Your comprehensive travel guide to Poland - All in one place!
Poland is an amazing country full of different places of interest and landmarks. This country of rich history and magnificent nature simply cannot leave visitors indifferent. Poland has survived centuries of conflict to emerge as a proud, independent country, ready to assume her new role in modern history. Visitors to Poland are discovering what the locals have long known, that Poland is a country rich in fine culture, scenic landscapes and extraordinary historical sites.
History and Government
Poland’s history dates back to prehistory times when Slavic tribes arrived on this territory and settled down.
The 16th century was Poland’s “Golden Age”. The Renaissance currents brought about country’s flourishing, Poland advanced culturally, arts and science developed. Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), formulated the first modern heliocentric theory of the solar system and gave a start to modern astronomy.
On 1st September 1939, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany and World War II began. After World War II ended, Poland fell under Soviet control and the communist People’s Republic of Poland was created as a Soviet satellite state. The country’s boundaries were radically changed and shifted to the west, followed by mass movements of people of various nations. In consequence, Poland lost its traditional multi-ethnic character and became a country with homogeneous Polish population.
Poland now has a new constitution which was signed in 1997. The country is a member of the NATO since 1999 and joined the European Union in 2004. After years of turbulent history, the country has finally found some stability and chance for growth in peace.
Poland is one of the biggest countries in Central Europe with an area of 312,679 sq. km. The country is bordering Germany in the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the south, Ukraine and Belarus in the east and Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the northeast.
Fronted by the Baltic Sea in the north, Poland has a fairly smooth coastline covered by sand dunes in some areas and indented by scattered low-rising cliffs.
The southern third of the country is a mountainous region. Major ranges include the Sudetes, and the Tatra Mountains which are the most elevated part of the Carpathian Mountains.
As for rivers, the longest river in Poland is the Vistula at 1,047 km long. It is followed by the Oder which forms part of Poland's western border, at 854 km (531 mi) long. Other rivers of note include the Bug and the Warta.
Poland has hundreds of small lakes, and in Europe, only Finland has a greater density of lakes.
Poland's 2019 population is approximately 37.89 million, which ranks it 38th in the world. Of this number, 61.5% of the people belonged to urban areas. The male population of the country is about 48.2%, and the remaining 51.8% belongs to the female population.
Architecture is an important part of Polish culture, which is evidenced by the magnificent monuments you will find throughout the nation. Castles, huge cathedrals and small but elaborate churches, along with magnificent public buildings are seen everywhere; even though many were severely damaged or destroyed during the second world war, they have been carefully restored to their former glory.
Polish cuisine is rich and delicious. As you might already know, hospitality is important, and most meals are group occasions. The most important drink in Poland is vodka, and Poland is one of Europe’s top beer producers. Music and literature are also important parts of Polish culture. Famous classical composer Chopin, for example, was born in Poland, and since the middle ages, literature has held pride of place. Both folk art and fine art are important to Poland’s people, with famous artists from Poland including painters, sculptors, and photographers. This is not at all surprising, given the incredible beauty that this northern country is known for.
Food and Drink
Polish food has a hearty, homemade feel, and when it's done well, it can be delicious. It's similar to other Central European national cuisines in that it's centered on main courses of mostly meat dishes and features plenty of hearty soups and sides of potatoes and grains. Dishes, such as venison, boar, and duck, play a more prominent role here than in the United States or Western Europe. Poles also have a mania for mushrooms, the best being those picked in the forest that morning.
Most of Poland’s popular festivals relate to the country’s love of music. Poland holidays and events are relatively modern happenings, which began after the nation’s independence from Soviet rule in 1989. Jazz is a highlight at the All Souls Jazz Festival in November and one of the most significant days on the calendar is Independence Day, which celebrates their most-recent liberation from Communism.
Best Time to Visit
Like many countries in Europe, Poland is an excellent place to travel all around the year, depending on your choice of weather. However, the best time to visit Poland is during spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). This country has a typical European temperate climate with six distinctive seasons where summers are mostly hot and wet while winters are frigid. Despite these seasons and their typical conditions, the weather in Poland is highly unpredictable. During spring and autumn, the weather is neither too hot nor too cold and is just pleasant for roaming in and around the cities of Poland and engaging in several events and activities that Poland has to offer.