Society for Economic Dynamics 2015

Visit Poland

The Warsaw Old Town
Gdańsk's Old Town; image courtesy of: Marcin Białek, Wikimedia Commons

Poland is a Central European country with a population of 38.5 million people. Located between the Baltic Sea in the north and the Tatra Mountains in the south, the country surprises visitors with its variety of landscapes and sceneries. The longest river, the Vistula, flows across the country, connecting the ancient city of Cracow, Warsaw – the capital – and the port town of Gdańsk. The Masurian Lakeland attracts yachting lovers and those who would like to discover the primeval forest where rare species of animals and old trees whisper the tale of days gone by.

With eleven centuries of history behind it, Poland has a very rich cultural heritage which goes back to the days when the amber route ran through its lands. Copernicus’ medieval city of Toruń, the Salt Mine in Wieliczka and Gdańsk shipyard only begin the long list of Polish highlights.

Should you wish to travel between different Polish cities, you may use different means of transport.

Plane

Warsaw has direct flight connections with the biggest Polish cities such as Gdańsk, Cracow or Wrocław. It takes approximately 55 minutes to reach each of these destinations. The biggest Polish carrier – LOT – offers up to six flights a day on particular routes. Prices of the plane tickets can be sometimes as competitive as the train fares. They start from PLN 120 (approx. EUR 29) depending on the day, time of flight as well as the time of purchase. See also: Polish airlines (domestic and international)

Train

The Polish railway system is quite dense. The most popular connections are served by the intercity express trains which are the time-saving solution. Tickets can be purchased via Internet or from the ticket office at a railway station. The railway stations in the biggest cities are well situated within walking distance from the major tourist attractions. The average time of journey is:

  • Warsaw – Cracow (3 hours 10 minutes/2.5 hours for Pendolino Train)
  • Warsaw – Gdańsk (4 hours 30 minutes/3 hours for Pendolino Train)
  • Warsaw – Wrocław (5 hours/3 hours 40 minutes for Pendolino Train)
  • Warsaw – Toruń (2 hours 50 minutes)

Prices start from PLN 100 (approx. EUR 24) in the 2nd class carriages. See also: Polish Railways, Railway timetable.

Car

Popular international car rental companies offer their services in Poland. For using certain motorways, you will be charged a fee (up to EUR 16 depending on the route). It is also advised to obey the speed limits as you will often see speed cameras or unmarked police cars. The average time of journey is:

  • Warsaw – Cracow (4 hours)
  • Warsaw – Gdańsk (4 hours)
  • Warsaw – Wrocław (5 hours)
  • Warsaw – Toruń (3 hours)

Taxi

Taxi companies provide a good quality service and reasonable prices. Please see the official websites of each city, to learn about the approved companies.

Where to stay

Amongst the numerous hotels in those cities you will find:

The big international hotel chains can be found in the biggest cities:

Gdańsk

The Warsaw Old Town
Image courtesy of: Nikater, Wikimedia Commons

Gdańsk is the largest Polish city on the Baltic Coast with a thousand-year history. In the past, it was privileged with a special status of municipal republic. The city, inhabited by numerous cultures and ethnical groups, was famous for its tolerance and wealth built on trade and craftsmanship. Evidence of the outstanding masters can still be admired today in many museums. Gdańsk twice played a role as a turning point in the world history – in 1939 when the Second World War broke out and in the eighties when the Solidarity movement was born. Together with Sopot and Gdynia, it creates the Tricity, with a population of 740 000 inhabitants.

Land at Lech Walesa Airport, admire the beautiful sailing ships, visit St. Mary’s Church, which is one of the largest European brick Gothic buildings and leave carrying an amber souvenir in your hand.

Highlights

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  • When visiting Gdańsk it is good to see the whole Tricity:
    • Sopot, the major spa and tourist destination, famous for its wooden pier, which is the longest in Europe.
    • Gdynia is one of the youngest cities in Poland, built just after the construction of the seaport in 1923. On the wharf tourists can admire two anchored ships: the ORP Błyskawica (Lightning) Destroyer and the Dar Pomorza (Pomeranian Gift) sailing ship. The promenade is dominated by the building of the Pomeranian Aquarium and the monument of Joseph Conrad (born Józef Korzeniowski), the famous Polish author who wrote stories and novels in English, usually with a nautical setting.
  • One of the “must do’s” is a short boat trip (they are densely anchored on the Mołtawa river bank, right in the very city centre). It might take between 25-45 minutes, depending on the chosen route, but sailing between the shipyard cranes is an unforgettable experience.
  • Gdańsk Airport

Cracow

The Warsaw Old Town
Image courtesy of: Corinne Cavallo, Wikimedia Commons

A former Polish capital, Cracow is one of the most popular weekend destinations in Europe. Its history dates back to the 7th century, when it was just a small village on Wawel Hill. During the Middle Ages, it started to play the role of a capital –political and cultural life was concentrated here. Nowadays, it attracts visitors with its charming Main Market Square (Rynek Główny), the ancient Wawel Castle and the famous dragon’s den. Cracow has one of the oldest European universities – the 650-year-old Jagiellonian University. The narrow streets are full of cosy coffee shops and local museums that encourage tourists to drop in. One of the key attractions are Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) – a Renaissance shopping centre where you can purchase traditional food products and regional handicraft.

Highlights

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  • Mariacki Church has the most unique medieval altar by Wit Stwosz. It is open daily at 11.50 a.m.
  • The famous trumpet call can be heard at 12.00 p.m. It is the most popular one in Poland and it is broadcasted live on the public radio.
  • Many visitors while visiting Cracow wish to dedicate a day to Wieliczka Salt Mine (travel time approx. 20-30 minutes) or the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau (travel time approx. 60 minutes). Trains, buses and minibuses provide a frequent and quick connection from both Cracow’s railway and coach stations to these destinations.
  • Those who enjoy mountaineering and hiking can spend few days in Zakopane, in the highest Polish mountains – Tatry – which are only 100 km away from Cracow.
  • Cracow Airport

Wrocław

The Warsaw Old Town
Image courtesy of: Tuomas Luukkonen, Wikimedia Commons

The fourth, most populated Polish city and the capital of the Silesian Lowlands. Wrocław, located on the borderland, belonged in the past to the Polish Kingdom, Bohemia, the Austrian Empire, Prussia and Germany. The city presents a combination of monuments and relics from different eras and styles. The historical, medieval Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski) has a very unique atmosphere and is perfect for a nostalgic walk. For those who prefer modern architecture, there is the Centennial Hall (Hala Stulecia) designed and erected nearly one hundred years ago to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig. The most surprising element of Wrocław are its dwarves. Over 270 of these tiny creatures are spread around the city. The first one was unveiled to commemorate the Orange Alternative (Pomarańczowa Alternatywa) – the underground protest movement in the 1980s. Visit Wrocław – the European Capital of Culture in 2016 – and start your day in the Old Town. Visit the enormous panorama painting, stroll between the dwarves and spend the evening by watching the fountain show.

Highlights

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  • Piwnica Świdnicka is known as the oldest restaurant in Europe. This 730-year-old brewery has been occupying the same cellar in the Town Hall. Nowadays, guests can still drink beer which is made according to the traditional recipes.
  • Viewpoint – in order to admire the spectacular view of the Karkonosze Mountains, visitors can take a lift to get to the viewing platform situated at the top of the 97-metre tower of the Archcathedral.
  • The Four Temples District is a unique part of the Old Town where within a distance of only 300 metres there are Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant temples. Together, they create a cultural path and are a space for different educational and artistic events.
  • Shopping – Department Store Renoma is not only a shopping centre but also a great example of European modernism readapted with a contemporary design.
  • Wrocław Airport
The SED Annual Meeting is hosted by Narodowy Bank Polski at the University of Warsaw
Society for Economic Dynamics | Narodowy Bank Polski | University of Warsaw | 2015
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