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Poland - Charming Villages/Small Towns and Christmas Markets

Hello, My husband and I are going to see Christmas markets in Germany in late November-Dec 8. We plan to stay in Dresden or Gorlitz then cross over into Poland to tour for a portion of time, anywhere from 3-7 nights (my husband's family was originally from Poland, so we'd like to get a taste for the country). We were wondering about recommendations for where to go...favorite small towns and sites that you might not find in a tour guide. We like charming/historic small towns, castles, pretty churches, pretty vistas and countryside, food, and culture.
We're considering this as an itinerary, I'm most interested in things to see along the way of these paths, but we're still in the early planning stage so we aren't afraid to tweak it if there's something else we should really see:

From Gorlitz go to Bolewasic, site see. Go to Karpacz or Jelenia Gora for a night to break up the journey to Krakow. See Ksiaz castle on the way to Krakow. Stay in Krakow for 2-3 days, seeing the castle, Christmas market, salt mines, possibly take a Polish cooking class. Then onto Zakopane to 2-3 nights to relax at a resort, see the Christmas market, and perhaps take a sleigh ride. Then we'll fly out from Krakow.

We're not sure about mode of transportation yet, it might be train or possibly a car (or some combination). We'd also be up for hiring a tour guide or driver to take us to see a few sights in remote areas. Any help would be most appreciated!

Posted by
5979 posts

Two towns I visited that are very nice and popular with the Polish themselves: Sandomierz and Kazimierz Dolny. Not sure they are on your route, but I suspect that there are a bunch of similar places worth visiting.

Posted by
10 posts


I would recommend for Polish tour from Bolesławiec

  • Książ is great
  • Jelenia Góra and Karpacz are fine
  • Check Moszna Castle too its amazing
  • You may also consider Wroclaw Market, but I guess you just need to get to Krakow and don't have that much time

In Krakow:

  • For all tours you mentioned like Food Tour, Auschwitz or Salt Mines. I represent where you can find all of these and I personally tell that our boss is a quality freak. You can take a tour with guide and transport too. You may also read on our blog how to get there by yourself if you want to.
  • Additionally you should visit Jewish District, it great food and special culture
  • Mounds If you like views for whole city

Krakow sorroundings:

  • Ojców - As it is winter, would not recommend than
  • Lanckorona - This is small village with charmy market place and old wooden buildings, great and romantic (about 30-40 km, you would need to rent a car probably). But you need to check it.
  • Niepołomice - Bigger than Lanckorona with a Palace, its ok, but not something astonishing

In Zakopane:
- Krupówki Center - Are ok
- Gubałówka - You ride up on hill by a little train and see beautifull mountins + city - Recoomended!
-House built upside down - This is strange, but real :D
- Great restaurant - In center, there are non perfect. It may be ok if you like fat food. Better check it on trip before.

Nearby Zakopen
- Chochołów - Historical wooden urban
- Thermal pools - Why not during winter :) Eg. Białka Tatrzańska thermal pools
- Just driving - There are routes where you can just drive through mountains and stop for the sights or food

Posted by
242 posts

Do you know the town, village or parish where your husband's family came from? This info might be on the Ellis Island website (free) or on (go to the library and spend some time on the library edition of ancestry- you don't need to buy a subscription. Look up their naturalization papers for this info. We visited newly discovered cousins in Poland this year and it was beyond amazing.

You might want to stop in Zawoja which is a ski and hiking resort village on your way to Krakow.

In Krakow, I highly recommend hiring Andrew Durman. He is the guy Rick Steves uses when he is there. We hired him for a day and he gets a 20 out of 10 from everyone who hires him. He is based in Krakow. We also went to a skansen for a few hours. They are all over Poland (and other places in Europe. A skansen is a village setting with houses from the 16th-19th century. I have been to two in Poland and they were WONDERFUL. You could combine the skansen near Krakow with a half day trip to the Salt Mines.

PM me if you have other questions.