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Road Trip Poland – Things to do in Warsaw and the Dragon of Krakow
I said my goodbyes to the Baltic states (blogpost: 25.000 km Europe road trip part 8 : Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania)) and after Vilnius the next stop was Warsaw (Poland). The distance was about 460 Km., but the roads were absolutely terrible! Gone are the fancy routes of the Baltic States which consisted of smooth tarmac and a gasstation every 20km.
Welcome to Poland, where my European road trip took me through the beautiful cities of Warsaw and Krakow, I experience my first hollywood celebrity recognition of The Road Trip Guy and where I visited the most humbling and confronting piece of history in the world; The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.
This is; 25.000 km Europe road trip part 9 : Warsaw and Krakow (Poland)
Staying in a villa in Warsaw! How cheap is that?
Being on a road trip, you wil encounter a very common problem in almost every big city. Where do I park the car? You want to avoid your baby being on the streets all night, but guarded underground parking can be very expensive in the city center. As the road to Warsaw had already been exhausting (due to all the construction and poor quality) I booked a room at the Villa Victoria in the suburbs of Warsaw.
My experiences staying at the Villa Victoria:
Price : € 26,- per night for two persons
Breakfast : Optional (Did not take)
Rooms: Clean, large, with small flat-screen TV and very good bathroom facilities.
Staff: Very kind and supporting. Spoke good English.
Overal: A very good stay if you wish to have some more relaxing time. The city center is just 20-minutes away and surrounding the area are several restaurants and supermarkets. The area is nice and quiet and easy to find by using your navigation system. The price is really cheap considering you pay just € 13,- per night/per person,
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Visiting old-town Warsaw during the weekend
Here is one very important tip that I like to share with you road trippers before driving towards old-town Warsaw. Are you ready?
In the weekend, it is free parking in the city center!
How amazing is that? I enjoyed a full day in old-town Warsaw and paid absolutely zero Euro’s for parking. During the weekdays you need to pay from 08.00 AM – 06.00 PM, but after during the night it is also free of charge. What a great way to start my time in the capital of Poland.
Walking route in old-town Warsaw
We parked the car close to the Palace of Culture and Science nearby the central train station. In this area you will find lot’s of parking spaces and it is just a 15-minute walk to Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This impressive monument shows two soldier guarding a tomb of all the unknown casualties the wars in Poland have cost.
With the beautiful park in the background and the flaming torches, this is a perfect spot to get some beautiful photos and learn more about the Polish history in WW2.
And if you are interested in visiting Warsaw (or Eastern Europe in general) during Christmas, I highly recommend you read this blog post about the best Eastern European Christmas Markets. You won’t regret it!
There is so much to see that spending the full day in old-town is a great thing to do. In the evening, you can visit the Multimedia Fountain Park that have amazing fountain shows every hour starting from 8.30 PM. The many restaurants offer traditional Polish dishes, and I highly recommend trying some of their delicious soups and meat courses.
You will notice a lot of old-timer vehicles are driving around old-town. Many of them are used for weddings and other celebrated occasions, but this beautiful old Volkswagen Beetle was just resting at the parking lot with no indication that it had been moved in a long time.
There was some advertisement on it, but upon checking the website I saw that the company was no longer operational. Of course, I could not leave without taking a picture with this beauty and little did I know a Hollywood celebrity (and of course adventurous motorcyclist traveller) Ewan McGregor also took the same picture of the same car! And the next morning I got one awesome message on my Instagram
Charming little Krakow and the castle of the dragon!
Krakow is a charming city with a very interesting history. In the Wawel Castle and Cathedral is a basement which legend has it was home to the Wawel dragon. The cave is an interesting sight and you pay a little fee to go down the stairs and see it. Of course you will see dragon-merchandise everywhere as part of the tourists experience, but other than that it had a real original theme to it.
But to be honest, I did not come to Krakow to visit another city again. I was here to visit one of the most recognized locations in Europe during the WW2 period ..
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps
Visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps had been on my radar for a long time. As many Europeans, the events of WW2 have left their mark on my grandfathers, fathers and our generation as it has been just 80 years when Adolf Hitler slowly started his uprise to build Nazi-Germany. The concentration camps are a reminder of the inhumane events that took place during the WW2. As it will be too much to write about in this blogpost, I will start writing a guide on how to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. It truly is a humbling experience and you will be very grateful for all the brave souls and soldiers that fought and died for our freedom.