I love discovering destinations that have flown completely below my radar. This year, that was Poland. I spent seven days with the country's tourism board visiting cities, sights and landmarks I'd never heard of (and never seen on Instagram) ... and it was a complete breathe of fresh air. In just one week, we visited five cities - barely scratching the surface of the country, but enough to leave wanting more. I thought I'd share my itinerary as a bit of inspiration for anyone looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. This was a nice alternative to some of the more popular (and expensive!) destinations in Europe. Happy travels!
itinerary | days 1-2
I can't imagine there is a place in Poland more colorful and vibrant than Poznan's Old Town. Two nights gave us enough time to experience the city's historic centre, but I'd love to visit again and spend a bit more time here on a deeper dive. Our first stop was Old Market Square, the third largest in the country and the top destination on my Poland bucket list. The vibrant cobbled old town was completely charming, surrounded by a maze of alleys lined with historic sights including the iconic Renaissance Town Hall; Baroque churches; an Imperial castle; charming shopfronts; and museums. Poznan reminded me a lot of Amsterdam, just brighter with more colors. Other highlights from our visit included the Castle District, St. Stanislaus Church, Old Brewery Mall and Pizza Nel Meercato for cheap and delicious pizza (located right on the main square).
Old Market Square reminded me of a colorful Amsterdam.
Found the cutest magnets to add to my collection.
Views of the city's glorious Town Hall.
itinerary | days 3-4
As we moved from western Poland to the north, we used Bydgoszcz as an overnight stop to break up the travel. While the city is still growing as a tourist destination, there was plenty to see our first afternoon town. And honestly, it's worth a stop just to experience the city's vibrant restaurant scene. The tastiest meal of the entire trip was on the Bydgoszcz Old Market Square - dinner at Karramba. Their mussels were some of the tastiest I've had in Europe - thank you to our amazing guide Daria Kieraszzewicz for sharing this gem with us!
We spent our one morning in town at the Bydgoszcz Cathedral. I knew nothing about this place, and it wasn't on our itinerary. We found it because I asked our rockstar guides to take us to the most colorful spot in the city. I was expecting a neighborhood of pastel facades or maybe a rainbow mural, not a cathedral! I was absolutely floored by the beauty of this place. The church interior was like nothing I'd ever seen - Gothic in style, but dripping in bold bursts of color. Floor to ceiling, the place radiated with deep blues, purples reds and golds. Bydgoszcz just might be home to the best kept secret in Poland.
The colorful insides of Bydgoszcz Cathedral.
GDANSK, SOPOT & GYDNIA
itinerary | days 5-7
Three cities in three days might sound overwhelming, but the close proximity of Gdansk and Sopot to Gydnia made the triple threat completely doable. We based ourselves at the Hotel Quadrille, a beautiful Relais & Chateaux property centrally located for daytrips throughout the region. This hotel was my favorite of the trip - a former 18th century palace transformed into a whimsical haven of Alice & Wonderland themed luxury suites.
I loved our time in this region of Poland, and that is mostly thanks to our amazing guide Piotr Marciniax. We couldn't have asked for a guide that was more kind, knowledgable, accommodating and fun to be around. Highlights from our visit with him included the charming streets of Old Town (Gdansk); love lock bridge (Gdansk); white interior of Oliwa Cathedral (Gdansk); beautiful brick Malbork Castle (Malbork); seafood on the longest wooden pier in Europe (Sopot); and the Baltic Sea coastline (Gydnia). If you need a solid guide while visiting this region of Poland, I highly recommend Piotr - his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The charming streets of Old Town Gdansk.
It looked like the English countryside as we wandered the grounds of Malbork Castle.
The first time I've visited a castle made of brick (helps with insulation).
The prettiest corner of the castle.
More magnets for my collection.
The tiny, but beautiful Oliwa Cathedral.
So many locks along the Love Bridge in Gdansk.
Weather was a bit chilly in late September.
This wooden pier in Sopot is the longest in Europe - a popular summer holiday destination in Poland.
My first sunset on the Baltic Sea in Gydnia.
Special thanks to Visit Polska for hosting this trip, and sponsoring this post. All honest opinions are my own! xx