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Advice on itinerary for 15 sleeps in Poland

Hi everyone! Hoping for some sage planning advice for our trip to Poland in Summer 2020. We are a family of 5 (children are grown) flying from JFK to Warsaw, and here is our tentative plan:
--- Warsaw - 3 nights
--- train to Gdansk - 2 nights there
--- train to Torun - 2 nights
--- train to Poznan - 2 nights
--- train to Wroclaw - 2 nights
--- train to Krakow - 4 nights
--- Depart Krakow for home

Thoughts please?
1. Does this route seem feasible, or should we go in another order?
2. We can add a day to the trip - should we stay somewhere for that additional day? If so, where?
3. Have you used a private guide or transport between cities? Was it worth it? We may also have my aunt and uncle accompany us, and they are elderly so I'm not sure if a bus transport is available - and good...
4. Any good recommendations for VRBO properties? We have had luck in many other countries previously.
5. Anything besides the normal tourist attractions you would recommend?

I appreciate any tips you can give. Thank you!

Posted by
661 posts

We did a 16 night trip that was very similar to this. I would add a night to Gdańsk. There is a lot to do there — and it was my favorite Polish city. We did not visit Poznań, but added Zakopane (may not be a great choice for aunt and uncle).

We traveled by train. The platforms at the stations were being raised when we were there which would be a help for your aunt and uncle.

We used RS guidebook and Lonely Planets.

Posted by
16840 posts

It's difficult to comment on time allocations without knowing what you want to see and do in each city.

I think Poznan and Torun are OK at 2 nights. There's more to see in the larger Wroclaw, but the extra day is needed more in Gdansk or Warsaw.

The thing about Poland is that it has a lot of modern museums that are totally or nearly totally English-accessible. I am very interested in 20th century history, and I spent more time just in Gdansk's WWII Museum than you are proposing to spend in that city. And then there's the Solidarity Center and the beautiful historic district.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you Eef and acraven. Our family likes to do walking tours, castles/palaces, and history museums, mostly. We always look for something unusual to do where possible. While we aren't foodies per se, we do like nice restaurants with ambiance.

Posted by
1452 posts

We may also have my aunt and uncle accompany us, and they are elderly so I'm not sure if a bus transport is available - and good...

I took a FlixBus from Wrocław in Poland. The caution I would have is to evaluate the duration of the bus journey and whether there are bathroom facilities. My bus had none; neither did our mid-way stop, from what any of us passengers could tell in the brief few minutes we were there. Trains will certainly have those facilities.

Posted by
16840 posts

Poland has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, so you'll find lots of opportunities for walking tours. I believe I took four in Wroclaw. If you take one of the "free" tours, you should know that the guides (who mostly lead tours for a living) have to pay the company a fee for each person on the tour. Rick has said it's often the equivalent of 3 or 3.50 euros ($3.50 to $4.00 US). So the guides start out seriously in the hole. Tip generously if the guide is good. One note about the "Dwarves and Communism" tour in Wroclaw: It's mostly about the dwarves; I assume that's what the typical tourist wants.

Posted by
127 posts

We visited Poland in summer 2017: 2 nights Wroclaw, 5 nights Krakow, and 2 nights in Boleslawiec, Needed car only for Boleslawiec. (My wife enjoys the pottery from that town's industry, and we went for the annual pottery festival.)

Link to our trip report in the forum is below, with attractions we visited while in Wroclaw and Krakow.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/poland-wroclaw-boleslawiec-krakow-aug-2017-part-1-of-2

In Krakow we stayed in the old Jewish quarter, and were able to walk everywhere within the city from there.
The apt was from VRBO/Homeaway, was very clean, and had a clothes washer. It says 5 can sleep, though we were just 2:
https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p4249413?noDates=true

Posted by
157 posts

My unpopular take: Torun is not worth a overnight, let alone two.

It's a charming town worth a few hours of exploration. However, it's a tiny town and its sights are few.

I would make Torun just a day trip on the way from Gdansk and Poznan, adding a night apiece to either Gdansk/Poznan (I've never been to Poznan but Gdansk is lovely and worth three nights) and Wroclaw (which is lovely and has several worthwhile day trips nearby).

Posted by
10 posts

Jeff, I enjoyed your review of your trip! You mentioned the “Here” app which helped you navigate via a downloaded map. When I looked in the App Store, I saw several “Here” apps. Could you please tell me which one you used? Thanks so much.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank you everyone for the posts to date. I'm glad to hear about Torun - would happily give up a night as it's getting challenging fitting everything in. We've done lots of free walking tours in other cities, and agree on tipping. And I welcome any accommodation suggestions.

Posted by
127 posts

kwilson227: Hi, to answer your question on the mapping app I used.

For that trip I used the app that appears in the Google Play store as "HERE WeGo – City Navigation".
It worked great.

This past summer my wife and I traveled in Italy, and for that trip I decided to use Google Maps. It worked very well.
In general HERE seemed a bit more robust for navigation, but I'll probably continue to use Google Maps simply because I also use it on my PC, where I bookmark locations. Some differences between the two:
- OFFLINE Maps: both allow maps to be downloaded in advance so that one does not need to connect to a cellular network in order to navigate. Whereas HERE allows one to download the map for an entire European country, in Google Maps one can easily select a smaller region within a country. But with both apps I always had sufficient space in my phone. (A Galaxy S8.)
- The speed limit information seemed more robust using HERE than Google maps.
- The HERE app (if I remember right) worked well for providing walking directions, whereas Google Maps would not generally do this when used off-network.

Posted by
2872 posts

I agree with Nathan B. - if you need to add time to other destinations, you could easily delete Torun. We spent 2 nights there and while it's a cute smallish city, there's not a lot to do...I'd add those days to other destinations. We especially liked Wroclaw (even better than Gdansk).

Here's a link to my trip report for Poland.

Posted by
28 posts

We've adjusted our itinerary a bit, shortening it because of flight availability. That said, we now have 2.5 days in Warsaw; 2.5 days in Gdansk; a drive through Torun; 2.5 days in Poznan; 1.5 days in Wroclaw; and 3 days in Krakow (not including train/coach travel time between cities). Is there anything you'd adjust or remove? Should we shorten Warsaw and add to Gdansk? We do pack our days and the aunt and uncle are not joining us, so we plan to be active morning till night. Thank you again!

Posted by
157 posts

Should we shorten Warsaw and add to Gdansk?

Another unpopular opinion of mine: I preferred Warsaw to Gdansk. While many people disagree with me, it's indisputable fact that Warsaw takes a lot more time to see than Gdansk.

Warsaw is a massive, sprawling city with sights scattered across multiple neighborhoods. Many of the museums take several hours to enjoy (though this could also be said of Gdansk) and there's a ton of amazing restaurants, bars and parks to enjoy. Warsaw was my personal favorite city in Poland -- don't skimp time on it.

We've adjusted our itinerary a bit, shortening it because of flight availability. That said, we now have 2.5 days in Warsaw; 2.5 days in Gdansk; a drive through Torun; 2.5 days in Poznan; 1.5 days in Wroclaw; and 3 days in Krakow (not including train/coach travel time between cities). Is there anything you'd adjust or remove?

That's a lot of stops for your new shortened itinerary. You may want to consider dropping one of Poznan or Wroclaw. Poland is a big country and it takes a lot of time to travel north and south through the entire country like you're attempting to do.

I did almost this exact same itinerary across two weeks back in October, except I didn't stop in Poznan. I felt that I was lacking time in both Warsaw and Wroclaw (three nights apiece). Three nights was fine for Gdansk, though I didn't venture out to Sopot or Gdynia. I had four nights in Krakow and would have seen everything comfortably had my final day not been a major holiday.

Personally, I would drop Poznan and add a day to both Warsaw and Wroclaw. Many will suggest adding a day to Krakow, which would also work nicely. I think Gdansk has enough time as is.

Posted by
1878 posts

It looks like you have a good plan on the transpiration connections. Wroclaw is fine but for me, just visiting in route was fine. The train/bus stations have lockers but in the summer they very well could be full. Don’t miss Marlbork castle outside of Gdańsk. I would figure out a way to add a day to both Krakow and Gdańsk. Day trips from Krakow can take up a big chunk of your day, and you might end up feeling like you did not fully experience all that Krakow itself offers, as I did. I had four nights but arrived around 6 p.m. on the first night. With day trips to Auschwitz and the slate mines, I only ended up with one full day in Krakow plus parts of two other days.

Posted by
1873 posts

Agree with Nathan, I'd rank Poznan below the other cities on your itinerary. You can easily visit it on your way down from Gdansk to Wroclaw, no need to stay there 2.5 days.

My personal ranking:
1. Krakow
2. Wroclaw
3. Warsaw
4. Gdansk
5. Torun
6. Poznan

Or, better yet skip Poznan, a work-a-day business city, and break up your big city theme with the charming town Gniezno, also conveniently in between Gdansk and Wroclaw. Gniezno is the legendary birthplace of Poland, it was the first capital of Poland even before Krakow. The main sight is the Gniezno Cathedral and its twelfth-century bronze doors.

Posted by
28 posts

Hi all - Again, appreciate the commentary. Poznan stays on our itinerary because we are doing some family genealogy work and my family comes from that area. I did reconfigure to spend 4 full days in Krakow, and have to expect that we will be returning in the future to see what we cannot this trip!