|Tourism in Poland|
|Poland's top ten urban destinations|
Poland is a part of the global tourism market with constantly increasing number of visitors. Tourism in Poland contributes to the country's overall economy. The most popular cities are Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Poznań, Szczecin, Lublin, Toruń, Zakopane, the Salt Mine in Wieliczka and the historic site of Auschwitz – A German Nazi concentration camp in Oświęcim. The best recreational destinations include Poland's Masurian Lake District, Baltic Sea coast, Tatra Mountains (the highest mountain range of Carpathians), Sudetes and Białowieża Forest. Poland's main tourist offers consist of sightseeing within cities, historical monuments, natural monuments, business trips, agrotourism, bicycle touring, qualified tourism, mountain hiking (trekking) and climbing among others.
In the 21st century, Poland is one of the safest countries in Europe, frequently visited by tourists.
Poland, especially after joining the European Union in 2004 and acceding to the Schengen Agreement in 2007, became a place frequently visited by tourists. Most tourist attractions in Poland are connected with natural environment, historic sites and cultural events.
According to Tourist Institute's data, Poland was visited by 15.7 million tourists in 2006, and by 15 million tourists in 2007, out of the number of arrivals 66.2 million. In 2012, Poland was visited by 13.5 million foreign tourists (those who came during Euro 2012, but did not stay overnight, were not included in official statistics). In 2013, Poland was visited by 15.8 million tourists. In 2016, the number of arrivals to Poland amounted to 80.5 million. 17.5 million of this number are arrivals considered for tourism purposes (with at least one night's stay). In 2019, Poland was visited by 21.4 million tourists, making it the 18th most visited country in the world.
The first Polish tourists were pilgrims traveling to shrines both within Poland and abroad. The development of commercial tourism began in the 19th century. The most popular regions were mountains, especially the Tatra Mountains, explored for example by Tytus Chałubiński. In 1873, the Polish Tatra Society and in 1909 the Polish Sightseeing Society were established to organize and develop tourism. The 19th century was also the time of the rapid appearance of spa resorts, mostly in Sudetes, Beskids and along the Baltic Sea coast, with some of them associated, since 1910, with the Polish Balneology Association. After Poland regained independence in 1918, Polish tourism boomed, and was encouraged by the government. The first professional Polish tour operator, Orbis, was founded in Lwów in 1923, followed in 1937 by Gromada tourist organization and tour operator.
After World War II all tourist organizations were nationalized by the new communist government. The Polish Tatra Society and Polish Sightseeing Society were combined into Polish Tourism-Sightseeing Society (PTTK) and most of the tourist infrastructure was handed over to the newly created Workers Vacations Fund (FWP). Tourism was limited to the Comecon countries. This was the era of governmentally-founded tourism, characterised by mass but low-standard tourism. A typical sight was a holiday campground with small bungalows managed by one of the state-owned companies. Holidays for children and teenagers were organized by Juventur.
After the fall of communism much of the infrastructure was privatized, although many company-owned resorts were downgraded because of their unprofitability. The early 1990s saw the foundation of many new tour operators. Some of them prevailed and strengthened their position on the market, being able to compete with multinational tour operators.
See also: List of national parks of Poland
Poland has a diversified natural environment, which is relatively unaffected by human development. There are 23 national parks in the country that meet the criteria of the IUCN. Visitors are attracted by mountains, sea-coast with wide sandy beaches, and forests, lakes, rivers. Among the most popular destinations are: Tatra Mountains, in which is the highest peak of Poland (Rysy) and the famous Orla Perć (old trail in the style of via ferrata); Sudetes with Main Sudetes Trail (440 km from Świeradów Zdrój to Prudnik), Karkonosze, Table Mountains, Owl Mountains; Białowieża Forest, Lower Silesian Wilderness, Bieszczady, Dunajec River Gorge in Pieniny, Pojezierze Mazurskie and many others.
Further information: Culture of Poland
There are dozens of sea resorts on the coast of Baltic Sea like Wolin Island, located close to the German border and the coast of Pomerania. In southern Poland there are resorts for skiing and hiking in the Karkonosze mountains, which is part of the Sudetes mountain range. Karkonosze includes the tourist centres of Karpacz and Szklarska Poręba. Other famous resorts for skiing and hiking include in Carpathian Mountains: Zakopane in the Tatra mountains; Szczyrk, Krynica-Zdrój, Ustroń, Wisła in the Beskids or Szczawnica and Krościenko in Pieniny mountains.
In the vicinity of Low Beskids lies a tourist resort that offers a blend of mountainous terrain and an aqueous environment, with Lake Rożnów in the centre.
Main article: Christian pilgrimage
It's estimated that 13% (of the 1.8 million in 2005) of visitors of the Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń arrive from abroad. Jasna Góra Monastery was visited by 3.6 million of pilgrims from 78 countries in 2014.
Main article: Transport in Poland
Tourist infrastructure and facilities are abundant, especially in larger cities and in major tourist resorts. In large Polish cities, urban public transport is very well developed.
The biggest cities (Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk and Szczecin) have international airports with connections with many European cities and with the Frédéric Chopin International Airport in Warsaw, which is the main hub of LOT Polish Airlines.
Intercity connections are offered by PKP Intercity, Polregio, Arriva RP, Leo Express, RegioJet, local trains (Koleje Dolnośląskie, Koleje Śląskie, Koleje Małopolskie, Szybka Kolej Miejska, Pomorska Kolej Metropolitalna, Koleje Mazowieckie, Łódzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna, Koleje Wielkopolskie) and PKS's and many bus companies. There are also coach connections to other countries provided by various companies.
Connections by ferry to Sweden and Denmark through the Baltic Sea are for example from Gdańsk, Gdynia and Świnoujście (inter alia Polferries).
Travelers' Choice 2014 Update: 1.Krakow, 2.Warsaw, 3.Wroclaw, 4.Poznan, 5.Bialystok, 6.Sopot, 7.Zakopane, 8.Lodz, 9.Szczecin, 10.Gdynia.
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