Warsaw/Krakow other lovely towns?

Old Jul 28th, 2017, 08:18 AM
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Warsaw/Krakow other lovely towns?

Hello, we are from Minneapolis and my Polish husband and I are visiting Poland. We land in Warsaw and stay from September 11-14. We pick up a car in Warsaw on the 14th return it to Warsaw on September 24. We have ten days to drive and go at a leisurely pace. We are driving to Krakow. I want to spend some time there. What other lovely towns in Poland can we explore? We love the idea of seeing castles, lovely villages/town squares, and scenic views.

Would it be practical to visit the Czech Republic for a few days to explore that area? Will we have enough time to visit and explore? We are happy to stay in Poland if that is not practical.

We are open to spending some time in the area close to Krakow as we will be driving back to Warsaw to return our car.

We are very open at this point.

Please advise. We appreciate any help. We have driven in the U.K. before and this is our first experience on the continent. We have bought an international license.

Unfortunately, despite his proud Polish blood, my husband speaks no Polish. We hope we will to get by speaking English.

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 10:29 AM
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People in the tourist industry in Poland should speak at least a little English and younger people are more likely to speak some. Sometimes you encounter someone who doesn't speak it. I learned long ago not to be intimidated by a language barrier when I travel. I don't know any Polish either and did just fine traveling from Gdansk to Krakow (stopping in Torun and Wroclaw). I didn't drive, though, but driving in Poland sounds easy outside the cities. I've driven elsewhere in Europe but didn't find the need to in Poland - trains and buses got me everywhere I needed to go.

Visiting Czech Republic would have been more practical had you booked your plane ticket as an open jaw (fly home from say Prague) rather than a round trip into/out of Warsaw. I assume it's too late to change your tickets - unless you booked less than 24 hours ago. You could certainly drive to Prague if you wanted to, and there are towns in eastern Czech Republic you might visit too, though Prague was by far my favorite place in Czech Republic.

You could certainly visit the towns I visited: Wroclaw, Torun, and Gdansk. (Click on my name to find my 2012 trip report with lots of pictures.) All lovely and worth a visit, and Gdansk has some good cold war history. Malbork castle near Gdansk was fantastic. Perhaps there are smaller towns and attractions in between you could visit (easier with a car). It's really up to you whether you want to branch out and see more of Poland or visit Czech Republic.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 11:23 AM
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Thanks for your response.I will check out your report. We have booked our flight so there is no changing it. We thought of Prague and the Czech Republic and may decide to visit if we have the time. We are open to ideas and will winnow things down as we get closer. We don't want to plan too much and then feel rushed. If visiting the Czech Republic fits within our time frame, it would be a great destination. A concern is that it is not a car-friendly locale. We heard it was hard to navigate if one drives as we intend to do. Is that an issue or should we disregard it?
We are excited about our new adventure!
Thanks again!
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 11:55 AM
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I didn't drive from Poland to Czech Republic, but I drove IN Czech Republic for a few days, from the Brno airport through southern Bohemia to Cesky Krumlov, then up to Kutna Hora and finally Prague. I had no real trouble driving, except that in 2012 when I drove there was a lot of road construction and my GPS often got confused. I'd guess driving to Prague is pretty easy.

Fodorite Elizabeth_S recently drove from Prague to Krakow so might provide more feedback on how that worked for her - but it sounds like she had no trouble.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:30 PM
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>

In Poland, the folks who can are happier to speak English than German or Russian, which they well may know better. I'm thinking there are historical reasons for this [*scratches chin*].

Gdansk is great.

Silesia should have plenty of castles to visit too.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:48 PM
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Indeed we did recently drive from Prague to Krakow (and points beyond with a lot of help from Andrew). We found the driving in CR, Poland and Hungary very straight forward - roads were well marked and in good condition. I used Google maps (offline) and Navmii GPS.

Do you have accommodation in Krakow? We stayed at an apartment just outside of the old town (5 minute walk) with free underground parking. The apartment was great and very reasonable

https://www.booking.com/hotel/pl/exc...s=1&#hotelTmpl

We really enjoyed Krakow - if you plan to visit Auschwitz you could easily spend 5 nights there. We could spend longer.

Re other towns - we didn't stop but Zakopane looks pretty. Can't comment about other towns in Poland - in CR we spent 6 nights in Prague and 3 nights in Trebon (Andrew suggestion) and did day trips to Cesky Krumlov and the surrounding area. Brno might also be an option for you.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 01:10 PM
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I think visiting Czech Republic is fine as long as you are realistic about the travel time to and from. If you're going to visit say Prague, expect to eat up more than half a day each way. And of course, you'll want to spend at least a few days there. You could stop and see a few places one way as well - some of the towns Elizabeth mentioned.

Your alternative is to spend the time in Poland instead - ( or visiting somewhere else - personally, I'd be tempted to visit Lviv in Ukraine.) You have how many nights - 13 nights total? Say 4 nights in Warsaw (3 up front, 1 at the end), four nights in Krakow. You have 5 nights left. You could spend them driving to/from Prague with stops. Or see other towns in Poland. Gdansk is unfortunately in the wrong direction from Krakow. It doesn't make sense to me to drive to Krakow then all the way up to Gdansk and back down to Warsaw. You could fly between Krakow and Gdansk...

You may not need the car the whole time - maybe not at all actually unless you really want to spend time in the small towns in between cities. Without a car, you could: fly into Warsaw, take a train to Krakow, fly to Gdansk, train back to Warsaw (maybe stop in Torun for a night or two for example). I wouldn't bother renting the car unless you figure out why/where you really need it. You can get from Krakow to Auschwitz by mini-bus (how I did it) for example. But if you dig up other places to visit that don't make sense by public transportation, then renting the car makes sense, at least part of the time.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 01:18 PM
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Zakopane and Lviv are both great suggestions. I visited Zakopane on the way south to Slovakia, and the mountains both sides of the border were lovely.

Lviv is on my should revisit list. Interesting buildings, good food, and one of the best cemeteries anywhere.

I visited both by public transport.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 01:32 PM
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You must be the only one who refers to Warsaw as a lovely town.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 01:41 PM
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colliegirl, if you really don't mind the extra driving, you could drive from Krakow to Gdansk making a counter-clockwise loop through towns like Wroclaw and Poznan up then back to Warsaw (maybe via a town like Torun). That means a lot of driving and maybe a few short stops between Krakow and Gdansk. Flying between Krakow and Gdansk would save you a lot of time (assuming you really want to see it and not find some other small towns between Krakow and Warsaw - or drive to Prague).

Another option might be to save Warsaw for the end (how I would do it): upon arrival in Warsaw, immediately take the train to Krakow or fly to Krakow. That avoids splitting your days in Warsaw. Stay in Krakow to start, then pick up the car as you leave, drive up to Gdansk, return car in Warsaw. I guess you could pick up the car in Krakow and drive to Auschwitz to make that day easier. You really don't need a car to get from Warsaw to Krakow.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 02:20 PM
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I spent six days in Krakow and never made it to the Salt Mines (did go to Auschwitz/Birkenau, however). There's a lot to see and do in Krakow, and Krakow itself is just a very pretty, fun place to hang out. So while Warsaw also has much to see, I'd personally devote more time to Krakow.

Enjoy your trip; we didn't drive, so no opinions about that. But I do want to return to Poland, which I found to be quite an interesting country. And I loved the beet soup with dumplings. LOVED.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 02:49 PM
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Gdansk is beautiful, as is Torun. Warsaw, of course, has an Old Town, but I wasn't much impressed by it.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 03:26 PM
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You might consider getting a good guidebook. In comparison to the cost of your trip, the cost of a guidebook will be nugatory, and you will have a wealth of information at your fingertips. For that matter, you can consult one at a local library or bookstore....

A small thing, but the International Drivers Permit is not a license, it’s essentially a translation of your license. I mention that detail only because it’s important te sure to have the actual license with you, too!

You should be able to manage without Polish, although if you can learn a few pleasantries, they will go a LONG way toward making your stay more enjoyable. As Andrew noted, many people in the tourism industry, and most younger people, are likely to speak English.

With the tie frame you mention, I think you should be able to find MORE than enough to see in Poland itself, but of course it depends on what you want to see and experience. I think the suggestion to start your trip by going immediately from Warsaw to Krakow by train or plane (NOT by car) is a very good one. And IMO, although Warsaw is not a particularly lovely town, it has more than enough to make for several pleasant days. Krakow itself easily merits 5 or 6 days. While in Krakow, do consider making time for the Lady with an Ermine -- she is very special. ☺

Hope that helps!
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 09:44 PM
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Our daughter and I just returned from 3 days in Gdansk, one of which included a day trip to Malbork Castle, considered the "heart" of Poland. Our trip was spectacular, and if you can fit time in for Gdansk you would not regret it.

We have also visited Warsaw (2 days), Wrocław (1 day), Krakow (6 days and 4 days over Christmas) and enjoyed a Bolesławiec weekend (strictly for pottery chopping). Krakow we adore; and Wrocław is charming. With Warsaw one just has to accept the city for what it has become; it's troubled history is in the past, and between the Uprising Museum and the castle, and wandering the reconstructed Old Town, our 2 days were well spent.

The poland.travel website has a fun itinerary tool to help plan your holiday.

I hope you find this helpful.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 11:54 PM
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Wroclaw, Poznan, Torun, Gdansk.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 01:22 AM
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Lovely you want, lovely you get:

Kazimierz Dolny

https://www.google.ca/search?q=kazim...w=1094&bih=483

Sandomierz
https://www.google.ca/search?q=sando...w=1094&bih=483

and right next door, Baranów Sandomierski
https://www.google.ca/search?biw=109...40.y2etprRhBjU

Zamość
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/564

Łancut.
https://www.google.ca/search?q=lancu...w=1094&bih=483
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 03:38 AM
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Good advice above

Warsaw itself is a little so-so, the "old town" was litteraly leveled by the German army while the Russian army watched, so "Old" it ain't, but is a nice enough place to visit.

Going north is Gdansk, a very good visit plus a massive ex-Templar castle along the way. South to Krakow, a world heritage visit and it might be worth keeping going into the mountains which are really lovely and CZ side as well
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 04:07 AM
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>>>


Funny. Fodorites tend to dismiss Warsaw's Old Town because it was reconstructed, but they have no problem visiting Dresden or St.Malo. double standards much?
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:50 AM
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I haven't visited Dresden but I have visited Warsaw. The problem with the reconstructed old town is that it is a whole square of buildings that are all the same age. No real old square in Europe looks like that - buildings are from different periods in different materials and have aged differently.. A reconstructed cathedral on its own can look more authentic.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 07:07 AM
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Offtoeurope: Funny. Fodorites tend to dismiss Warsaw's Old Town because it was reconstructed, but they have no problem visiting Dresden or St.Malo. double standards much?

I think the main attraction of Dresden for many is the museums. I don't think Warsaw's museums have the same reputation.

I haven't been to Warsaw. I have been to Dresden - didn't care for it much. (I'm not a museum person - but I did go to a few there.) The old town in Dresden didn't do much for me, though the skyline is pretty at night.
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