In October 2018 I visited Poland for the very first time. With no expectations, I ended up coming back home delighted with what I found there. This country, still relatively off the usual European tourist map, meets all the requirements to become one of the top destinations for those who seek History, culture, gastronomy and entertainment.
See below a list of 6 things that you should know before visiting Poland and let me know if I’ve managed to get you to include this country in your travel wishlist!
A varied and delicious gastronomy
With influences from many different countries and cultures, Polish gastronomy is absolutely delicious. It’s based on an abundant use of cereals (lots of bread and pasta) and vegetables such as beets, cucumbers, mushrooms and potatoes. Meat is also dominant in Polish cuisine, especially pork and goose meat at Christmas time and the famous Tartar steak that is found on virtually every restaurant menu. Desserts are something absolutely mandatory presenting themselves in the form of an incredible assortment of cakes and pastries. Not to be missed are the famous PIerogi: ravioli style pastries, with several different fillings, which are an absolute specialty of Poland.
Its History goes far beyond World War II
Officially declared a kingdom in 1025, the History of Poland has always been greatly influenced by its geographical position, which places it at the center of several different cultures. Both Warsaw, the capital, and Krakow boast an impressive cultural and architectural heritage in the form of imposing secular buildings and several museums that allow you to discover a truly interesting History that goes well beyond the tragic events of World War II. Poland was also the birthplace for some of the greatest personalities in the world of culture and science, such as the famous composer Frederic Chopin, scientist Marie Curie and astronomer / mathematician Nicolau Copernicus.
Vodka is its official beverage and beer its obsession
Get ready to change your mind about Vodka. This is the official beverage of Poland and you”ll be sure to find countless different brands with countless different flavours. On a night out it’s almost impossible not to go for a shot of vodka, either straight or mixed with juices or spices. Beer is, along with vodka, one of the most consumed beverages in the country. In addition to the traditional brands Žywiec, Tyskie and Okocim, Poland has been betting heavily on craft beers.
Temperatures are not always at Arctic levels
Yes, it’s true that in winter temperatures in Poland can drop to Arctic levels, but in the summer it’s exactly the opposite, reaching as high as 35ºC. The mild temperatures of autumn and spring make it the best times to visit the country.
It’s important to get to know some key rules
Poland has some rules / laws that you should keep in mind. Generally speaking, drinking alcoholic beverages in public places is not allowed. There are some exceptions, depending on the city in question but just in case, it’s better to just keep it to the allowed areas. Swearing in public is also forbidden, something applied in particular to the native tongue, so be careful when you venture to say your first words in Polish. And do not forget to always cross the road at the zebra crosses and to respect traffic lights, otherwise you will, almost certainly, be fined.
Avoid saying that Poland is an Eastern Europe country
If you do, it is certain that you will be quickly and rigidly corrected by any Pole who will insist on reminding you that Poland is a Central European country. The need to depart completely from any association with the Soviet regime is one of the causes for this vehement statement.