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Explore the historical highlights of Poland in the country's greatest cities - Warsaw, Wroclaw and Krakow. Visit the impressive Wieliczka Salt Mines with its elaborate salt carved chambers and there's the opportunity to learn more about Poland's troubled past at Auschwitz.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Warsaw. Poland's capital is a wonderfully dynamic and modern city, but reminders of its turbulent history are easy to uncover. After World War ll around 85% of its buildings were left in ruins; however, the city has been impressively rebuilt and restored to its former glory with the Old Town 'Stare Miasto' as its centrepiece. Buskers, street artists and open-air cafes give the area a unique energy and atmosphere, making a visit that little bit more special.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Warsaw at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW), which is 30 minutes' drive. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If you are arriving into Modlin Mazovia Airport (WMI) then please speak to our Sales team, as we can arrange a private transfer for you at an additional cost. The drive from this airport to our hotel takes around an hour.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit Lazienki Park including the botanical gardens, which are about 15 minutes' walk from our hotel.
Hotel Metropol (or similar)
This morning we head out on foot to explore the Old Town district. With cobblestone streets, historic squares and Gothic churches, it's easy to understand why the Old Town is top of every visitor's 'must see' list. We take in all the main sites including the 17th century rust red Royal Castle and the Lazienki Palace or 'palace on the water' with its attractive architecture and lush gardens.
There are several options for your free afternoon; Warsaw has plenty to keep you occupied if you wish to continue exploring the city centre independently. Alternatively, you can visit the splendid 17th century Wilanow Palace, often referred to as the 'Polish Versailles', or the fascinating Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which was voted as the European Museum of the Year in 2016. Another popular choice is the Warsaw 1944 Rising Museum, which is a tribute to the local residents who fought for their independence against German occupation. One of the exhibits here features a replica of a Liberator B-24J bomber aircraft.
The morning train takes us to the 'Venice of Poland', Wroclaw, a charming old city built on 12 islands surrounded by canals and rivers. More than 120 bridges link the islands which are adorned with delightful buildings reflecting the city's past. You'll see Bohemian, Hungarian, Austrian, Prussian and German influences as the city has been coveted by all of these empires throughout its long history. Keep your eyes peeled and after a while you'll start to notice something popping up in doorways, alleyways and on street corners; perhaps Wroclaw's most famous inhabitants, Gnomes! An important part of Polish folk law they also became associated with the protest movements of the 1980's and a symbol of resistance to communist control.
B&B Hotel Wroclaw Centrum (or similar)
Today you'll have free time in Wroclaw or you may choose to visit the Panorama of Raclawice, an enormous circular painting (more than 100 metre long) depicting the battle of Raclawice. Wroclaw is home to many small and quirky bars and micro-breweries so there are plenty of options available to quench your thirst after a day spent exploring.
Further afield you might like to join an excursion to the historic city of Zagan, which was formerly the German city of Sagan and home to the prisoner of war camp for captured allied airmen, which is famous as the location of 'The Great Escape'. It will take either 2 hours by minibus or 2.5 hours by train per way to get there. Whilst here you might like to visit the 13th century Augustine monastery and library which houses many old books and globes and is known for its whispering gallery and unusual acoustics. Alternatively you could visit the castle which was previously owned by the wealth Bohemian Lobkowitz family or spend time discovering the charming Old Town and climb to the top of the Post-Evangelical Church Tower to get the best views over the streets below.
Instead you might like to visit Ksiaz Castle and Landscape Park, which is best known for its stunning Rococo architecture. It will take either 1 hour by minibus or by train per way to reach here. If we travel by train then we will pass near to the location of the reputed 'gold train' site where many people believe a train packed with Nazi gold from World War II was hidden in a secret tunnel that has yet to be found. At the castle you can either visit just the main fort or also the World War II tunnels which formed part of the Nazi 'Riese' complex. This 13th century castle was home to the powerful Hochbergs family, but in 1941 it was confiscated by the Nazi's and received significant damage during this time, but they also created a network of mysterious tunnel under the castle. The castle was fully restored in the 1950's to its former grandeur and today you can explore many of the rooms, terraces and gardens.
This morning's train journey sees us arriving in Krakow, Poland's capital until 1596 and still its most charming city. Dating from the 13th century, Krakow is a picture-postcard city of narrow streets, grand buildings and al-fresco cafes just begging to be explored. It was the only major Polish city to escape the war unscathed and the Old Town is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the streets are still very much as they were hundreds of years ago with historic buildings and elegant frontages. In the afternoon we begin to uncover the city's delights with a guided walking tour with a local guide. We'll visit the fabulous Rynek Glowny, Europe's largest medieval square that is dominated by the wonderful St Mary's Basilica, a Gothic brick church built in the 14th century. The square is still now very much at the heart of Krakow local life. Quirky town houses and historic buildings adorn the square with the most famous being the Sukiennice, a vast cloth hall where goods would have been sold in Medieval times, which is still in use now as a covered market. Inside you'll find vendors peddling a multitude of local wares from wooden toys to beautiful amber jewellery.
Continuing from the Square, we arrive at Wawel Hill and pay a visit to Wawel Cathedral. Almost 1000 years old, many past past kings and queens lie buried here. The Cathedral is just part of a large fortified architectural complex which includes the Wawel Royal Castle, for centuries the residence of the Polish kings and now an important museum and art gallery.
Hotel Wyspianski (or similar)
We start today by visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At up to 300 metres underground we'll see a 400 year old chapel, a subterranean salt lake and chambers large enough to take the Eiffel Tower! The Chapel of Saint Kinga is the mines most spectacular feature and we will no doubt be amazed by what can be sculpted from salt. Please note that there are 350 steps down into the mine at the beginning of the tour and then a further 450 on the route through the various corridors and 20 chambers visited. The temperature underground can be much cooler than on the surface, so be sure to bring a jumper.
Back in Krakow later this afternoon we head out on foot with our tour leader to explore the UNESCO listed Jewish Kazimierz District, the location of the Jewish Ghetto in World War II and the setting for the film 'Schindler's List'. Along the way we will grab a 'zapiekanka', an open faced toasted baguette sandwich, which is a popular local fast food option. Whilst in this area you'll have the opportunity to visit the Old Synagogue, Schindler's Factory and the Museum of Jewish Life, which provide fascinating insights into the life of Krakow Jews and the war years.
This morning is free for you to discover more of Krakow or you may choose to join an optional excursion to Oswiecim, the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp; an eerie and haunting place that drives home the terrible atrocities which took place here during World War II.
In the evening we celebrate the end of a great tour with a traditional Jewish dinner accompanied by Klezmer music with its expressive melodies, said to be reminiscent of the human voice. Following dinner, if you wish to join them, your Leader will take you to a few local bars and pubs to give you the chance to try the typical Polish beers and the extensive local vodka varieties.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Krakow.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Krakow at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport (KRK), which is about 30 minutes' drive.
Poland has a temperate, changeable climate. September and October are cooler and gradually become damper until late November when temperatures fall below freezing with snowfall, particularly in mountainous areas. Cold temperatures last through to March, but are tolerable. Snow can lie for up to three months in the mountains.
2 Pin Round
A selection of optional activities are listed below to help you budget for your holiday. Whilst the trip price you pay before you travel includes a great selection of highlights, we have also built in free time to allow you the flexibility to choose from a carefully selected range of additional excursions and activities or take time to relax, the choice is yours. At certain destinations along the way there may be several options to choose from and it may not be possible to fit all the activities in; your Explore Leader will be able to give advice on which are the most suitable for you. Warsaw: Wilanow Palace visit operates on day 2 and entry is PLN 25.00 per person. Museum of History of Polish Jews visit operates on day 2 and entry is PLN 25.00 per person. Warsaw 1944 Rising Museum visit operates on day 2 and entry is PLN 18.00 per person. Wroclaw: Panorama of Raclawice visit operates on day 4 and entry is PLN 30.00. Zagan excursion operates on day 4 and return transport by train is PLN 80-100.00 per person, which takes around 2.5 hours or alternatively transport by road takes around 2 hours and an 18 seater minibus is €295.00 per group or a 12 seater minibus is €210.00 per group. Entrance to the Augustine Monastery is PLN 18.00 per person. Lobkowitz Castle entrance is PLN 7.00 per person and if you would like a guided tour this can be arranged for PLN 100.00 per group and to climb the tower to the viewing platform is an additional PLN 5.00 per person. Ksiaz Castle and Landscape Park excursion operates on day 4 and return transport by train is PLN 45 per person, which takes around 1 hour or alternatively transport by road also takes around 1 hour and an 18 seater minibus is €165.00 per group or a 12 seater minibus is €140.00 per group. Ksiaz Castle entrance is PLN 30.00 per person or it's PLN 50.00 per person if you'd like to visit the Nazi tunnel complex as well. Krakow: Excursion to Auschwitz by bus operates on day 7 and includes entrance and guiding in English for PLN 155.00 per person. On day 7 whilst in the Podgorze District you can visit the Old Jewish Synagogue for PLN 10.00 per person, Schindler's Factory for PLN 24.00 per person or the Museum of Jewish Life for PLN 16.00 per person. Please note that all optional excursions listed above are subject to change and availability and they may not all be possible to offer on every departure date.
Summers can be hot so pack cottons and light weight clothing with warmer layers for the evenings and a rain jacket, just in case. Medium weights in spring and autumn are recommended along with a windproof and waterproof jacket. Ladies should take a headscarf and ensure their shoulders are covered when entering churches. If you're travelling to Poland in winter then weather conditions can change rapidly - sunshine, drizzle, rain and snow may all occur in the same day. In winter temperatures can drop to -10 degrees centigrade. You'll need to take warm clothing, so pack layers of breathable fabrics. A good quality heavy duty wind and waterproof jacket is essential. We'd also strongly recommend packing thermal underwear, a fleece jumper, woolly hat, thick socks, scarf or snood and gloves (and glove liners for when you're taking photos).
Comfortable shoes are recommended for walking around city streets. If travelling in winter then bring warm waterproof walking boots or shoes that have sufficient grip and ankle support for use in icy and snowy conditions.
You'll need one main piece of baggage and a small daypack for when you're out and about exploring. As you'll be taking care of your own luggage, hopping on and off trains, lifting your luggage up onto storage racks on the train and navigating city streets to your hotel, it's really important for your enjoyment not to overload yourself. We advise you to pack light, no more than 12kg is recommended. A small suitcase or soft holdall with wheels or a rucksack is the most suitable type of baggage. Ideally one which also has carry straps for when you're navigating cobbled streets and stairs.
We recommend taking sunglasses, a sun hat and sunscreen. Please bring your own reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption. In case of emergency we recommend that you carry a torch and a first aid kit. You may find an umbrella useful and if travelling in winter you may also want to bring a walking pole in case of icy conditions. Don't forget your camera. If you are travelling in winter then take spare camera batteries, as these don't usually last as long in cold weather. Please note that in many of the museums in Poland larger bags will need to be placed in a locker and there may be an additional charge for taking photographs whilst inside.
Please note that the majority of hotels in Poland don't have air-conditioning.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Poland: Visas not required by citizens of the UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
This trip is designed to acquaint you with the highlights of Poland in just 8 days. We make the most of our time by using trains between the cities and in order to experience travelling like the locals do. Once we're in the cities our explorations are mostly done on foot, so please bring sensible footwear and be prepared for the busy nature of this enthralling holiday.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Tickborne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Europe, at specific times of the year. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.