Tourism in Poland

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Tourism in Poland
Poland's top ten urban destinations [1]
Wawel castle.jpg
Kraków,[1] Royal palace at Wawel on the Vistula river, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Warsaw Old Town Market Square 10.JPG
Warsaw,[1] Old Town Market Square, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Bay Gdansk 2006.jpg
Gdańsk,[1] Baltic beaches of the Gdańsk Bay
Tour Salon Poznan 2012 (6).jpg
Poznań,[1] International Fair (since 1921) with exhibitors from 70 industrialized countries
Zakopane - skiing (28).JPG
Zakopane,[1] "the winter capital of Poland", view from Gubałówka in the Tatra Mountains
EBV Szczecin noc.jpg
Szczecin,[1] New Philharmonic Hall
Afrykarium tunel.jpg
BRE i PLoyda od strony Brdy.jpg
Bydgoszcz,[1] red-brick Lloyd Palace and marina on the Brda
19.Latarnia morska.Kołobrzeg.jpg
Kołobrzeg,[1] historic lighthouse restored to its former glory

Poland is a part of the global tourism market with constantly increasing number of visitors. Tourism in Poland contributes to the country's overall economy. The most popular cities are Kraków, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Warsaw, Poznań, Lublin, Toruń and the historic site of Auschwitz - German nazi concentration camp in Oświęcim. The best recreational destinations include Poland's Masurian Lake District, Baltic Sea coast, Tatra Mountains (the highest mountain range of Carpathians), Sudetes and Białowieża Forest. Poland's main tourist offers consist of sightseeing within cities and out-of-town historical monuments, business trips, qualified tourism, agrotourism, mountain hiking (trekking) and climbing among others. Poland is the 17th most visited country in the world by foreign tourists, as ranked by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2012.[2]

Arrivals of foreign tourists by country of origin in 2014 *
 1. Germany
1,385,922 [3]
 2. United Kingdom
367,346 [3]
 3. Russia
345,760 [3]
 4. Ukraine
274,476 [3]
 5. USA
235,705 [3]
 6. Belarus
225,503 [3]
 7. Italy
222,090 [3]
 8. France
208,810 [3]
 9. Norway
179,305 [3]
 10. Spain
176,094 [3]
 11. Israel
164,470 [3]
 12. Sweden
143,750 [3]
 13. Netherlands
128,888 [3]
 14. Lithuania
121,091 [3]
 15. Czech Republic
99,858 [3]
* Foreign tourists in tourist accommodation establishments by country [3]


Other Poland's top rating destinations [4]
Auschwitz concentration camp,[5] UNESCO World Heritage Site
Wieliczka Salt Mine,[4] with 1.2 million visitors annually
Medieval Malbork Castle in Malbork,[4] northern Poland
Masurian Lake District,[5] with more than 2,000 lakes. Pictured: marina in Mikołajki resort town

Poland, especially after joining the European Union in 2004, became a place frequently visited by tourists. Most tourist attractions in Poland are connected with natural environment, historic sites and cultural events. They draw millions of tourists every year from all around the world. According to Tourist Institute's data, Poland was visited by 15.7 million tourists in 2006, and by 15 million tourists in 2007,[6] out of the total number of 66.2 million foreign visitors.[7] In 2012, Poland was visited by 13.5 million foreign tourists (those who came during Euro 2012, but did not stay overnight, were not included in official statistics).[8] In year 2013 Poland was visited by 15.8 million tourists.

Natural environment[edit]

Poland has a diversified natural environment, which is relatively unaffected by human development. Visitors are attracted by mountains, sea-coast, forests and the lake reserves. Among the most popular destinations are: Tatra Mountains, in which is the highest peak of Polish (Rysy) and the famous Orla Perć; Karkonosze, Table Mountains, Białowieża Forest, Lower Silesian Wilderness, Bieszczady, Dunajec River Gorge in Pieniny, Pojezierze Mazurskie, Kampinos National Park and many others.

The first Polish tourists were pilgrims traveling to shrines both within Poland and abroad. The development of commercial tourism began in the 19th century. The most popular regions were mountains, especially the Tatra Mountains, explored for example by Tytus Chałubiński. In 1873 the Polish Tatra Society and in 1909 the Polish Sightseeing Society were established to organize and develop tourism. The 19th century was also the time of the rapid appearance of spa resorts, mostly in Sudetes, Beskids and along the Baltic Sea coast, with some of them associated, since 1910, with the Polish Balneology Association. After Poland regained independence in 1918, Polish tourism boomed, and was encouraged by the government. The first professional Polish tour operator, Orbis, was founded in Lwów in 1923, followed in 1937 by Gromada tourist organization and tour operator.


After World War II all tourist organizations were nationalized by the new communist government. The Polish Tatra Society and Polish Sightseeing Society were combined into Polish Tourism-Sightseeing Society (PTTK) and most of the tourist infrastructure was handed over to the newly created Workers Vacations Fund (FWP). Tourism was limited to the Comecon countries. This was the era of governmentally-founded tourism, characterised by mass but low-standard tourism. A typical sight was a holiday campground with small bungalows managed by one of the state-owned companies. Holidays for children and teenagers were organized by Juventur. After the fall of communism much of the infrastructure was privatized, although many company-owned resorts were downgraded because of their unprofitability. The early 1990s saw the foundation of many new tour operators. Some of them prevailed and strengthened their position on the market, being able to compete with multinational tour operators like TUI, or Neckermann und Reisen with branches in Poland.

Tourist destinations by city[edit]

Historic buildings and places[edit]


Cultural events[edit]

Further information: Culture of Poland

Tourist resorts[edit]

There are dozens of sea resorts on the coast of Baltic Sea like Wolin Island, located close to the German border and the coast of Pomerania. In southern Poland there are resorts for skiing and hiking in the Karkonosze mountains, which is part of the Sudetes mountain range. Karkonosze includes the touristical centres of Karpacz and Szklarska Poręba. Other famous resorts for skiing and hiking include in Carpathian Mountains: Zakopane in the Tatra mountains; Szczyrk, Krynica-Zdrój, Ustroń, Wisła in Beskides or Szczawnica and Krościenko in Pieniny mountains.

Holocaust and Shtetl tourism[edit]

  • Shtetl Routes - shtetl routes of the Polish, Belorussian and Ukrainian borderland

Christian pilgrimage[edit]

Main article: Christian pilgrimage

It's estimated that 13% (of the 1.8 million in 2005) of visitors of the Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń arrive from abroad.[11] Jasna Góra Monastery was visited by 3.6 million of pilgrims from 78 countries in 2014.[12]

Transport in Poland[edit]

Main article: Transport in Poland

Since the fall of communism transport in Poland has improved significantly. There is acceptable tourist infrastructure, especially in larger cities and in major tourist resorts. Most major Polish cities (e.g. Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk and Szczecin) have international airports with connecting services with the Frédéric Chopin International Airport in Warsaw. Intercity travel supports the PKP Intercity, Przewozy Regionalne, local trains (Koleje Dolnośląskie, Koleje Śląskie, Koleje Małopolskie, Arriva RP, Szybka Kolej Miejska (Tricity), Pomorska Kolej Metropolitalna, Koleje Mazowieckie, Łódzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna, Koleje Wielkopolskie, ) and PKS's, PolskiBus and many smaller companies. There are also coach connections to other countries provided by various companies (inter alia Eurolines). Connections by ferry to Sweden and Denmark through the Baltic Sea are for example from Gdańsk, Gdynia and Świnoujście.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j TripAdvisor. "Top 10 Destinations – Poland". Travelers' Choice 2013 (Winners). The world largest travel site. pp. 1 of 10. Retrieved 20 December 2014. Travelers' Choice 2014 Update: 1.Krakow, 2.Warsaw, 3.Wroclaw, 4.Poznan, 5.Bialystok, 6.Sopot, 7.Zakopane, 8.Lodz, 9.Szczecin, 10.Gdynia. 
  2. ^ UNWTO Tourism Highlights "International Tourist Arrivals by County of Destination (Poland)" Check |url= value (help). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. World Tourism Organization. 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Overnight stays in accommodation establishments in 2014 (PDF file, direct download 8.75 MB), Główny Urząd Statystyczny (Central Statistical Office (Poland)), pp. 174–177 / 254. Warsaw 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d The Touropia Team (2013). "10 Top Tourist Attractions in Poland". Touropia “best of” lists. Touropia. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Touristrack. "10 Famous Tourist Attractions In Poland You Must Visit". Central Europe. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Information about tourism in Poland (in Polish). Source: Instytut Turystyki, 2008.
  7. ^ GUS (2008). "Przyjazdy do Polski (Foreign visits to Poland)". Statistics (in Polish). Instytut Turystyki. Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  8. ^ Katarzyna Sobierajska, Ministry of Tourism (2012). "Pierwsze efekty Euro 2012. Resort turystyki przewiduje wzrost liczby turystów w 2013 r. nawet o pół miliona". Live interview (in Polish). Agencja Informacyjna Newseria. Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  9. ^ Zoo Wrocław – lepsze od Wawelu i Wieliczki
  10. ^ Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa, "Wrocław – zespół historycznego centrum." (Polish)
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]

Further reading[edit]

  • Kaszynski, Tadeusz, Through Europe to Poland by Car, 1st and rev. ed., New York, 1968