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Czech Republic and Poland

Hi while touring the Czech Republic is it also worth heading across the border into Poland for a few days or just better to stay in the one Country?

Posted by
1873 posts

Echoing the above post, it really does depend on how much time you have. If you have a few weeks, you could potentially combine Northern Czechia and Southern Poland and do a bit of a loop: starting at Prague, heading up to Wrocław, turning east to Kraków, and then travel south-west to Olomouc, then ending up back in Prague. Doing this route by car would allow one the greatest freedom to stop in the smaller towns and enjoy the natural scenery of the countryside along the way.

Posted by
35 posts

Thankyou for your information. We are spennding over 2 weeks so we will try and plan an Itenary including Poland.
Thanks

Posted by
4689 posts

Poland is wonderful. If you have the time, it is more than worth including. With only two weeks, you need to work out a practical itinerary, however, because Poland is a big country and you obviously won't have time to see everything in Czech Republic and in Poland too.

I'd probably aim for an open jaw itinerary to fly into Prague out of Krakow and develop your trip as bookends between them. First figure out (after accounting for flight days) how many nights you actually have in Europe. (So with two weeks that means 13 nights? 12 nights? )

Let's say you have only 12 nights. Then you could spend four nights in Prague, four nights in Krakow and four in between. Many would add day trips from Prague like Kutna Hora or Cesky Krumlov (or an overnight to Cesky Krumlov but that means some backtracking). Southern Bohemia has some nice towns besides Cesky Krumlov. You could rent a car (if you don't mind driving on the opposite side of the road) and drive from Prague to Cesky Krumlov, maybe head east to Telc (which I know is actually in Moravia), stopping at a few towns along the way, drop the car in Brno, and train on to Krakow from there, with four nights of stops between Prague and Krakow.

Doing this journey by public transportation is possible but more difficult; you can try working out the bus schedules (not really great train connections between the Southern Bohemia towns - good train between Prague, Brno, and Poland though).

Or skip the Southern Bohemia towns (perhaps a detour down to Cesky Krumlov and back from Prague) and stop along the train between Prague and Krakow in towns like Brno or Olomouc - or stop in Warsaw. You could do all of this by train.

Really depends on your interests.

Posted by
16840 posts

Distances are long, and you won't find the super-fast express trains available between major cities in some western European countries, so don't get too aggressive with your itinerary, or you'll spend a lot of time on trains or buses. I liked both Krakow and Wroclaw very much; everyone seems to. Krakow has more (a very large number of) tourists, but Wroclaw is far from undiscovered, just so you know. I suspect a lot of the visitors are Europeans taking weekend trips on budget airlines, so if you can do a mid-week trip, those cities may not be quite so swamped, and it's possible hotel costs will be lower.

Good walking tours are available in both cities, and I recommend them if you have time. If you choose a "free" tour, don't forget to tip. Rick has reported that guides often (I assume always) have to kick back a good bit of money to the company for each person who shows up. Rick cited a figure of either 3 or 3.50 euros for some country farther west, I think. If you only hand over the local equivalent of $5, you're expecting the guide to provide you a 2-hour tour (usually) nearly for free.

The Dwarves and Communism Tour in Wroclaw is fun, but it is about 95% dwarves and 5% Communism. On a short visit I would skip that one.

If you choose to go to Krakow, be aware that you may well need to book your Auschwitz ticket well in advance unless you want to take a chance on showing up early in the day at the site and waiting in line with fingers crossed. I don't know how many tickets are held back for sale at the memorial site/camp. Someone on this forum reported advance-purchase tickets were sold out for 8 days running. If yours is a summer trip, you should know that the ticket line at the site is long, moves slowly and gets no shade.

The Schindler Factory tickets often sell out as well, but so far it seems to happen not so far in advance.

Posted by
35 posts

Yes driving on wrong side of road for me will be entertaining no doubt. Little villages do intrigue us.
Cost wise seems very similar to Czech Republic as well and i am sure beer is equally cherished in Poland.

Posted by
4637 posts

Czech Republic is famous for its excellent and cheap beer. South Moravian region is well known for producing one of the best white wines. Unfortunately very little of it is exported because demand for it in the country is high and most of it is consumed right there. Poland is better known for its vodka.

Posted by
35 posts

Well i know we can surely handle the Wine as most us do as we get a little older.
But the Vodka i will have to wind the clock back to my teenage years.
Thanks for the info greatly appreciated

Posted by
1873 posts

Although I should say that beer is more prevalent in Poland "day to day" than vodka is, especially in the south. Poland is actually Europe's third largest beer producer. I've only really seen the vodka brought out on special occasions in Poland.

Regarding those smaller towns you would like to visit, on the north-western border between Poland and Czechia lies the Sudeten mountain range. This is a really interesting area to travel in, full of time-warped old castles, spa towns, Prussian fortresses, and rumors of hidden Nazi gold.

For potential sites you could try:

Zamek Książ - a large, originally medieval castle of the Duchy of Pless, and overlooks the Pełcznica river gorge. During WW2 the Germans built underground tunnels here. In these tunnels is apparently where the train filled with Nazi gold is hidden. This tunnel network was part of Project Riese, which was a secret Nazi project consisting of several underground megastructures (for yet unknown reasons).

Kłodzko - a sort of “Little Prague”, definitely the architecture of the town reflected that. By far the most interesting site in the town is the old Prussian Fortress that dominates the center of the town. It was apparently one of the largest star fortifications in the Prussian Empire and is in remarkably well preserved. This was in September so I was literally the only one in the fortress, had the whole thing to myself to explore!

Stołowe Mountains National Park - a primeval forest dotted with some very unique rock formations (they actually filmed one of the Narnia movies there). There are some pretty good hiking spots here too.

Protestant Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica - UNESCO world heritage sites, the biggest timber-framed religious buildings in Europe, built after the 30 Years War.

The Sudetes are definitely good for a few days, or more if you really like small towns. I stayed in the old spa town of Polanica at Villa Polanica, which had the best pierogi I've ever had in Poland.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas :)

Posted by
3950 posts

and i am sure beer is equally cherished in Poland.

It certainly is. Whilst the perception is that Poland is all about vodka it's actually beer that is the main drink of choice. Some view it as more of a soft drink however and I've witnessed quite a few enjoying a pint or two over breakfast.

Posted by
35 posts

Thankyou Carlos great informative read. Think we all love a spa town.
Beer for brekky well it is a holiday

Posted by
569 posts

Albert, you say you all love a spa town. Do you have Karlovy Vary in CR on your itinerary? It is a beautiful spa town located in the mountains. The architecture is very different from Prague, and it will be a very different experience from Prague.

There are mineral springs in Karlovy Vary. You can purchase a small cup and wander around the town filling up your cup from the springs using faucets. The water tastes different from different springs. We also spent several hours at a spa and had such a wonderful time.

I highly recommend Karlovy Vary. While we loved Prague and Cesky Krumlov, visiting Karlovy Vary was a completely different experience, but just as enjoyable.

Posted by
35 posts

Yes we do karlovary vary on our list. Just looks like photos out of a story book. We also have Pilsen.

Posted by
4637 posts

If you are in Karlovy Vary, visit nearby Loket. It somewhat resembles Cesky Krumlov but without mobs of tourists. The river flows on 3 sides around the town with medieval streets. There is a castle on the hill and cliffs above the town. I was there few years ago. I was the only guest in the hotel which could accommodate 40 guests. The breakfast was done according my wishes by the owner personally. The best breakfast I ever had in any hotel.

Posted by
12103 posts

If you're already in Czechia and want to go into Poland, there's always the area that was the "bone of contention" between Poland and Czechoslovakia in the inter-war years known in English by its German name, Teschen.

The Czechs call the area, "Tesin" while in Polish it is called "Cieszyn." That area is split between Poland and Czechia today.

If you saw the movie, "The Illusionist," Jessica Biel, the heroine, had the title, the "Duchess of Teschen."

Posted by
569 posts

Albert,
Glad to hear you have Karlovy Vary on your itinerary. You will love it!

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks heaps for all the replies. Taking every comment on board and it helps with our planning.
Would be great if some of you were around at the time to show us

Posted by
1878 posts

The connections are not as easy as you might think, based upon proximity. Krakow to Olomouc is very do-able. Olomouc is really a great place to visit, like a mini-Prague without the crowds. My wife and I were in Poland last year, visited Czech Republic in 2011. Poland is a very underrated country. We started in Gdansk last May, and that city is real gem. It's about five hours away from Krakow on the train though, so a little out of the way.

Posted by
35 posts

Hoping to hire a car mate. Otherwise train/bus be it or even an area shuttle.
From the outside looking in from an australian perspective, i am hoping both counties similar.
Would have loved to have spent time with both cultures before we went over but unfortunately living in Australia we are some times sheltered from a lot of European countries.
Sorry if i have offended in any way this has come across. Thats why we are looking forward to visting these countries to experience what we have looked up.
Last year we visited Thailand which was great but now we want history.

Posted by
4637 posts

Poland and Czech Republic are somewhat similar. Languages are slavic. The most similar to Czech is Slovak, the second most Polish. Also Polish is more similar to Slovak than Czech. I am a Czech speaker and understand everything in Slovak and quite a lot in Polish (without studying it), but cannot speak it. There are other similarities. They both were in Soviet bloc and members of Warsaw Pact. But culturally Czechs are closer to Slovakia; it used to be one country - Czechoslovakia 1918 to 1993. And also they are culturally close to Austria. It used to be in Austrian Empire 1618 to 1918.