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Europe is the world tourist’s favorite playground. Famous for its medieval citadels, cobbled streets and history spanning millennia, it’s called the “Old World” for a reason.
When visiting Europe, tourists are often in search of that ancient charm, and although the 44-country strong continent has no shortage of natural and man-made wonders, for decades it was mainly countries like Europe. Spain, Italy and France dominating booking trends.
While the traditional “West” continues to lead booking trendsa less visited nation belonging to the eastern half is grow in power as the next tourist hotspot, much to the surprise of the Mediterranean subgroup:
Is Poland the next tourist hotspot in Europe?
Poland is surely not obscure, badly promoted country which has remained closed for years, but there is no denying that it lags behind its western counterparts when it comes to international tourism.
Do not mistake yourself : Poland’s numbers are on the risewith up to 15.9 million tourists registered in 2022, when the country had yet to fully recover from the COVID crisis, but they pale in comparison to Spain or Italy, the latter hosting 71 million.
That being said, Poland’s recovery rate is nothing less than impressivewith an estimate 48.5% year-over-year growth in 2021. In order to surpass its pre-pandemic numbers, the country only needs to attract more than 5 million more visitors in 2023, and it appears to be on track to do so.
In the first quarter of the year, it had already welcomed up to 7 million guests, and the summer numbers aren’t even available yet. So what is it about Poland that seems to fascinate so many travelers when they might visit the Colosseum in Rome, or the Sagrada Familia basilica instead?
Poland is not so unbearably hot
First of all, Poland is not a Mediterranean country, and while that may seem like a weakness, especially in the midst of the current sunny holiday frenzy, the Mediterranean is becoming unbearably hotter each passing year.
This year, fires have ravaged a number of Greek islands, as well as the French Riviera and many coastal areas of southern Spain, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees and forest fires starting with little or no warning.
In Rhodes, an island in Greece’s Dodecanese, tourists had to be evacuated as the whole landscape was on fire amid the searing heat, with as many as 8,000 guests having seen their holidays ruined by the scorching sun.
Poland do warm up during the summer, enjoying long, mild hours of sunshine and high temperatures, but it is certainly not as hot as in Southern Europeeven if it also has beaches, and an equally diversified natural wealth.
Instead of the Mediterranean, Poland has a coastline on the Baltic Sea, which it shares with countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Nordic subgroup.
It’s definitely not the ideal vacation spot if you are looking for the turquoise blue ocean and warm waters of Greece, but the Baltic beaches get relatively warm in summer and autumn, and if not for swimming, they are great places to sunbathe .
In addition, the risk of fire is very low, otherwise non-existentsince Poland is naturally colder.
Tourists aren’t just looking for beaches when vacationing in Poland, although there are 770 kilometers of mostly sandy coastline just waiting to be discovered.
You can spend a day or two basking in the sun in Sopot, the country’s main resort town on the Baltic Sea, but the main attractions reside somewhere else.
An unknown medieval heritage
Poland is best known for its majestic, mountainous nature, unique folklore and fascinating history, with natural parks that stretch for miles and towns that date back centuries.
According to The telegraphHel, a sandy peninsula north of Gdansk, Poland’s busiest Baltic port, is ‘an unlikely slice of a beach holiday in sunny Poland‘, readers choosing this secret location as one of their favorites in the country.
Warsaw, the metropolitan Polish capital, was also elected ‘Best European destination‘ in 2023because of its vibrant nightlife, charming post-war rebuilt downtown almost hidden amidst a skyscraper-studded skyline, brutalist heritage, and remnants of World War II.
Krakow, traditionally considered the cultural capital of Poland, has been elected many times The best city break in Europe by Which?a consumer association based in the UK
Krakow is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Polandhome to a beautiful pedestrianized central square, bounded by a medieval cathedral and other historic buildings, world-class museums chronicling Jewish history during the war years and the fairy-tale Wawel Castle.
A short drive from Krakow, tourists can explore some of Europe’s largest salt mines, as well as delve deeper into the continent’s dark past by joining organized tours of former concentration camps, today memorials, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Other beautiful cities include the aforementioned Gdansk, with its colorful houses and red tiled roofsbeautiful Wroclaw and Torun, a city located on the banks of the famous Vistula River and a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its value as a medieval village.
Where is Poland going next?
Poland may still have a long way to go to catch up with its Western European counterparts, after recording an all-time high of 18.7 million tourist overnight stays in 2019, the pre-pandemic benchmark year, but it is there. is coming slowly and surely, especially now that prices in the West have skyrocketed and it is being swallowed up by mass tourism.
Although a member of the European Union, Poland is not yet part of the euro zone.and the local currency, Polish zlotyis historically weaker against the euro, dollar and pound sterling, which makes Poland much more attractive than the southern Mediterranean.
Travelers frequently opt for a less expensive and less crowded vacation, and Poland easily fulfills these criteria.
In Europe it is the 13th most visited country depending on tourist overnight stays (and climbing). So far, the first place belongs to Spain (299 million), followed by Italy (221 million), France (136 million) and Greece (120 million).
Traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com