This morning you will arrive into Gdansk, where you will be met by your driver for your transfer to your hotel in the center of the city and in the heart of the historic district.
A famously hospitable and friendly country, Poland reveals a wealth of reminders of its great past to those who visit. The name itself relates back to the Polainie tribe, a people inhabiting what is now Wielkopolska in the Early Middle Ages. Rich in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you will be treated to beautifully restored, medieval towns such as the Old Towns of Warsaw and Krakow, and get insights to Poland’s cultural heritage and historic political influence throughout Europe. Enjoy its picturesque landscapes, outstanding natural riches, and experience its folk traditions, which still survive today.
Gdansk, or Danzig, as it was formerly called, is a city of charm and elegance, even though it is most known for its industrial shipyards and the popular movement by Lech Walesa that marked the end of Communism in Poland. While Gdansk was mostly German before WWII, the Poles expelled all remaining Germans at the end of the war and left the city to become truly Polish. Gdansk was an important city of the Hanseatic League for centuries.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.
This morning meet your guide in your hotel lobby at 10AM. Today you will start with a visit to the European Solidarity Center. The permanent exhibition is dedicated to the Solidarity Movement and the opposition, which led to the overthrow of communism in Central and Eastern Europe.
Afterward head to Oliwa. This is a complex of Cistercian abbey buildings and the highlight is the cathedral. It’s built in the Romanesque and Gothic styles and is best known for its organ, which includes moving angels, stars and the sun. Today there is an organ concert at noon and you can attend.
If you like, you can then drive to the furthest point of the “tri-city” area – Gydnia. Here, at the shipyards, is where the solidarity movement began and you’ll hear the story from your local guide who lived through this time.
Continue on to Gdansk where the rest of your touring is on foot. Your guide will take you on foot Gdansk’s Royal Route. Around every corner of Old Town you’ll find an important building or historic monument and your guide will show you the most important of them. You can also step inside St. Mary’s Church, founded in 1343, and one of the largest churches in Europe and is best known for its extraordinary Gothic sculpture. At the picturesque Motlawa River bank you will see the massive, 15th century Old Crane, which is now a museum containing a wooden elevator and granaries used at the port during its heyday.
Note: Some touring is on foot. Please be prepared to be outside and walking over cobblestones.
This morning your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby at 10AM for your journey outside of Gdansk to Malbork Castle. First begun by the Order of the Teutonic Knights in the late 14th century, Malbork Castle was once the capital of one of the most powerful states on the southern Baltic coast. Malbork Castle is a classic example of a medieval fortress and is the world’s largest brick castle and certainly the most impressive in Europe. The Teutonic Knights were an order of German crusaders and their rich history dates to the 12th century. Special Note: As it is Monday, the interior of the castle will be closed! Guest’s m
Your visit today will take you inside the castle walls, where you can visit a variety of rooms that have been restored to their former grandeur. The castle is also home to temporary exhibitions. One of the most striking features of Malbork is its existence. The castle has been under continuous reconstruction for nearly 230 years! The castle was almost completely destroyed by the end of World War II, and its restoration today is a testament to the determination of the Polish people.
This morning your driver will take you directly to the station to meet your high-speed train to Warsaw. First class tickets are included and will be given to you locally.
Upon your arrival in Warsaw you will be transferred to your hotel, where the remainder of your day will be at leisure.
Often overlooked, Warsaw is a phoenix that has risen out of the ashes of immense carnage to emerge as a vibrant, contemporary and edgy European capital. Its eclectic architectural style reflects the different influences throughout the ages. In Old Town Warsaw, tall church steeples, colorful houses, and narrow cobble-stoned lanes give way to the newer part of the city and a larger more contemporary skyline. Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings have been exquisitely restored to their former glory in the post-World War II era, while more recent construction reflects Warsaw’s cosmopolitan vibe.
Today your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby at 10AM for a half-day walking tour of Warsaw’s Old Town. On the tour with your guide have a stroll through Warsaw’s renowned Castle Square. In this 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.
Next, 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.
Afterward, your driver will meet you for an overview city tour. You’ll stop at the Palace of Science and Culture – a gift from Stalin to Poland and mimicking the design of Moscow’s Seven Sisters. Today you can head to the top for a panoramic view of the city.
On your overview, you can also stop at Łazienki Park, one of the most beautiful and serene areas of Warsaw and a favorite of the local residents. Take a stroll through the park to see the Palace on the Water before heading down Warsaw’s most elegant street back to your hotel.
Note: Some touring is on foot. Please be prepared to be outside and walking over cobblestones.
Today you will meet your guide and driver at 10AM 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.
Nearby you will have time to explore the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (POLIN). 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.
Today you will have the chance to explore the fascinating Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. The museum, which opened on Aug. 1, 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. 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. Don’t miss the short film, City in Ruins, at the end.
This morning, depart by express train to Krakow, the architectural gem of Poland. First class tickets are included and will be given to you locally.
Upon your arrival in Krakow you will be transferred to your hotel, where the remainder of your day will be at leisure.
The untouched medieval splendor of Krakow is a miracle for having survived unscathed during World War II, and in fact, some locals believe that Krakow has been divinely blessed with an aura of peace. Medieval buildings surround the cavernous market hall and the central square, where street musicians serenade you in the evenings with folksongs.
This morning meet your guide in your hotel lobby at 10AM for the short walk to Wawel Hill to visit the Renaissance Royal Castle and Cathedral. Converted from a Gothic style in the early 1500’s 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. 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.
You may also visit Wawel Cathedral. The cathedral, as in few cathedrals of the world, speaks the history of Poland. 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.
This afternoon, your guide will introduce you to Krakow’s Old Town. The Gothic houses of the 13th-century burgesses still remain, although they were rebuilt and given Renaissance or neoclassical facades. You will see the medieval Sukiennice, rebuilt in the 1550’s, is one of the most distinctive sights in the country – a vast cloth hall, topped by a sixteenth-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.
Note: All touring today is on foot through mostly pedestrian areas. Please wear appropriate footwear.
This morning your driver and guide will meet you for your visit to the memorial at Auschwitz– Birkenau. Timing today is pending an appointment time at the camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau is located approximately 90 minutes outside of Krakow, near the industrial town of Oswiecim. Today it’s made of a series of barracks – each with its own displays – from luggage collected from prisoners, to seized prosthetics and more. 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. A few barracks remain, as well as the railroad track that brought the prisoners to the selection process. Do not miss the monument to the dead, inscribed in ten languages, located between the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria.
Finally, your guide will take you to pay a visit to one our favorite historical museums. The actual factory of Oskar Schindler has been opened as a branch of the Krakow History Museum. It’s now a moving timeline of the history of Krakow from 1939 through 1945. You will see the changes in the city brought on by the Nazi occupation.
You will meet you driver this morning to transfer to the airport to meet your departing flight.