With a long and often tragic history, Poland is a country full of fantastic sights for visitors to enjoy. It has a wealth of wonderful cities, museums, food and much more. In this Poland 2 week itinerary I will highlight some of its best places to visit and explore. If you love beautiful buildings and learning about history, then Poland is a highly recommended destination. And whilst it may be a cliché term to use, I believe it is a very underrated one too.
Poland 2 Week Itinerary – Information
A wide range of places are covered in this Poland 2 week itinerary. Whilst it includes some day trips, the principal places you will stay are: Kraków, Wrocław, Toruń, Gdańsk and Warsaw. This gives you a good introduction to Poland and showcases some of it’s most stunning architecture, interesting museums and fascinating history.
Located in central Europe, Poland is a country that suits different travel styles. If you are backpacking then there are plenty of hostels and budget accommodation options to choose from. And if you prefer more upmarket hotels, there are many of those to select from too. Many places in Poland also do apartment rentals, so you are spoilt for choice. Whilst I have based this Poland 2 week itinerary on my own experience backpacking here, it’s easily adaptable to suit whichever style you prefer.
Poland has a great railway network, offering cheap and quick options. Therefore this Poland 2 week itinerary is designed for train travel. You can generally buy a ticket on the day, though for busy periods it might be worth booking in advance. Public holidays and sunny weekends in particular. Personally for every train journey I took on this Poland 2 week itinerary I bought a ticket at the station on the day. This was in the month of May. But you can also buy online. Check out https://www.polishtrains.eu/ for train times and tickets.
You could also choose to travel by bus.
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It’s worth noting that this Poland 2 week itinerary includes many museums and some of them have a day of the week that they close. This is usually Monday, but can differ. So make sure to check the opening times and adjust your plans accordingly.
Poland 2 Week Itinerary – Destinations
Day 1 – Arrival and the Old Town
This Poland 2 week itinerary starts in Kraków. With plenty of flights to and from the city, it’s a very tourist friendly place, and therefore makes a great starting point. Once you’ve arrived and dropped off your stuff at your accommodation, head into the old town. It’s easy to find, surrounded by a small park named Planty Park. Have a look around, get your bearings and enjoy! The main square here is named Rynek Glówny and as well as lots of great buildings it is normally full of people and life. Particularly in the evenings.
A good thing to find on your first evening here is the Wawel Dragon. It’s located behind Wawel Hill, near to the river. And yes, it breathes fire! It’s based on Smok Wawelski, a Polish legend about a Dragon that lived on Wawel Hill.
Day 2 – Wawel Hill and more of the Old Town
Just south of the Old Town is the fantastic Wawel Hill. It’s home to the Wawel Royal Castle, which was home to Polish Kings for several centuries. Here you can visit various museum rooms and see artwork, armour, weapons and various other artefacts from Polish history. They offer individual timed tickets for the different attractions. However I think it’s worth buying a ticket that covers all the castle, so you can visit at your own pace.
Also inside the castle complex is the Wawel Cathedral. It is historically the main burial site for Polish monarchs. You can buy a ticket to look around inside, including seeing it’s famous church bell and some of its crypts. The bell is named the ‘Royal Sigismund Bell’ and dates from 1520CE. It is one of Poland’s national symbols hence it’s significance.
After you’ve visited the castle and cathedral it’s back to the Old Town. In particular there are a lot of church’s to see here, and you can usually go inside the during the daytime. Some do charge a small fee, so if you want to have a look it’s good to have some cash on you. St. Mary’s Basilica is the most well known of these, and it has a prominent position on the main square.
It’s also worth having a quick look at the remaining city walls and the Barbican, found at the north of the old town. These are part of the remining fortifications that used to protect the city.
Day 3 – Auschwitz-Birkenau
During the Second World War, Auschwitz was the site of Nazi atrocities where they brutally murdered over 1.1 million people. It is now the most well known of the Nazi Concentration camps, which were part of the Holocaust. During this period the Nazi’s killed around 6 Million Jews, which was two thirds of the European Jewish population at the time. The Nazi’s also killed many others too, including Gypsies, Political Opponents, Soviet POW’s, Homosexuals, Poles and many more. Today the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum serves to remind people of these horrors, to educate them and to say never again. Visiting is obviously a tough experience, but one many feel they want to do. Personally I decided to visit as I felt it was important to remember the victims and to educate myself about what happened.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum can be visited as a day trip from Kraków. Many tour companies in the city run trips to Auschwitz, where you then be taken on a guided tour of the site. You will visit two places, the first being the Auschwitz 1 Concentration Camp and the second the Auschwitz II–Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp. If you would rather visit independently then you can use public transport to reach Oświęcim, the Polish name for the city where the Concentration camp is located. You will need to reserve a spot using the Museums website: https://visit.auschwitz.org/?lang=en
Personally I would advise booking a tour. It’s very well run and they book your ticket, take you between the two sites an give you a guide. I booked mine through Get Your Guide and it was well organised. Whichever you choose, remember your ID as you will need it for entry.
Day 4 (am) – Wieliczka salt mine
The 4th day of this Poland 2 week itinerary starts with another trip, this time to the south of the city. Here you can join a tour where you are taken through part of the famous Wieliczka salt mine. It has been here since the 13th century. Salt has long been used as a method of preserving food, therefore was both socially and economically important. The mines themselves are actually huge, covering over 287 kilometres. Only 2% are actually accessible to the public.
Joining the ‘tourist trail’ your tour guide will explain the history of the mines, tell you about production and guide you through the areas that tourists can see. It’s very impressive and the further you go along the tour the more interesting and impressive stuff appears. This includes the Chapel of St Kinga, which features religious carvings in the salt.
To visit the Wieliczka salt mine you can either book a tour from Kraków or take the train to Wieliczka Rynek Kopalnia station. From there is is just a few minutes to walk to the mines. Personally I did the latter, and then joined one of the ‘induvial’ tours by buying a ticket from the ticket office outside the mine entrance.
Day 4 (pm) – Kazimierz
The historic Jewish quarter, Kazimierz was previously a separate settlement from Kraków. From 1795 onwards it has been part of the city as whole, and nowadays is a popular tourist spot. You can see Synagogues here, and old Jewish shops that are now restaurants/cafes. You can also visit the Remah cemetery which is an historically important Jewish burial grounds.
Whilst in Kazimierz you can also visit the Galicia Jewish Museum. It’s a photography museum that documents Jewish life in this part of Poland, and around the country as a whole.
And if you get hungry in Kazimierz, head to Plac Noway. It’s a famous spot to get some Zapiekanki, which is a Polish street food. Essentially it’s bread with toppings and sauce and it’s great! Whilst you can find Zapiekanki across Poland, this is a highly recommend place to try it. But if you don’t fancy it then there are other food stands dotted around here too.
Day 5 – Arrival, the Old Town and around
The next destination of this Poland 2 week itinerary is Wrocław. It has a large beautiful town square, and is full of photogenic buildings. To make you aware, and to help you whilst travelling there, the cities name is actually pronounced ‘vrot-swaaf’. Look out for the Old Town Hall, it’s one of the most important building’s here and dates from the 13th Century.
A lovely spot to head to once you’ve explored the square is the Botanical Garden of the University of Wrocław. These well maintained gardens are great for a walk, and have a nice variety of plant life to admire.
To get there you can cross over to ‘Cathedral Island’ known in Polish as ‘Ostrów Tumski’. You can see some nice views along the river and check out various cathedrals as well as the pretty streets. I recommend taking some time to look at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Wrocław.
Whilst in Wrocław look out for the Gnomes! The city was home to the Orange Alternative, a far left anti-communist movement which started in the 1980’s. The movements trademark was painting a ‘gnome’ (or dwarf, the terms seemed to be used interchangeably) as graffiti across the city, which then spread to other cities as well. In 2001 the first Gnome statue was erected to commemorate them. Since then many more Gnomes have appeared across the city and it’s great fun seeing which ones you can spot!
Day 6 – Racławicka Panorama, church’s and gardens
Seeing the Racławicka Panorama is a great way to start day 6 of your Poland 2 week itinerary. It’s a fantastic artwork painted in the 1890’s to celebrate the Battle of Racławice. Although they ultimately lost their struggle, it was a famous victory of Polish independence fighters over the Russian Empire a 100 years earlier (in 1794CE). You have a timed ticket here and are given an audio guide which explains about the painting. The building it’s held in is really impressive too, and worth a moment to admire from the outside.
Nearby is the National Museum. A ticket for the Racławicka Panorama gives you entry here too. It has a great collection of Polish artwork from the late Medieval Ages onwards.
Afterwards there are a couple of Cathedrals towers to climb. A good one to start with is the tower at St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral which gives you some amazing views over the city.
Next up is the Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene, which has a really interesting feature, the Witches Bridge! Climb up to see the Witch’s and learn their story.
If you still have energy after all this, you can head out to Szczytnicki Park. Here you can find the Japanese Garden, a peaceful place to walk around and have a break from the sights of the city. Nearby you can admire the Centennial Hall, an impressive concert hall building, and see it’s water and music show.
Day 7 – The Old Town and Castle Ruins
The medieval city of Toruń was historically an important trade centre and now is a popular tourist destination. It has a charming old town is fun to explore, and it’s compactness means it’s easy to get around.
A good place to start is the Teutonic Castle ruins. The Teutonic Knights are a Germanic medieval Catholic Order that once ruled a large swathe of land in Northern Europe, particularly along the Baltic Coast. In 1454 a rebellion in the town saw the local people destroy the Knights castle here, which marked the start of the Thirteen Years War. This was a war between the Teutonic Order and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. As you can see from the ruins today that they did a though job! Still, despite there not being much left, it’s a good historical landmark to start your visit to Toruń.
After you’ve had a good look around the old town, where there are several cathedrals you can visit, it’s worth heading to the Town Hall. It houses a great art museum, with plenty of gothic artwork and more modern Polish paintings. Therefore I recommend allocating a good amount of time here as there is plenty to admire. There is also an interesting collection of stained glass made in Toruń workshops in the 1300 and 1400’s.
After this you can then climb the Town hall’s tower to get some great views over the city.
Additionally when visiting Toruń look out for it’s statues. There are a few dotted around, which help add to the character of the city. The monument to Filus, a dog from a Polish cartoon strip, is a particularly popular one.
Day 8 – Museums
To be honest, Toruń can be seen in just a day. However this Poland 2 week itinerary is quite intensive, so I think it’s worth spending an extra day here just to take it a bit slower and relax more. There are lots of museums in the city so it’s a good opportunity to slowly visit some of them. In particular Toruń is famous for it’s gingerbread, so you should check out the Museum Of Gingerbread. Or alternatively the other museum, The Living Museum Of Gingerbread. Yes, it’s such a big deal here they have two museums!
Toruń is also famous for being the birthplace of of Nicolaus Copernicus, and his statue has a prominent place in the town square. A famous Polish astronomer, you can visit the Nicolaus Copernicus House and learn about his life and work.
The Museum of the History of Toruń is definitely worth a look. From the medieval ages, through to the second world war and beyond, it’s a great way to learn about life in the city.
I would say though, if you need to drop a day from this Poland 2 week itinerary due to time constraints, then this is the day I would advise. The museums are interesting to visit but others featured in this Polish itinerary are better, to be honest. I’ve written a Toruń 1 day itinerary that you can use if you can reach the city early enough.
Day 9 – Arrival, Dlugi Targ and Ulica Długa, and the waterfront and the Museum of the Second World War
Located on the northern coastline of Poland, Gdańsk is popular both with foreign and domestic tourists. If you are here at the weekend don’t be surprised to see many stag and hen do’s. Whilst they may come for the nightlife, it’s also a city full of history and beautiful scenery. For a closer look at the city check out my Gdańsk 3 day itinerary.
Dlugi Targ and Ulica Długa form the main strip here, full of beautiful buildings reconstructed after the destruction of World War Two. Look out for the Neptune Fountain here, it’s near to the Town Hall which itself dominates the street in size and stature.
After you’ve had a good look around, head along the waterfront. You can see many more beautiful buildings and soak up the atmosphere of the city.
For those of you familiar with how the Second World War started, you may know that the city was formally known by the Germanic name Danzig. Officially a free city after World War One, it was used as a port and an military base by the Poles. It was their refusal to cede the city to the Nazi’s that kickstarted World War Two. It is therefore a suitable place for the Museum of the Second World War. It’s a brilliantly done museum that guides you through the war, showing you what happened to Poland and explaining the stages of the war. I really recommend taking an audio guide here, it will guide you around the museum with minimal effort of your part.
Day 10 – Malbork Castle
Time for a daytrip, and a real highlight of this 2 week long Poland itinerary. Around 45 minutes by train from Gdańsk is the town of Malbork. Here you will find Malbork castle, the largest castle in the world (by land area). Originally built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th-century, it is remarkably well preserved and makes for a truly brilliant place to explore.
If you take an audio guide, which I recommend you do, all you need to do is hit play. The guide will then take you around the castle, explaining its history as you go. It’s fascinating and personally is a real highlight of Poland for me. It’s worth spending around 4 hours at the castle, longer if you want.
Afterwards be sure to get a look at the castle from across the Nogat river. There is a wooden bridge you can cross to get a good view. This way you can really appreciate the sheer scale of it.
There really is a lot to take in at the castle, therefore you may just want to rest when you get back to Gdańsk. However if you do have energy to spare, then there are plenty of side streets around Dlugi Targ and Ulica Długa that are worth a look.
Day 11 – Westerplatte, European Solidarity Centre, Old Town Hall and St Mary’s Church
As mentioned earlier, the Second World War started with Nazi Germany’s demands to seize Danzig. At 04:48 on September 1st 1939 the German warship Schleswig-Holstein fired on the Polish battalion at Westerplatte, thus starting the first battle of World War Two. Today you can visit the site, where a monument is erected to remember the Polish defenders. There is also a small cemetery too, and some information about some of the Polish soldiers.
Westerplatte is reached by boat ride from the Gdańsk waterfront. The journey takes you past the famous Gdańsk shipyards, which have operated since 1945 after being built on former German shipyards.
They are most famous for being the birthplace of Solidarity, the trade union movement that led to the downfall of Communism in Poland and eventually the eastern bloc as a whole. You can learn all about them at the European Solidarity Centre, a great museum dedicated to them and other anti-communist movements. Again I really recommend an audio guide here. It’s another one where you will be guided around the museum by the device after simply hitting play.
Later in the day you can return to Dlugi Targ and Ulica Długa area. Here you can visit the Old Town Hall. It contains more artwork and historical objects. Although to be honest it’s collection is smaller and not as grand as other places in this Poland 2 week itinerary. So if you need to drop a place from day 11 then I would recommend leaving this Old Town Hall out.
Afterwards head over to St Mary’s Church. Here you can climb the tower to get some great views over the city.
Day 12 – Arrival, Royal Route and the Old Town
The final destination on this Poland 2 week itinerary is the Polish capital, Warsaw. Running through the city is the ‘Royal Route’. It’s a long stretch full of shops, restaurants, monuments and important Polish buildings. Starting at the Plastic Palm Tree, an artwork at the end of Nowy Świat, it runs right up to the Royal Castle and Old Town area. A great way to start your visit to Warsaw is a walk along here, stopping at points you find interesting. A small detour from it will also take you to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the pleasant Saxon garden.
After walking this route head to the reconstructed Old Town area. It’s great to wander around and admire. At it’s centre is the Old Town Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta). Look out for the mermaid statue here. The mermaid is the symbol of the city and said to be it’s protector. Additionally look out for the Warsaw Barbican. It’s a reconstruction of 16th century defensive walls. North of here you can also find the New Town area, which has more buildings to admire.
As you head to the Old Town you will also notice the Royal Castle in Warsaw. It’s a museum and you can visit if you choose to. I’ve only seen it from the outside, I decided to focus on exploring other areas instead. But if you are into royal apartments and state rooms then it may worth a visit.
Day 13 – POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and The Warsaw Uprising Memorial
Before the Nazi’s atrocities of World War 2, Poland was home to a large Jewish population. In fact it was the largest in Europe prior to World War 2. The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews examines the 1000 year history of Jews in Poland. It really is a fascinating museum and again another with an incredible audio guide. I spent several hours here being guided around by it.
In addition I recommend getting lunch here too. The museums restaurant serves Jewish and Polish food and it’s really tasty!
Outside of the museum is the Monument To The Ghetto Heroes. It remembers the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto who fought a valiant last stand in defiance of the Nazi’s in 1943. Though they knew they had no chance of victory, they battled for their own dignity. The only surviving commander of one of the resistance groups, Marek Edelman, said they fought “not to allow the Germans alone to pick the time and place of our deaths”.
After this, you can go for a stroll in the nearby Krasiński Garden. It’s a public park with areas to walk and sit. Nearby is the Warsaw Uprising Monument. This monument remembers the Poles who fought in the 1944 uprising against the Nazi’s. Although the uprisings was brutally crushed it’s seen as an heroic attempt to fight for Polish independence.
Day 14 – Warsaw Uprising Museum and The National Museum in Warsaw
The final day of this Poland 2 week itinerary starts with a visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum. Here you can learn all about the 1944 uprisings against the Nazi German occupiers. There is a lot of good information, as well as items from the uprising such as armbands and weapons.
The afternoon is then spent in the National Museum in Warsaw. This is an art museum that covers Polish and other art from across Europe. There is also some from Egypt and Nubia too. I think some of the Polish art is particularly worthy of seeing as there are many good pieces here by famous Polish artists. You can easily spend several hours here admiring all the different kinds of work.
For a final stop, if you haven’t had a look at it already, check out the Palace of Culture and Science. It’s near the train station and is a huge 1950’s building that hosts various different events and exhibitions. For example when I visited there was a lot of stalls showcasing books and board games. I recommend you see it whilst you still can, because various Polish politicians have called for it’s demolishment. This is due to its association with the Communist era.
And that brings this Poland 2 week itinerary to an end. There is certainly more to see in Warsaw though. Personally I think this Poland Itinerary covers plenty to keep you occupied! But if you have the time and energy you can visit more parks, museums and church’s for sure.
Poland 2 Week Itinerary – A quickfire FAQ
Compared to Western Europe, yes Poland is ‘cheap’ to travel around. Travel fares, food and accommodation are noticeably lower than you find in countries such as England, Germany and Spain.
No, Poland uses Zloty.
May and June are a great time to visit Poland as the weather is getting warmer but the crowds are manageable. July and August is high season, as with the rest of Europe. September and October would also be a good time to visit before the rain and cold become too unpleasant.
Compared to other European countries Poland’s crime rates are pretty low, especially that of violent crime. So whilst no country can be regarded as a 100% safe, it is statistically is safer than a lot of other nearby countries
In the cities and the main tourist attractions English is widely spoken, so you should have no problems being understood in Poland.
Thanks for reading this Poland 2 Week Itinerary!
I hope you find it useful in planning your own trip to Poland. As always, my aim is to give you a starting point and inspiration for planning your own trip. For more European destinations you can check out my archives here. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.