An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983.
Poland tours for seniors.
Poland, situated in central Europe between Russia and Germany, welcomes many travellers eager to know more about its history and see its natural beauty. Warsaw is its capital and largest city, and the city’s motto, Contemnit procellas (“It defies the storms”), is testament to the city’s–and the country’s–perseverance, rising several times from the ashes after being destroyed by wars and invading armies. From a walking tour in Warsaw and its fascinating Old Town on the banks of the River Vistula, head out to visit the ancient royal capital, Krakow, the port city of Gdansk, and the old cities that shaped the heart and soul of Poland. Ancient castles and old churches dot the landscape, while the forests and grasslands of the country offer some remarkable sights for those wanting to take in some natural scenery.
The beautiful Royal Route in Warsaw features a number of historical landmarks connecting the three former residences of Polish rulers: The Royal Castle, Lazienki Krolewskie and the lavish Royal Wilanow Palace and Park, built as a residence of John III Sobieski who ruled Poland in the 17th century. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the 13th century Castle of Malbork, which was built by the Teutonic Knights as the headquarters of their Grand Master. This massive stronghold of red brick mirrored the might of the order. The Salt Mine in Wieliczka is a unique and world-class attraction that is on the World Heritage list as well. This subterranean salt mine, established in the 13th century, is distributed across nine levels, providing a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers (and even chapels!) adorned with salt sculptures that members of the public can explore.
Other monuments built in Poland during the 14th to the 17th centuries were the Wooden Churches of Southern Malopolska, considered the best preserved wooden Gothic churches characteristic of the region and time period, and the timber-framed Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica, erected by the Lutherans during the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the European wars of religion.
Warsaw was destroyed by Nazi troops in 1944 and some three million Polish Jews were killed in Nazi extermination camps. A visit to Auschwitz with its memorial and museum is to bear witness to this horrific past that affected not only Polish Jews but Jews from all over Europe. Warsaw was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site following its meticulous restoration after World War II. UNESCO calls it “an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.”
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Trains are cheap and convenient, with inter-city services between major cities. Bus services are also widely available, though be sure to purchase a ticket from the bus station to ensure you get a seat.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, environment and weather
Poland covers an area of 313k square kilometres, and is largely flat, with the ‘Polish Plain’ stretching across the centre of the country. The northeastern region features many lakes and dense forests, while the Carpathian Mountains rise up at the southern end of the country.
Poland has a largely temperate climate, featuring warm summers, cold winters, and cool to warm spring and autumn periods. If travelling between November and March, be prepared for cold weather, with freezing temperatures being common in winter.
World heritage sites
Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/pl). While every site has something of value, here are a few highlights:
- Centennial Hall in Wrocław, a visually striking example of modernist architecture, and the largest concrete dome in the world at the time of its construction
- Białowieża Forest, a large area of enchanting undisturbed forest rich in wildlife
- Medieval Town of Toruń, a well-preserved example of medieval Polish settlements
Festivals and events
Numerous festivals and events dot the calendar in Poland. Perhaps the biggest and most important national celebration is National Independence Day – held on 11 November, Independence Day commemorates the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty in 1918 and features military parades, festive celebrations, and even commemoration runs. The Warsaw International Film Festival attracts thousands of film lovers and participants, and screens films from all over the world. All Saints Day on November 1 is another important day on the national calendar, where families decorate cemeteries with thousands of glowing candles and remember deceased loved ones.
- Poland, by Adam Zamoyski
- Playground: A History of Poland, by Norman Davies
- The Doll, by Bolasław Prus
- The Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric Kelly
Eating and drinking
Polish food heavily features meat, winter vegetables and starch. One of the best known dishes of Poland is pierogi, dumplings made out of unleavened dough and filled with either sweet or savoury filings. Bigos is another national favourite, a dish of various meats stewed with sauerkraut and shredded fresh cabbage. The Polish are famously enthusiastic consumers of vodka, though beer is also very popular. Tea is also widely consumed, while other non-alcoholic beverages include kvass and kefir.
Health and safety
Poland is generally a safe country to travel around in, though exercise common sense whenever travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adapter. The standard voltage in Poland is 230V, while the standard frequency is 50Hz. Poland uses Type C and Type E electrical plugs.
Warsaw old town
Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork
Poland has a single time zone, Central Standard European Time (UTC+1). Daylight Savings in Poland starts at the end of March and concludes at the end of October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Europe. Tipping is customary for good service in hotels and restaurants, though it is not obligatory. Tips are generally 10-15% of the bill in restaurants and bars.
Though Poland has been a member of the European Union since 2004, it has not adopted the euro and instead uses the Polish złoty (zł, pronounced zwo-ti). You can get the local currency by exchanging at the banks or using ATMs. Kantors or private money-changer offices can also be approached, especially if you’re holding major currencies such as the Euro or US dollars.
High season is the summer (May-September), with sunny days – and big crowds. Winter is less crowded, but expect cold weather, often below freezing. Our tours of Poland generally leave in the spring and autumn shoulder season, so that you can enjoy milder weather without the craziness of the summer crowds.
Articles about Poland published by Odyssey Traveller.
- Historic Sites of Poland: The Definitive Guide
- Questions about Poland
- History of the Baltic States
- Guide to the Baltic States
- Touring World Heritage Sites
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Poland.
Responsible Travel Tips for Poland
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
About Odyssey Traveller
We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.
Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details.
Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.
Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.
For more information on Odyssey Traveller and our educational small group tours, visit and explore our website., remember to visit these pages in particular