This charming Baltic country, home to Chopin and Copernicus, is truly a mix of old and new, east and west. Located between Russia and Germany, Poland is a fusion of Slavic and Central European cultures, often reflected in the diversity of its architecture, which can range from the Baroque churches and cobblestone streets of Krakow, to the Disney-style medieval castles of Upper Silesia. The Brutalist architecture of the formerly communist East — which in recent years has turned drab government flats into minimalist design wonders — has made Polish cities hotbeds of innovation.
To feel like a local, we recommend trying some of Poland’s famous top shelf vodkas, like Wyborowa and Belvedere, or the cherry-flavored Wiśniówka, with a delicious plate of pierogi (potato dumplings). The real draw of Poland, however, is its beautiful, unspoiled land. With mild summers and snowy winters, it most closely resembles the temperate climate of the north eastern United States, making it a great year-round hiking and adventuring destination. In the north, the Masuria region is famous for its 2,000+ lakes and from the first spring buds of May to the changing autumn leaves, this area is popular for its world-class boating and water sports. We also recommend the legendary Białowieża National Park, one of the only places in the world where the endangered European bison still roam free. Once the favoured hunting ground of princes and foreign dignitaries, today it is the wildlife refuge of some of the oldest species of plants and woodland animals in Europe.