Best Cities to Visit in Poland

Poland is fast becoming one of the hottest destinations to visit in Europe. Leading the charge are Poland’s spectacular cities, which have been rebuilt and revitalized in the wake of the widespread destruction of the Second World War.  These cities never fail to surprise and delight visitors with their exquisite old towns, castles, restaurants, and fine museums. While Krakow and Warsaw are well-established destinations, cities such as Gdansk and Wroclaw are now also getting a lot more attention. Several cities can also be considered hidden gems. While they are currently off the beaten track, they’re no less spectacular and considerably cheaper and less crowded. 

In this guide, we’ll look at the ten best cities in Poland. We’ll be looking at why you should visit each of these fantastic destinations and what the best things are to see in each location. Read on to find out what tops the list for Poland’s best city. 

Market square at sunset in warsaw
Nearly all of Poland's cities feature beautiful and historic Old Towns.

10 Best Cities in Poland

Location of Poland's Best Cities


The city of Kraków is Poland’s second-largest city and the former royal capital of Poland. This spectacular city is centered around the incredible medieval Old Town, which features churches, cathedrals, and Europe’s largest market square in Rynek Glowny. Just outside the Old Town is the imposing Wawel Royal Castle, which contains over a thousand years of Polish history. Slightly further afield is the rejuvenated former Jewish quarter known as Kazimierz, which is home to countless bars and restaurants as well as Schindler’s Factory, one of Poland’s most intriguing museums. On the outskirts of the city is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring 300 km of tunnels and containing many sculptures and carvings from the salt.

Why visit Kraków?

There are so many reasons to come to Kraków. The city is incredibly beautiful and has a history that is both long and fascinating. It also boasts some of the best nightlife in Poland. This ranges from the upmarket bars and restaurants of the Old Town to the younger and livelier bars and nightclubs of the Kazimierz district. 

Best thing to see in Kraków?

It’s hard to choose between Wawel Castle and the Old Town area for Kraków’s best attraction. As they’re located so close together, we will sit on the fence and declare that both areas must be visited as part of a trip to Kraków.

View of St Mary's Basilica in Krakow
View of the impressive St Mary's Basilica in Kraków from the Cloth Hall.


Warsaw is Poland’s capital city and the largest city in Poland by a considerable distance. It has a very different feel to other Polish cities as its scale and architecture vary from the other major cities. This is largely down to the destruction inflicted upon the city in 1944 when the Nazis virtually destroyed it as retribution for the Warsaw Uprising. The city was rebuilt in the post-war years, including carefully recreating the Old Town. The Warsaw you’ll discover today blends the historic old city with Communist-era blocks and new modern contemporary buildings. While the city is a bit of a hotchpotch of different areas and styles, there is something about Warsaw that just works. 

Why visit Warsaw?

Out of the ashes of World War 2 have risen countless excellent museums and galleries in Warsaw. While many of these document and commemorate the period’s events, there’s also a celebration of Polish culture, tradition, and history. In addition to the excellent art scene, you’ll also find a vibrant nightlife scene in Warsaw. This ranges from many dining options to energetic and vibrant bars and clubs. Warsaw’s Old Town is also a fascinating location to explore, while Lazienki Park draws in huge numbers of visitors.

Best thing to see in Warsaw?

It’s a really tough choice to pick the best thing to see in Warsaw. There are so many fine museums that it will come down to personal choice for most people. Our pick will be the Royal Lazienki Museum located in Lazienki Park. Not only is this museum home to hundreds of thousands of pieces of domestic and international art, but it’s housed in a fabulous former palace in the spectacular setting of Lazienki Park.

Aerial view of Old Town Warsaw
The Old Town area of Warsaw, beautifully reconstructed after WWII.


The Polish port city of Gdańsk is next up on our list. Situated on the Baltic Coast north of Poland, it’s another city with a fascinating and dramatic past. Established in 997, the city became a major trading hub and port along the Baltic Coast. Over its colorful thousand year plus history, it has been part of both the Prussian and Polish states on several different occasions. It has also been declared a Free City on more than one occasion. This oscillating between nations came to an end in 1945 when the city was largely destroyed at the end of World War 2. Returned to Poland at the war’s end, the city was painstakingly restored to its former 18th-century likeness over the next 20 to 30 years. The Gdańsk of today is a triumph of reconstruction and the human spirit. 

Why visit Gdańsk?

The city of Gdańsk is easily one of the most stunning in Poland. Its heritage as a trading port is reflected in the diverse architectural styles along the harbourside. It’s often remarked that the city appears more Dutch than Polish. The heart of the city is the Old Town and waterfront, contrasting with the vast town squares that act as the center of almost every other Polish city. Alongside the beautiful buildings, you’ll find cobbled streets with an eclectic mix of shops, churches, bars, and restaurants.  

Within the city, there’s a vast array of galleries and excellent museums. Some of the best museums include the Amber Museum, the Historical Museum of Gdańsk, and the stunning Museum of WWII. There are also the more sedate activities of dining along the waterfront at any number of fine eateries or taking a boat cruise through the port and surrounding areas.

Best thing to see in Gdańsk?

Strolling around the Gdańsk Old Town is undoubtedly a highlight of any visit to the city. The varied architecture and the stunning setting give the city a unique feeling. The Museum of WWII comes a close second and is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in the Second World War. 

Historic Gdansk waterfront
The long historic waterfront in Gdansk is one of Poland's best sights.


The beautiful city of Wroclaw is another of Poland’s picture-perfect cities. Situated on the Odra River, the city is set across 12 different islands, which are interconnected by a whole series of bridges. Wroclaw shares a common history with many other Polish cities, namely a mixture of influences over the past thousand years. Periods of Bohemian, Hapsburg, and Prussian influence have left an indelible mark on the city’s design and appearance. The city also suffered a similar fate to Gdansk and Warsaw at the end of WWII with the near-total destruction of the city. Painful restoration work during the following post-war decades saw the city restored to its former glory. 

Why visit Wroclaw?

Wroclaw’s setting along the banks of the Odra River makes it a pleasant place to visit and spend a few days. Much of the city has been dedicated to parks and open green spaces, which come alive during the summer months. As a significant University town, there’s a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene with plenty of museums to explore. The Old Town is as fine as you’ll find anywhere in Poland, and the Old Town Hall, with its large astronomical clock, is delightful.

Best thing to see in Wroclaw?

Wroclaw’s star attraction is undoubtedly its central square, Rynek we Wrocławiu. This medieval centerpiece of the city is architecturally superb and is also a lively location with a host of different bars, cafes, and restaurants. It’s easy to while away a few hours, taking it all in and watching the world go by. 

Aerial view of the centre of Wroclaw
Rebuilt and restored after WW2, Wroclaw is one of Poland's most beautiful cities.


The delightful Gothic city of Toruń is one of Poland’s hidden gems. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features an impeccable Gothic Quarter, which mercifully was untouched by the horrors of the Second World War. Located on the Vistula River and with a considerably smaller population than Gdańsk, Wroclaw, Kraków, and Warsaw, the city is noticeably quieter and slower-paced. While it shares a common history of different influences with other Polish cities, Torun certainly exudes a different feel. 

Why visit Toruń?

The obvious reason to visit Toruń is the UNESCO World Heritage recognized Gothic Old Town. In common with many of Poland’s other great cities, you’ll find a beautiful town hall, spectacular cathedral, and large open town square. What’s a little different about Toruń is the style of the buildings and the fact they’re the original constructions. You’ll also find other attractions in Toruń celebrating two of its favorite things, the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus and gingerbread. The history of gingerbread is said to go back 600 years in Toruń, and there are not one but two museums dedicated to Toruń’s favorite sweet. Nicolaus Copernicus, on the other hand, only managed one museum in his honor.

Best thing to see in Toruń?

Undoubtedly, Toruń’s Gothic Old Town is the big reason to visit. Not only is it magnificent in its design but it’s also far less visited and crowded than other Old Towns in major cities in Poland. Get here quickly before word gets out.

Aerial view of Torun's Old Town
Torun's historic Gothic Old Town is UNESCO World Heritage Site.


One of the oldest cities in Poland, Poznań is another of the Polish cities that bore the brunt of the Soviet offensive in 1945. Despite the havoc wrecked on the city, careful reconstruction has seen the city restore the Renaissance era Old Town and other prominent city landmarks. Present-day Poznań continues to embrace its heritage as a center of commerce and education, which gives the city a youthful energy and great arts scene. 

Why visit Poznań?

Like many other Polish cities, the market square is the centerpiece attraction. The Stary Rynek dates back to the 13th century and is home to many fine buildings, cafés, restaurants, and bars. Fuelled by students and business travelers, it’s a lively destination every day of the week. As well as the vibrant nightlife and café culture, you’ll find a host of museums in Poznań covering a broad range of subject matters, from national history to musical instruments and even croissants!

Best thing to see in Poznań?

The market square is known as Stary Rynek and is best visited in the evening. This beautiful space becomes an excellent place for a night out.

Aerial view of Stary Rynek
Stary Rynek in Poznan comes alive in the evening with a host of bars and restaurants.


The city of Łódź is located smack in the middle of Poland. The third largest city in the country, Łódź, is coming out of what can only be described as an identity crisis. A relatively young city by Polish standards, it owes its scale and former wealth to its industrial past. A massive player in the textile and manufacturing industries until World War 2, it fell into a deep slumber during the post-war Communist Years. Since independence, the city has sought to reinvent itself with an urban regeneration program, including restoring many historic sights. It’s also successfully made itself a center for arts and is Poland’s film capital. 

Why visit Łódź?

Łódź is one of Poland’s more affordable destinations, and refreshingly, the city doesn’t follow the typical town planning blueprint for a Polish city. Incorporating a more modern grid pattern, you’ll easily be able to navigate the downtown area. The big reasons to visit are its numerous museums, many housed in former industrial buildings. The other reason to visit is the city’s former Jewish heritage. Łódź was home to Poland’s second-largest Jewish population in 1939, and there are several sights in the city that commemorate this lost population, including the former ghetto.

Best thing to see in Łódź?

Our highlight of Łódź is Piotrkowska Street. This fabulous long boulevard is home to everything good about Łódź: museums. street art, impressive restored architecture, and shopping. A visit during the annual Light Move Festival is a memorable experience.

Aerial view of Lodz city centre
Lodz's industrial heritage is evident across the cities mixed skyline.


The port city of Szczecin sits on River Oder, close to the Baltic Sea and the German border. The city is the capital of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship.  Szczecin is a city with an eclectic mix of buildings that reflect its complex history. Part of Denmark, Sweden, Poland, and Germany at various stages of its long history, it’s another city that fell foul of the destruction of World War 2. Despite the damage during the war, there are enough interesting buildings and sights here to more than warrant a stopover if you’re heading to or from Germany. 

Why visit Szczecin?

Szczecin is home to several fine historical buildings that are pretty unique. The Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes is probably the finest example. Dating back to the 14th century, it’s been painstakingly restored following its near destruction in 1944. Elsewhere in the city, you’ll find the fascinating Szczecin Underground, a former air raid shelter and nuclear fallout shelter after that. There are also some good museums to explore, with the Museum of Technology and Transport being the pick of the bunch.

Best thing to see in Szczecin?

Walking along the Waly Chrobrego Promenade is a pleasant and memorable experience. The promenade is located alongside the River Oder, and several beautiful historic buildings on the west bank of the river provide a spectacular backdrop. 

Historic Buildings in Szczecin
There's some spectacular historic buildings to while walking the Waly Chrobrego Promenade.


The city of Lublin is the most easterly of all the cities covered in this list. It lies southeast of Warsaw, close to the Belarus and Ukrainian borders. Another regional capital, Lublin, is the capital and the heart of the Lublin Voivodeship. The city has a long history as a center of education and Judaism. While the former remains an integral part of modern-day Lublin, sadly the latter is conspicuously absent from the city. As well as the loss of the Jewish population during World War 2, the city also suffered extensive damage. 

Why visit Lublin?

Lublin’s location in the country’s east gives it a slightly different feel to other Polish cities. While there’s an intriguingly different vibe,  Lublin retains many of the characteristics of other Polish cities. You’ll find an impressive Royal Castle, a quaint and historic old town, and a host of sites and relics from the former Jewish population. As with all Polish cities, some well-presented museums document the area’s traumatic past. This includes the Majandek State Museum on the grounds of the Majandek Concentration Camp.

Best thing to see in Lublin?

As difficult as it is to experience, the Majandek State Museum is the one thing you should see in Lublin. Located on the outskirts of town, the Museum covers the entirety of the 270-hectare site. Similar to Auschwitz, Majandek started its existence as a brutal work camp before progressing to an extermination camp in 1942. 

Sunset over Lublin
The easternmost city, Lublin has a different feel to other Polish cities.


Much like the city of Lodz, Katowice can attribute its present-day scale and wealth to the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. A significant center for coal mining for many years, the city has successfully transitioned from an industrial city to a professional services and healthcare center. It’s also managed to maintain much of its original character after avoiding the level of destruction imposed on other Polish cities.

Why visit Katowice?

Present-day Katowice offers a more formal environment than many other Polish cities. It provides some excellent shopping along with a fine restaurant scene focused on fine dining. It’s also home to the National Symphony Orchestra and several good museums that celebrate the wider Silesian area. One of Katowice’s other attractions is its proximity to Osciewim and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

Best thing to see in Katowice?

The Silesian Museum is the best thing to see in the city. In the wider area, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum is an excellent day trip and an essential reminder of the past. You can find out more about visiting Auschwitz from Katowice in our visiting Auschwitz guide.

Aerial view of Katowice
Katowice breaks the traditional Polish city mould but is still worth a visit.

Enjoyed this guide?

If you’ve enjoyed this guide, please let us know. You can also find more guides and travel ideas for Poland in our country guide. You can find other destinations on our Countries A-Z page.

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