Officially known as the Republic of Poland, this central European country is the sixth largest in Europe by population size, with just over 38 million people living there. The country boasts a wealth of interesting historic sites stretching all the way back to AD 966. The main airport in Poland is Warsaw's Chopin Airport (WAW), where direct flights arrive from major UK cities such as London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. British Airways, Ryanair, and easyJet all offer direct flights to Poland daily from London, with flights to Warsaw taking 2.5 hours. There are cheap flights from London to several cities in Poland, especially outside the peak season.
Visit Auschwitz-Birkenau to see a poignant memorial to the many people killed in at the WWII concentration camp. This moving experience is a must when visiting Poland. Parts of the camp have been preserved as they were found, and there are several exhibits of articles left by the occupants. Walk around on your own or take a guided tour. Drive to the Carpathian Mountains to hike, ski, and bike. Hikers will love the isolated Bieszczady region of the mountain range, which is in the southeast of the country. Here, you'll find a range of hiking paths to suit all fitness levels, and you may even spot local wildlife such as lynx. In the northeast, you'll find Masuria, a vast area of interlinked rivers and lakes. Spend a few days sailing, kayaking, and exploring this scenic region.
Poland is very flat, except in the southeastern section occupied by the Carpathian Mountains. Head to Białowieża Forest, where herds of endangered European bison roam wild. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has remained largely untouched by humans. Go there to see what Poland looked like before it was settled. Spend time in the Polish cities of Warsaw and Krakow to view historic architecture at the Palace of Culture and Science and Wawel Castle. Wander around Krakow's former Jewish district, Kazimierz, where the events depicted in Schindler's List took place. Poland has a temperate climate, but the winters can get very cold. If you're planning to drive to the rural areas, it may be a better idea to time your visit for summer or spring. However, if you travel to the beach in winter, you'll be treated to the unusual sight of sand covered in snow.
In Poland, drivers stick to the right-hand side of the road. There are several roundabouts, which can challenge drivers from countries that drive on the left side. Remember to keep to the right in the traffic circle, and give way to traffic coming from the left. Poland has very strict alcohol limits for drivers, of 0.2 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. It's best to leave your rental car at the hotel if you plan on drinking. Also remember to keep some Polish currency, the złoty, with you at all times. In some parts of the country, especially rural areas, not all restaurants or shops have card machines available. It's compulsory to drive with dipped headlights during the day, and spot fines may be issued to anyone not complying with this law. Also, radar speed traps are very common in Poland, so make sure to stick to the speed limit.