If you’re traveling to Poland, you might wonder which cities you should make your priority. While some cities might be obvious, others may surprise you—and if you have been to Poland in the past, it may be time to discover different cities in Poland than you would typically visit.
So what are some of the best cities in Poland, what makes them significant, and what should you see there? Find out, whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect long-stay destination or plan to travel around Poland and see as many cities as you can.
Warsaw is the Polish city that tops this list because it’s the capital, though many people bypass it for the more touristy Krakow. But Warsaw also has its charms as a city that is both welcoming to visitors as well as a bustling metropolis for the residents who live and work there. It’s undeniably one of the top cities of Poland, and it serves as an excellent hub for further travels around the country.
Warsaw has a small old town area that was lovingly rebuilt by residents after WWII, which shows how much the people there care about their city.
Beyond the old town, you’ll find an interesting food scene, architecture from different eras, plenty of green spaces, loads of events and entertainment venues, and museums, palaces, and other points of interest.
The interactive Chopin Museum pays homage to Poland’s most beloved composer.
The POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews is also an essential Warsaw must-see attraction. You’ll learn about Jewish history and culture in Poland from its inception with many well-explained and developed exhibits.
Warsaw’s Palace of Science and Culture is a Stalinist-era building offering panoramic views of Warsaw. It is also a distinctive element to the city’s skyline.
These are only a few of the things to do in Warsaw. In fact, you’ll find many, many more depending upon your interests and schedule. Polish holidays are also celebrated here throughout the year, meaning from Christmas to Midsummer, you’ll be able to encounter Polish culture easily.
Krakow holds a special place in many a traveler’s heart and is considered by a majority of visitors to be one of the best cities in Poland. It was not obliterated during WWII—like many other cities in Poland—and therefore maintains its historic integrity.
Cozy restaurants, lovely castle grounds, and museums galore give you a real feel for Krakow’s pulse. The Kazimierz District, in addition to being its historically Jewish district, is a trendy corner of the old town stuffed with cafes and bars.
Province/Voivodship: Lesser Poland
Distance from Warsaw: 156.93 mi (252.56 km) south
Krakow has so many “must-see” sights that it can be difficult to identify the most important ones. However, some of the best things to do in Krakow are located right in the heart of the city.
Of course, the Main Market Square with its Cloth Hall is an important spot, and Wawel Castle contains centuries of history. Again, don’t forget the Kazimierz District, which offers another side of Krakow, whether you want to learn about Jewish history or enjoy any of its many cafes and clubs.
If you’re visiting in December, Krakow has one of Poland’s best Christmas markets, which is a huge draw during the winter season. Christmas in Poland is also celebrated with the annual Nativity scene contest here, which pits artisans against each other to come up with the most beautiful Nativity scene.
And don’t forget about Easter in Poland, which is celebrated with a special market here during springtime.
Gdansk is a port city with a long history evident in its old town area, which even boasts a medieval-era crane. It’s one of many cities in Poland considered the best for its old town area and interesting atmosphere.
Baltic amber shops are a major feature of this city, but you can also learn about Poland’s Solidarity movement, which helped usher out the period of Communist rule in Poland.
Distance from Warsaw: 175.71 mi (282.78 km) northeast
Gdansk’s Royal Route will offer up a story of historic architecture, including city gates.
The Solidarity Center will fill you in on the trajectory of the Solidarity movement’s rise and its role in the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.
Poznan, in addition to being one of the best cities in Poland, is also one of its oldest. Established well before the Christianization of the country, it has had a long and tumultuous history.
Its position in the western part of Poland means that it has been a part of other countries, including Prussia and Germany, as borders changed. It’s due to this history that it offers rich options for the visitor, including a lovely old town, the main square stealing the show.
Province/Voivodship: Greater Poland
Distance from Warsaw: 172.43 mi (277.50 km) east
Market Square, with its Renaissance-era town hall, is undeniably the crowning glory of Poznan. You’ll be swept back in time when you step onto this square, with its colorful facades as well as souvenir shops and restaurants.
Wroclaw is one of the best cities in Poland for student life, the tech sector, and dwarfs.
Yes, you read that right. Since 2005, dwarf statues have been popping up all over the city—and the number keeps growing. If you love interactive tourist attractions, dwarf hunting is for you.
However, Wroclaw also has a nationally protected old town with Baroque and Gothic elements that take you back in time. Its Cathedral Island bears an interesting mixture of Christian churches, including the tallest in all of Poland.
Province/Voivodship: Lower Silesia
Distance from Warsaw: 187.10 mi (301.11 km) southeast
Wroclaw’s 13th-century Main Market Square contains a Gothic-style town hall, which is the country’s oldest. You can visit the nearby St. Elizabeth’s Church for a bird’s-eye-view of the historical center.
Lodz is Poland’s third-largest city and has long been associated with industry. And while that may put some travelers off who are into historic cities, Lodz helps round out travelers’ perspective and the top cities in Poland list.
Many green spaces, plenty of shopping opportunities, and the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe make up part of the fabric of Lodz.
Lodz has many notable museums, including a modern art museum with three branches, the award-winning Book Art Museum, and a museum dedicated to taking visitors into the city’s 20th-century sewer system.
Distance from Warsaw: 73.28 mi (117.93 km) southeast
Piotrkowska Street is Lodz’s main thoroughfare with shops and restaurants in renovated 19th-century buildings. In fact, you’ll see many repurposed buildings throughout Lodz, which is one of its charms.
Katowice is a newer metropolitan area in Upper Silesia that grew out of the mining industry in the 19th century.
Katowice is one of the best cities in Poland for culture. Its musical scene runs the gamut from jazz to opera, and it hosts various music festivals throughout the year.
Due to its thriving industrial history, Katowice does not have an array of older examples of architecture, but it does have some intriguing examples of newer designs, such as the Spodek, an arena that looks like a UFO, built in the early 1970s.
Distance from Warsaw: 161.04 mi (259.16 km) southeast
For a look into the mining history of Katowice, visit Nikiszowiec, a formerly separate city that has been absorbed into Katowice and its multi-family residences are now a piece of nationally protected heritage. The area has maintains the look it had when it was built for miners in the early 20th century.
Lublin holds an interesting place in Polish history because in 1569, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was created when the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania joined into one country.
Lublin has a thriving food scene. It’s also one of the top cities in Poland for festivals: its moniker—the Polish City of Festivals—underscores its efforts to maintain its hefty annual calendar of events as well as add new ones as time progresses.
Distance from Warsaw: 95.24 mi (153.27 km) southwest
History lovers will enjoy tracking down symbols of Lublin’s past prominence. The Krakowska Gate, Lublin Castle, and Market Square all fall into this category.
Szczecin is not only remarkable for the number of consecutive consonants in its name—it was also the birthplace of Catherine the Great! This long history, as well as opportunities to experience local culture here, make it one of the best cities in Poland for travelers.
Szczecin’s architectural heritage was destroyed during WWII. While much of it has been rebuilt, it was not until the 1990s that rebuilding of the old town began.
However, that also means that other architectural styles, such as Art Nouveau, punctuate the city’s landscape.
Another interesting fact about Szczecin is that it has the largest cemetery in Poland.
Province/Voivodship: West Pomerania
Distance from Warsaw: 281.80 mi (453.52 km) northeast
The reconstructed Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle contains a museum that displays finds from archeological digs and recreates the original style of the castle.
If you’re into summer strolling (or concerts in a garden), check out the Rozanka Rose Garden, which maintains thousands of rose plants along with other species planted in the garden when it was initially developed in the first half of the 20th century.
Torun, with its UNESCO-protected historical center, is one of the top cities in Poland for seeing Gothic architecture.
City walls and gates, churches and cathedrals, castle ruins, and other buildings dating from medieval times sit solid and eternal, the reddish brick favored by the builders and an integral part of the city’s aesthetic.
Torun is also famous for its gingerbread-making tradition. Visit the Museum of Gingerbread to learn more about this specific cultural heritage.
It’s also a fact about Poland that Nicolas Copernicus was born here!
Distance from Warsaw: 114.03 mi (183.51 km) northeast
Torun’s old town escaped damage from WWII, so many of the historical monuments you see are authentically from as far back as the 13th and 14th century. Imagine what life was like in this well-developed medieval city as you peek into churches, spot the city’s former defensive structures, and learn about commerce here.
Zakopane is often a winter destination for those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding. In summer, the Tatras Mountains offer hiking and camping. It’s one of Poland’s top cities for architecture and cozy winter scenery.
However, if you aren’t into outdoor sports, Zakopane offers rich cultural experiences unique to the city. Its architecture, food, and crafts are specific to the Goral people, who have long lived in southern Poland, northern Slovakia, and part of Czechia. They also have their own dialect.
Province/Voivodship: Lesser Poland
Distance from Warsaw: 207.97 mi (334.69 km) south
The wooden houses of Zakopane are of a particular style—warm and inviting, they also reflect unique architectural elements that make them special.
The top cities in Poland are so different from one another, you’ll want to include several in your trip or plan a return visit to see those you’ve missed.