With FlyDubai, Emirates and LOT operating direct flights to Poland, here’s a city guide for GCC travellers
Unlike other Polish cities, Krakow escaped the worst of the wartime damage, meaning the medieval architecture of the country’s former capital has survived surprisingly intact. Head up Wawel Hill to see inside its famous castle, a fascinating introduction to Krakow’s many-layered history. Then get an aerial view of the Old Town from the Town Hall Tower, an icon overlooking the sprawling Market Square. Take time to wander through the Kazimierz quarter – centre of the Jewish community, used for filming locations in Schindler’s List – or take the short journey to the impressive Unesco-listed Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Exploring the Polish capital is a lesson in urban regeneration. After the Second World War all but obliterated its Old Town, the medieval centre was meticulously rebuilt, complete with cobbled streets and colourful shopfronts. It’s awash with museums and galleries including one dedicated to its most famous son, the composer Chopin, along with street art and entertainment in hipster district Praga.
For outdoor pursuits, take a stroll along the banks of the Vistula or through its many parks including the 17th-century grounds of Lazienki Park
This is one of Poland’s lesser-known cities, but its compact size makes it easy to explore over a weekend. Get a look at Poland through the ages at fun, interactive museum Porta Poznania, then walk across the bridge to Ostrow Tumski (Cathedral Island), known as the birthplace of the country. Back in the city centre, stop for coffee in the merchant house-lined market square.
Watch out at noon as two mechanical goats emerge from the Old Town Hall to butt heads 12 times in a tradition that dates from 1551
This atmospheric city, where Gothic spires sit alongside colourful merchant houses and old-fashioned gas lamps are still lit by hand by a lamplighter clad in cape and top hat, has been dubbed the Venice of Poland. It’s tremendously walkable, has a beautiful central square (with a popular Christmas market), and a curious love of gnomes (once a symbol of anti-Soviet resistance, now a playful icon), which can be spotted on street corners around the city.
This central Polish city, pronounced ‘Woodge’, has gone from being a 19th-century centre of manufacturing through a period of post-industrial decline, to then emerge as a hub for artists and entrepreneurs. Expect huge street-art murals, an inventive food scene, good breweries and bars, and pride in its industrial heritage – best seen at the Manufaktura complex where a range of museums and galleries showcase the city’s arts and history.
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