On this 10 day Poland itinerary, visit three of Poland’s most famous cities. Start in Gdansk, a beautiful city on the Baltic Coast, where you can stroll through the colorful old town and day trip out to the Baltic beaches or Malbork Castle. Next, journey to Warsaw, a city with a tumultuous past and a very bright future. Finally, the journey ends in Krakow, a city that is the favorite of many travelers to Poland.
On this itinerary you will travel solely by public transportation, so there is no need to rent a car. You will use trains to connect the big cities and use commuter trains or private drivers for day trips. We give you the details on how to book your transportation when necessary.
At the end of this post, we also give recommendations on what to do if you have more time. This 10 day Poland itinerary gives you a nice overview to the country, but there is still a lot more to see and do other than quick visits to Gdansk, Warsaw, and Krakow.
Arrive in Gdansk
Depending on your flight, most likely you will arrive in Gdansk in the morning or midday. Check into your hotel and get settled. Only take a nap if you desperately need one. It’s better to drink some coffee and stay awake so you can adjust to the time change as quickly as possible.
Gdansk is a great starting point for your trip through Poland because it’s a low-key city with most sites being located right within the historic old town.
Stroll Dlugi Targ (aka the Royal Way)
The best thing to do on your first day in Gdansk is to stroll along Dlugi Targ (also called the Long Market or the Royal Way). This is the main thoroughfare through Gdansk.
Start your walk at the Golden Gate, on the western end, and stroll the length of Dlugi Targ, ending at the Green Gate. Along the way, you can climb the Town Hall Tower for one of the best views over the city and see the famous Neptune Fountain.
Depending on how fast you move, you might even have time to explore the Motlawa waterfront. Don’t miss Zuraw, the giant wooden crane that dominates the waterfront.
To help you plan your trip to Gdansk, read our article 10 Best Things to do in Gdansk. This article goes into much greater detail about the best things to do in town, including the cost and hours of operation for attractions.
End your day with dinner near the Motlawa waterfront. Three of our favorite restaurants are located right on or near the Motlawa River.
We had one of our best meals in Poland at Prologue Restaurant. The food is amazing and the service is impeccable. If any restaurant in Gdansk deserves a Michelin star, this would be the one.
Goldwasser is another upscale restaurant. The food is great but not quite as good as Prologue. However, you can get a table on the balcony and overlook the Motlawa River. The setting is amazing.
Across the Motlawa River is Restauracja Bazaar, the place to go if you want delicious Polish food. The wild boar was our favorite dish here.
Where to Stay in Gdansk
When it comes to choosing where to stay in Gdansk, you’ll find that many of the best places are located in the old town of the city. Gdansk is a lot cheaper than most European cities and this is one of the few places where you can stay in heart of the city without spending a fortune.
We stayed in an apartment named Nature Old City at St. Mary’s Basilica. This is a two-bedroom one-bathroom apartment with a small kitchen and living area. It is located just a few blocks away from Dlugi Targ. We had lots of space, the WiFi worked well, and could walk to all of the main sites in Gdansk.
We recommend the Nature Old City apartment, but we also wrote an entire article on the best places to stay in Gdansk. So if you’re looking for a luxury hotel, a hostel, a trendy boutique hotel, or more apartment options, don’t miss our article about where to stay in Gdansk.
Museum of the Second World War
This is one of Poland’s best museums and it is a must-visit, even if you are not a museum lover. World War II deeply affected Poland and this museum does a great job educating visitors about this piece of Polish history.
For the best experience, get here right at opening time. Midday, the ticket line can be long and tickets can sell out for the day. However, during our visit in July, we got in line at 9:30 am and had no problems getting tickets.
A visit here lasts about three hours. I highly recommend taking the audio guide tour to get the most out of your visit.
There are several restaurants and cafes in and around the Museum of the Second World War. Prologue Restaurant is just a five-minute walk from the museum, so if you didn’t eat here last night, consider stopping in for lunch.
If you don’t mind a 15-minute walk, you can have lunch at one of the best pierogi restaurants in Gdansk. Pierogarnia Mandu Centrum is one of Gdansk’s must-visit spots especially if you want to sample one of Poland’s most famous foods.
Take Your Pick: Museum or More of the Old Town
Now you have a choice to make. Do you visit another one of Poland’s great museums or do you spend your time exploring more of the old town?
Option #1: European Solidarity Center
If you are a history buff or want to learn more about Poland, go to the European Solidarity Center. At this nearly brand new museum, step back in time and learn about the events that led to the solidarity movement. Learn how this peaceful process helped to change Poland from a communist state to a democratic one. Solidarnosc was one of the important factors that led to the fall of communism, not only in Poland, but in other central and eastern European countries.
A visit here lasts two to three hours. Once you are finished at the museum, you will still have some time to explore the old town.
How to get here: From the old town, it’s a 20-minute walk to get here. You can also use Uber, which is very cheap and convenient.
Option #2: More of the Old Town
After lunch, you have plenty of time to stroll the side streets that lead off of Dlugi Targ and to walk along the waterfront.
Places to Visit:
St. Mary’s Church is one of the largest brick churches in the world. It’s enormous and it dominates the old town of Gdansk. You have the option to climb 408 steps to the top of the bell tower for another bird’s eye view over Gdansk.
Mariacka Street is one of the coolest streets in Gdansk. This street retains some of Gdansk’s old architecture, with oversized porches spilling out onto the street. Look for the gargoyle heads, called “pukers,” that spray out water during rainstorms.
Wine Bar Literacka, located on Mariacka Street, was my favorite wine bar in Gdansk. This is a great place to spend an hour or two before going out to dinner.
More Dinner Recommendations
For dinner, you can try one of our earlier recommendations, but we have more! During our four days in Gdansk, we sampled as many restaurants as possible…trying new foods is one of my favorite things to do while traveling so we usually have a bunch of restaurants to recommend.
Glowne Miasta Pasta, Wine, and More serves great Italian food at budget prices.
If you want to give Lithuanian food a try, go to Familia Bistro. This restaurant is cozy and the food is delicious and inexpensive.
Day Trip to Malbork Castle or the Baltic Coast
Again, you have a choice to make. Visit one of Europe’s largest castles or day trip out to the Baltic beaches.
This is Poland’s most famous castle. It was built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, bounced back and forth between German and Polish ownership, and was partly destroyed in World War II. Now, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Poland’s most famous tourist attractions.
A visit here takes roughly 5 hours, including travel time from Gdansk. To travel to Malbork Castle by train, it takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the train you choose. Once at the castle, the average visit takes about three and a half hours. Have lunch at Gothic Café and then return to Gdansk by train.
If you start your tour of Malbork Castle at 9 am, most likely you will be back in Gdansk by mid-afternoon. You can spend the rest of the day exploring more of the old town, at the European Solidarity Center, or at the Literacka Wine Bar.
Pro Travel Tip: During the summer months, the castle opens at 9 am. Get here at 9 am (earlier is even better) to avoid waiting in a long line to purchase your tickets. If you really want to be travel savvy, book your tickets online in advance.
Get all of the details on how to visit Malbork Castle on a day trip from Gdansk (and to decide if it’s worth your time) in our article:
Tri-City Day Trip: Sopot and Gdynia
Collectively, the cities of Gdansk, Sopot, and Gdynia make up what is called the Tri-City. Sopot is a ritzy coastal town famous for its nightlife and beaches. Gdynia is a smaller, quieter town with a beach, a harbor, and several unique museums.
If you are visiting Poland during the warmer months, this day trip is a great option to consider. You can still day trip out to Sopot and Gdynia during the cooler months, but the beaches will be deserted and Sopot will be much quieter. Malbork Castle is a better option during the winter months.
The day trip out to Gydnia and Sopot will take most of the day. Start in Gdynia, visit one or two museums, and then travel south to the Orlowo Pier and Gdynia cliffs.
Have lunch and spend the afternoon in Sopot. Take in the view from the lighthouse, join the crowds at the beach, and walk on the longest wooden pier in Europe. Sopot is also famous for its nightlife, so you can stay all night if you like.
Get all of the details on how to visit Sopot and Gdynia on a day trip from Gdansk (and to decide if it’s worth your time) in our article:
Travel to Warsaw
It takes about 3 hours to travel from Gdansk to Warsaw by high-speed train.
Operating since 2014, you can take the high-speed “Pendolino” trains (also called Express InterCity Premium trains) from Gdansk to Warsaw. You must reserve your seats in advance. Tickets go on sale 30 days in advance so make your reservations as soon as possible. Click this link to learn more about the train and to see photos.
We used the PKP Intercity website to book our tickets online in advance. We booked 2nd class tickets. Click here to book your tickets.
Europe Trains guide also has a great article on how to use the PKP website. Click here to learn more.
Station Names: For Gdansk: Gdansk Glowny; For Warsaw: Warszawa Centralna
There is a second way to book your tickets online. Polrail is a company that will book your tickets for you. They advertise that they can book your tickets 60 days in advance but they don’t actually make your reservation until 30 days in advance. Tim confirmed this by emailing Polrail. This is a good option if you do not want the hassle of booking your own tickets. Visit their website here.
Once in Warsaw, check into your hotel and then get lunch near your hotel.
Spend the Afternoon at the Warsaw Uprising Museum
Rather than overloading tomorrow with museums, I recommend seeing one of the Warsaw’s most important museums this afternoon.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum is one of Warsaw’s best museums. In great detail you will learn about the Warsaw Uprising and its aftermath, a piece of history that is very important to learn about in order to really get to know Warsaw. A visit here lasts two to three hours.
For full details on how to visit this museum (plus more of Warsaw’s top attractions), including prices, hours, and travel tips, read our article 15 Best Things to do in Warsaw.
This museum is located outside of the historic old town. Depending on where your hotel is, you can either walk, uber, or take the metro to get to here.
Evening in the Old Town
Spend the evening in the historic Old Town. Have dinner and drinks and have fun exploring. You’ll be back again tomorrow but this is one of Warsaw’s most vibrant spots so it’s worth a second visit.
In the Old Town is Podwale 25, a Bavarian style restaurant that serves Polish food. Dine on schnitzel, steak, and pork knuckle and wash it down with a liter of beer. And make sure you try the homemade lemon vodka!
Where to Stay in Warsaw
We stayed at Hotel Polonia Palace, a 4-star hotel in downtown Warsaw. This hotel is fancier than where we typically stay but it was perfect for our visit to Warsaw.
Hotel Polonia Palace has an excellent location, since it is within walking distance of the train station. It’s a 10-minute walk to get to the quirky palm tree at the southern end of the Royal Mile. You also have easy access to the trams and metro lines.
If you are looking for a cheaper place, the Apple Inn, which is located a little bit closer to the Old Town than Hotel Polonia Palace, also gets very good reviews.
Today you will spend your time strolling the Royal Way, visiting another one of Warsaw’s top museums, and if you have time, visiting the Jewish cemetery.
The Royal Way
Your day starts on the Royal Way, one of Warsaw’s most famous streets. It is roughly 2 km long and it takes 30 minutes to walk the entire Royal Way, but with stops, it can take half of a day to walk the entire length. Starting at the quirky Palm Tree in the south, this avenue heads north past some of Warsaw’s most important sights, ending at the Old Town.
Start at the Palm Tree and walk north on Nowy Swiat. It won’t take long to get to A. Blikle, one of Warsaw’s most famous pastry shops. If you skipped breakfast or have a hankering for a second breakfast, stop inside and indulge your sweet tooth.
As you walk north along the Royal Way, you will pass important sites like the Copernicus Statue, the Church of the Holy Cross, and the Presidential Palace. Don’t miss our article about Warsaw for the full details on what to see and do on the Royal Way.
The Old Town
The Royal Way ends in Old Town. Climb the Old Town Observation Tower for the best view of the city and take a tour of the Royal Castle if you enjoy visiting royal palaces and exquisitely decorated rooms.
The highlight of the day is exploring the Old Town, a maze of colorful streets filled with boutique shops and cafes. Have lunch in the Old Town.
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
From the Old Town you can walk to the POLIN Museum. Along the way, make the quick, easy detour to the Warsaw Uprising Monument. This monument memorializes those who fought and died during the Warsaw Uprising during World War II. Then, continue on to the POLIN Museum.
In this state-of-the-art museum, learn about Jews in Poland from the Middle Ages to present day. A visit here lasts two to three hours.
Right outside of the museum is the Jewish Ghetto Memorial, a monument that memorializes those who fought and died during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. This monument and the museum sit in what was once the infamous Warsaw ghetto.
Dinner in Warsaw
Here are some great restaurants to try.
For a gourmet experience, have dinner at Polska Rozana. This restaurant is located south of the Old Town, so to get here you will need to take a taxi or use Uber, but they get rave reviews.
If you want to try traditional Polish food, we had great experiences at two restaurants. Specjaly Regionalne is a small, traditionally decorated restaurant located right on the Royal Way. Stara Kamienica is a little bit fancier and more expensive and the food is delicious. It is located outside of the Old Town and the neighborhood is nothing special, but once inside, it is elegant and the service is impeccable.
Warsaw and Krakow
Today you will take the train to Krakow. You have the option to spend the morning in Warsaw, if there is more you want to see or do, but of course, you could take a morning train to Krakow, giving yourself more time in this enchanting city.
Optional Morning in Warsaw
If you like the idea of a little more time in Warsaw, here are some ways to fill your time.
Take a walk (or a jog) around beautiful Lazienki Park. We spent a morning here and it was very quiet and peaceful. It’s a nice break from city sights and museums, churches, and historical sites.
This may sound macabre, but we also really enjoyed our visit to the Jewish cemetery. This is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world.
There are several more museums to visit in Warsaw, like the Copernicus Science Center (great for kids), the Chopin Museum, and the National Museum (Warsaw’s main art museum).
Travel to Krakow
It takes about 2.5 hours to travel from Warsaw to Krakow by high-speed train (EIC Pendolino train).
We used the PKP Intercity website to book our tickets online in advance.
Stations: For Warsaw: Warszawa Centralna; For Krakow: Krakow Glowny
Once in Krakow, check into your hotel. Spend the rest of day exploring the Main Market Square and have dinner.
Where to Stay in Krakow
Unlike Gdansk and Warsaw where most of the main sites are clustered in one area, the main sites in Krakow are more spread out. You can stay right in the Old Town, but there are several other great neighborhoods to consider. We stayed at the Mint Luxury Apartments in the Old Town, but I recommend you take a look at our article about the best places to stay in Krakow:
You will spend the day exploring the historic Old Town of Krakow.
Start the day at Wawel Castle. The castle gets crowded midday so plan on getting here a little before opening time.
A visit here can take anywhere from two hours to half a day, depending on what you want to do.
For free you can stroll the Wawel Castle grounds. This is a beautiful spot, with colorful gardens, manicured lawns, and views of the historic buildings.
The Wawel Cathedral is Poland’s Westminster Abbey. You can also enter the Cathedral for free, but with a ticket you can visit the crypt, the small chapels, and climb the Sigismund bell tower for a decent view of Krakow.
For the full experience, you can also tour the Wawel Castle Museums. This ticket gets you into the Royal Apartments, the State Rooms, the Armory, and more.
The way the ticket system is designed, you can pay for only the attractions you want to visit. There is a ticket to tour the cathedral and a ticket to tour the museums. So, if you only want to tour the cathedral, you don’t have to spend your money on the museums.
To help you plan your trip to Krakow, don’t miss our article Best Things to do in Krakow. This article goes into much greater detail about the best things to do in town, including the cost and hours of operation for attractions.
Historic Old Town
From Wawel Castle, walk up Kanonicza Street (one of the oldest streets in Krakow) towards the historic Old Town. It’s also worth detouring back down Grodzka Street just a short distance to see two historic churches in Krakow, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul and St. Andrew’s Church, one of the oldest buildings in Krakow.
Continue the walk up Grodzka Street until you arrive at the Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny). This was the largest medieval market square in Europe. Now, the Main Market Square is filled with outdoor cafes, tourists, vendors, horse and carriages, and a crazy number of pigeons.
View of the Main Market Square from St. Mary’s Basilica
Best Things to do on the Main Market Square
St. Mary’s Basilica. This is one of Krakow’s most famous sites. To enter the church, you will have to pay a fee, but it’s worth it to see the bright blue ceiling and the Gothic altarpiece. For the best view over Krakow, climb to the top of the tower and if you get your timing right, you can watch and listen as the bugler plays the hejnal from the tower window. Read our Krakow post for the full details.
The Cloth Hall. This is the centerpiece of the Main Market Square. This was once an important trading center and now it is filled with souvenir shops.
Rynek Underground Museum. Roughly 10 years ago, portions of the Main Market Square were excavated, unearthing ancient market stalls, artifacts, and even a cemetery. In 2010, these archaeological treasures were transformed into this museum. Enter at the Cloth Hall and journey below the Main Market Square into this state-of-the-art museum.
Town Hall Tower. Climb the tower for another great view of Krakow. If you only have the time (or the energy) for one tower climb, St. Mary’s Basilica is the winner.
Florianksa Street and Florian’s Gate
If you are doing OK on time, walk up Florianska Street to Florian’s Gate. It’s just a short but very pleasant stroll up one of Krakow’s most scenic streets.
At Florian’s Gate, you have the option to walk on the top of the medieval walls. Check out this view from the walls down Florianska Street to St. Mary’s Basilica.
If you walk past Florian’s Gate, you’ll be standing outside of the Old Town in Planty Park. Just in front you is Barbican, a medieval defensive fort.
Dinner in Krakow
Here are four restaurant recommendations all located within walking distance of the Main Market Square. We ate at three Italian restaurants in Krakow (we ate a ton of Polish food the week before and my pasta-loving family was ready for some good Italian food) and all were very good: Boscaiola, Le Grand Mamma, and Aqua e Vino. Boscaiola was our favorite. We also dined at the Michelin-starred Cyrano de Bergerac, a wonderful experience without breaking the bank.
Today we journey just a short distance away from the Old Town to the Jewish Quarter and Kazimierz.
Oskar Schindler’s Factory
Oskar Schindler is a German who is credited with saving 1,200 Jews during Nazi occupation of Krakow. You can learn all about his story at the original enamel factory, which is now a museum.
Pro Travel Tip: It’s best to purchase your tickets online in advance. We got here right at opening time and just barely missed waiting in a very long line. Visit the official website for full hours and the link to purchase your tickets.
From Oskar Schindler’s Factory, walk to Ghetto Heroes’ Square and then cross the Vistula River and enter Kazimierz. This neighborhood was once the heart of the Jewish community in Krakow. Now, Kazimierz is a funky mix of synagogues, souvenir shops, excellent restaurants, and small boutiques. This is a very cool area to spend a few hours or even an entire day. And with its grittier, edgier vibe, it feels a lot different here than walking through the Old Town of Krakow.
Visit the Old Jewish Cemetery at Remu’h Synagogue, see Schindler’s List Passage, go shopping, and explore the neighborhood. For lunch, we recommend Starka Restaurant, a great restaurant that serves traditional Polish food and homemade vodka.
End the day with dinner and drinks in Kazimierz or the Old Town.
Day Trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau
Auschwitz-Birkenau, also simply called Auschwitz concentration camp, is the largest of the Nazi concentration and death camps. Located in southern Poland near Krakow, this museum attracts over 2 million visitors per year. A visit here is somber, emotional, and thought provoking, and it is a must-do on a visit to Poland.
You can combine a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with a visit to the very popular Wielickza Salt Mines. This underground salt mine is filled with sculptures carved from salt.
A day trip to Auschwitz will take about six to eight hours of your day, depending on the mode of transportation you choose. If you add on the salt mines, this becomes a full day trip.
To learn how to plan your trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, read our article Auschwitz-Birkenau: How to Plan Your Visit
Fly home or continue your travels.
With More Time
Zakopane and the Tatras
Sitting on the border with Slovakia are the Tatras, a jagged mountain range that is popular with hikers and adventurous travelers. This is a gorgeous spot to visit and so very different from the three cities you just visited. You can visit Zakopane on a very long day trip from Krakow, but for the best experience, consider staying overnight for at least one night. With even more time, you can also go hiking in the High Tatras in Slovakia.
Hiking in the Polish Tatras
We have not been here but this colorful city is well worth the visit if you have more time. Like Zakopane, you can visit Wroclaw on a very long day trip from Krakow but an overnight stay would make your visit more pleasant. You can get to Wroclaw by train or bus from Krakow.
This is one of the oldest cities in Poland and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located between Gdansk and Warsaw, you can get here by train or bus as you travel between these two cities.
About Our Visit
We spent two weeks in Poland in July 2018. This is almost our exact itinerary, although we had extra days in Gdansk and Krakow. From Poland, we traveled through Slovakia and then to Croatia and the Istrian Peninsula.
Recommended Reading and Movies
Night by Elie Wiesel is a short, unforgettable memoir by the author, who was a survivor of Auschwitz. Poland by Jamses A. Michener is a historical fiction novel that gives you a great overview about Polish history.
Are you planning a trip to Poland? Comment below if you have any questions about this 10 day Poland itinerary.
Links to our articles about Poland:
- Top Ten Things to do in Gdansk
- 2 Days in Gdansk: 3 Recommended Itineraries
- Malbork Castle: How to Plan Your Day Trip from Gdansk
- Where to Stay in Gdansk: Best Hotels for Your Budget
- 15 of the Best Things to do in Warsaw
- Best Things to do in Krakow
- Hiking Koscielec in the Polish Tatras from Zakopane
Planning a trip to Poland? Read all of our articles in our Poland Destination Guide.
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