Discover the Orwellian neighbourhood of Nowa Huta – an alternative district in Krakow that showcases the communist influence in Poland.. Take a guided tour of maritime Gdansk, walking through the old town and understanding how this main trading port has been important in Poland’s history.. Feast on Kashubian specialities with an included meal at Tawerna Mestwin – you’ll feel like you’re eating in a traditional farm cottage!. Tour the remnants of Wolf’s Lair – an important military headquarters during the battle for the Eastern Front.
Uncover the cultural riches and historical intrigues of four fascinating countries on a journey through Poland and the Baltic states. This 18-day highlights tour of Poland and the Baltics will get you in the know with Soviet history, inspired by the variety of architecture and cultural richness of the country, and full of as much pierogi and vodka you can manage. Let Poland please you with a journey through its urban attractions, then cross into Lithuania, before exploring the Baltic capitals of Riga and Tallinn. Encompassing both historical attractions and outings for the active, a bit of Europe both old and new, this is the trip for travellers wanting to check out a side of Europe often overlooked.
Czesc! Welcome to Poland. You will have an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, meeting your group leader and fellow travellers. Krakow is striking with contrasts: a medieval old town with a large youthful influence, renowned fine dining restaurants with food truck and casual riverside eateries, a vibrant Jewish quarter with some elegant speakeasies and hidden bars. You’ll have two full days to explore Krakow at your own pace, but if you would like to spend more time here, why not arrive a little early? After your important meeting, you'll have an option to head out with your group to dinner – your leader will know of some great options.
This morning, begin getting to know Krakow from its relatively new history. Take a guided tour of Nowa Huta – a former communist town turned eastern Quarter of Krakow. Nowa Huta was prime Polish agricultural land but was swallowed up by the Soviet Union in an attempt to create an Orwellian settlement in contrast to the fairytale of central Krakow. An experienced tour guide will explain all the history hidden in its streets and buildings that otherwise would look like another sector of the city. In the afternoon, take a leader-led walk around the Old Town. Rynek (main square) is one of the oldest and most recognisable medieval squares in Europe. With the renaissance Cloth Hall in its centre, now home to the main market, touring the main square is a must. Later on, walk over to Jewish quarter and learn more about that part of town.
Today, enjoy a free day in Krakow to do whatever you choose, and there is so much to see and do here, and beyond! You may wish to visit Wieliczka Salt Mines, magnificent chambers chiselled out in rock salt. There are almost 3 kilometres of meandering corridors, 800 steps to climb of which 350 have to be descended to reach the depth of 135 metres underground. Otherwise, a lot of travellers use today to visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz and Birkenau, where you can learn more about WWII and Europe's darkest days. Pre-booking is necessary to secure a place. If you would like to see some different sides of Krakow and the surrounding area, there is also the option to see what Urban Adventures can offer. From cooking classes to tailored shopping adventures, they’ve got you covered! Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Krakow-tours.
Today, travel to Warsaw on a high-speed train, taking approximately 3 hours. Warsaw is a capital of Poland and has a rich history shown in its mix of Gothic, neoclassical and Soviet-era architecture, and also a new, cosmopolitan touch. This afternoon head out on a guided tour all about Polish cuisine. Being one of the lesser known European foods, you’ll learn about Poland’s signature dishes and how to make them. To wash everything down, you’ll even get the chance to test out some local vodka with an included tasting. Na zdrowie!
You’ve got a free day to enjoy the wonders of Warsaw. From many options, one worth considering is a visit to the Uprising Museum. Dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the museum is a tribute for residents who fought and died for an independent Poland, and a free capital. It was said that Warsaw survived its own death – learn about that part of history of this city in one of the most modern museums in Europe. Otherwise, sit back in one of the many parks, stroll past the Tamka street art, or head to a local eatery for a serving of pierogi (filled dumplings).
Travel onwards to Gdansk aboard a high-speed train (approximately 3 hours). After check-in to your hotel, your group leader will show you around the old town on simple orientation walk. After you’ve got your bearings, enjoy the rest of your day and soak up the atmosphere of this maritime, medieval city. Tonight, if you’re struggling to find somewhere to eat, take a walk down Dlugi Targ – it’s a lot quieter at night than during the day.
Today, head out on a guided tour of Gdansk. This will include a visit to most iconic sites of the city: the Crane (Zuraw), an iconic trading symbol located near the National Maritime Museum. Then, visit Olowianka, an island in the middle of the Motlawa River, to learn more about Gdansk’s maritime history. In the evening, experience a traditional Polish meal at Tawerna Mestwin, serving specialties of Kashubian regional cooking (north Poland cuisine). Interiors of this place look like a traditional farm cottage and the exposed beams and dark-green walls make for a cosy atmosphere.
With no activities planned for today, you are free to explore at your own pace. Aside from boasting some very grand architecture, Gdansk has a wealth of sites worth checking out. Pay a visit to the National Museum for a dose of fine art, follow in the footsteps of visiting royalty with a lap or two of the Royal Way, or travel a suburb over to Sopot and take a stroll along Europe's longest wooden pier. In the evening, meet with some new travellers at another welcome meeting at 6 pm to begin the next stage of your Baltics adventure.
Get to know Gdansk on an orientation walk with your leader. After strolling through the city and taking in the sights, board a galleon-style ship for an old fashioned cruise on the waters of the Baltic Sea. Cruise along the peninsula of Westerplatte and get insight into the city's shipbuilding heritage and political history. See the Gdansk Shipyards, which are inexorably linked with Eastern Europe’s Solidarity movement, as well as the repair yards and the historic Wisloujscie Fortress, constructed in 1308 but rebuilt several times in the centuries since. There will be time for you to explore Westerplatte, considered to be the place where the first shots of WWII were fired. Return to Gdansk and enjoy a free evening. If you’re thirsty, think about grabbing a beer at one of the lively bars along the Elblag Canal.
Malbork Castle / Wolf's Lair / Gizycko
Today involves a fair bit of driving with several interesting stops en route to break up the journey. The first stop, just a 30-minute drive out of Gdansk, is Malbork Castle. This beautifully-preserved fortress, completed in 1406, is a classic example of medieval architecture and the world's largest brick castle. Following an audio-guided tour of the castle, enjoy lunch before continuing on to Wolf`s Lair, the first military headquarters from which Hitler oversaw the fighting on the Eastern Front. You'll be shown around the site by a local guide then, following a refreshment stop, continue on to Gizycko (approximately 3.5 hours). The ‘summer capital’ of Poland, Gizycko is situated on the shore of Niegocin Lake and is considered the gateway to the Masurian Lake District. Tonight, maybe grab a well-deserved dinner at one of the local tawernas (taverns).
Masurian Lakes / Gizycko
Rise and shine for a morning boat ride on Niegocin Lake, the seventh-largest lake in the country. Take a gentle cruise to ‘Love Island’ on the other side of the lake, which is filled by yellow-faced cormorants and other wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for creatures that are trickier to spot like storks, swans, deer and wolves. The Masurian Lake District contains over 2000 lakes and was a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature initiative. Head back ashore and spend the afternoon however you wish, perhaps with a swim in the lake, or a hike or cycle to one of the neighbouring villages. History buffs might want to check out Boyen Fortress, the remains of a 19th-century Prussian stronghold used as a German military intelligence service during WWII.
This morning after breakfast, travel east into Lithuania and its capital Vilnius (approximately 2.5 hours). Settle into your hotel then join the group for a city tour led by a local guide. Pass through Cathedral Square and the Old Town, and learn about the famous Grand Duke Gediminas, the legend of Vilnius' creation and the prestigious history of Vilnius University. Continue to the painting of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, a famed painting of the Virgin Mary that adorns the 16th-century city gates. After the tour concludes you’re free to explore at your leisure. Consider joining the group for an optional dinner – your leader knows all the best spots to grab a bite.