20 Cities In Poland To Visit In 2023

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Poland is full of gems waiting for you to discover. If you take a trip to the country, you’re bound to stop in the capital Warsaw or the second-biggest city, Krakow. Both are full of incredible architecture, kind people and delicious Polish food like pierogi and potato pancakes.

As one of Europe’s largest countries, there’s so much more to discover if you have extra time to explore. Each region is extremely different from its neighbours due to its complex history and you will see this when you travel through the country. Poland was partitioned for 123 years, so take a road trip across the country and you’ll see influences from Austria-Hungary, Prussia and Russia on the regional architecture.

From the beaches of the Baltic Sea in the north to the rocky peaks of the Tatra Mountains in the south, Poland has a diverse landscape that nature lovers are sure to fall for. Are you into nightlife? Join the wild crowds of pub crawlers for an unforgettable night in cities like Krakow and Wroclaw. Foodies will enjoy a mix of traditional restaurants, bakeries, and summertime street food night markets serving local treats. Here are 20 cities in Poland to hit on your trip this year.

Cities In Poland

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20 Best Polish Cities To Visit

1- Warsaw

cities in poland warsaw
Warsaw is one of Poland’s best cities to visit to see the juxtaposition between modern and historic architecture.

There’s a good chance you’ll fly into Warsaw’s Chopin or Modlin airport when you arrive.

Often referred to as the phoenix city due to its bouncing back from its dark past in the second world war, it’s Poland’s capital and biggest city.

Travel guides will direct you to Warsaw’s old town, a replica of its former glory from before the war. However, you’d be remiss not to explore the other districts.

Take a walk around the Muranów district, once the home of Warsaw’s Jewish population.

Though they’re all but gone from the city today, you can still see traces of Jewish heritage in the neighbourhood.

The most unique attraction in the city is the POLIN Museum, which documents the history of Polish Jews from their first arrival over half a millennium ago to the present.

After the POLIN, take a hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city centre to get to know the place.

2- Kraków

cities in poland by population aerial view
If it’s your first time in the country, one of the best cities in Poland to visit is Krakow.

Kraków (pronounced “crack-oov”) is Poland’s second-largest city and a favourite among international tourists.

It’s got everything you could expect from a trip to a Central European city: charming architecture, cheap drinks, and tasty food.

Take a walk around the city and at some point, you’ll end up in the Rynek Główny (main square) with its iconic St. Mary’s Basilica towering over the area.

This square is home to Poland’s biggest Christmas markets in December, where vendors sell handmade crafts, smoked cheese and mulled wine.

Come any other season and spend a night mulling around Kazimierz.

The former Jewish district is now a nightlife hub for locals and visitors.

Here you can get some of the cheapest beers in any Polish city, plus amazing local street food like the legendary zapiekanka (a delicious toasted baguette loaded with a variety of toppings like a pizza).

Many types of historic walking tours or river cruises are available depending on your interests. Check them out here.

3- Wrocław

major cities in poland
Explore the cobblestone Rynek Market Square in Wroclaw, one of Poland’s best cities to visit.

Remember when we said you can see all of Poland’s influences in its cities?

Wrocław is the place to see the German influence, evident in the city’s main square’s old Prussian architecture.

While most restaurants offer typical Polish pierogi and kielbasa, the city’s bakeries sell giant pretzels, which you can’t find in Warsaw.

After spending a few hours around the city centre, you’ll quickly notice one of the city’s many quirks: gnomes!

Since 2005, they’ve installed over 200 bronze gnome statues.

Each of these gnomes has a unique look, and an artistic expression of the struggles Wrocław’s citizens have borne over the years.

Hire a guide to help you find them all here.

Visiting in the summer? You can catch Poland’s biggest international film festival, Nowe Horyzonty (New Horizons).

The 10-day festival is for hardcore cinema lovers and has been hailed by directors as a competitor with the Cannes festival.

If you missed the festival, their cinema (also named New Horizons) shows movies year-round.

4- Poznań

cities in eastern poland night view of Poznan Old Market Square
A charming historic city in Poland to explore is Poznan. Here’s a night view of Poznan Old Market Square.

One of the best cities in Western Poland and only 2.5 hours from Warsaw by train, Poznań is youthful and teeming with life.

If you’re spending some time in the old town, pay attention to the clock tower.

Two mechanical Poznań Goats come out and butt heads, signifying the top of the hour.

Besides mechanical goats and gnomes, Poznań is most famous for croissants.

Yes, you heard that right. However, Rogal świętomarciński (St. Martin’s croissant) is a bit different.

This cousin of the croissant is a tasty fall treat stuffed with icing, nuts, and white poppy seeds.

They’re most commonly produced in early November, but come any season, and you’ll find them.

Take a walking tour and get to know Poznań’s history and culture.

5- Gdańsk

large cities in poland Aerial view of Gdansk city center,
Another city in Poland: Gdansk, on the Motlawa River.

No, the G isn’t silent. It’s pronounced exactly as it looks.

Gdańsk is the biggest of Poland’s tri-cities, which stand at the northern Baltic coast.

A former Prussian city, it looks more like Amsterdam than Warsaw with its tall, narrow houses and canals.

While gorgeous, the city’s historic centre is hardly half the experience.

Hop on the tram to the Wrzeszcz district, where cafes and vegan restaurants are abundant.

Take an afternoon stroll through Park Oliwski, a stunning green space where tourists rarely go.

Don’t miss the European Solidarity Center, a museum dedicated to the rise of the Solidarność (Solidarity) movement.

Born in the Gdańsk shipyard outside the museum’s doors, this labour movement eventually led to the end of communism in Poland. Book your walking tour here.

6- Gdynia

cities and town in poland aerial view of the industrial port of Gdynia town.
One of the Polish port cities to visit is Gdynia.

The second largest tri-city member and the second hardest to pronounce, Gdynia is a great place to escape the city hustle and bustle of nearby Gdańsk and Sopot.

It gets the most attention in late June when people swarm the city for the Open’er Festival.

Poland’s response to Coachella, it’s the country’s biggest open-air music event with big-ticket names from around the world and Poland.

Before there were daily flights between Warsaw and the world, there were massive ships of Poles emigrating to America, Argentina, and beyond.

Almost every person in Poland’s massive diaspora passed through Gdynia’s port.

Today, you can visit the city’s Emigration Museum to learn about where Poland’s community manifested internationally and the people who made the plunge for a better life abroad. Find out more here.

7- Łódź

cities to visit in poland
The tall chimney of renovated brick building in Łódź.

If you thought “Gdańsk” was a mouthful, this one will stump you.

Located right in the centre of Poland, Łódź (pronounced “wooch”) gets more confusing when you find out this landlocked city’s name means “boat.”

Beyond that, it’s a lovely city that’s worth your time. Take a walking tour here.

You can easily take a day trip from Warsaw to discover one of the coolest cities in Poland.

Tour operators provide door-to-door transport service, plus trains between the two leave hourly.

This isn’t some provincial town. Łódź is the third-largest city in Poland and is home to Europe’s longest commercial street.

That’s right, Piotrkowska street is longer than London’s Oxford Street and the Champs d’Elysee in Paris.

The city was pivotal in one of Poland’s biggest artistic exports: cinema.

Every great Polish director, including Roman Polanski and Krzysztof Kieslowski, got their start at the Łódź Film University and made huge strides in the international scene.

Visit the university’s museum to learn more about the rich history of Polish art house cinema.

8- Augustów

best cities in poland view of Augustow city (Poland) from across the lake.
One of the loveliest lake cities in Poland to explore is Augustow.

This town in Poland’s northeast is a wonderland full of forests and lakes.

It’s a perfect stop if you’re taking a road trip further to Lithuania.

Augustów is immensely popular among Polish families in the summertime.

They come in camper vans and barbecue by lakes.

There are tons of outdoor activities waiting for you, including hikes through the forest and ropes courses.

You can hit the lakes in a kayak, canoe, or rented motorboat.

Search for activities to book in Augustów here.

9- Zakopane

cities in poland to visit
An enchanting winter panorama of Zakopane, a city in Poland you’ll love.

Zakopane is lovingly referred to as Poland’s winter capital, but there’s something for everyone every time of the year.

Come in the cold weather and see charming wooden houses covered in snow and the big, rocky peaks of the Tatra mountains in the skyline.

Poles come by the thousands in January and February to spend their winter vacations skiing.

Read more about skiing options in Zakopane here and enjoy the thermal pools.

Several world-class resorts are located throughout the town. Treat yourself to one of their spas or visit the Beernarium, a beer-themed spa!

When the snow melts, Zakopane is a popular jumping-off point for hikers. Visit famous spots like Giewont, a peak that looks like a sleeping giant, or Morskie Oko, a stunning, clear lake in the middle of the mountains.

Read more about trails near Zakopane.

10- Katowice

cities in poland black and white photo of city with tram tracks
A night cityscape of Katowice in the Silesia region. It’s one of the cities in Poland to explore for its culture.

An hour away from Krakow, this southern Polish city is a huge cultural hub not frequented by tourists.

It’s easy to reach, with budget carriers like Ryanair and Wizzair operating daily flights to the city from European cities.

It’s one of the largest cities in Silesia, a region that has changed hands several times over the centuries and whose culture bears much German influence.

It’s a UNESCO music city due to its history as an important place for creative minds.

This tradition is still strong, as Katowice hosts many music events year-round.

One of the biggest is OFF Festival, an event that puts the underground on top with a lineup full of indie rock, experimental hip hop, and electronic artists.

Check out more attractions and tours in the city here.

11- Lublin

top cities in poland Lublin wide view
Another colourful historic city in Poland is Lublin.

Lublin is a city in Eastern Poland on the way to the Ukrainian border.

You’ll love its picturesque cobblestone streets and old tenement buildings that line the narrow streets.

The old town is worth seeing, as it’s well-preserved and quite different from the Gothic and Prussian appearances of many Polish cities.

A tour of Lubin wil take you through the city’s streets, the castle, and the site of the Majdanek Concentration Camp near the city.

Like many of the places we’ve touched on, Lublin has its own special pastry and even a museum dedicated to it!

At the Cebularz Museum, you can learn about the tasty treat called cebularz, a flat, round pastry covered with onions and sprinkled with poppy seeds.

You’ll even make and taste your own!

Read about cebularz and the museum here.

12- Rzeszów

famous cities in poland Rzeszow sign at night
Rzeszow is one of the cities in Poland that has flown under the radar until now.

Another tough one to pronounce (try “zhesh-oov”) that’s very much worth your time.

Rzeszów is a medium-sized city tucked in Poland’s southeast corner that visitors to Poland often neglect. 

This ought to change soon, as the city grows with new restaurants and pubs every year.

It’s becoming a bigger destination for Erasmus exchange students, too.

If you want to see Poland’s number one city on the rise, this is it.

Enjoy all of the beauty of a Polish city without crazy crowds.

Rzeszów’s market square resembles Lublin’s, minus the noisy foot traffic.

Step back in time by visiting the Muzeum Dobranocek.

Though it sounds like a kid’s exhibit, the museum is a time capsule dedicated to preserving the memory of cartoons from Poland’s communist period.

13- Szczecin

largest cities in poland
Szczecin is one of the cities in Poland you may not have heard about.

In the opposite corner of the country from Rzeszów is Szczecin, a city that’s more frequently visited by tourists from Germany than Warsaw.

Though very close to the Baltic, it’s not quite a coastal city. However, it is situated on the Szczecin Lagoon, which eventually leads to the sea.

Seafood lovers will enjoy the city as there are plenty of traditional restaurants around the city serving affordable fish dishes, and food tours will set you in the right direction.

One of Poland’s most iconic pieces of architecture stands proudly just outside Szczecin’s city centre.

You’ll immediately recognise the philharmonic with its jagged, white edges that light up at night.

Check their program for your visit. Tickets are often available up to the day of the performance and are quite affordable compared to philharmonics around the world. To get your bearings, book this walking tour.

14- Przemyśl

list of all cities in poland aerial view of
A charming city in Poland to visit in winter is Przemysl in Eastern Poland on the Ukrainian border (maybe when the war is over?)

Przemyśl (pronounced “pshe-mishl) is a town in Eastern Poland situated right before the Ukrainian border.

It has one of Poland’s most perfectly preserved old towns and has yet to be spoiled by tourism.

Most outsiders who stop by rarely leave the train station (though it is a gorgeous sight to see itself!), as it’s a stopover point for trains connecting Warsaw and Kraków to Lviv and Kyiv.

Be the first of your friends to visit Łancut Castle (pronounced “wan-soot”), just an hour away from the city by car.

It’s one of Central Europe’s most beautiful castles, with its elegant design and a collection of horse carriages on display.

This tour of the eastern castles and Przemysl is worth doing.

15- Częstochowa

most populated cities in poland
The City Hall in Bieganski Square in Czestochowa, a city in Poland’s Silesia region.

Częstochowa (pronounced “chensto-hova”) is a town in south-central Poland.

It’s most commonly known as the Polish Vatican due to its importance in the Polish Catholic Church, of which more than half the country are devout followers.

Whether you’re catholic or not, though, the city is worth checking out and make sure you pay a visit to Jasna Góra, the city’s claim to fame.

It’s a monastery in the centre that houses the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, a famous piece of Catholic iconography.

Day trips from nearby Kraków take you around the city, and always stop at the monastery so you can see the icon.

Treat yourself to some good ‘ole Polish food at Gospoda Kwaśnica, in the city centre.

It was once featured on a TV show by Magda Gessler (often referred to as Poland’s Gordon Ramsey), who gave the place a facelift and now it’s one of the highest-rated eateries in town.

16- Sanok

biggest cities in poland aerial view of city
The delightful Polish city of Sanok delivers surprises at every turn.

Sanok is another hidden gem in the oft-forgotten southeastern corner of Poland.

Poles know it very well as the gateway to the Bieszczady Mountains, a range that straddles the border between Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia.

Half the country passes through Sanok on their way to these mountains every summer or long weekend, with many stopping and admiring the centre.

The centre is quaint, but the best part lies within the walls of the town’s castle.

You may have heard of Polish painter Zdzisław Beksiński.

If not, you’ll surely recognize some of his eerie pieces in his gallery at Sanok castle.

His works are fantastical images that make your skin crawl, but you can’t bring yourself to look away.

Learn more about the Sanok Castle gallery here, and check out this guide to hiking in the nearby Bieszczady Mountains.

17- Bialystok

largest cities in poland by population
Branicki Palace in Bialystok, Poland, is the historical residence of Polish magnate Klemens Branicki. It now houses the Medical Academy.

Białystok is a mid-sized city northeast of Warsaw.

It gets a lot of traffic, as many people pass through here, driving between Poland, Belarus, and the Baltic states.

Don’t be like the rest of the crowd – stop by for a night or two, join a walking tour of the old town and you’ll be delighted.

The city centre is lively on weekends and summer nights when the students go home.

The area is also a great jumping-off point for day trips.

From here, you can hit Białowieża National Park, home to Europe’s largest bison population.

You’ll need a guide to get close to the wild bison, and you can find them here.

One probably doesn’t think about Islamic heritage when planning a trip to Poland, and even the majority of Poles don’t know that Muslim communities are living on the edge of their country for almost 800 years!

Poland’s Tatar community lived in the borderlands protecting the land from invaders for a long time, and their small communities still keep their traditions strong.

Visit the lovely wooden mosques in Kruszyniany and Bohoniki, learn a bit about Tatar culture and even taste some food.

18- Toruń

best cities in poland to visit Torun old town
A panoramic view of the old town of Torun, Poland, taken from the bridge over the Vistula river. The Medieval town of Torun is a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage site.

This Polish city proudly flaunts its most famous resident, Nicolaus Copernicus.

Several streets and buildings throughout Poland are named in his honour, but this is his true home.

His childhood home still stands in the centre, which you can visit to learn more about him.

Toruń is known among Poles as the country’s gingerbread capital.

Every fall, people visit the city to get some of their famous sweet treats (known as “piernik” in Polish).

You can visit the local history museum dedicated to piernik, but across the old town, you can get a piece of the action at the LIVE piernik museum.

Here, the exhibit includes a piernik-baking class.

Book walking tours of the old town here.

19- Olsztyn

big cities in poland close up of buildings in city square
Admire the architecture of Olsztyn, which is one of the cities in Poland’s Warmian-Masurian region.

Olsztyn is a city in north-central Poland.

It has a lovely city centre that you should visit with a guided tour.

When you’re done, stop by one of their many pierogi restaurants or local breweries to refresh with some hearty Polish food and a beer.

If you’re coming from Warsaw, Olsztyn is the gateway to Masuria (“Mazury” in Polish).

It’s one of the top summer destinations for Poles across the country, and many family road trips end up in this region known as the country’s lake district.

Sailing and hanging out by the hundreds of lakes is the number one pastime here.

It’s a great place to cool off in summer by taking a cool dip in the blue water.

Book a walking tour of the old town.

20- Oświęcim

best cities to visit in poland
Barracks in Auschwitz II Birkenau Nazi Extermination Camp.

This may not be the happiest place to put on your holiday itinerary, but it’s something you ought to see.

Oświęcim is known better internationally by its former German name, Auschwitz, the site of the former Nazi concentration camp of the same name.

Today, the camp has been converted into an open-air museum where visitors can learn about the atrocities committed there onsite.

Admission is free, but several operators provide guided tours with pickup in Kraków and other amenities like meals, which will take several hours and include breaks.

Most foreign visitors visit Auschwitz on the edge of town, but Oświęcim is a lovely town worth a stop for a couple of hours.

You can treat yourself to a coffee in one of their bohemian cafes or get a bite at a Polish restaurant.

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Sidney Roy is an American, Poland-based writer who contributes to various blogs and travel publications. In 2018, he moved to Tbilisi, Georgia for a gap year volunteer program and the journey only continued from there. He calls Warsaw his home, but as of summer 2022, he’s living on the road hitchhiking through the Balkans, The Middle East, and beyond. Georgia occupies a special place in his heart, making it his number-one destination. Upcoming destinations include Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.