Are you planning a trip to Poland in winter?
With over a thousand years of incredible history and traditions, delicious food, beautiful national parks, and amazing scenery, Poland is every traveller’s dream.
But how about a winter holiday in Poland?
It might sound chilly, but Poland could surprise you. In fact, with exceptional ski slopes and festive Polish cities, the country is famous for being a perfect winter destination!
In this article, we will detail the best places to visit in Poland in the winter, what to eat, how to get around, details of the weather and a full packing list.
What is the weather like in Poland in winter?
Winter temperatures in Poland can vary from around 7°C to -6°C – or much lower in the mountains.
Like other countries in Central and Eastern Europe (read my Romania guide here!), Polish winter used to be exceptionally cold, but nowadays there’s a lot less snow.
Here’s a month-by-month breakdown but remember that each destination can be different depending on where it is in the country and its altitude.
- Poland in November: The weather transitions from Autumn to Winter sometime in November. You’ll experience highs of around 8°C and lows of around -2°C in most parts of the country. It’s colder in the mountains, but ski season doesn’t start until December.
- Poland in December: Temperatures go down to around freezing and maybe a bit below, especially in the mountains. There’s plenty of snow in the mountains now, and the ski season begins.
- Poland in January: This is one of the coldest months in Poland. Weather conditions are a high of around just 3°C in the warmest parts of the country, and they dip below freezing most days. This is peak season for skiing and it’s fairly easy to find snow!
- Poland in February: The start of the month is also very cold, with great skiing and plenty of snow. However, it can be warmer with pleasant weather in the cities and lowland areas, especially toward the end of the month.
- Cold weather can last until March or even April.
None of these months necessarily have bad weather conditions, but it can be chilly, snowy or rainy.
Provided you’re prepared for the Polish weather with winter clothes and enjoy indoor attractions when necessary, you’ll have a great time!
Places to visit in Poland in winter
Wrocław is one of the most popular destinations for your winter holiday in Poland. The charming city has splendid Christmas markets, a captivating Old Town, vibrant architecture and energetic city life.
It is an architectural city, so there are lots of buildings to admire as you walk around.
With a variety of museums, cafes and other places worth visiting, there’s never a dull moment in this city.
The Old Town of Wroclaw is a mesmerizing place, and in winter it looks even more lovely. It’s decorated with a huge Christmas tree and has countless Christmas markets and lights, making it the perfect spot to take pictures.
Throughout the city you’ll notice the little statues of dwarves – these originate from a symbol of resistance in the age of communism, but “hunting for dwarfs” is now a tourist tradition.
Dating back to the 7th century, the former capital of Poland is a famous city that has been the centre of cultural, political, and economic life in the country for decades.
Even today this southern Poland city is known to be one of the most important metropolitan areas in Europe, and it’s one of the most popular city breaks on the continent.
Krakow’s Old Town is a remarkable repository full of artworks and historical relics. Each year, around 100 prestigious festivals and cultural events happen here.
On cold winter days, you can explore the cosy interiors of Wawel Castle, art exhibits of the National Museum, or the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
If you prefer outdoor activities, the main Market Square in the city centre is a good choice with many restaurants, shops, stands and events. There is also lively nightlife around the town centre.
A sombre day trip from Krakow is Auschwitz. This is open throughout the winter.
Of course, this is a devastating and harrowing place, but it’s an important site to visit to learn about the horrors that happened in the Holocaust (which greatly affected Poland) and to pay respects to the victims.
You can read all you need to know about visiting Krakow in winter here.
The capital and largest city of Poland is impressive during all seasons, yet in winter this big city gains a unique charm.
After World War II, more than 90% of the whole city was razored to the ground. However, it was rebuilt in the latter part of the 20th century.
In today’s Warsaw, you could never tell that the city had been destroyed.
Historical streets, buildings, and churches have been restored to their former glory that we can admire today.
There are many places to see while in Warsaw.
The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the Palace of Culture and Science, Łazienkowski Park and the Royal Castle. Families with children will love the Copernicus Science Centre.
You can take a walk through this beautifully illuminated city and also visit one of the numerous museums, such as the Jewish Museum or Warsaw Uprising Museum.
You could also take a spin on one of the ice skating rinks!
Karpacz is one of the most charming towns in the Polish mountains.
In the cooler months, it’s a winter wonderland. Situated in the Karkonosze Mountains – an alternative resort to the Alps – the number of visitors is increasing each year.
Travellers are mainly attracted to Karpacz by its spectacular mountain views, especially of the highest peak, Śnieżka.
Karpacz offers many ways to spend your free time.
It’s one of the best places to ski in Poland and has lots of tourist trails, museums, exhibitions, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys, discos, restaurants and stylish cafes.
For lovers of sporty activities, Karpacz offers slopes for skiing, jumps, snowshoe hiking, sleigh riding and indoor ice rinks!
The Tatra Mountains are the highest Polish mountain range. They’re the true epitome of a perfect winter destination for people who like an adventure.
Immense and splendid peaks, pristine nature, crisp air and a unique winter ambience all mean that the Tatra National Park’s visited by around three million tourists each year.
The destination has an excellent tourist infrastructure, making holidaying here easy.
There are so many adventurous activities that you can try here!
More than 300 km of hiking trails, modern chairlifts and ski resorts will keep you entertained and active over winter days.
A trip to the majestic Giewont massif or a hike leading to Morskie Oko Lake is an option for anyone who likes to spend their time actively, even in winter.
Morskie Oko Lake is the biggest in the Tatra National Park.
It’s harder to get to in the winter, but it’s worth it for the surrounding scenery covered by a blanket of snow.
People even ice skate on Morskie Oko Lake in winter!
If you’re interested in Polish forests, this is one of the best to visit!
Białowieża Forest is one of Poland’s most beautiful destinations.
It’s the biggest forest complex in the whole of Europe that has survived in its natural state.
Undisturbed ecosystems have been preserved here, and the magnificence of fauna and flora in the cold season is a true treasure.
The captivating beauty of the wilderness was noticed by UNESCO and then added as a World Heritage Site.
Białowieża Forest is the best choice if you’re looking for a less-visited winter destination and if you’re not a big fan of crowds. You’ll enjoy the hikes and natural beauty!
There are numerous nature reserves here, and you can visit them all with a professional guide. You can browse guided tours of the forest by clicking this link.
Plus, this is one of the best places in the world to spot European Bison!
When speaking about winter in Poland, it’s impossible to not mention Zakopane.
This town is known to be the winter capital of Poland!
Zakopane is surrounded by the Góbałówka range on the northern side, and the Tatra mountains with the majestic Giewont massif to the south.
Zakopane is famous for the Krupówki main street, traditional architecture, folklore of the Goral people, and wide range of attractions.
Its excellent location at the foot of Tatra mountains makes it a major winter-sports and health-resort centre.
Spectacular valleys, impressive lakes, streams flowing from the hills and the breathtaking sight of snow-covered mountaintops will mesmerize every visitor.
Wisła, a small town located in the scenic valley of River Wisła, sits right at the border with Czechia. It’s also not far from Slovakia.
Known to be the treasure of the region of Beskid Śląski, during the time of winter break, the town is truly rammed with tourists.
Wisła has always been a town inclined toward sport and recreation.
The main sports facilities are the Ski Jump complex “Centrum”, which includes three ski jump hills and Adam Małysz ski jump hill.
Visitors can make use of 16 ski lifts and 15 kilometres of ski slopes. Within reach of the town, you’ll find about 100 kilometres of hiking trails.
Winter is an ideal time to take care of your health, and Ustroń offers many opportunities for that!
Ustroń borders Wisła and it’s the only town with the status of a spa town in this area.
It has many recreational facilities for patients or visitors just looking to relax, including spa centres, salt grottos or swimming pools with mineral water.
The spa at Ustron has features like a thermal bath. It’s a wonderful resort for those seeking a hideaway to regain strength.
Ustroń is a town that provides the best opportunities for spending leisure time, pursuing mountain activities or skiing.
Tourists who are to the town for winter break can enjoy various walking trails, cross country skiing trails and many other attractions
Is the Baltic Sea only for the summer season? Of course not!
When temperature drops and the iodine concentration in the air rises, the Trójmiasto area by the Polish seaside attracts visitors.
The Trójmiasto metropolitan area on Northern Poland’s Baltic Coast consists of three cities: Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot.
With history and monuments, seaside resorts, the beautiful port city and uncrowded Old Town of Gdańsk, tranquil streets and dazzling decorations, the Tri-City is a truly spectacular destination.
You can also enjoy the Baltic Sea itself.
An unusual activity has recently become really popular there. Winter swimming has been proven to have many health benefits.
The Baltic Sea is, as you guessed it, Baltic – so this is only a feat for the brave!
Szklarska Poręba is a town surrounded by two mountain chains that meet; the Izera Mountains from the north and The Karkonosze Mountains from the south.
This location creates an ideal environment for winter sports like skiing, rock climbing, and Nordic walking.
Although there are museums in this town, people flock here mainly for the splendour of nature and for the abundance of outdoor activities the region has to offer.
The town also offers a wide variety of accommodation facilities.
For more sightseeing activities, trekking at Kamienczyk, the town’s largest waterfall or the Szklarski Waterfall will be a feast for your eyes.
Krynica Zdrój is a popular place for a winter holiday – it’s a region with a long snowsports tradition.
These days, it is one of the most modern and the biggest ski resorts in Poland.
It’s one of those places where anyone can find something fun to do.
From admiring fascinating architecture, visiting interesting museums and taking long walks among trees covered with snow on Parkowa Mountain to skiing on the longest illuminated skiing trail in Poland, you’ll love your trip to ca Zdrój.
Absolute must-visit places are the pedestrian zone and centre of Krynica, the Spa Park, the Słowiński Park and the Czarny Potok valley.
With over 13 thousand accommodation options, you can choose from holiday houses, pensions, hotels and rooms in the health resort.
If you’re looking for a cosy, homely place to travel to in winter, visit Toruń.
The city is famous for being the birthplace of Copernicus and delicious gingerbread!
Since evening falls early in winter, you can admire this beautifully illuminated city and its attractions.
Winter is also a good time to visit indoor attractions in Toruń, such as Old Town Hall Tower, Torun Castle, House of Nicolas Copernicus Museum or the Gingerbread Museum, where you can bake your own cookies.
Toruń didn’t suffer damage from the Second World War and, until this day, the Gothic architecture and many historical relics remain for tourists to admire and be inspired by.
Świętokrzyskie Mountains, also known as the Holy Cross Mountains, are some of the oldest mountains in Europe.
This Polish mountain range, together with its rich geological structures, is a treasure for nature lovers who can watch unusual rock and land formations.
In winter, the panoramic view of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains is truly breathtaking and attracts many visitors.
The trails in winter are a paradise for snow scooters and hike enthusiasts.
Don’t miss the scenic route in the Raj Cave, the multimedia Neanderthal Centre, monuments and traces of the region’s rich history – like old castles, statues, museums and religious objects.
Poznań is, without a doubt, one of the most charming cities in Poland.
It has countless activities for people visiting in winter, including ice skating, ice dipping, sauna, thermal baths and sledging on Morasko Hill.
Also, don’t miss visiting Poznań Town Hall.
If you go there at noon, you’ll see the unique clock mechanism with two mechanical goats. At noon, they butt heads!
How to get around Poland in winter
Getting around Poland is easy and you can choose from many options like trains, buses, trams and taxis.
All big cities are connected by rail, but you probably won’t be able to take a train to the smaller villages.
Buses and trams are also a good way to travel as they access the urban areas. Regular bus ticket prices start at just 2PLN (€0,44).
If you’re looking to travel by public transport, sites like e-podróżnik or Jak Dojade are useful.
If you want to have the comfort of travelling in a car you could consider renting, taking a taxi or booking a private transfer.
What to pack for Poland in winter
While packing for Poland in winter, keep in mind that weather can change very quickly throughout the day.
It’s a good idea to pack thick and warm clothes and you might want to bring something you can layer easily.
A warm winter coat, gloves, scarf and warm hat are essential.
If you’re planning to spend time walking outside or hiking, do not forget about good quality shoes.
Pavements can be really slippery so it’s a good idea to choose shoes with anti-slip soles.
Shops in Poland are very well stocked in various things from food to toiletries. The prices are cheap too!
Markets and stores usually operate from 6:00 am – 10:00 pm during business days. It might be difficult to find an open shop on Sundays, as Poland is quite a religious country. You might be lucky and find a small convenience store that’s open though!
In Poland, they use type E plug sockets. Consider getting a plug adapter if you need one.
If you’re a student, bringing your International Student ID will grant you many discounts when buying food or travel tickets.
What to eat and drink in Poland in winter
Polish cuisine involves lots of hearty, traditional meals which often contain cabbage, meat and potatoes.
If you’re visiting Poland, you absolutely must try pierogi. These are handmade dumplings with savoury fillings like cottage cheese with potatoes or cabbage and mushrooms. You can find them all over the world, but of course they’re the best in Poland!
Soups can’t be left out when speaking about Polish cuisine, as they’re usually eaten as the first course of the meal. Slurping on one is a fantastic way to warm up from the Polish winter weather.
Żurek is a fermented soup made with sour rye flour, rosół is a clear chicken broth served with noodles and kapuśniak is known as a treasure of mountain regions cabbage soup. There are just a few of all the soups you can try in Polish restaurants.
After a soup, main dishes are kotlet schabowy (breadcrumb-coated pork cutlet) with potatoes, gołąbki (cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and meat) or bigos. Bigos, is a long-simmered meat and sauerkraut stew and is considered a national dish of Poland.
While many Polish people eat meat, there is a growing vegetarian and vegan scene in the country. What’s more, much traditional Polish food is naturally vegetarian.
Moving onto drinks, kompot is a sweet drink made from boiled fruits served hot during winter days.
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, grzaniec is a traditional Polish drink enjoyed in the winter season. It’s very similar to mulled wine.
When speaking of alcohol, you can’t forget vodka. Polish vodka is famous around the world.
Everything you need to know about visiting Poland in winter!
There are so many beautiful destinations to visit in Poland, from national parks with winter hikes to cities with historical buildings.
You can try out adventurous activities like ice skating on frozen lakes, exploring the Christmas markets and taking in Poland’s many amazing destinations.
It’s a must-visit place for architecture lovers and adrenalin junkies alike!
Whether you’re exploring the country’s biggest cities or soaring down the ski slopes, you’ll love spending winter in Poland!