Poland is a country of beautiful landscape, fairytale castles, pierogis and terrible places known for the Holocaust. Cities such as Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice and Poznan are a “must-see” if visiting Poland, but there are so many more exciting places in the country. If staying in Poland for a longer period of time or visiting again, here is a list of the best small towns in Poland worth your time.
The small town on the east of Poland is a perfect combination of tradition and picturesque charm. Anyone who would like to experience the authentic Polish culture can find it here. The town is centred around the main square Rynek and the old well surrounded by many cafes and restaurants. Among its other greatest attractions are Church of St. John the Baptist, Hill of Three Crosses or cross the river to visit a castle in Janowiec. Kazimierz Dolny is still not that crowded during the season and since recently, there is a nearby ski resort. However, its popularity is increasing rapidly, so hurry up!
Zakopane is Poland’s best-known mountain resort. Although it counts below 30 000 habitants, Zakopane attracts numerous tourists for its outstanding natural beauty of the Tatra Mountains. The town is culturally rich and the food is authentic Polish cuisine. Find out more reasons for visiting Zakopane.
Close to the Ukrainian border and only an hour from Lublin lies a Polish hidden gem called Zamość. The town was founded in the 16th century by Jan Zamoyski whose family still lives in the town. Zamosc is a charming place with plenty of attractions and its Old Town is protected by UNESCO. This small town is easy to walk over, so don’t miss out St. Thomas’s Cathedral, the City Hall, the Zamojskie Museum and many more. The Zamość Synagogue witnesses an important Jewish history from the WWII period, even Bełżec Museum, ex death camp is located about 40 km from the town.
Toruń is a UNESCO Heritage Site located in central Poland, on Vistula river. The town is known for its preserved architecture but also as a birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. While many Polish towns were devastated in WWII, Torun was one of the lucky places that remained untouched. Today, you will find a town rich in culture and traditions. Explore its top attractions such as the Old Town Market Square, the City Walls, the Gingerbread Museum etc. Experience the authenticity of the place in its bars and restaurants as well.
Chochołów is a small village close to Zakopane known for its landscape beauty. It was founded in 16th century and preserved the authentic Tatra mountain architecture till today. All houses are made of wood, each in very similar style, built by Goral highlanders. The area is very quiet and serene compared to big Polish towns and the nearby thermal pool complex guarantees the ultimate relaxation.
Visitors of Gdansk often miss the peaceful town of Malbork that is located just about 40 minutes away. The town is recognized for its beautiful castle that is the largest brick castle in the world, of course, on a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There you can also try the traditional Polish dishes that date back to the middle ages. Another gorgeous sight is Malbork’s Neo-Gothic train station with a stunning interior and exterior. The Old Town is full of interesting architectural pieces and Malbork Park provides peace and quiet.
Reszel is a small medieval town with lots of architectural attractions among which the biggest one is Reszel Castle. The castle was built in 14th century, on the bank of the river Sajna. During World War II, the castle was transformed into a prison. However, don’t stick to the castle only, other attractions include the Town Hall, Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Park Miejski and many more. Another interesting fact is that Reszel is also the place where the last witch in Europe was burned in 1808.
Visiting Poland, especially its small towns, and not visiting one of its memorial places is hardly possible. Unfortunately, Chełmno is another reminder of the terrible recent history and numerous Jewish victims. Chełmno, former Kulmhof was the first extermination camp of Nazi Germany. Today, Chełmno is a lovely place with lots of attractions. There are six gothic churches worth a visit along with other remarkable sights.
Although its name might not indicate it, Hel is a delightful town located on Hel Peninsula, on the Baltic Sea. The town is an important fishing and port base but also a popular tourist destination. If visiting in the summertime, you can enjoy long stretches of sandy beaches but stop by in the Museum of Fishing to get to know the traditions of the place. Take a walk along the promenade and sit down in one of the cafes and enjoy the sunny day.
If visiting Poland, then paying a visit to Auschwitz Memorial is more than essential. The name of the town Oświęcim might be unknown to many, but the German name for the city certainly isn’t. Visiting a former extermination camp is far from comfortable and easy, but it is an inevitable part of understanding the gravity of the crime done in the WWII Holocaust.