We knew upon arriving in Krakow, Poland that we wanted to see other months. Originally the plan was to visit various cities via weekend trips during our one month stay. But we decided to extend our trip one more week in order to do a Polish road trip and hit all the locations in one go before flying out to Thailand.
If you missed it, we did end up taking a weekend trip from Krakow but it was to an entirely different country all together. You can read our blog on our Slovakian weekend as well.
Now, for Poland we wanted to see Gdansk and the surrounding area. That was 100% the reason for the road trip.
Rather than driving straight up to the northern coast of the Baltic Sea, we took the advice of our fav barista, Zuzanna from Sweet Life Conceptions (go there) and booked two days in Wroclaw and two days in Poznan. We’d finish our trip in Warsaw but only because we needed to catch our flight from there. We personally had little interest in Warsaw so it was one night and on to Southeast Asia.
Per usual, we booked our car through Autoeurope and it was easy peasy. Every booking with them has been great thus far. Cheap rates, great cars, easy pick and drop off. Not sponsored by the way, just appreciate a smooth process and good service.
Leaving our beloved krakow behind us, we started on route to Wroclaw.
The intent was to make a stop to visit Auschwitz but we quickly realized that was NOT a realistic option after waiting in line for one hour just to be handed a ticket allowing us to enter…in another hour and a half. We didn’t have that kind of time and Auschwitz deserves more than the one hour we’d have to get through it. So we decided to head back to the car and get to Wroclaw before dark.
More thoughts on Auschwitz later…
In Wroclaw we wanted to stay in the city center so we booked one of the only hostels left. It was a hotel room essentially but in the setting of a hostel. You see, the Millers aren’t used to hearing every conversation other guests may be having, or people rolling in at the wee hours, or feeling like you may as well be IN the shower with your next door neighbor. The room was fine, the bathroom was great, the service was superb. We just aren’t about that hostel life. If you’re looking for a central location, a clean room, and the privacy of an ensuite and don’t mind minimal insulation, Togoto Hostel is your jam.
Booking last minute seems to be an issue when it comes to having options.
Wroclaw was amazing. Like krakow, the food options were never ending, the square and old town was like a storybook, and the people were kind.
Wroclaw is more charming than Krakow I’d say, and feels smaller. But the Christmas market. Oh my goodness, I have no words. The Christmas market in Wroclaw put Krakow’s to shame. We were in Wroclaw two days leading up to New Years Eve and it was clear that they were setting up for a grand celebration. If we would have known, we may have booked accordingly. But we were in bed by 10pm on the 31st anyway.
We explored Wroclaw by walking and that was very doable. Perhaps this is why it felt smaller than Krakow. And we were lucky enough to have great weather for our day of galavanting. If the tiny gnomes scattered about don’t creep you out, you should definitely try to find as many as you can.
Then it was north to Poznan.
Zuzanna had informed us that Poznan was “okay,” it has a nice old town square but not much else. And I’d say she hit the nail on the head. You don’t need more than a day here. The square looks fake, like a fairytale. There wasn’t much of a Christmas market but it was still a beautiful site. We ate twice at Whiskey In The Jar. The burgers, steaks and whiskey was all high quality. Mind you, you’re going to pay typical US prices for meals like this. Not your typical cheap Polish rate.
We stayed at Hotel Altus which was much more our style. Nice hotel with THE BEST insulation, a “workout room,” and a higher percentage of old people.
The workout room was a joke, but it did the trick.
After our two days in Poznan, we kept north to what was our favorite location on the road trip, maybe even in Poland all together.
Gdansk was like Bruges Belgium and Amsterdam Netherlands had a baby town. It is a coastal town set off the water, with canals running through it. These canals are boarded by new and old row houses alike.
Say hello to fresh seafood, great coffee, the tallest brick church in all of Europe, and the best museum I’ve ever been to (WWII).
We stayed at the Dom Muzyka, in an old university dorm turned hotel. A rather cool concept considering it is still connected to the fully functioning medical school in Gdansk. Although we liked the hotel, I do suggest staying closer to the water, or on the other side of the canal near the square. It was a 15 minute was or so to the main square and surround area, which is a LONG 15 minutes when it’s 19 degrees with wind chill. If you’re there in summer, it wouldn’t be a problem at all. I can only imagine Gdansk in the summer. SO. MUCH. DAYLIGHT! It would be so wonderful, but likely packed with tourists.
There is much to do and see in Gdansk for being such a small town.
For sure walk the 400 steps to the top of the church for panoramic views of the city. You can walk through the inside of the church. Technically you’re not supposed to take photos. I’m may or may not have taken these on my phone. Maybe I did? Maybe I didn’t? There was a man with his large DLSR just snapping away with no regard to the no photo request. No one one stopping him…
It’s a beautiful church. Go inside, and make your own decisions.
Visit the World War Two museum. THIS. This was an awesome experience. And although we only spent a little over one hour here, you could easily send half a day here. The amount and quality of the information + the creativity of the design made for an excellent experience. Especially for the $15 US it costed us to get in, audio guide included.
This is where Auschwitz comes in again. Just our experience in the Polish WWII museum was emotionally taxing. Even halfway through I was thinking “this has to be over soon.” But we were indeed only 50% done. I had teared up, felt nauseous and been disgusted. I can’t imagine going through Auschwitz. Although, I do still hope to someday. But I will be much better prepared after this experience. There will be tears, stomach aches, and a demand to process what’s being seen and heard. If you’ve been to Auschwitz, I’m sure you can attest to that?
In the WWII museum you’ll see actual video footage from concentration camps, hear interviews from survivors, learn all about the political leaders and economic crisis at the time, how the European nations shifted and changed, how alliances were made and broken, where people fled to after the war, and of course how human torture was conducted beyond sanity. Just all of the things.
Needless to say, I’m a fan. The tour-hating tourists (that’s us) HIGHLY SUGGEST visiting the WWII museum of Gdansk.
After the museum, we saw it fitting to do a whiskey tasting. Can you argue the logic? I think not. We went to the Gdansk hotel and had the bar to ourselves. Which made sense, because it was noon…
That’s really all for Gdansk. Then we wanted to visit a nearby town of Sopot.
Perhaps it was the time of year, but Sopot was a disappointment. There is not much there. The weird distorted house is cool, and that’s about it. This town might have a completely different feel in the summer. Long days on a beach boarding the Baltic Sea might be nice. I don’t know because we were here in January and it was snowy and windy.
Hey, maybe the people IN THE WATER would argue otherwise? Yes, this are humans…In normal bathing suits. But oh thank heavens they have their gloves on. Wouldn’t want their hands to get cold…#priorities.
We walked the pier, got some chocolate at the famous Pijalnia Czekolady then took an Uber to another little town to see another church, walk the park and get our fair share of Pierogis.
If you’re in Gdansk for at least three days, see the other towns. If not, stick to Gdansk. It really is THE BEST.
Verdict is that you need to visit Gdansk. It was a real highlight for us. And it was clear by the number of new row houses being built that its only getting more unbelievably adorable.
Wroclaw is BEAUTIFUL and the square is something else.
Poznan is okay, worth seeing in one day.
Overall, venturing through cities outside of Krakow just made us fall even more in love with the country of Poland.
I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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