Poland’s landscape is a tapestry of scenic splendor, a blend of beaches and lakes, dense forests, and majestic mountains. Its natural beauty is complemented by the man-made variety: More than 100 castles grace the land like a fairy tale come to life, such as the Royal Castle in Warsaw and Krakow’s Wawel Castle. The arts also add to Poland’s inner beauty—from Frédéric Chopin’s gorgeous nocturnes to lively polka music and dancing. A country of pastoral countrysides and vibrant cities—Poland was also the witness to some of mankind’s most horrific history. But it is this dichotomy that makes its people the kind, hearty, and humorous souls who welcome visitors to their land with pride.
The arrival of World War II thrust the people of Poland in the middle of epic battles and unspeakable horrors. The country had been home to a diverse group of people—Poles, Germans, and Russians lived side by side. But when Germany and the Soviet Union waged war across the land, Poland was overrun and invaded by both countries. The atrocities the Nazi Party afflicted upon the Jewish population culminated in the creation of the infamous concentration and death camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland. More than one million people lost their lives here before it was abandoned near the end of the war in January of 1945. During this dark time in history, many Polish people risked their lives to hide and protect their Jewish neighbors.
Emerging from Communist rule in 1989, the Poland of today has embraced an even greater appreciation for its country, culture, and heritage. Visitors will find themselves warmly welcomed and well-fed—Polish cuisine being renowned for its comforting qualities. For even a plate of pierogi dumplings with a side of cabbage kapusta can be a thing of beauty.
Most Popular Films
Films featuring Poland from international, independent filmmakers
5 Minutes in… Gdansk
Traverse the medieval streets of Gdansk like a local, and witness the rebirth of this Polish locale.Produced by Ian Sciacaluga
Poland – Warsaw and Krakow: Sophisticated Sister Cities
Join the Grannies on Safari as they explore Poland's rich history, cultural traditions, and beautiful craftsmanship.Produced by Regina Fraser, Pat Johnson and Kathy Monk
Intersection: The Warsaw Way
Explore the modern fashions of Warsaw, a city you can visit on our pre-trip extension.Produced by Jonah M. Kessel ©2013 The New York Times
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Immerse yourself in Poland with this selection of articles, recipes, and more
Polish Torun is baked in the shape of hearts, then covered in chocolate. Try making them for yourself.
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PRE-TRIP EXTENSIONKrakow & Warsaw, Poland
DAYS IN POLAND
- Witness the tragic history of Auschwitz
- Explore Krakow, one of Europe's most beautiful cities
- Visit the legendary “Black Madonna" at the shrine of Czestochowa
- Marvel at the Wieliczka Salt Mines on an optional tour
Krakow & Warsaw, Poland
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Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
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Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
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Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
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Warm Family Recipes
from Harriet’s Corner
Baked using a mold or formed into the shape of hearts, then covered in chocolate, Torun are made year-round—not just during the holidays. Much like Vienna honors the legendary composer with Mozartkugel truffles, Poland’s largest Torun producer has a special heart-shaped version featuring native son Frederic Chopin on the wrapper. But even without the fancy wrapper these cookies are quite tasty when made at home.
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves, powdered (you may grind using a mortar and pestle)
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 3 Tbsp. water
1 cup honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
Optional Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbsp. water
- Beat eggs with sugar in a large bowl until bright yellow. Add the spices, honey, and mixture of baking soda and water, mixing well. Add flour gradually and mix until a stiff dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Heat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. On parchment paper cut to fit your baking pans, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to make into your desired shape, or turn a drinking glass upside down to form circles. Lift the parchment paper by opposite corners and place on the baking pans. Bake for 10 minutes on the middle rack of your oven, or until lightly brown around the edges.
- Glaze cookies after they have cooled by combining all of the glaze ingredients in a bowl and microwaving for 20 seconds at a time, until almost completely melted. Stir until smooth. Use immediately.