Poland still remains a hidden gem for many with its picturesque towns, stunning architecture, breathtaking nature, medieval castles, and rich history. Visiting one town is not enough when planning a trip here, as dozens of charming cities in Poland beg to be explored. Therefore, I asked other travel bloggers to share their favorite ones with you.
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No list of cities in Poland is complete without mentioning its capital, Warsaw. Known for its significant historical events, UNESCO World Heritage historic center, and world-class museums, you can’t deny the charm of Warsaw.
Fascinating buildings, remarkable historic landmarks, and delicious restaurants serving authentic Polish cuisine make up the cityscape of Warsaw’s Old Town. Though underneath the facade of elegance and beauty, Warsaw suffered a grim history. Because of World War II and Poland’s German occupation, 85% of Warsaw’s historic center was destroyed. The Royal Castle of Warsaw, the most iconic landmark in Warsaw, was nearly flattened out and took several years to rebuild. Visitors can also learn about World War II’s most significant resistance movement, the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
If you are a piano enthusiast, you must add the Chopin Museum to your Warsaw itinerary. Having spent the first 20 years of his life in Warsaw, you can learn about Frederick Chopin’s work in the comprehensive Chopin Museum. Anyone who wants a tease of his work can enjoy the 15 musical benches scattered around Warsaw, each playing a section of his career.
By Living Out Lau
One of the oldest and second-largest cities in Poland, Krakow boasts historical sites, gorgeous architecture, and plenty of exciting things to do. Poland’s former capital dates back to the 7th century and has been a center of Polish economic, cultural, and artistic life. Nominated as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, UNESCO included its Old Town in its world heritage list.
Wander through its winding streets up to Wawel Hill to admire its castle and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Admire St. Mary’s Basilica’s interior at the Market Square before strolling down the Jewish neighborhood, which used to be a walled area known as Krakow Ghetto. Don’t miss a visit to its most interesting museums, including the Jewish museum and Schindler’s factory.
Poznan is one of the most underrated cities in Poland, yet it has everything one would want in a city break. From a gorgeous old town, incredible landmarks and museums to beautiful gardens, open-air markets, and the cutest cafes and restaurants, Poznan has it all minus the crowds.
Strolling around the Old Town and its monuments is one of the best things to do in Poznan. Those include the St. Stanislaus Parish Church, old town hall, and Royal Castle, but the entire area features stunning colorful buildings, cafes, and a few museums.
One of these museums is dedicated to a local sweet delicacy called St. Martin’s croissant, which is so unique that bakeries must have a special certificate to say that they make St. Martin’s croissants. Other visit-worthy spots in Poznan are the botanical gardens, Imperial Castle, Lake Malta, and Cathedral Island.
Poznan has its own airport, but you can quickly get there by train from other cities in the country or even from Berlin.
By My Path in the World
Sandomierz is a lovely underrated town in south-eastern Poland. Back in the 11th century, it had an essential role in the country’s life as one of the three royal seats. Its significance decreased after the Swedish siege, a significant fire, and two world wars.
Even so, it got the nickname “Little Rome.” Just as the Italian capital, it spreads on seven hills and is an important religious center. In the old town, there are no less than four churches. The one that you shouldn’t miss is the Cathedral Basilica of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.
Another similarity is that they both have underground tunnels and cellars that you can visit.
As a medieval trade center, Sandomierz got a massive defensive wall with four gates. Only one survived, Opatowska Gate. You can climb up and enjoy a panoramic view over the town and the Vistula river.
The heart of the city is its Market Square, unique in Poland for its slope. In the middle of it stands an impressive building, the Old Town Hall. Around the square, there are centuries-old townhouses. They host cozy cafes and tiny shops selling toffees and artisanal cider, the most beloved local products.
By Travel With a Spin
Even though Wroclaw is the fourth largest city in Poland, it still is a hidden gem. Located in Western Poland, Wroclaw is built along the Oder River and is known for its beautiful market square.
You can quickly get there by train from Krakow, Warsaw and other major cities in Europe. You can also fly into Wroclaw with airlines such as Ryanair or Wizz Air.
A brilliant way to keep yourself entertained while wandering Wroclaw’s streets is to see how many dwarf statues you can find in the city. From photographers to ice cream dwarfs, there are 163 in total.
Don’t forget to visit Cathedral Island to see the old traditional gas lamps still manually lit every night.
If you would like to go outside of Wroclaw, you can visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, which provides insight into Poland and Germany’s history. Alternatively, visit Książ Castle and other stunning sites of the Lower Silesia region.
By Travelling Thirties
Torun is one of the cities in Poland with the best-preserved medieval town centers. This UNESCO World Heritage Site even gave the world one of the greatest astronomers, the man that first set the sun at the center of the galaxy. The town is full of references to Nicolaus Copernicus.
The focal point in the city, the Old Market Square, dates back to the 13th century. The brick-built Town Hall with its Clock Tower is the most known symbol of the city.
The ruins of a Teutonic Castle are older than Malbork, and as an important medieval city, it had not one but two lines of defensive walls. Parts of it and nine gates and towers survived. One of them is leaning, just like the famous tower in Pisa.
Torun is also home to a unique kind of gingerbread, pierniki. You can even attend a workshop and learn how to make it. These sweet treats are sold all around town, along with delicacies gingerbread beer, vodka, or ice-cream.
By Travel With a Spin
Zakopane is a charming mountain hamlet in Poland’s south, making it a perfect gateway to the impressive Tatra National Park. Since it is a famous mountain resort village, frequent buses run from both Krakow and Wrocław. Many travelers use Zakopane as a base to explore the nearby Tatra Mountains.
There are lovely day trip options like taking the scenic cable car to Kasprowy Peak or strolling along Morski Oko, Poland’s most popular alpine lake. Adventure hikers can tackle a thrilling multi-day trek and sleep in the organized shelter system.
While the Tatra Mountains may be the biggest draw, Zakopane still has a charm of its own. Stroll down busy Krupówki Street that has restaurants serving up the regions’ highland cuisine. If you’re lucky, you may overhear traditional folk music floating down the streets. Try the Oscypek cheese that is made in the mountains and formed in an intricate wooden mold.
And no trip to Zakopane is complete without soaking in a nearby thermal pool, many of which offer luxury spa experiences that won’t break the bank.
By Packing up the Pieces
Despite being one of the largest cities in Poland, particularly on its eastern side, with a long and rich history, Lublin is still little known among foreign travelers, and the lack of tourist crowds is part of its charm. Those few people who decide to visit Lublin will find a city with just as much to offer as the more famous tourist hotspots.
With its strategic location between Krakow and Vilnius and Warsaw and Lviv, Lublin was once a wealthy trading hub in the region. Lublin’s old town is a journey back in time with its pastel-colored merchant homes and medieval entrance gates. The cobbled stone streets and narrow alleys are incredibly picturesque and full of history.
Other things to do in Lublin include visiting the iconic Lublin castle or shopping in the modern Krakowskie Przedmieście street. It is also a great base to explore off the beaten eastern part of Poland with several exciting day trips. Lublin is surprisingly easy to get to, taking a bit over 2 hours by train from Warsaw.
By Backpack Adventures
Bydgoszcz in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie province is a fabulous city built along the banks of the River Brda. It offers cultural, tourist, and leisure activities. Moreover, the city is full of great restaurants and bars with affordable prices.
The best way to see the city is to take a Water Tram trip, a fun and unique attraction operated by solar-powered boats. The town from the river is very picturesque, where buildings’ reflections twinkle in the clear waters of Brda.
The Old Town route offers an exciting experience of passing through a 100 years old lock, where you can admire the famous Bydgoszcz Opera Nova House, the marina, and the gorgeous architecture. While walking down the streets along the river, don’t forget to spot the city’s most famous sculpture – Man Crossing the River. It’s the sculpture of a tightrope walker, which is suspended over the Brda.
One of the unique things to do here is to visit the Museum of Soap and the History of Dirt, where you can even make your own soap.
Getting to Bydgoszcz is relatively easy with its airport and well-connected transportation system to other cities in Poland.
One of the fascinating cities in Poland, Gdansk, is lesser known than its cousins Warsaw and Krakow, yet it has a rich history and a lively and colorful vibe that belies its unhappy past.
It is a port city on the Baltic Sea, high in the north of Poland. In the shipyards of this city, the Solidarity movement, which would defeat communism and oppression in Poland, was founded by Lech Walesa in 1980. Walesa went on to become The President of Poland and architect of the development of this beautiful country. Gdansk wears its’ recent history proudly and stands as a symbol of resistance and change throughout Europe.
Apart from its rich shipping history, Gdansk is also known as the capital of amber, the fossilized tree resin that rolls in on the tides. In Gdansk’s old town, you’ll find amber shops lining the streets, whose buildings are curiously built in a typical Dutch renaissance style because the city’s master builder in the 16th century was Dutch!
By 24 Hour City Guides
Known as the industrial city or the coal capital of Poland, Katowice is rarely on the radar of tourists visiting the cities in Poland. This offbeat gem boasts museums, monuments, and many architectural wonders such as the Neoclassical cathedral and the Spodek Arena.
Katowice doesn’t have ruins, castles, and palaces, like the rest of the country, nor does it have a scenic city center. But it is officially the music destination of Poland, with local and international festivals held here, a guitar museum, and a vast concert venue called Spodek resembling a UFO spaceship. That’s why it earned the coveted tag of UNESCO city of music.
Apart from this, Katowice’s must-visit places are the Silesian Museum, which sits on a former Katowice Coal Mine, and the Valley of Three Ponds with its beaches and cycle paths. The locally famous Silesia Park also has many family attractions, including an amusement park and zoo. Enjoy a ride and excellent views via the Elka Cableway. Also, make sure to stroll down Nikiszowiec, a beautiful neighborhood with brick buildings with shops, offbeat art, and architecture.
You can get to Katowice from Warsaw and Krakow by bus or train.
By Explore with Eco Kats
Karpacz is a small town located in southwest Poland, a region called Lower Silesia. It is where Poles escape the hustle and bustle of big cities for a long weekend. The Karkonosze Mountains, a place of outstanding natural beauty, surround the town.
You can get here from major cities by train or bus. It will take around 5 hours from Warsaw and just 2 hours from Wroclaw. You can also hire a car at the airport, which is easy and very affordable.
The area has many excellent hiking routes within the protected Karkonosze National Park. One of the more popular hikes is climbing 1,603 meters high Sniezka and 1,377 meters high Kopa. If you’re not a hiker, you can take a funicular to both summits. There is also a beautiful Wang Church dating to the 12th century and constructed similarly to the Viking architecture style.
Karpacz is excellent at any time of the year. In the winter, it turns into a winter wonderland and a ski resort. After spending a day in the snow, you can get cozy in one of the local karczma (traditional taverns) with a glass of hot mulled wine or hot beer. Don’t forget to try the local specialty, locally sourced, grilled trout topped with home-made, smoked cheese called oscypek.
Gorlice is a surprisingly underrated city in Poland, even though it has so much to offer. It has been influential in world history and made it big in inventions too. The area is naturally rich in crude oil, and people have harvested it (with the use of buckets) already in the 16th century. Quite a few inventions are connected to the oil, including a kerosene oil lamp.
In 1914, a decisive battle of the First World War called the Battle of Gorlice took place outside the city.
You can stroll around the cute town, enjoy some fine dining, pop into a café or two, and do climb the city hall tower for stunning views and the Beskid mountains in the distance.
The area around Gorlice is no less impressive. Apart from several historical mining sites, you’ll mostly come across beautiful unspoiled nature. Small villages dot the landscapes, while Owczary hides a gem – a unique wooden church from 1653.
Gorlice is proud of its heritage, and every year in late September, they hold light shows to commemorate. It is the best time of year to visit the city.
By Travel Geekery
Tarnow is a hidden gem in Małopolska Province that is often overlooked because of the capital of the province, Krakow. The city is relatively small and easy to explore, but its rich history makes it an exciting stop while traveling to Poland.
Charming old town streets, Renaissance-style central square, and the city’s symbol – Town Hall built in the 15th century are some of Tarnow’s main attractions. Jewish heritage is an integral part of the city’s history and culture. You can explore this part of Tarnow by following the Jewish Trail, which connects historically essential places for the Jews, including the Old Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.
The best way to reach Tarnow is by train from Krakow Glowny (the central station in Krakow) and reach the town in about 1 hour.
By The Nerdy Me
Rzeszow is one of the most charming hidden cities in Poland. Located in the southeastern part of the country, it’s the capital of Podkarpackie province. It is a getaway to the beautiful Bieszczady Mountains, and being close to the border with Ukraine, you can easily visit stunning Lviv as a day trip!
You can’t get bored in Rzeszow. Take a walk around the charming old town and visit The Museum of Bedtime Cartoons. Relax at Niebieskie Migdały cafe, where you can have one of the world’s best cakes and try the delicious Polish food! Next, go down to the Rzeszow’s underground to understand the history of the city. Also, drive to the neighboring Lancut to visit the stunning castle that will take your breath away.
Rzeszow is a 1:30h drive from Krakow either by bus or train.
By Polish Foodies
Zamosc, the city located in the eastern part of Poland, near the border with Ukraine, is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in Poland, placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique example of a Renaissance town in Central Europe.
The town was established in the 16th century by Hetman Zamoyski, whose aim was to create a perfect city, according to Italian theories of the “ideal town.” The old part of Zamosc, surrounded by the city walls, is carefully planned. When you look at it from above, it resembles a person, the head (Hetman Zamoyski’s residency), the spine (Grodzka street), the heart (the town hall with the clocktower), the lungs (the cathedral and the academy), and arms and legs (the bastions).
Zamosc, with its winding lanes, colorful townhouses, and hidden yards, is a perfect place to wander around. Don’t miss the town hall, one of Poland’s prettiest – its winding stairs are probably the most Instagrammable spot in the city. And when you get tired of all the sightseeing, sit down in one of the outdoor cafes on the Main Square and enjoy the atmosphere of Zamosc.
By My Wanderlast
BONUS: Colorful village of Zalipie
The list of less known and cute cities in Poland can’t be complete without a painted village Zalipie.
It is an unusual village near Krakow with a unique decorative style. Ornaments adorn almost everything here, including houses, stoves, doors, and household items.
In the past, Zalipie residents decorated only interiors, but over time, they began to paint the facades of houses as well. Each drawing is unique. There is no specific ornament sample; every inhabitant draws according to his/her imagination and fantasy. And every year, the villagers prepare for a competition for the best-decorated house.
It will take you about 3 hours to visit the whole village of Zalipie. It’s like an open-air museum where locals will be happy to show you their painted houses.
By The Alternative Travel Guide
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Poland travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
- Book affordable flights on Skyscanner, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
- Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Poland, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
- Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda
- Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
- Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here