Poland's seamless integration of old and new is appreciated by business visitors in Gdansk and tourists in Warsaw alike. Even though it is an EU member, the country remains much cheaper than neighbouring tourist destinations such as Germany, and despite being overrun by foreign rulers for hundreds of years, Poland has retained her unique identity and is now committed to preserving it for future generations.
From gothic castles in Toruń and Malbork, medieval architecture in Krakow and Warclow, and nature reserves in tiny towns such as Kazimierz Dolny, Poland's riches are scattered all across the country just waiting to be discovered. Take in Warsaw's modern architecture, and then head south to pay tribute to holocaust victims at Auschwitz or pray to the Black Madonna at Częstochowa. Poland is not all about history, though. You can row along the Great Masurian Lakes, camp out at one of the many national parks, or stroll through the countryside where not much seems to have changed for several decades.
Whether you're in the cities or villages, meat and cabbage will play an important role in any traditional meal, along with a bottle of strong vodka. The locals are extremely hospitable, especially away from the cities, and it is with them that you will get a true sense of what Polish culture is all about.
Warsaw (WAW) remains the main gateway to Poland although there are a number of regional airports which also deal with international flights. Some of these are in Gdansk (GDN), Katowice (KTW), Krakow-Balice (KRK), Wroclaw (WRO), Bydgoszcz (BZG), Lodz (LCJ), and Poznan (POZ). Poland's national airline LOT has direct flights between Toronto (and Warsaw, while Air Canada has flights to Warsaw via Frankfurt. A cheaper alternative, especially if you cannot book well in advance, is to fly to London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or Paris and then take a connecting flight on a low-cost airline to Warsaw or one of the regional airports.
Poland has a moderate climate with changeable weather – some winters are mild while others are harsh, while many summers have been marred by frequent rains. Summer temperatures on the coast average 16°C while in the interior it can go up to 19°C. In the wintertime, the temperature drops to just below freezing on the coast and as low as -15°C or less in the mountains.
Most tourists arrive in Poland at the end of spring and the crowds linger on well into the end of summer, so accommodation and flight fares will be more expensive from May to October. July and August are especially crowded as most Europeans are on vacation. Unless you're headed for the ski slopes, skip travelling to Poland from November to March, when the days are cold, dark, and damp. To get the best of cheaper rates and fewer crowds, book between May and June or September and October. Most of the crowds will be gone, and although prices won't be dirt cheap, you'll still have plenty of good weather to enjoy all that Poland has to offer.