Rick Steves’ Best of Poland in 10 Days Tour, Day by Day
Starting in the colorful port city of Gdańsk, you'll escape the crowds and embrace the understated elegance of ready-for-prime-time Poland for 10 days. With an expert Rick Steves guide at your side, you'll experience mighty Malbork castle, the cobbly-cute village of Toruń, Poland's contemporary capital of Warsaw, the spiritual Jasna Góra Monastery, and charming Kraków — Poland's finest city. In this land of surprises — so trendy and hip, yet steeped in history — there's so much to discover. Let's go…
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Poland
We'll meet at our hotel in delightful Gdańsk at 5 p.m. for a preview of our upcoming adventure. Then we'll take an orientation walk through our neighborhood and get acquainted over a "Welcome to Poland" dinner together.
The next morning we'll take a walking tour of the beautiful city once called "Danzig" — Poland's historic main port and gateway to the Baltic, and still slathered in handsome Hanseatic architecture. We'll finish at the Gdańsk Shipyard, where Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity movement took hold in 1980, challenging the communist regime for the first time — a stirring story that we'll hear inside the European Solidarity Center. Your afternoon is free to wander more of Gdańsk's charming back streets, dip into its many museums, or side-trip to the sandy beaches of Sopot before we enjoy a spirited vodka tasting together.
Days 3 & 4: Red Brick, Gingerbread, and the Polish Countryside
Today we'll drive through Pomerania to tour the Teutonic Knights' Malbork Castle, one of Poland's Gothic jewels and the largest brick castle on Earth. After lunch, we'll continue to Toruń, a town so cobbly-cute you'll think you've stepped into a storybook — right down to the heavenly scent of its gingerbread bakeries. This afternoon we'll roll up our sleeves at the Toruń Gingerbread Museum to experience this sweet souvenir up close. The evening is yours to wander the traffic-free old town and soak in the atmosphere that was, for a time, the center of Copernicus' universe.
The next day we'll drive through the Polish countryside and stop at an open-air folk museum to learn about traditional life in rural Poland. After lunch, we'll leave the farm fields behind and head for the heart of contemporary Poland: Warsaw. On a walk around our neighborhood, we'll begin to explore Poland's sprawling capital, including the towering, communist-style Palace of Culture and Science (a "gift" from the USSR that Poland couldn't refuse). We'll end our evening with a traditional Polish dinner together, followed by a concert featuring the music of Warsaw native Frédéric Chopin, whose melodies stoke national pride in Poles of all ages.
Days 5 & 6: Historic and Contemporary Warsaw
Today we'll start with a walking tour through Warsaw's historic center and revisit the city's prewar grandeur and its risen-from-the-ashes postwar reconstruction. Together with our local guide, we'll explore grand boulevards, communist relics, and bustling squares, tracing the ebb and flow of a city that remembers a tragic past while looking ahead to an optimistic future. The rest of the afternoon and evening are yours to explore more of modern-day Warsaw, from its top-notch museums (art, science, history, Chopin) to its trendy food and nightlife scene.
The following morning is dedicated to the resilient spirit of a city that was, by the end of World War II, destroyed to its foundations. Our local guide will start with a sobering look at Warsaw's Ghetto Uprising, a valiant Jewish resistance against the Nazis. Then we'll tour the world-class Museum of the History of Polish Jews, spanning the complex and fascinating Jewish experience from the Middle Ages through today. We'll set you free for for an afternoon stroll through idyllic Łazienki Park, sprinkled with elegant gardens, royal palaces, and proud peacocks. Tonight we'll gather for dinner at a nearby restaurnt to bid farwell to Warsaw.
Days 7 & 8: Jasna Góra and Kraków
We'll leave Warsaw behind this morning and trace the path of pilgrims to Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa — home to the revered icon of the Black Madonna, the most important symbol of Polish Catholicism. Then we'll set our sights on colorful, charming Kraków — Poland's finest city — where we'll get our first look at the majestic main square (one of Europe's best) on our way to the once-thriving Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, for a klezmer concert and dinner together.
The next day we'll meet a local guide and wind our way through the story of Kraków, from its prestigious university to the landmark St. Mary's Church. We'll follow traffic-free streets to Wawel Hill, home of Poland's historic royal residence and national cathedral. Along the way, we'll learn about the life and legacy of St. John Paul II, who began his career as a Kraków parish priest. After a break for lunch, we'll meet some locals for a trip to the farmer's market to gather ingredients for making pierogi. We'll put your cooking skills to the test, then sit down to enjoy our homemade Polish dumplings. Your evening is free to discover more of Kraków on your own.
Day 9: Schindler’s Factory and a Taste of Communism
Today we'll visit Nowa Huta, a planned steelworkers’ town that exemplifies the socialist aesthetic of the People’s Republic of Poland (and is now a desirable suburb). On our way back into Kraków, we’ll visit Oskar Schindler's factory, the place where a compassionate businessman saved the lives of his Jewish workers during the Holocaust — and now home to a museum of Kraków's WWII experience. The afternoon is yours to enjoy the modern side of Kazimierz — with its food trucks, artsy boutiques, and student vitality — or to catch up on any sightseeing you missed in Kraków. Tonight, we'll share travel memories and toast to new friends over our farewell dinner together. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 10: Tour Over After Breakfast
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. John Paul II Kraków-Balice airport and Kraków Główny ("main") train station can connect you to practically anywhere in Europe or to your return home. Whatever your plans, your guide will help you get on the right track. Na zdrowie!
Learn more about Rick's Best of Poland in 10 Days tour.