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Poland next summer

We are planning to travel to Poland in late August into early September 2020. Since we have previously traveled to Krakow and loved it, we are looking to explore a little more of Poland. We were thinking of visiting the following cities.
Fly into Warsaw 4 nights,
Train to Wroclaw 3 nights
Train to Poznan 2 nights
Train to Torun 2 night
Train to Gdansk 3 or 4 nights
From Gdansk we are planning to take a cheap flight to Amsterdam for a visit to The Netherlands and some of Belgium.

What would be a good route to visit the above cities? If we take the train between Polish cities is there any option to stop in between for seeing other places? Are there luggage facilities at the train stations?

Does this look like a good itinerary? Any comments on the cities planned and nights allocated? Any suggestions on other towns that would fit in a route from Warsaw ending in Gdansk. We are open on the number of nights for this trip and can add if needed.

For reference, we are not into bar scene, partying or museums. We love the architecture and walking the cobblestone streets of old cities as we are hobby photographer.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Posted by
6184 posts

I don't know about the order of your itinerary since I don't know off-hand which cities are on which train line (that's easy enough to figure out), but do consider Łódź, which is a short train ride from Warsaw. Did you really mean you are not interested in any museums? If so, you'll miss out on some top notch ones in Warsaw and Gdańsk (they do an incredible job on shedding light on Polish history in WWII, the pre-war Jewish population and their cultural contributions to the country, the Solidarity Movement, etc.). Google the In Your Pocket travel guides for every city you want to see, and you'll get some nice up-to-date resources on each. Also, as your dates get nearer, look up all the cultural events going on (music, art, etc.), especially in Warsaw.

Posted by
15 posts

We are not opposed to a museum or 2, but that is not our main focus when visiting a city. We do usually end up doing the ones that focus on history and if Warsaw has top notch ones then we won't miss out.

Thanks for the tip on In Your Pocket travel guides. I will check them out.

Do you know if Lodz has luggage lockers? If so, we may try and make a stop on the train between Warsaw and Wroclaw. Or do you recommend an overnight there?

Thanks for the help,
Ja

Posted by
6184 posts

Do you know if Lodz has luggage lockers?

The In Your Pocket guide refers to them: https://www.inyourpocket.com/lodz/lodz-fabryczna-train-station_40909v
It's an easy day trip from Warsaw as well, probably 1 hour or so each way (that way you don't even need to change hotel rooms or store luggage).

"The east wing of the station is different in character from the west wing and is flanked by facades of large white townhouses which are a nod to the old Fabryczna station and instead of a single glass canopy they are covered by glass buttresses. In the townhouses there are ticket offices a commuter rail (ŁKA) Passenger Centre and in the north-east part there are lockers as well as ATMs, an infopoint (InfoDworzec) for all transportation and tourist queries, and the regional Bus Station. The east entrance takes you out to Targowa street and just a few minutes walk to the EC1 buildings."

Posted by
50 posts

In 2017 we did a similar trip in reverse. Flew from Berlin to Gdansk...definitely worth a three night stay. Then trained to Torun...one night, two days was plenty. From there we went to Wroclaw where we stayed two nights and enjoyed two of the best foodie tours ever...vodka tasting one night; regional food the next. Then trained to Warsaw for three nights which we all agreed was much too short. We especially enjoyed our cooking class as well as a city tour in a vintage Fiat. Highly recommend staying near the Royal Castle as the squares in the area are beautiful and lively with lots of restaurants.
Traveled by train to Bialystok and this is where the adventure really took off. We rented a car and drove to Bialowieza National Park! Spectacular hotel right at the park and three days of great forest hikes. We drove on to our favorite stay in Poland...the little town of Sandomierz. Many cities in Poland have very similar architecture...that Hanseatic League influence shines, but Sandomierz feels much older. It was lightly damaged during WWII so there was not a lot of rebuilding done. We drove from there to Kracow, and of course, you have already visited that marvelous city.
Polish trains are clean, run on-time, and are generally among some of the best we have experienced in Europe. DM me if you’d like the info about the Polish travel agency we used for the rail tickets.
Driving in Poland...wow! My Polish born cousin was aghast that we even contemplated it...but all turned out well. The roads, even the secondary ones, are well paved, graded, and maintained. The countryside is beautiful and pastoral. Polish drivers...hmmmm...very aggressive and thrill-seeking, especially on two lane roads! A map plus GPS are highly recommended. Even though it was hair-raising at times, both hubby and I are eager to do it again next year!

Posted by
1873 posts

Hello, good on you guys for exploring more of Poland, it's a fascinating country, I was just there again this August and loved it! Some initial thoughts on your current itinerary:

  • Transportation wise, you can do this itinerary in that order with trains/public transport, although personally, if you do not mind part-crazy Polish drivers lol, I would try to rent a car for this trip. A car will give you much more flexibility to make stops along the way, for me the charm of Poland lies in the small to medium sights rather than the large blockbuster ones. It will also allow you to store luggage in the boot of the car, and not rely on luggage facilities at the train stations.

  • Instead of Poznan, a work-a-day business city, consider breaking up your big city theme with a smaller town, in between Wroclaw and Torun. I would actually suggest spending those 2 nights in the charming town of Gniezno instead. 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. A nice day trip from Gniezno is the iron age fortified settlement of Biskupin.

  • Between Torun and Gdansk, consider stopping a few nights at the town of Malbork. It's hometown of Marienburg Castle, the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights crusaders, and the largest castle in the world! Malbork also makes for a good base to explore the nearby Masurian Lakes District, aka the land of 2000 lakes, perfect place to photograph Polish nature and wildlife.

Well that about it for my initial thoughts, hope it helps! I will chime in if I think of anything else :)

Posted by
15 posts

We had thought about renting a car, but I'm not sure the stress of contending with navigating in a country where we don't speak the language and the reports of the aggressive drivers is for us.

I am also not sure about going to far off the tourist circuit for an overnight would be for us either with the language barrier. That's why I chose places more likely to have at least a few people that speak a little english.

We have maneuvered fine in Spain and Italy, but Polish is just one of those languages that is hard to grasp for even simple directions or ordering food.

Maybe we can manage to do some day trips by train to see some of the smaller places.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted by
6184 posts

I don't think you need to worry about the language barrier. In the cities you're visiting, you will not have an issue. Every young person speaks English these days (as do folks in the tourist trade), they have to learn it in school (I have family there, that's how I know). The drivers are no more aggressive than anywhere else in Europe, so compare to Boston drivers if you'd like (that's probably a good comparison).

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks Agnes,

We might have to give more thought to a car rental.

How difficult is the parking situation in the cities of Warsaw, Wroclaw and Gdansk? Do the hotels charge exorbitant parking fees like urban hotels in the US?

Posted by
6184 posts

I wouldn't want a car in any of these cities since it makes little sense (even if the parking charges are small, which is doubtful, the car will just sit there for days with no use - each city has a pedestrian only zone that doesn't allow cars). A car makes more sense to see smaller towns not well connected by transit, and there are many of those like Kazimierz Dolny. Or rural areas like the UNESCO wooden churches outside of Krakow. Of course, don't count on English being spoken in very rural places because they are largely devoid of young people.

Posted by
15 posts

Well, that's what I initially thought, so unless we want to visit rural places, it looks like train travel would be the thing to do. May a car rental for a day trip outside the main towns, or are there options for tours to see some other places, say outside Warsaw?

Posted by
2487 posts

A few remarks.
1. I know the Polish railways as extremely punctual and a pleasure to use. Second class is, as everywhere in Europe, fine.
There is no need for a travel agency to arrange your trips, but don't expect the lady (and the occasional man) at the ticket window to speak English. Write the details of your journey (date, destination, departure time, train number) on a slip of paper, and everything will work out fine. I always bought my tickets the preceding late afternoon or early evening, iin order not to be trapped in the occasional long queue with the train about to depart. Use the website of the PKP, the Polish national railways, for your planning.
2. Even in the smallest and most untouristy provincial town English is spoken in cafes, restaurants and hotels.
3. I second the suggestion of Lódz, a most interesting city, proud of its industrial past and a showcase of late-nineteenth century architecture. It is worth a visit if only for its impressive and moving Jewish cemetery (»cmentarz zydowski«), north-east of the city centre.
4. It pays to rent a car in Wroclaw for visiting the unique wooden churches of Jawor and Swidnica. The town of Jawor is forgettable, but Swidnica is pleasant. You could combine it with Brzeg, with a nice Renaissance castle.
5. Poland is very much a plastic money country. For even the smallest purchase you'll be asked »cash or card?«.

Posted by
50 posts

We found so many Polish people spoke very good English. It was rare to be in a situation where it was hard to be understood or to understand someone. Eastern Poland was probably where we found the fewest English speakers, but overall many young people are very fluent due to the fact that they start learning English in primary school! My sister and I both used a language app to learn a few words of Polish...mostly greetings, please, thank you, etc. My husband didn’t even try and he did just fine on his own!

Posted by
451 posts

I suggest this order: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan, Torun, Gdansk (with a day trip to Malbork).

Posted by
157 posts

I suggest this order: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan, Torun, Gdansk (with a day trip to Malbork).

I'm doing a similar order in reverse: Warsaw, Malbork (day-trip), Gdansk, Torun, Wroclaw, Krakow.

The biggest problem seems to be connecting to Torun from the larger cities in the west. Most of the trains I've seen require a change in Warsaw, which is hardly egregious, but also a minor inconvenience.

Posted by
661 posts

You can also visit Malbork as a stop on the way from Gdańsk to Toruń. We did have to change trains. We left Gdańsk in the morning, left our bags in a locker at the station and toured Malbork (there are more lockers at the castle), then took the train (with a change) to Torun. If you do it this way, get off before the train crosses the river in Toruń (there were several stops in Toruń — this was a local train).

Posted by
15 posts

Great idea about doing the Malbork Castle as a stop on the route. We are doing the route as Anita described above. Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan, Torun, Gdansk (with a day trip to Malbork).

Will most of these be a direct train, or will we have to change trains?

Posted by
242 posts

As someone stated before, "the lady at the ticket counter at the train station" likely won't have great English or CS skills. Always rely on paper instructions. Polish people at the train stations were the ones who were very helpful.