Poland Poland

Ultimate Jewish Poland

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

A Jewish Heritage Tour of Warsaw and Krakow with your personal English-speaking guides.

For custom luxury travel and tours to Warsaw, Krakow and Poland, please contact one of our travel experts.

Download PDF Itinerary Here

 

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Arrival into Warsaw. You will be met outside of customs by your guide and transferred to your deluxe hotel in the heart of Warsaw. 

The remainder of your evening is at leisure. Fantastic restaurants and cafes are just steps from your hotel in Old Town Square and along the Royal Route. We recommend taking advantage of one of Warsaw’s specialty restaurants tonight.

Exeter Services:
 Transfer Only
Hotel: Bristol Warsaw

Day 2
Warsaw | Warsaw

This morning your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby for a visit to the historic Old Town. 

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, was almost completely destroyed during World War II. Its rebuilding was an act of determination and self-belief. Today the city again features fine views of Castle Square, the Royal Castle and King Zygmunt III Vasa.

On a walking tour with your guide have a stroll through Warsaw’s renowned Castle Square. In Castle Square you’ll find street artists, small cafes and shops among the rebuilt gothic mansions of Warsaw’s nobility. View Zygmunt Column, built to honor King Zygmunt III Wasa, who moved Poland’s capital from Krakow to Warsaw in the 17th century.

If you are interested, your guide will take you to the Royal Castle, which boasts one of the most magnificent art collections of the city, including famous views of Warsaw by Bellotto, the nephew and student of the famous Venetian painter Canaletto. Bellotto was the court painter of King Stanislaw August and his paintings of Warsaw were used for rebuilding the city after its near complete destruction in World War II.

After a break for lunch, payable locally, meet your driver for the remainder of the afternoon. You will have the chance to explore the somber Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. This new museum has garnered raves for its unflinching view of Warsaw’s darkest time. The museum, which opened on 1st August 2004 to mark the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the fight for Warsaw, is a tribute paid by residents of the city to those who fought and died to bring freedom to Poland and its capital.

The exhibition displays all aspects of the battle as well as everyday life in Warsaw against the background of the German Nazi occupation. It also explains the complicated international situation of that time, including the communist terror after the end of World War II and the persecution of insurgents in communist Poland. More than 500 exhibit items, plus about 1,000 photographs, films and sound recordings, depict the days leading up to the outbreak of the uprising, its day-by-day development, the forced evacuation of the fighters from Warsaw, and their ordeal after their heroic fight was over.

Finally this afternoon, head to Łazienki Park, one of the most beautiful and serene areas of Warsaw and a favorite of the local residents. The highlight of Łazienki Park is the Palace on the Water. It is one of the finest examples of Neo-Classical architecture in Poland. King Stanislaw August Poniatowski converted this 17th century pavilion into a palace, which has been fully restored.

If it’s a Sunday, at 4PM enjoy a local summer tradition in Warsaw by grabbing a seat in the park for an open-air Chopin concert (schedule is subject to change).

Note: Some touring today is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services:
Full Day Guide, Half Day Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Bristol Warsaw

Day 3
Warsaw | Warsaw

This morning you may wish to visit the major places of Jewish Interest in Warsaw. Before World War II, Poland’s capital was the most important Jewish center in Europe. Out of all the cities in the world, only New York had a greater Jewish population. 

The first stop on any itinerary of Jewish Warsaw is the Nozyk Synagogue, the only one of the ghetto’s three synagogues still standing. A short distance away is the Ghetto Heroes Monument. Unveiled in 1948 on the fifth anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising, the monument recalls the immense courage of the Jewish resistance. 

The Jewish Cemetery, established in 1806, is one of the very few Jewish cemeteries still in use in Poland today. Scattered among the plots are the graves of eminent Polish Jews. Also worth seeking out is a powerful sculpted monument to Janusz Korczak, founder of the pre-war orphanage.

Nearby you will have time to explore the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN) that opened in October 2014. This is a massive timeline of Jewish life in the region, stretching back 1000 years. Unlike many museums, this exhibit doesn’t focus on the Holocaust. Rather, it focuses on the development of Jewish life and community. The museum is quite intensive and has a nice café, so take your time and afterwards, if you like, enjoy a light lunch or snack before heading out.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This afternoon you have a private tour of the former villa of Jan Zabinski in the Warsaw Zoo. Dr. Zabinski was the director of the Warsaw Zoo before and during World War II. Upon the creation of the Warsaw Ghetto, Dr. Zabinski and his wife started hiding Jews in his villa and, unbelievably, in the Zoo itself. This was documented in Diane Akerman’s excellent book, ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’. 

Exeter Services:
Full Day Guide, Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Bristol Warsaw

Day 4
Warsaw – Krakow | Warsaw – Krakow

This morning meet your driver and your English-speaking transfer assistant for the journey to the station to meet your high-speed train to Krakow. First class tickets are included. 

Upon arrival in Krakow, your private driver and guide will meet you at the station for your short transfer to the city center. After time to check-in and freshen up, meet your guide in the lobby for an exploration of Krakow’s Old Town.

Well preserved through the ages, Krakow is a city of medieval architecture delighting visitors with beautiful manor houses and splendid squares. Your guide will take you to the famous Florian Gate, the Main Market Square, the Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower.

Begin your tour of the Old Town with the beautiful Florian Gate, built around 1300 on one of the streets laid out according to the town plan of 1257. The Gothic houses of the 13th century burgesses still remain, although they were rebuilt and given Renaissance or neoclassical facades. The medieval Sukiennice, rebuilt in the 1550s, is one of the most distinctive sights in the country – a vast cloth hall, topped by a 16th century attic dripping with gargoyles. Its commercial traditions are perpetuated by a covered market, which bustles with tourists and street sellers at almost every time of the year. The tall tower next to the Cloth Hall is all that remains of the original, 14th century town hall, pulled down in the 1820s. It is worth the climb for an excellent overview of the city.

Today you will enter one of Krakow’s newest and best museums. The new Rynek Underground museum is built on the site of an archeological excavation under the Cloth Hall that reveals secrets of Krakow’s development since its founding in the Middle Ages. The interactive museum showcases elements of medieval architecture and, through multimedia and interactive exhibits, medieval Krakow comes alive.

We highly recommend a visit to the newly reopened Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art, located in the Cloth Hall. This reopened from a major renovation in September 2010 and the gallery is gorgeous. Do not miss the room featuring Piotr Michalowski and the great rooftop café is perfect for an afternoon break.

Note: All touring today is on foot through mostly pedestrian areas. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Exeter Services:
 Transfers (Warsaw & Krakow), Half Day Guide (Krakow)
Hotel: Sheraton Krakow

Day 5
Krakow | Krakow

This morning your driver and guide will meet you for your visit to the memorial at Auschwitz–Birkenau. Auschwitz-Birkenau is located approximately 35 miles away from Krakow, near the industrial town of Oswiecim.  

Upon arrival, a special Auschwitz guide will meet you and will take you through the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp. You will see the somber and sometimes shocking exhibits located throughout the camp. 

After your tour of Auschwitz, you may also visit Birkenau, where the majority of captives lived and died. You may also wander around the barracks. Do not miss the monument to the dead, inscribed in ten languages, located between the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria.

This afternoon, back in the city, visit Krakow’s former Jewish district, Kazimierz, to visit its most important Jewish heritage sights. You will first see the Old Synagogue, dating back from the 16th century, which also houses a branch of the Historical Museum, where artifacts used in Jewish rituals and documents pertaining to the history of the local Jewish community are on display.

You will continue to the Remuh Synagogue and cemetery. The small Renaissance-style synagogue was built in the 16th century and is one of the two that are still in use. Just behind the Remuh Synagogue, you will visit one of the most important Jewish cemeteries in Europe, which, although badly damaged during the Second World War, still holds some old tombstones.

This whole area was immortalized by Spielberg’s film ‘Schindler’s List’ and has many shops and kosher restaurants with live traditional Jewish music.

Today you may also wish to visit the Galicia Jewish Museum, located a few minutes away from the Old Synagogue in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter. Housed in a former Jewish factory, it is dedicated not to just the death, but to the life that the Jews lead in Galicia, today’s Malopolska region of Poland, which includes the city of Krakow. The permanent photographic exhibit on display shows the traces of Jewish memory that continue to linger in this region from the lives they led prior to the Holocaust.

Note: Touring in Auschwitz is on foot and involves stairs. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services:
Full Day Guide, Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Sheraton Krakow

Day 6
Krakow | Krakow

Today you may want to explore some of the history of Krakow during World War II. One of our favorite museums in the city is in the old Schindler Factory. Appalled by the raids on the Krakow Ghetto, where soldiers were used to round up the inhabitants for shipment to the concentration camps, Oscar Schindler increasingly used all of his skills and connections to protect the Jews working in his factory, often calling on his persuasiveness and ingratiating manner to save his workers and their families.

The factory reopened in March 2009, as a new branch of the Krakow History Museum, focusing on the history of Krakow during the years 1939 – 1945.

Nearby you can also visit the Pharmacy Under the Eagle. This pharmacy, in what became the new Jewish ghetto, was run by Tadeusz Pankiewicz, a non-Jew. He decided to keep the pharmacy running during the occupation to try to help Jews living in the ghetto. He has been recognized as one of the Righteous Among Nations and the pharmacy is a small museum portraying life in the ghetto.

This afternoon walk to Wawel Hill to visit the Renaissance Royal Castle and Cathedral. Converted from a Gothic style in the early 1500s by a Florentine architect, the tiered courtyard of the castle is reminiscent of an opulent Italian palazzo. Inside the castle view the State Rooms, which feature the splendid assembly of Flanders tapestries, scattered throughout the first and second floors. There is also an amazing ceiling with woodcarvings of 30 human heads, which is worth a look.

The Skarbiec (Royal Treasury and Armory) with its display of crown jewels and lesser royal possessions including rings, crosses, the coronation shoes and burial crown of Zygmunt August are not to be missed. The Armory rooms of the castle contain a variety of items including finely crafted weapons, shields and helmets. Items of serious warfare are also on display with weapons captured over five centuries from Poland’s host of foreign invaders.

A highlight of visiting the castle today will be the opportunity to see Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an Ermine’. This rare painting is usually exhibited at the Czartoryski Musuem, which has been closed for renovations for a few years. After touring Europe, this, one of Leonardo’s best preserved paintings, is back at home in Krakow.

The Cathedral, as in few cathedrals of the world, speaks the history of Poland. Evoked by former Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, as with Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s, the moment you enter Wawel Cathedral, you know you’re in a place resonant to the core with national history. Adorned with a mass of side chapels, endowed by subsequent Polish monarchs and aristocratic families too, the present brick and sandstone basilica is essentially Gothic, dating from the year 1306. Look for the collection of prehistoric animal bones as you enter the cathedral – as long as they remain, so legend maintains, the cathedral will too.

Note: Touring today is on foot through mostly pedestrian areas. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Exeter Services:
 Full Day Guide, Half Day Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Sheraton Krakow

Day 7
Departure | Departure

Meet your driver for your transfer to the airport to connect with your departing flight.

Exeter Services: Transfer Only

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