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3 or 4 nights each in Warsaw, Gdansk, and Krakow?

Hello All,

I am in the planning stages of a trip to Poland this August. After much reading (Rick Steves', trip reports, etc…) I am beginning to rethink my initial 3 nights per city travel into a 4 nights per city travel. My question is "Should I focus more time staying in one city as opposed to another?

Forgive me; I know this is an "it depends" kind of subjective question, but any advice and/or personal experience from travelers to Poland would be very helpful. I have been to Europe twice, but this will be my first time in Central Europe. While my itinerary will be open, I plan to visit the major sites in each city and would definately consider day trips by rail. My travel philosophy is much more "laid back" than "aggressive" and I enjoy taking my time walking, meeting people, getting outside of the cities and into more rural areas, and eating/drinking locally as opposed to "checking the box" of cities/sights visited.

While I do not want to pre-judge any city, but I am beginning to get the sense that Krakow and Gdansk are more charming than Warsaw, and that is making my think something like 4-5 nights in these two cities and 2 in Warsaw. Also, that their are more day-trip opportunities in Gdansk and Krakow than Warsaw.

I have been relying on a 2011 Best of Eastern Europe RS guidebook for information. I ordered the 2014 book and should receive shortly.


Posted by
16860 posts

I have only been to Warsaw briefly in 1996, so I'm not up to date on its latest offerings, but I would not feel guilty about allocating less time there. Since Warsaw was pretty well flattened during the war, it's Old Town charm is all recreated.

Posted by
5981 posts

Joseph, the Lonely Planet Guide is much more useful for Poland than the RS guide. More info on smaller towns and places to see in those cities. I have not been to Gdansk, but Warsaw and Krakow are both walkable and full of things to see. I think three nights is minimum since your first day doesn't really count. I would plan the itinerary based on your most convenient flight schedule, i.e, if flying in and out of Warsaw, spend 2 nights there on each end. I would suggest stopping in Czestochowa on the way from Warsaw to Krakow. Sandomierz is a nice small town worth a visit, and Kazimierz Dolny is a good day trip destination.

Also, I suggest you google up the "In Your Pocket -Warsaw", and "In Your Pocket - Krakow" guides. These are free downloads that give you a ton of info on restaurants, sights, nightlife, etc.

Posted by
11613 posts

I spent one week in Poland, split between Warsaw and Krakow. I wish I had spent four or five nights in each of those places. Haven't been to Gdansk.

Definitely use an additional guidebook. The RS guides are good for turn-by-turn directions and self-guided information, and very good on pointing out cultural history, but concentrate on depth in a few locations rather than a survey of many cities. Lonely Planet is my favorite.

I loved Warsaw and cannot wait to go back. In addition to the usual tourist sights, there are several other important things to do: a side trip to the Majdanek camp memorial, a visit to the Warsaw Rising Museum (required for school children, apparently; lots of interactive exhibits), and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising memorials, including the new Jewish museum, can easily fill your original four days.

One major daytrip from Krakow would be to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is also required for students, the guide I had informed me. Krakow is a charming city.

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you Laura, Stan, and Zoe for your comments and recommendations. These are very helpful.

If you want to visit as well as some places off the beaten track, consider your itinerary with Poland Just Now website. There are plenty of bus and train connections between main cities. You can also rent a car.

Posted by
6 posts

All 3 places are wonderful. I would do the 4 days in each place. Warsaw has alot to offer and pretty parks too. Krakow is the most touristy but has the original buildings still. I was in Gdansk last year and it was so interesting and now the new Solidarity Museum is open. Enjoy all 3 cities!

Posted by
12360 posts


Like Warsaw and Krakow you'll find Gdansk also very walkable. I was there in 2003 on my second trip in Poland, stayed in a Pension in the old town, a very good location from which to walk all over. All three cities are worth 5-7 days of visiting. Krakow escaped war destruction, basically survived intact. Warsaw was obliterated especially the old town. Gdansk was Danzig, the former West Prussian province capital, suffered damage and destruction by air and artillery bombardment in 1945. The old town went through some remarkable restoration, you can see some of these buildings go back to the Middle Ages.

Re..a day trip from Gdansk. Go to Malbork (Marienburg), direct rail connection from Gdansk. The castle was the largest of its kind in Europe, also partially damaged in 1945, a fascinating place to spend the day with a nice restaurant too. When I was there in 2003, I saw signs explaining German-Polish architectural cooperation at the official level, restoration, etc as it pertained to Malbork.

Posted by
4637 posts

Actually Danzig was the former East Prussia capital (not the West Prussia).

Posted by
12360 posts

That was Königsberg, the former capital of East Prussia, which the Soviets /Russians have had as Kaliningrad since 1945.

Try to build your itinerary with Poland Just Now site. You need to choose both NE and SE part of Poland on the map (Gdansk - Warszawa and Warszawa - Krakow).

Posted by
6721 posts

I have somewhat of a bias because I grew up in Warsaw. My only advice is don't underestimate Warsaw - there is more to do there than just the Old Town. Check out "things to do under" tripadvisor Warsaw and see what activities appeal to you. Time spent in museums could easily stretch your time and there are plenty of museums (and other attractions) to see. I would also highly recommend a walk in Lazienki Park. I have to warn you that August will likely be hot - coupled with some potentially crazy thunderstorms.

Get a book devoted to Poland if you can - the best of Eastern Europe may be too thin. The In Your Pocket guides are excellent and available on the web for all three cities.