Probably a question is buzzing in the head of millions of passionate travellers across the world: When, and to where, will be possible to travel again after the Covid19 epidemic is over?
While the first question is complicated (and rather impossible) to answer right now, our answer to the second part makes a strong case for a rather non-mainstream destination.
The land of world-class Vodka and farfetched history: Poland
After being ignored during two decades, since reopening to the World in the 90s, before the crisis this country was growing in the radar of hitchhikers, backpackers and nature lovers. After the crisis is gone (and it will pass, do not worry!), this central-European country have all that is needed to become a wanderlust-attraction powerhouse.
Probably you already know about monuments and places like Auschwitz and the whole tourism related to the II World War. If you are into that, I recommend the Warsaw Uprising museum, in the polish capital.
While war-tourism is one of the main attractions, it is far from being the sole reason you should visit this central European country.
For this reason, outside the well-known concentration-camp tourism, we list remarkable things to do in Poland when the Coronavirus lockdown finishes:
- Visit palace gardens while they are at full-force bloom.
Poland controlled the pandemic quickly, and they are one of the first to start reopening, still in time for summer.
Different of some of their neighbours, Poland took measures to control the virus spread before reaching 50 cases. Therefore, they were less affected than other European countries. As a matter of fact, by middle-april the number of victims started to fall and national parks already reopened.
It is expected that in May museums, national monuments and Hotels will go back to operations. When this happens, jewels like the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw (also known as Polish Schönbrunn due to the remarkable similarity, in smaller proportions, with the gigantic Austrian palace).
A great news is that those visiting Wilanów may still catch the best time of the year to see it: spring and early summer, when the vast royal gardens bloom with a myriad of European flowers and well-kept lush vegetation. This palace was the favourite of King Jan Sobieski, the commander of the Polish hussars in one of the most famous battles of medieval history: The Battle of Vienna.
Partial view of the Wilanów palace and surrounding gardens.
- Having fun without spending much money.
With the global economic situation in a fragile state, one of the priorities when deciding the next destination is the cost-benefit. Travellers will prefer to make it worth every dollar they spend.
This makes Poland the perfect destination.
While being part of the European Union, Poland is one of the few members that never adopted the Euro and kept their own currency, called zloty (read as Is-loh-tee). This currency have an enticing rate for those willing to change their euros or dollars. For this reason you will have access to incredible restaurants, fine bars and cultural programs spending just a fraction of equivalent choices in other European capitals like Paris or Brussels.
The price of a drink in a posh bar in Warsaw is less than 6 euros. A pint of beer in a street pub like Pijalnia wódki i piwa (present in multiple cities across the country) is sold for 2 euros. This is less than a half of what would cost in Amsterdam and around a third of the price in Dublin.
You may ask now: why is he writing about beer prices when talking about the country that produces some of the greatest vodkas of the planet?
Yes, you are right. A shot of vodka in a regular bar is sold for around 1 euro. Just do not exaggerate, otherwise you may end in the drunk hostel (the place where they take those found in the streets in boozy condition.
Talking about great prices and countless options, during summer, one of the great attractions of Warsaw is the nocny market, where you can try cuisine from all over the world, as well as drinks, for great prices in a vintage atmosphere. It happens in the open-air section of a deactivated train station.
Warsaw night-market (nocny market), which is less a market and more a gathering of food and drink stands in the former Warsaw main train station.
- An Outdoor sport paradise
After weeks (or in some cases, months) in lockdown and with little to none physical activity, those sport-addicts (like me) will be craving for a place to move their body and have some physically demanding challenges.
Imagine how convenient a destination with vast forests to cross-country hiking, windy coasts ideal for windsurfing or sailing and mountains inviting to the practice of mountain-biking (in the summer) or Snowboard (in the winter).
All that for incredibly affordable prices.
One of my favourite places is the southern region called Podhale. Just in the foot of the Tatra Mountains, near the border with Slovakia, this area have untold attractions. One is the exquisite cuisine, where the superstar is the oscypek, a delightful salty cheese made from sheep cheese. The other are the hills where you have a terrain ideal to begin the practice of winter sports. I try to go at least once per year to ski centres like Bialka Tatrzanska. With more than 18 km of marked ski slopes, there is a variety for every level, from beginner to experienced. Even the slopes not being as long or high as in the alps, the good infrastructure and affordable prices (a daily pass may cost less than 25 euros) make it a good opportunity to burn calories and put your physical shape at test.
Another good point of this region is that there are plenty of accommodation options. From no-frills hostels to 5 start hotels, the main city of the region, Zakopane, have alternatives suiting what you need. My hint is to choose a place near Krupowki street, where is the nightlife, shopping opportunities (look for wool articles) and oscypek stands.
Besides the lovely gastronomy and nature-blending sport environment, Podhale is famous for its thermal waters. After a day skiing or snowboard, no better idea than relax in hot waters and picturesque scenery of thermal water parks like Terma Bukowina.
After telling you those 3 great things to do in Poland, what are you waiting to start planning your next travel? If you wish to come, several low-cost airlines (Ryanair, Easyjet, etc) travel from other European countries to Warsaw and Krakow. From there, you can take domestic flights with both the Polish national airline (LOT), Ryanair or other smaller companies, for as low as 10 euros. If you wish to come by train, there is a well-developed railroad grid with affordable tickets. It is attractive to buy the weekend pass, a train ticket valid from Friday to Monday morning and allowing you to travel as much as you want, hopping from one city or village to the next.
Be prepared to visit fairy tales castles and palaces (like Książ castle, in the region of Silesia), breath-taking backgrounds, an exuberating nature, well-conserved national parks and history-rich old-towns.