Our European backpacking trip began in northern France and led us into Germany. Eventually we will swing south toward Austria and Italy, but first let's go into Poland and a couple of the Eastern European countries most of us never get a chance to visit. This is part three of our five part series intended to be a guide for your extended trip across the European continent.
If you are new to this series, be sure to go back and read parts one and two. Part one provides a lot of helpful tips about saving money and staying safe as you travel. Part two discusses great places to see in France and Germany.
How much time you want to spend in Poland will largely determine where you go. Assuming you are not pressed for time, it is a great idea to eventually reach Warsaw, just for its historical importance alone. Nevertheless, Warsaw is in the eastern portion of the country. Along the way, there are other places to see.
We recommend travelling along the northern coast to take in as much of the Baltic coastline as possible. There are lots of quaint little towns and impressive countryside to enjoy. Eventually, be sure to stop at Gdansk. This Baltic Sea city is the home of Poland's Solidarity movement. Its old town is very historic and charming.
You can turn south and head through the centre of the country on your way to Warsaw. That city's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a very popular tourist attraction. You will see an eclectic blend of communist era architecture and modern design all within a few city blocks.
Where you go from Warsaw is entirely up to you. We recommend heading further south to visit Krakow's medieval walls and gates before leaving Poland.
We eventually want to make it Italy and use it as a gateway to Austria and Switzerland. There are lots of ways to do this once you leave Poland. If you're the kind of person who loves a lot of old world charm and rich cultural experiences, we recommend a route that takes you through the western end of Ukraine, south to Romania, Bulgaria and eventually Greece. Perhaps the most exciting part of this leg of the journey is the beautiful mountains and lush valleys you encounter along the way.
Your time in Greece should definitely include an extended stay along the southern Mediterranean coast. And of course, be sure to wander through plenty of local villages as you go. The Greeks are a very welcoming people more than willing to invite you into their homes or sit and talk at an outdoor café.
When it's time to leave Greece, take a quick boat ride across to Italy or continue moving up the Mediterranean coast toward Albania.
In part four of this series, we will pick up our travels in southern Italy. We will also talk about Austria and Switzerland as well. Until next time ...