3 Reasons You Should Take a Trip to Poland - The Viking Abroad
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3 Reasons You Should Take a Trip to Poland

29 May 3 Reasons You Should Take a Trip to Poland

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If you’re an enthusiastic traveller and have never been to any of the nations which were “behind the Iron Curtain” during the days of the USSR, there’s a lot that you’re missing out on, and many assumptions you might be making which aren’t accurate.

Poland is one such nation with a vibrant history, a rich cultural life, and a beautiful series of natural sights, all of which can make for the perfect Central European holiday if you approach the trip with an open mind.

As prices in the country are comparatively low compared to the majority of Western European nations, it may be that during your stay you are able to rent a condominium or a fully-fledged cottage, depending on where your visit takes you.

Whether you’ll be living in the lap of luxury, somewhere in the inner city, or waking up each morning in a tent on the bank of a lake, however, you’ll find that the trip is as rewarding as you want it to be.

Without further ado, here are some things to see and do during a holiday to Poland.

Visit the PolAndRock / Woodstock Festival

Are you a hippie at heart and wish you could have gone to the original Woodstock festival back in the ‘60s? Well, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a hippie, a hard-rocker, or anything in between. Poland’s annual PolAndRock (formerly Woodstock) festival will have something for you to enjoy in any case.

The festival is by no means a small or niche event. With attendance being around half a million people per year, and with no tickets or fees,  this monumental (and free) gathering has been referred to as the “biggest open-air festival in Europe”.

Situated near the German border, the festival features an eclectic mix of Polish, German, and other foreign guests annually — and the music and attractions on offer are all the more eclectic, ranging from heavy metal acts, to international reggae musicians and more.

For those moments when you don’t feel like watching a band, there’s always a near-endless array of quirky stalls to visit, including a Hare Krishna tent (and float), and a Catholic priest station if you feel that your soul is in considerable risk from the antics you’ll be getting up to.

Other attractions include an annual motorcycle parade, assorted merchandise and food and drink stands, and much, much more.

The event happens around the beginning of August, so if you happen to be visiting at the right time and feel like losing yourself in a hectic party atmosphere, PolAndRock may be just the thing for you.

Visit the Racławice Panorama

Dating back to the 19th Century, and located in the city of Wrocław, the panorama is one of the most dynamic and interesting artistic experiences you’re likely to be exposed to in your life.

The panorama itself is an enormous 360-degree painting, kept inside a large circular building. The ground in front of the painting features designed sets and props to help enhance the illusion of reality and perspective blending into the painting itself, and with an audio guide in hand, you will be invited to walk around the room and take in the many and varied details of the panorama.

The painting itself depicts the Battle of Racławice — one of the most famous battles, in one of the most famous uprisings in Poland’s long history of resisting foreign occupation and striving to regain its independence and sovereignty.

Featured in the painting are scenes of Russian Cossacks doing battle with Polish soldiers, Polish noblemen and peasants marching to war in their ranks, with notable historical figures cropping up here and there in the background or the foreground, and depictions of the suffering of those who fell.

Kept concealed during the Communist era, and nearly destroyed in World War 2, this painting is certainly worth a visit to the city alone.

Visit the Białowieża Forest (and see the last European bison)

The Białowieża Forest is a massive swathe of primaeval woodland which stretches between Belarus and Eastern Poland. The forest is said to be one of the last vestiges of the ancient and primaeval forest which once stretched across Europe — and is also home to the last wild European bison, in addition to a population of deer, wolves, and other wild animals.

What makes this forest so different from most you would ever visit, is that a large portion of it — at least on the Polish side — is designated as a strict, wild and “no intervention” zone. What this means in practice, is that no forestry is ever performed in the “wild” area of the forest, no dead wood is ever cleared away, no forest fires are ever put out, no trees are ever planted, etc.

For this reason, it remains one of the wildest bits of woodland you are ever likely to see in your life — and certainly the wildest you can expect to see in Europe. On a special, guided tour into this area of the forest, you will see the woodland as it was thousands of years ago, before the rise of human civilisation. You’ll see the bizarre and incredible mix of wildlife, and may even spot some of the bison and other creatures grazing or shyly examining you from amidst the foliage.

Remnants of various ancient traditions can also be seen in the forest — such as the tradition of wild beekeeping, where “beekeepers” would create (or take note of) hollows high up in trees, wait for bees to settle there, and then shimmy up the trunks using ropes in order to harvest the honey. Such hives — and the interesting glyphs and sigils the beekeepers would use to mark them — are still present here and there.

When you’re not trekking through this ancient woodland, you may find yourself settling into one of the remarkably comfortable and hospital guest-houses located in the village of Białowieża, and appreciating the fresh air and idyllic scenery to be found there.

  • Followingtherivera
    Posted at 11:13h, 31 May Reply

    You’ve totally sold me on Poland! It’s also so great to read about other places other than Warsaw or Krakow. I’ve never heard of the forest before or the panorama but both sound so interesting. I’m also sure I’d take plenty of great photos in these locations too. Poland’s on the list!

  • Deeptha
    Posted at 14:26h, 31 May Reply

    I would love to visit the Białowieża Forest and see the European bison! They are majestic creatures. We have seen the Indian bison in the wild (during a night safari) and it was simply awesome. I am sure spotting a European bison in the wild will be a similar, wonderful experience.

  • Rhonda Albom
    Posted at 17:40h, 31 May Reply

    I have not been to Poland but it has intrigued me since the days of the Solidarity and the labour uprisings in the 1980s. The PolAndRock festival is free? No wonder a half million people show up. I’d like to be there as well.

  • Francesca Murray
    Posted at 18:55h, 31 May Reply

    Can’t believe I’ve never heard of PolAndRock for it to be such a huge festival! Very cool that it’s free and open to the public. My friend went to Poland a couple years ago and said it was very affordable compared to France where I was living haha! You’ve given me some great reasons to check it out!

  • Shem Hooda
    Posted at 13:03h, 01 June Reply

    I know someone who works in Poland and didn’t make it sound very exciting, but your post has definitely swayed me to believe otherwise! I never realized how much history and culture there is to explore. After reading your post, I love that I have a guide for if I visit!

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