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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What to do in Poland

krakow: market square - aerialImage by smif via Flickr

There are many places to visit in Poland, more so than I first thought when I went there. When people speak of Poland they usually mention Auschwitz or Warsaw as potential sites of interest but there are many places other than these. I have travelled around Europe many times and Poland definitely holds its own. There are beautiful towns, interesting monuments and churches, heritage sites and evidence of the Nazis presence during the Second World War.

These are a few places that I believe are worth a visit:

1. Krakow; a beautiful town with a gorgeous town square. It's a fabulous place to sit down for a meal or a drink. The houses are old fashioned but very well-maintained and beautiful. Krakow is a nice place to make your base for exploring the area. There are lots of places to visit nearby and Krakow itself is a nice place to walk around.

2. Auschwitz; the most well-known of all the Nazi's death camps and well worth a visit for history reasons. The place was left by the Nazis in a hurry so everything is as it was in 1945. The ovens, barracks and photos tell the horrific story of a mass murder of millions.

3. Wieliczka Salt Mine; in Eastern Poland lies this heritage salt mine. It's a fascinating guided tour in the mines where the workers have carved out incredible statues out of the stone. It's the best cave I have ever visited and not like anything you have ever seen before. It's a must if you are around.

4. Wroclaw; one of the nicer towns with a nice castle. That makes for a perfect day out. There are a few older buildings and churches that are worth a look.

5. Wolfschanze, Hitler's Base during World War II; in the Masurian Lake district up in Northern Poland lays Hitler's bunker. It's based in a large forest and you can walk around on your own. It's a place that not many have heard of but that is well worth the visit.

6. Slowinski National Park with the sand dunes, near Leba; this is the Sahara of Poland. You can walk around the sand dunes for hours before you realize it. There is a small museum with aero planes just before you start the journey out to the dunes, a hidden treasure.

7. Warzawa; the capital of Poland is bound to be one of the top destinations for many tourists. I didn't particularly feel it worth the visit. The city is largely rebuilt after the war and high, modern buildings are dominating. There isn't much history there and not too many places to linger. There is a fabulous market just in the outskirts and you can make a good few bargains there.

8. Czestochowa; the religious place to visit in Poland. It's a major Pilgrimage haul and there are long quest to see the museum and the famous tower. Several sightings have been noticed here and for Catholics this is a must.

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