassable because of ice and snow, and the days are short, dark and grey. If it warms up, then you've got to deal with the slush, which is worse than the snow. You are going to enjoy this a lot more in June, July or August. You won't have to be lugging around all that bulky winter clothing, the weather is sunny, warm and dry, and you don't have to worry about air and ground transport being paralyzed.
OP renier8 3 | 30
2 Jan 2018 #24
Hi Dominic- thank you for all your input so far.
I see what you are saying. I can adjust the travel route and total trip days and limit the visits and travel time. I think I will be on trains mostly, from what I can tell.

But I really want to see snow :-(

What do you suggest?
DominicB - | 2,709
2 Jan 2018 #25
When Poles go on winter vacation, they don't travel around. They pick a nice place and hole up there for the duration, as traveling around can be quite difficult. For example, I would spend my winter vacations in a seaside fishing town near Gdynia called Orłowo. Most of the time would be spent indoors by the fire with friends, or on very short city train rides to Gdańsk or Gdynia for a good meal and some limited sightseeing. I've also spent winter vacation in Cieszyn, Chojnice and Jelenia Góra.

Some people like to ski and do winter sports, and again, they pick one place and stay there. Zakopane and Karpacz can be a zoo at this time of the year with all the Polish tourists.

Save the snow for another time. It's not worth the risk of ruining your entire vacation because you are stuck and can't get around. And then there is the small, but real, possibility that there might not be any snow at all for the duration of your stay. Just slush and mud.

If you've never even seen ice and snow, take it from those of us who deal with it regularly an have an idea how inconvenient and tiring it can be, especially when you are traveling.
OP renier8 3 | 30
2 Jan 2018 #26
Thank you Dominic,
I suppose you are right. I can survive without the snow :-)
But I still want near zero temperatures.
I like the cold. And there is not much of it in my country. I prefer a cold and wet holiday /trip over a warm and sweaty one.

So which month would you then recommend?

kaprys 3 | 2,286
2 Jan 2018 #27
Have you ever experienced zero temperatures?
DominicB - | 2,709
2 Jan 2018 #28
But I still want near zero temperatures.

You can't have near zero temperatures without the risk of paralyzing ice and snow. And believe me when I say that Poland is dark and gray in the winter time.

If you do come in winter, abandon all plans for visiting many places, and stick to at most two of the nicer cities that are tourist friendly and easy to get around like Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Toruń or Gdańsk, anchoring yourself in Warsaw at the beginning and end of the trip. And stick to train travel between them. While road travel and travel on less busy train lines can be paralyzed, the main train lines between these cities are rarely paralyzed.

Even in the summer time, Poland rarely gets hot enough to be considered hot and sweaty. Perhaps a week or two in August, at the most.

You do realize that you have to dress appropriately for winter weather, and that those clothes are very bulky and heavy, and a pain to drag around?

If you want cool, wet weather, then come during the last two weeks of April or the first two weeks of May, or the last two weeks of September or the first two weeks of October. You might even see snow during those times, but it won't be enough to paralyze travel.
OP renier8 3 | 30
2 Jan 2018 #29

Thank you :-)

I have not often felt zero temperatures, but I have. I was fortunate to go to Ireland (my brother paid). In Ireland it was zero most of the time, and we would do some walking and driving outside and then run for a coffee shop or bar :-)

But the bleak, grey, rainy weather moved my soul.

Our currency is weak, and I can only travel maybe once a year. My country is hot almost all year round. Very few places go to zero degrees. Visitors obviously like the sun and beaches, but I want to do it the other way around.

Anyways - long story short: If I must choose between Poland and a place like Thailand, I would really like to come to Poland. Everyone tells me to go to Thailand rather....

Open to ideas still.
Thank you.
kaprys 3 | 2,286
2 Jan 2018 #30
If you really want to experience snow, go to the south of Poland: visit Kraków, Wieliczka, Auschwitz for culture, tradition and history and then head south to the mountains to see snow. Keep in mind that it's going to crowded in January/February is the time of winter break in Polish schools.

I'm not sure if it's really a good idea to travel without a travel agency in winter, in a country you have never visited and if you don't speak the language. Even Poles do some silly things like tourists who recently got stuck at Morskie Oko.

Are you travelling on your own?

Even if don't want to travel with an agency, check some suggested itinenaries.
There are other interesting (not so well known places) in the south like Pszczyna.

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