Steeped in rich historical and cultural significance, teamed with timeless beauty, Poland has now emerged as a hotspot for every single traveller. Under the surface of medievalism and urbanity, the country offers much more than just the historic extraordinaire. The destination is perpetually brimming with hospitality and warmth along with an old-town charm that casts a spell over every visitor. At the same time, quite contrastingly, the land harbours cutting-edge technology, beautiful old towns, delicious Polish food, world class museums, the best fashion and metropolitan relevance. With awe-inspiring and magnificent architectural and cultural heritage marking Poland, this European nation is often overlooked but when paid attention to, as it deserves, it reels you in leaving you wanting more.
I got the wonderful opportunity to explore Poland with the Tourism Board and needless to say I loved every bit of my experience here. Sharing my entire itinerary and every other detail below.
Day 1- Dubai to Warsaw
After a comfortable 5 hours 45 minute flight with Emirates, I landed in Poland’s capital city, Warsaw. Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by our Polish Representative and an English-speaking guide. From there, we were driven into the city for a casual lunch to Koszyki Hall. An introduction to the country by the guide kept us company on the way. The place was a really fun industrial set up just like a market hall, where people could order from different restaurants and sit in the center and eat it. It was packed with trendy restaurants and boutiques and I absolutely loved the concept and the vibe. After a sumptuous meal there, we checked into our stay for the next few days, Hotel Warszawa. My room was wooden, cozy and very quirky, a typical Stalin trait.
After resting for a bit we were ready for a walk along the biggest and longest river in Poland, River Vistula. As the sun was about to set, we boarded the catamaran, sipped on our coffee, went up on the deck and enjoyed the most beautiful view. That night for dinner we tried the elegant gastronomy venue, Stixx Bar and Grill. It was bustling with people and was a perfect culinary experience, with the right ambience and food. My achaari salmon tikka with mango sauce and vegetables made for a perfect first meal in Warsaw. The city is indeed a great blend of Soviet architecture with a modern style.
-Pick a hotel that is close to the city center. That way you are around the hustle bustle.
– Walk around the Vistula river, it is an absolute delight to watch the locals chill and relax.
– The airport is around 40 mins away from the centre.
My room at Hotel Warszawa
Day 2: Exploring Old Town Warsaw in a Communist Car
Known as the Paris of the East, Warsaw is soaked in history and has risen up from the ashes, shining away as one of the most beautiful cities. Our second day began by touring this city in a pink communist retro minivan called Rosy. It was the coolest mode of transport and the best way to experience the beautiful streets. There was absolutely no better way to soak in its rich history and the postcard beauty. We started with a visit to the Palace of Culture and Science after which we took insightful strolls around the Old Town, learning more and more about the Polish culture, history and heritage. The Old town was my ultimate favourite- medieval colourful buildings, quaint lanes, local cafes, cobbled streets, tiny lanes, vintage houses and the fragrance of fresh bread, I loved every minute we spent there. We also stopped by Cafe Lody’s for a scrumptious cup of hot chocolate, it was literally the best thing I had ever tried. If I had some extra time in hand I would have loved to relax in a cafe on the square and watch people around, the energy there was infectious. The Old Town Warsaw was recreated after World War II and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By the time we unraveled the medieval charm of the Old Town, it was time to fill our bellies and recuperate for the second half of the day. We ate our lunch at Concept 13, a restaurant that not only specializes in unique cuisine but also offers a modish ambience to experience. The maximal glass interiors overlooking the city kept the guests intrigued as they relished innovative dishes that mark their menu. We indulged in some local wine and delicious pasta. After this wholesome lunch experience, we took a stroll in the gorgeous and green Łazienki Park, a former palace which was built in the 17th century as a bathhouse, is now a great spot to spend a relaxed afternoon in Warsaw. We took a tour of the entire complex, palace gardens, the lake and the everything around it.
After this tour we headed for a shopping session at the Gosia Baczynska Concept Store. Since we had about three hours to spare after this, we took the opportunity to visit Złote Tarasy for some more retail therapy. The place had a great range of ensembles to shop from and the biggest incentive was Poland’s 23% tax return policy. Well, now that our carts and bags were full, our appetite needed to be attended to again. The Vodka Museum that we headed to next was an exuberant experience where we were educated on the whole journey and production processes of vodka over the years. For dinner, we tried the cool restaurant Elixir by Dom Wodki, where every dish they serve is paired with a matching vodka. While the local potato dumplings and the truffle soup satisfied the soul, the Polish vodka just set our night on fire.
– Every tourist can hire the Pink Communist van and tour the city of Warsaw, something I highly recommend. You can get in touch with them here- Book
– Make sure to visit Łazienki Park and spend an afternoon in their garden, you can also have a small picnic, go boating or just tour the property.
– Absolutely loved Złote Tarasy for shopping. Make sure to carry your passport copy or keep a copy on your phone to claim 23% tax refund.
Old Town Warsaw
Day 3: Vintage Car Ride to the Wilanów Palace
Our last day in Warsaw started on a royal note with a ride to the Wilanów Palace palace in a beautiful vintage car. The moment we walked out of the hotel we had two cars along with chauffeurs waiting on the cobbled streets to whisk us away, a sight I’ll never forget. As we reached the magnificent edifice, we took a tour of the gorgeous baroque palace, its vast gardens and the adjoining lake. The original architecture of the palace is the effect of merger of European art with old Polish tradition of construction. The preserved sculptural facade and interior of the palace is in reference to the symbolism of the ancient states apotheosis of the Sobieski family and glorification of the military successes of the king. The lake was by far my favourite spot in the entire property.
Following the grand morning stroll we headed to the best ramen joint in the small hidden neighbourhood on Oleandrów Street. The place was called MOD and the food was just delicious. If this wasn’t enough of a treat for us the hot chocolate session at the famous E.Wedel Lounge was definitely the cherry on the cake. The rest of the day was spent shopping again and I can say that is an inevitable endeavour when in Poland. We went back to the Złote Tarasy, a shopping complex located in the heart of Warsaw. The collection in this country was better and cheaper than Dubai. That night we indulged in a delicious fare at the famous Flaming and Co. While we were heading back home it started to pour and the entire city looked like it was out of a fairytale. I was clearly falling in love with Warsaw.
-Every tourist can hire the vintage car to the Wilanów Palace
– Make sure to visit the Wilanów Palace and do walk to the backside and explore the lake area, it’s just beautiful.
– There is so much to do in Warsaw. Make sure to spend atleast 4 to 5 nights.
Inside the Wilanów Palace
Day 4: Warsaw to Iława
It was finally time to leave Warsaw and explore the beautiful and green countryside of Poland. We started our morning with an extremely comfortable train journey to Iława, a town in northern side of the country. After a 90 min fun ride, we were welcomed by our guide Chris who helped us load our luggage in the car and whisked us away for another adventure.
On the way to our boat we made a quick stop around a forest area to pick some mushrooms, definitely one of the coolest things I’ve done. It was a simple feat but filled us with so much delight and excitement, something that you must experience. We then headed towards our next destination but for that we had to sail across the Elblag canal in a boat which also happens to run on land, might sound unreal but it was the first time I had ever seen something like this, it was truly fascinating. The boat got attached to a carriage which helped it run on little grass patches in between the canals. The local polish music, fresh air and this cool ride just made my day.
We then drove to Sand Valley Golf Resort for a quick lunch and toured the property after which we finally checked in to the amazing Dr Irena Eris Hotel Spa, a serene oasis situated right in the middle of a forest. The whole experience was no less than pure rejuvenation. On checking in to my cozy wooden room, I relaxed for a bit and spent the rest of the evening in an outdoor Jacuzzi right in the middle of the greens. It was everything like I had imagined. The hot bubbles and the cold wind made for a wonderful experience. That night, we ate, we laughed and cherished every single moment amidst the peaceful woods and a starry sky.
– The train ride from Warsaw to Iława was about two hours and extremely comfortable. They also served breakfast and tea/coffee.
– I highly recommend experiencing the boat ride on the Elblag Canal.
– Try and hire a private guide so you can experience local adventures like picking mushrooms or truffles, hiking, fishing etc.
-If you’re looking for a refreshing spa holiday in Poland I highly recommend the Irena Eris Hotel Spa. Their outdoor jacuzzi was the biggest highlight for me. Spend atleast two nights here.
My room at Dr Irena Eris Hotel Spa
Day 5- Explore Pałac Mortęgi Hotel & Spa and check in to Grandhotel Tiffi in Iława
After a lavish healthy breakfast spread we checked out of the Irena Eris spa hotel and began our day with a refreshing walk in the forest. Along the way, we stopped by at a fascinating BnB and toured the property. We spent our morning learning how to make cheese, eating fresh apple chips, locally grown strawberries and sipping on coffee.
Later that noon we drove to Pałac Mortęgi Hotel & Spa for lunch. There, we spent some time touring the property and watching the gorgeous farm animals. A horse carriage ride around the palace and in the forest just enhanced our experience. The entire property was just beyond beautiful and definitely worth staying in if you are in the countryside. After this eventful afternoon, we went to Iława and checked into Grand Hotel Tiffi. On checking in to our lake view suite which by the way was absolutely stunning and spacious, we headed for a much needed spa treatment at the Dharma Spa. My therapist was from Tibet and to be honest it was the best massage I’ve ever had. The delicious Thai dinner at the restaurant was indeed the best way to end our last night in Poland. The next morning we woke up and took a train back to Warsaw followed by a flight to Dubai.
– If you’re looking for a cozy BnB in the countryside then you have to check out – Old School (the one mentioned above). They grow all their vegetables, the common kitchen is right out of pinterest and the owner makes the best cheese for his guests.
– Highly recommend a stay at the gorgeous Pałac Mortęgi Hotel & Spa. The property is so stunning and they have so much to do. Their animal farm is the highlight.
– Grand Hotel Tiffi is the perfect spot to spend a few nights in Iława
Left: The cheese we made; Right: The BnB
My suite at Grand Hotel Tiffi
My itinerary in short:
Day 1- WARSAW- Koszyki Hall + Catamaran ride around Vistula river
Day 2- WARSAW- Explore Old Town Warsaw +Palace of culture and science + Communist car ride around Warsaw + Lazienki Park + Vodka Museum
Day 3 – WARSAW – Wilanow Palace + Shopping
Day 4- Train Ride to Ilawa + Picking mushrooms in the forest + Sailing over the Elblag Canal +Tour the Sand Valley Golf Resort + Check in to Hotel Irena Eris Spa
Day 5- Check out and walk to a BnB (called Old School) + Learnt how to make cheese + Ate lunch at the beautiful Palac Mortegi Hotel & SPA + Checked in to Grandhotel Tiffi in Ilawa + Tried their famous Dharma Spa
Day 6- Took a train to Warsaw and then to the airport
* While I only explored these specific regions, I highly recommend that you visit Krakow, Zakopane, hike the Tatra mountains, explore Wroclaw and the other northern and southern towns.
If there’s one thing that really surprised me then it is the food in Poland. The variety, the quality and the flavours are just so distinct and amazing. The local Polish food mainly revolves around meat, potatoes, lamb, pork, beetroot, mushrooms, truffle and cabbage, all cooked in different variations. Apart from this you will find every cuisine served with great authenticity. Poland also has one of the best bar scenes in Europe. While the tight schedule didn’t allow me to explore that side I highly recommend you to do so.
Absolutely loved these restaurants in Warsaw:
– MOD for Ramen
– Elixir for a local meal and Vodka tasting
– Stixx Bar and Grill for dinner
– Concept 13 for lunch
– Flaming & Co for dinner
– Kozyki Hall for a quick meal
If you’re in the countryside do try:
-Hotel Irena Eris
– Grandhotel Tiffi, Ilawa
Don’t leave without
– Trying the hot chocolate at Lody’s
– A tour of the E.Wedel chocolate lounge
– Trying different Polish vodkas at Elixir
– Visiting the countryside and soaking in all that nature
– Trying the local food (loved the potato dumplings, mushrooms and truffle soup)
– Taking a tour of Warsaw in the communist van
– Shopping at Reserved
– Sailing over the Elblag Canal
– Lazing in the Lazienki Park
What I loved:
– I loved how green Poland is. It came as a surprise to me. It is blessed with natural beauty all around. Make sure to visit the countryside for a true Polish experience.
– The country has so much to offer to every kind of traveller. You can experience the history, culture and food in Warsaw, the nature outside the city, you can pick mushrooms and truffles in a forest, you can go boating in the lakes, you can relax in one of the spa hotels or palace hotels in the middle of the forest, the mountains in the south are famous for skiing, the northeast is covered with lakes and much more.
– The 23% tax refund is a very big incentive to shop in Poland. I also loved the collection at their local brand Reserved (especially their mens section)
– The food in the country is just so delicious. I was mostly eating vegetarian and I got to experience such a great variety.
Best time to visit:
The autumn months of September and October are definitely the best time to visit the country. Alternatively you could also opt for Spring (March and April). The weather during these months is quite pleasant and dreamy. Summer and winter could be extreme climates and might get difficult to roam around.
– Shop well because Poland has a 23% tax refund policy.
– For tax refund at the airport, make sure to check in first and request the check in counter to allow you to drop bags at the tax refund counter. Unlike other countries, Poland has this system. Once you get into the line for tax refund, they check your boarding pass, your tax refund bills, the items in your bag and then they take your bags to check it in. So make sure to get the boarding pass before you step into the check in line.
-Do explore the Polish countryside, there’s a lot that the country has to offer.
-Hire a guide for local experiences, like picking mushrooms in the forest, cheese making, truffle picking etc
– Buy the SIM card from the airport itself
What to pack:
If you’re travelling during Autumn and Winter then make sure to layer up well as Poland can get really cold. Also at times the weather is a bit unpredictable so you want to be prepared. I suggest carrying a pair of thermals, woolen tops, woolen leggings, jeans, faux fur jackets, long thick coats, gloves, ear muffs and boots. Make sure to pack really comfortable walking boots too.
Getting around Poland:
The public transport system is fabulous. If you’re travelling from one city to another you could opt for trains, flights, hire a car and guide. Within cities the metro, trams, buses and cabs work well. The Old Town Warsaw is best explored on foot.
Language spoken:Â Polish is the main language but English is widely spoken
Visa: All Indian passport holders need a valid Schengen visa for Poland.
Flight: Fly direct to Warsaw with Emirates (5 hours 45 mins only)
Currency: Poland złoty
Check the conversion on www.xe.com
I would recommend buying the local currency instead of Euros as some spots might not accept it.
Poland definitely has a very special place in my heart. From the serene countryside and historic streets to tall glass towers and cutting-edge fashion, the destination is everything a tourist would look for. The country has a fresh spirit and an untouched vibe, something you all should experience.