Updated: Aug 30, 2022
Whenever I tell people about my Youtube channel and what I do to explore Poland...inevitably I always get asked the same question..."what are your favourite cities in Poland?", or "what do you like most about Poland?"
Although I understand why people ask, I also struggle with the answer...for a few reasons:
Poland is a big country and so far I have only seen a fraction of what it has to offer. I don't feel qualified to say what the best places in Poland are, I need to see a lot more to make a balanced judgement, every trip I make gives me a new perspective...and I have a lot more trip to make over time.
Poland is a very diverse country, each region has it's own special history, it's own connection with nature, it's own fascinating architecture...and it's own story to tell, it can be hard to say one city is better than another...the truth is I like each city for a different reason, sometimes it is even something less tangible like the people I meet, how the weather felt, a specific experience I got to have there. I could make the same trip to a place several times and each time get a different feel and experience...find a different part of magic.
My knowledge of Poland is always growing. Poland is a very complicated country, the history is riddled with change, destruction, growth, tragedy, success...as I learn more about Polish history it puts into context each city in a different framework, you learn about the challenges they have faced, what they have had to overcome and even now what struggles they can endure.
With the above and I am sure some other reasons...I am not ready to make a video about the "Best Cities in Poland". One day for sure this will be on the cards...but not yet, I could not do it justice, it would not be a fair assessment, however...so that you don't feel cheated by the article headline...I will give you a list of my favourite places I've seen so far at this point:
This is obviously a biased entry, I've lived here for over 4 years, have made many memories here, have many friends here and got to see and do almost everything that can be done in this city, I know it's history well, I see the potential here and feel it growing and evolving even in the comparatively short time I have lived here.
Ultimately though, this city has the most life to it, a vibrant energy and a dynamic spirit, many interesting and evolved people to meet, brilliant architecture to behold, wonderful places to eat and drink, beautiful natural scenery with the parks and the life along the river. I often compare this city to Cardiff where I lived in the UK for 8 years (though of course a much bigger version), on the whole I find people to be friendly here...and luckily for me, most people speak at least some English haha!
2. Gdansk and the Tri-City
I was first introduced to this city by a colleague from my old work, Kasia, she drove myself and a colleague over from India Azaz to spend the weekend here. Even driving into the city I felt a great energy and said to myself I could live here one day, it was beautiful and that was even before we got to the sea...
I tend to end up here at least once a year since the time I went there and in truth I am likely to continue to go back, I hope next time with a group of friends to experience this from a different angle.
As well as having much preserved architecture, even dating back to Medieval times (Something which Polish history has made difficult!), there is a good scene here, nice bars and restaurants, incredible and powerful museums such as Solidarnos and the World War 2 museum, there are awesome beaches and the possibility to do a little Amber hunting, there is lush woodland to explore including old bunkers and weapon emplacements.
Also you have Sopot to extend the party feel and beach presence, as well as Gdynia to add to the naval feel and museum experience, all in all this is three cities in one...which really adds to it's strength, as well as it being in a region with a lot of great places to see!
Sadly I don't have a video for this at the time of writing this, though I hope to rectify this next year with a bigger trip of the region I am planning. When I visited it was before I had the idea for my channel, so I only have photos...just in case you were wondering why ;)
This city has a lot to offer the perspective tourist, a beautiful city centre, interesting museums, the best Zoo in Poland...and Dwarves, there are over 100 I believe little Dwarven statues dotted around the city...one day I will make it a quest to find them all! (I love a good treasure hunt).
Wroclaw also has several nice waterways and bridges connecting the city...I spent a weekend here and loved it, I am keen to go back and see the city again and also importantly more of the region around it which is full of treasures!
Also...I need to replace my memories here, this trip was the beginning of the end for a special relationship I had at the time...and also the start of one of my biggest spells of growth in life, though that is a story for another time...
The above entries are a bit of a cliche..virtually every blog or video you will see on his subject will contain these cities, so I thought I would present something a little different...
This mountain town in the South West of Poland is one I spent a week in while in a previous relationship, during that time I got to have a great experience even when Covid was shutting everything down!
The city itself is very hilly, being within walking distance of the mountains it presents some interesting walking experiences, the feel is quite rustic, with less dramatic architecture than the bigger metropolitan cities though at the same time a charming and genuine atmosphere. There is one museum I particularly enjoyed...even though it is perhaps aimed more at children and that is the Karkonoszy Tajemnice, basically a museum of the folklore surrounding the mountains.
The Karkonosze mountains themselves are a great hiking experience, a bit of a challenge rewarded with incredible scenery! Plus a cool looking UFO at the top...I mean research centre ;)
5. Bielsko Biała
Another city in Poland's mountainous south, though admittedly a small one...sometimes it is hard to quantify why you like a place...here I just found a wonderful vibe, beautiful squares, an authentic atmosphere and cool statues of Poland's classic cartoons, I only spent a day here and even though this gave me enough time to basically see what the city had to offer, I could see myself going back one day :)
Let's also throw in the Beskidy mountains to the mix, which actually has trails connecting a few different cities in the region, I may have cheated and got the chair lift to the top to save time, but it didn't take away from the views as you got to the top...nature at it's finest and a very relaxing and pleasant experience all round!
I'm going to call this a part 1 for now, as I certainly have a lot more places to call out, though I would say this is a good start.
How about you comment and tell me your favourite cities in Poland?