Just returned from 10 day visit to Poland – Warsaw-Krakow, Zakopane and a few small towns. Mostly on a small, escorted tour but some on our own. I was pleasantly surprised at how up to date, inexpensive and comfortable it was there. We saw as many ornate churches and palaces, museums, historical monuments, hospitable people, trendy restaurants and shops, as any other place I've been in Europe. We found the RS guidebook was less useful and recommend an overhaul, as I think Poland is shortchanged compared to some of the smaller central European destinations that RS covers.
Hi Stan, I grew up in Poland, so I'm curious..in retrospect could you have done a trip like this on your own without an escorted tour (maybe the second time around)? Did you find it reasonably tourist friendly? I realize that there are lots of smaller sites that are not translated well into English, so I can imagine it would be a bit difficult. What small towns did you go to? PS. I wouldn't think an RS book would be great since Rick doesn't really concentrate on Poland or lead tours there (except for stopover in Krakow). If I were him, that seems like a good business expansion strategy (along with the Balkans)...(or maybe he's perfectly happy serving up the traditional destinations and not taking much risks).
Agnes, we visited Sandomierz and Kaszimierz Dolny which were both well-worth seeing. Of course I know we hit the well-touristed highlights on this trip, but still impressed compared to other places I've been. Yes, we could have done it independently. Tourist infrastructure the same as the rest of European Union. Plenty of english-speakers in hotels/shops/restaurants, and even those that didn't were friendly enough to make it a manageable experience. Enough rough edges to make it interesting. I think anyone with an ETBD-attitude would be comfortable. I have done mostly independent travel in the past, but after having a great RS tour experience last year, I wanted to go with a small group tour this time. I like not having to deal with logistics, and I think you can see and learn much more in a short time with an experienced guide. The key being a small tour group - not the big bus. So, we decide on a tour to make the most of a short visit, and I think it was good decision. Send PM if you have more questions.
Hi Stan - Was there another guidebook that you found helpful for Poland? What tour company did you use? Thanks.
I found the Lonely Planet Guide more useful and current for planning the trip. Since RS only does Poland as part of the Eastern Europe Guide (sic) and excerpts Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk in a Snapshot Guide, it just doesn't cover enough of what I think is the 5th largest country in Europe. I will PM you the name of tour company we used.
I did an independent tour this spring to Poland, visiting the cities of Warsaw and Krakow. I couldnt find a suitable tour- small group, etc so I finally did it on my own. I did use the RS book that is just the 3 Poland cities, but I used Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet just as much. I also downloaded before I went the "In your Pocket" guides for Warsaw and Krakow. These are great resources, and they were available at many hotels and stops once you arrive there. We didnt have any problem navigating or getting from point A to B. The train was clean and on-time. Food was fantastic- and much more varied than pierogi.
( I did love the pierogi) The 3 nights in Warsaw stayed in an apartment type hotel- paid much less than the closet I stayed in London 6 years ago. I also did several day trips from Krakow- there are several operators, and you can book after you get there. It was a great vacation, and a good introduction to Poland, but I know I only scratched the surface of what the country has to offer.