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The contrast of eventful history and serene natural beauty make Poland a wonderful place to explore. Head to its vibrant cities for a fascinating insight into the country’s long and turbulent history, then escape to the idyllic countryside of woods, rivers, lakes and hills.

Cities to discover include the capital Warsaw, with its many skyscrapers and historic Old Town, and the maritime city of Gdansk, on the northern coast, which enjoys a lovely climate and beautiful beaches. In the south, the former capital Krakow is considered to be one of the most beautiful medieval cities in central Europe.

Intriguing reminders of the past are everywhere in Krakow, including the Cloth Hall, with its handicraft, silver and amber stalls; St Mary’s Church where buglers mark each hour; the historic Jewish quarter; and Oscar Schindler factory. Located on the outskirts of Krakow, is the stunning Wieliczka Salt Mines, with its underground city carved out of the rock salt.

Away from the big cities, Poland’s unspoilt countryside is a big draw, particularly the Tatra mountains on the southern border, which are famed for their emerald glacial lakes and wooden chalets.