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A Poland Puzzle

Thanks to all who helped shape my itinerary for four weeks in Czechia, Germany, and Poland. I'm happy with the first half of my itinerary (in Prague, Dresden, and Berlin), but now having some doubts about my Poland plan. So here are the pieces of the puzzle:

  • I depart from Berlin on Sunday, April 14, 2019 to head to Poland
  • I fly home from Gdansk early morning on Saturday, April 27.
  • This gives me 13 nights in Poland (my first time there).
  • I definitely want some time in Krakow, Warsaw, and Gdansk. In general, I'm more interested in cities and culture for this trip than I am in the countryside.
  • I have a particular interest in Jewish history and culture, so I want to fit in at least a day trip to Lodz, if not an overnight. Saturday would not be a good day to do this, as the cemetery there and other Jewish sites are closed on Saturdays.
  • April 21 is Easter Sunday. I'm concerned about closures that day and Monday the 22nd as well as Good Friday (the 19th).

I think those are all the puzzle pieces.

Right now I have planned the following:

  • 2 nights Wroclaw
  • 4 nights Krakow
  • 3 nights Warsaw
  • 1 night Torun
  • 3 nights Gdansk

This has me arriving in Warsaw on Saturday the 20th (the day before Easter), departing on Tuesday morning.

Ideas I've had include skipping Wroclaw, flying Berlin to Krakow, then adding two nights in Lodz between Krakow and Warsaw, or adding those two nights to Warsaw. But I'm not sure if skipping Wroclaw is the best answer. I could also skip Torun and add that night to Warsaw. But I'd rather not forego my stop in Torun.

I wish I'd thought this through a little better before buying my plane tickets, but I can't undo that now, so I will make the best of it. I may need to sacrifice some of the places I was hoping to visit, and that's okay with me, because my general philosophy is to enjoy the places I go and not worry about the places I didn't make it to.

However, can anyone help me figure out how to have it all???

Posted by
6538 posts

I don't think I can offer any additional advice because it's all a trade-off (and I think I've already offered it in a related thread)...but I have to ask, why buy plane tickets so far in advance? I didn't even realize airlines sold plane tickets this far out (or what the upside would be, unless it's some amazing airfare deal that you can't get later). My main advice (to whoever else reads this) is not to box yourself in by buying plane tickets before you have your itinerary all worked out, including checking for holidays and other events that would influence the trip. It's better to wait and take advantage of having many months of breathing room to work out a good itinerary. By the way, your itinerary looks fine "as is".

It's hard to know what to cut without knowing what you plan on doing in any of these cities. Everyone will have a different answer, and probably most people haven't been to each of these cites to compare them across the board. On that note, Łódź can definitely be a day trip from Warsaw via train. I don't know what you were planning to do there, but the main drag (Piotrkowska Street) doesn't take that long to see. I spent several hours in the cinematography museum (but that won't appeal to most people, I don't think, but it's still a great attraction reflecting Polish Cinema culture..and since I'm Polish, I'm interested in that). The other highlights of Łódź are the architecture, particularly the former textile buildings (and a whole lot of other styles for residential buildings). Related to this is the Łódź Open-Air Museum of Wooden Architecture, a part of the Central Museum of Textiles (focused on the textile industry and industrial architecture). I have not been to the Jewish Cemetery there, but it sounds like it may be of key interest to you.

Posted by
6 posts

Hello, this is Ben from Rick's Travel Center.

Let me begin by telling you that 13 days in Poland is an excellent amount of time. The itinerary you have listed is very good in general for an overview and first time visit. It proportions time between these locales appropriately, with more time in Krakow and Gdansk and just one night in Torun.
While you will encounter closures for Easter, the markets and sense of celebration in Poland will add to your experience. Krakow, for example, has a vibrant Easter market.
I do not recommend skipping Wroclaw- it is a severely, severely underrated Polish city. Torun, however, is a city you can skip without feeling too upset, but if you can fit this in, I would recommend doing so. You could skip Torun, and add a day to Warsaw (perhaps using this as your day trip to Lodz).
In terms of fitting in this Lodz daytrip, this would be best done from Warsaw. There are several departures a day and the trip is about 1hr and 15 minutes via the standard Polish intercity train.
To avoid Lodz on a Saturday, consider making it a day trip from Warsaw on your last day there, which would be around the 23rd of April for rough estimation. From here, you can go on to Torun and then finish in Gdansk.

Everything considered, you have a solid itinerary in the works, and I wish you an excellent visit to Poland!

Posted by
18121 posts

I'm traveling in Poland right now and have been to all your proposed destinations except Lodz. However, I just arrived in Krakow this afternoon and don't yet have a feel for how much time its museums will take, compared to those in the other cities.

Poland has done a great job with its historical museums. Most of the information is presented in English as well as Polish, and there's usually a lot of supplementary information in the form of videos with English subtitles. The result is that those who are really interested can spend an incredible amount of time in each museum. I'm aware that I'm off the charts in terms of museum time, but even so I was surprised at how much time it took me to go through the key political museums (and I am not Jewish):

  • POLIN in Warsaw: roughly 8 hours, perhaps a bit more
  • Rising Museum in Warsaw: over 8 hours
  • Solidarity Museum in Gdansk: at least 8 hours
  • World War II Museum in Gdansk: over 20 hours!
  • Depot History Center (post-WWII) in Wroclaw: 4 or 5 hours (well done, but overlaps considerably with other museums)

Warsaw in particular has a lot of other WWII and Cold War museums/memorials, each of which took me between 2 and 4 hours. There's also Treblinka, which can be managed as an independent day-trip by taking a taxi the last 5 miles. In the end I spent 10 nights in Warsaw and 9 nights in Gdansk (that WWII museum is a schedule crusher), but there were art museums on my itinerary as well, and this is a long trip, so I am not able to run around like a crazy person from 9 AM to 9 PM every day. A typical tourist would not need as much time as I did.

Still, I think you may not be allowing enough time in each city, and I'd suggest dropping Wroclaw. It's very attractive, and I get that as a place that was German until the end of WW II, it is different from your other planned stops. But my philosophy is that it's better to have a more complete look at fewer places than be seriously disappointed at what I haven't seen as I leave every single city. I will need to return to Poland to see Lodz, Lublin and some small towns that are closer to Lublin than to Krakow.

I'm sorry that I can't help with info on the impact of the holidays on your sightseing plans, but the major museums usually list their holiday closings on their websites.

Posted by
1860 posts

We just finished a 15 day trip to Poland. I haven’t done my trip report yet because we are in Croatia now. Anyway, we loved Wroclaw. We loved all of Poland. It is definately a country we will return to in the near future. We stayed in Krakow, Wroclaw, Gdansk, and Warsaw. We saw so much and missed just as much. A reason to return. Your itinerary looks good, don’t stress because i am sure you will enjoy each stop. By the way, the trains are easy to navigate and very comfortable. I especially enjoyed the ride from Wroclaw to Gdansk (6 hours) but it was a good time to journal, nap, review, etc. We went with first class just because it was not much more, just a few dollars. The seats are a little wider so it made the ride that much more enjoyable.

Posted by
698 posts

We also just finished a 15 day trip to Poland and visited all the places on your itinerary, other than Łódź. I think your itinerary looks good, but if you think you need more flexibility to work around possible closures around Easter, I would eliminate Wrocław. We were there 3 nights. It was a nice stop and it grew on me as we spent time there, and it was a good base to see Świdnica, but we found less to do there than the other cities. Toruń is smaller. It was a nice base to see Chełmno . One night is probably enough, and you could arrive late and leave early and get the feel of it.

Posted by
1391 posts

Thank you all for the thoughtful replies.

I'm leaning toward leaving things as they are, and it was good to get some affirmation for that option.

Posted by
1391 posts

I have thought about this some more, and I really like the number of days I've allowed for each destination.

But I'm considering changing the order around so I'm not in Warsaw over Easter.

  • Go from Berlin to Warsaw (about 6 hours by train, or maybe fly)
  • 3 nights Warsaw
  • 4 nights Krakow
  • 2 nights Wroclaw
  • 1 night Torun
  • 3 nights Gdansk

This would have me arriving in Wroclaw on Easter Sunday and departing on Tuesday. I imagine a lot of things will be closed, but I have the sense that I could still have a really pleasant visit there just wandering and exploring. And I could catch any sites I want to see on Tuesday morning before departing for Torun.

Does anyone have thoughts about making this modification to my itinerary?

Thanks!

Posted by
698 posts

Your revised itinerary is essentially our itinerary backwards, with a few variations on nights spent in particular cities. It worked for us. Not sure if you plan to see Malbork. We saw it between Toruń and Gdańsk but this might not work if you spend the morning in Toruń.

Posted by
12154 posts

Keep in mind as you visit these cities, all very recommendable and lovely, Gdansk, Wroclaw and Torun were German cities before WW1 or WW2. In anglophone historiography their former German names are used, Wroclaw and Gdansk were province capitals.

I would not skip Torun either. We spent 4 nights there, stayed in a nice 2 star hotel recommended in Rough Guide Poland