by Greta Gibbons, University of Warsaw, Poland
My year abroad gave me plenty of opportunities to travel during the year. This was due to the increase of free time, availability of cheap flights and being in the centre of Europe. I’ve created a list of all the places I managed to visit within Poland firstly. This highlights the extent to which you can travel abroad, and even just in your own exchange country. Just one of the many perks of the international study programme!
I was very excited to travel around Poland as I’d never explored the country before. It was very easy to get the train or bus around and super cheap as well. The first place I went was Poland’s ‘Tricity’ – Gdańsk, Gydinia, Sopot. This area is really a really popular seaside holiday area. It was really nice to see the Polish coastline.
I went on day trips to Poznan and Lodz to explore what the smaller cities had to offer, both were equally as cool as Warsaw in their own respects. It was really nice to learn more about Polish history and these cities connections to the war.
When researching the best Christmas markets in Europe, Wroclaw was a strong contender in most of the lists I saw. We got the train down to see the city but mostly to see the stalls and try Polish Christmas delicacies. It was such a gorgeous city and the Christmas vibes made it even better. It was even snowing at the time!
I of course had to visit Krakow and see Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former German Nazi Concentration Camp which was a super interesting but harrowing experience. Krakow itself is obviously a very popular city break destination so it was good to see what the fuss what about and it definitely lived up to expectations.
One of the highlight of my year abroad was the solo hiking adventure I went on in Zakopane, the winter sports or hiking region. I decided I wanted to see this part of Poland a few days before my year abroad ended and I’m so glad I did. I got the over the overnight bus and arrived the following morning to start my hike. It was long and challenging but the views were worth it. I was worried about going alone but the trail was popular and busy so I felt safe. The weather was perfect and it was really nice enjoying nature in my own company.
Poland is such a beautiful country and a lot of the cities there are overlooked and underrated as holiday destinations. Very cheap as well! I would definitely look into visiting some of them if you end up studying in Poland or in the neighbouring countries.