Have a case of the travel bug itch? Have a long weekend or holiday free, or maybe a few days off, and don't know where to go? You're in luck! There are plenty of places well-connected to Katowice that are nearby and perfect to visit, guaranteeing you will enjoy your experience of living in Poland. Here you can find some ideas of attractions to visit in neighbouring cities.
Krakow is the second largest and one of Poland's oldest cities with a short 1 hour journey by either car or bus. This city, which once was the capital of the country, attracts plenty of tourists every year. It is one the most beautiful cities in Europe, packed with plenty of culture and history. Like Warsaw, this city makes for another great short getaway trip when you have a free moment during your studies.
- Wawel Royal Castle: One of the largest in Poland, this castle represents nearly all European architectural styles of medieval, renaissance, and baroque eras. You can also learn about the legend of Wawel's dragon, and check out his lair in a cave at the foot of Wawel Hill.
- The Main Square (Rynek Główny): Dating back to the 13th century and located at the center of the city, it is one of the largest medieval town squares in Europe. Part of the historic centre of Krakow, a UNESCO World Heritage site, highlights of this area include the Old Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) in the middle of the square, as well as St. Mary's Basilica (Bazylika Mariacka). Tired of walking but still want to sightsee? From here you can go for a scenic carriage ride around the Old Town and take in more views of the city.
- Wieliczka Salt Mine: Within the city limits, this is one site you definitely should not miss if you're in Krakow. From the 13th century until 2007, the mine continuously produced table salt as one of the world's oldest operating salt mines. You can gaze in wonder at dozens of statues and four chapels carved out of rock salt. Another UNESCO World Heritage site, it is incredible to see and experience walking through the passageways.
About 1.5 hours away by car, bus, or train from Krakow, you can take a trip south towards the Tatra Mountains for an amazing hiking experience, or for some great skiing or snowboarding in the winter months. Some of the highlights of Zakopane include:
- Morskie Oko: The largest lake deep within the Tatra Mountains, with their peaks surrounding the lake. You can either hike up into the mountains, or choose to to go for a stroll around the lake and maybe head to the main lodge (schronisko), where you can experience one of the best slices of freshly baked apple cake (szarlotka) in the mountains. After the 8 km walk, you'll be sure to enjoy every bite!
- Kasprowy Wierch: Climb up by foot or take the cable car up to 1987m above sea level and experience the incredible views from the Western Tatras from both the Polish and Slovakian side of the national parkland's border. At the top station you can find a large restaurant, cafe, and an information office building, with further ski lifts outside for the winter months.
- The Great Krokiew (Wielka Krokiew): The biggest of ski jumps built on the slope of Krokiew Mountain, you can often find ski jumping competitions going on in the winter, or in the warmer months you can also take a cable car up and enjoy views of Zakopane from above.
- Krupówki Street: An iconic part of Zakopane, one of the most famous streets in Poland, is a pedestrian street filled with a wide selection of shops, restaurants, and hotels. It attracts thousands of visitors all year round. Towards the end of it you can find market stalls with typical regional foods and items you can buy as souvenirs, along with the funicular base station of Gubałówka (which with a short ride up the hill guarantees a great view point you will not want to miss).
- Gubałówka: One of the most popular spots in Zakopane, you can trek up the Gubałówka Hill or take a short ride between the trees with the funicular, and enjoy a beautiful view of the Tatras, have a leisurely walk, and a quick bite to eat. For beginner skiers or snowboarders, these slopes may be a better option for your introduction to a new winter activity.
Warsaw is the capital city of Poland and a popular stop for tourists. It is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a quick adventure, as it is only 2,5 hours away by train. You can leave in the morning and come back the same day, or choose to stay a while longer if you have more time to enjoy the largest city in Poland.
- Łazienki Park: It is the largest park in Warsaw, occupying 76 hectares of the city centre. This park lies in Warsaw's central district along part of the "Royal Route" linking the Royal Castle with Wilanów Palace. Inside this scenic park you can experience some of the most talented musicians performing free Chopin concerts, take part in various cultural festivals, and also find the Łazienki Palace, where you can often see plenty of peacocks roaming the grounds.
- The Royal Castle in Warsaw: As you may have noticed by now, castles are an important part of history and culture in Poland. This one formerly served throughout the centuries as the official residence of Polish monarchs. It is located in the Castle Square, at the entrance to Warsaw's Old Town. Even better? They offer a free guided tour in English.
- Warsaw Old Town: This area is the oldest part of the city, and is one of the most prominent tourist attractions. The historic centre of Warsaw is one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland. The heart of the area is the Old Town Market Place, rich in restaurants, cafés, and shops.
- Museums: Worth mentioning to visit are Warsaw's museums, such as the Warsaw Uprising Museum, where you can increase your awareness concerning Polish history; the Copernicus Science Centre, where you can carry out experiments and learn about the laws of science; or the Frederyk Chopin Museum, where you can learn more about the famous talented Polish composer. There are plenty more museums to visit, which could be perfect idea if you're caught experiencing a rainy day in the capital city of Poland.