A Summer Getaway in Poland- Road Trip Itinerary Through Northern and Central Poland.
1000 kilometers (620 miles) in total
Tags: Travel guide, Poland, Summer
When planning a summer road trip in Europe, you probably don’t think of Poland. In reality, Poland is the perfect under-the-radar tourist destination in this part of Europe.
Wander around the world’s biggest castle, admire the Leaning Tower in Torun or party till the morning in Lodz’s renovated factories. Discover the best of what Poland has to offer in this travel guide!
This travel guide takes you on a road trip through central and northern Poland. Your adventure begins in Warsaw, the country’s capital.
After spending a night in town, drive across the picturesque Masurian Lake District and relax in Mikołajki, a local resort town. Then, head to the Tricity, stopping at the world’s biggest castle in Malbork on the way.
After a memorable night in Tricity, drive south to the Medieval Town of Torun and explore the historical streets. Make an overnight stop in the trendy city of Lodz before returning to Warsaw.
How long does it take to complete this road trip?
The driving distance is nearly a thousand kilometers in total and the route is divided into shorter segments, each one takes around two hours to complete. Rentalmoose recommends dedicating at least four days for this road trip, with overnight stops in Mikołajki, Gdańsk, and Łódź. If you have the time, add extra nights in Gdańsk.
Road Trip Extensions
Your journey in this part of Europe doesn’t have to end! Check out the Berlin to Warsaw travel guide that will take you through southern and western parts of Poland, before finishing off in the capital of Germany.
Discover the underground chambers of a fascinating salt mine, admire the medieval architecture in the Old Towns and find the best Kebap in Berlin. Click here for details.
Summer in the Baltics
Explore the Baltics even further during this perfect road trip around Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Relax on sandy beaches, party your heart out in beach clubs, or wander around the old town of Riga. Click here for the travel guide.
When is the best time to visit Poland?
The weather is the hottest during the summer (late June-August), if you want to swim in the Baltic Sea it’s best to go during those months. However, keep in mind that it is also the peak of the tourist season.
The beaches around Gdańsk, as well as the Masurian Lake District, both get very crowded during the summer.
Go in the first weeks of June or the beginning of September, when you can still catch a glimpse of the summer weather without the hordes of tourists.
Why should I book a rental car in Poland?
As the points of interest are all scattered within driving distance of each other, getting a rental car is the most convenient way of getting around during this trip.
The roads in Poland are well-maintained (except for some B-Roads in remote parts of the country), and the route across the Masurian Lakes is quite scenic. What’s more, the ability to freely alter the itinerary on the go can only be achieved when traveling by car.
For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car. Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.
Can tourists drive in Poland?
Absolutely! If your driving license was issued in an EU country, you can drive in Poland without any limitations.
Driving licenses issued in countries that are mentioned in the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (list here) are valid for 6 months, as long as the driver is over 18.
If your driving license was issued in a different country, you will have to obtain an International Driving Permit before coming.
To learn more about International Driving Permits, check out this blog post.
Poland, is a member of the open-border Schengen zone, meaning crossing the borders is quick and hassle-free shall you extend the trip to other European nations.
Check out this blog post to read about tips that will definitely come in handy when driving in Poland, including information about speed limits, penalties for offenses and common roadside scams. You definitely want to read this post before going on a road trip to Poland.
Traffic in Poland is on the right-hand side of the road.
Are highways in Poland free?
Some of the highway segments in Poland are paid. The total toll cost for this trip doesn’t surpass 30 PLN or 6.6 Euros. Fees can be paid directly at the toll gates scattered along the A1 highway, either in Polish Zloty, Euro or US Dollars. Click here for the current fee calculator on the A1.
This road trip begins in the capital of Poland, welcome to fascinating Warsaw! This history-rich city is an up-and-coming tourist hotspot in this part of Europe. For maximum convenience, pick up your car directly from the Warsaw Chopin Airport and head into the city.
What is there to do in Warsaw?
Warsaw is a fascinating city with unique art galleries, museums, and trendy nightlife spots. It is the biggest city in Poland, it is most certainly worth a visit! Although not as popular among tourists as Kraków.
Visiting the Wilanów Palace is a must when in Warsaw. The monumental structure is surrounded by a colorful park which is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Travelers can step inside and admire the glamorous interior while learning about local history at a selection of exhibitions.
Purchase your tickets here. Prices vary depending on the exhibition you decide to visit.
Warsaw Rising Museum
Don’t miss the Warsaw Rising Museum, where you can discover the most devastating parts of the nation’s history. The interactive exhibition showcases all aspects of life during the uprising, including day-to-day life during the war.
Admission tickets can be purchased either online via the official website or directly upon entrance. Entry tickets cost under 30 PLN per person (6.5 EUR).
Where to eat out in Warsaw?
Once you get hungry, consider going to Na Lato for lunch. The restaurant offers a wide selection of delicious dishes, including pizza, fish and chips or burgers. Enjoy your meal at the seasonal outdoor terrace.
What’s more, the trendy restaurant transforms into a club on weekend nights. Open until midnight on weekdays and up to 5 AM on weekend nights.
Rentalmoose order tip: Try Na Lato’s delicious pizzas. Though not a regional dish, it is truly delicious!
The Christmas Market
Are you in Warsaw around Christmas? Be sure to head to the Old Town and attend the charming Christmas Market. Wander around the stalls selling Christmas decorations, mulled wine, juicy grilled sausages, and accessories of all sorts.
Christmas at the Wilanów Palace
Alternatively, go to the garden by the Wilanów Palace to see a magical light display. Admission to the Warsaw Christmas Market is free, meanwhile the Royal Garden of Light at the Wilanów Palace costs around 20zł per person (4.4 EUR).
Warsaw is packed with adventures and things to do, including a vibrant nightlife scene, that’s why Rentalmoose highly recommends spending at least one night in town before departing further.
What are the best hotels in Warsaw?
Luxury seekers should consider checking into the Bristol Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. The historic 5-star hotel features elegant rooms and suites, an indoor pool, a spa and wellness center and a perfect location along Krakowskie Przedmieście, just a short walk away from the Old Town.
Hampton by Hilton
Traveling on a tighter budget? Spend the night at the Hampton by Hilton near the center of Warsaw. The 3-star hotel offers well-equipped rooms, a complimentary breakfast, and a convenient location near the heart of Warsaw all at a reasonable price tag.
Looking for more fun attractions in Warsaw? Check out the Berlin to Warsaw travel guide, where you can find more things to see in town, such as the wonderful medieval Old Town or a trendy eatery in the heart of the city.
Next on your Poland road trip: Mikołajki, 3 hours
Photography by Marcin Lewicki.
Leave Warsaw and hop on the S8 expressway up north to the scenic Masurian Lake District. After around three hours, you will reach the cute resort town of Mikołajki.
The Sailing Village
As Mikołajki is the Polish hotspot for sailing, you should definitely check out the Sailing Village in the harbor. Stroll down the picturesque promenade lined with shops and eateries, step inside one of the restaurants and enjoy fresh fish as you observe sailing boats pulling in and out of the busy harbor.
The public beach
Watersport and yacht charters
Adrenaline junkies will be happy to hear that there are plenty of jetski, boat and paddleboat rentals available in the Sailing Village.
Experienced sailors can also charter a sailing yacht in advance and sail out on the beautiful lake. Most boats can be rented directly from the jetty, though some may require an upfront reservation.
Stare Sady- Peaceful Chillout by the lake
Relax at Stare Sady, a calm lakeshore resort a few kilometers north of the busy center of Mikołajki. Go for a swim at the sandy beach, grab lunch at the local restaurant or head out onto the lake and try flyboarding or waterskiing.
Where to eat in Mikołajki?
For lunch, consider heading to the New Island across next to Mikołajki’s Public Beach. The restaurant is a part of the 5-star Hotel Mikołajki and offers a delicious, upscale dining experience with unbeatable views of the lake.
During the summer, guests can dine in the seasonal outdoor area. The New Island is open daily from 1 PM to 11 PM.
What are the best hotels in Mikołajki?
Looking for the best luxury accommodation in Mikołajki? Check-in at Hotel Mikołajki, an elegant hotel next to the heart of town. The 5-star property features well-equipped rooms with lake views, 2 pools, a spa and wellness center and onsite restaurants, as well as a bar with a pool table and bowling alleys.
Hotel Santa Monica
Hotel Santa Monica is a budget-friendly alternative to some of the more expensive hotels in the area. The 3-star hotel offers spacious rooms and an outdoor pool at an affordable price. A car park is available at an extra cost.
Next on your Poland road trip: Malbork, 2 hours 40 minutes
Photography by Jan Nijman.
Depart Mikołajki and drive west along the twists and turns towards Malbork, a city that is home to the largest castle in the world measured by land area.
The largest castle in the world
The Malbork Castle and fortress is considered the largest in the world measured by land area. Its history dates back to the 13th century when it was constructed by the Teutons. Today, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes curious visitors and tourists.
Admire the castle’s massive facade and the well-preserved fortress. Then, experience a trip back in time as you step inside the authentic medieval interior. Visit tens of historic rooms and magnificent chambers, learn about the castle’s history at various exhibitions or wander around the terraces.
The self-guided walking tour of the castle takes around 3 hours to complete.
Admission costs below 50 PLN per person (11 EUR), with reduced prices in winter and a 10 PLN discount (2.2 EUR) when entering after 5.15 PM.
During the high season between July and August, travelers can attend a guided tour in English every day at 11:30 AM. Click here for more info about tickets.
Next on your Poland road trip: Gdańsk, 40 minutes
Photography by Makalu.
Head north from Malbork for around 45 minutes until you reach the port city of Gdańsk. The two neighboring cities (Sopot and Gdynia), along with Gdańsk make up the Tri-City, one of the main tourist hotspots in the country.
Is Gdańsk worth visiting?
Gdansk is certainly worth visiting! Wander down the cobblestone streets in the Old Town, sunbathe on one of the public beaches or explore some of the other attractions throughout Gdańsk as well as the rest of the Tri-City.
The Old Town
You can’t skip the historical Old Town, the very heart of Gdańsk. Your rental car can be dropped off nearby at one of the designated on-street spots. On busier days, try this car park instead for around 5 PLN (1.2 EUR) per hour.
Stroll around the vibrant streets lined with colorful medieval buildings, make your way down to the Długi Targ (Long Market), the main walking street in the Old Town. Get a photo with the popular Neptune Fountain, then continue along the marina and admire the historical crane.
Remember to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge.
The Pier in Sopot
Drive north along the Tri-City until you reach the famous Pier in Sopot. Stroll down the longest pier in the Baltic Sea (over 500 meters long) and feel the refreshing sea breeze.
Watch the street performers or step inside one of the fish bars, where you can find locally-caught grilled fish. If the weather allows it, you can head to the public beach right by the pier and go for a dip in the sea.
Admission to the pier costs below 10 PLN per person (2.2 EUR).
Bohaterów Monte Cassino Walking Street
You will find the heart of Sopot right opposite the Pier. Walk down the Bohaterów Monte Cassino walking street, lined with vivid pubs, clubs, and restaurants of all sorts. Step inside some of the top attractions, such as the Sopot Wax Museum and the picturesque Crooked House.
Visit the area during the evening to experience the best of the local nightlife, it really is the place to be.
Your rental car can be dropped off at designated on-street parking spots. Beware of the “private car parks” in the area, as they might try to scam tourists and ask for crazy amounts of money.
On a busy day, drop your car off at Sheraton’s underground car park (around 10 PLN per hour, 2.2 EUR).
Where can you find the best food in the Tri-City?
When you get hungry, go for dinner at the Eliksir restaurant and cocktail bar in Gdańsk. The award-winning restaurant is known for food-pairing its unique dishes with creative cocktails, and is considered one of the best places to dine in the entire Tri-City.
Choose from a tasting menu and pick your favorite from a wide selection of beverages. Open from 4 PM onwards on weekdays and 2 PM and 1 PM on Saturdays and Sundays respectively.
The Tri-City is filled with fun activities and spots worth seeing, that’s why Rentalmoose highly recommends spending the night in town.
Luxury travelers should check-in to one of the beachfront hotels in Sopot. My personal favorite is the 5-star Sheraton, located in the very heart of Sopot directly by the pier. Admire the sea views from the hotel’s modern rooms and suites, relax at the indoor pool, book a treatment at the serene spa and wellness center or dine at the restaurant. A private car park is available at an extra cost.
Traveling on a tighter budget? The Smart Hotel in Gdańsk might just be the perfect choice for you. The affordable property features modern rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and a restaurant. A car park is available at an extra cost.
Next on your Poland road trip: Toruń, 1 hour 40 minutes 30 PLN Highway toll (6.6 EUR)
Hop on the A1 highway and drive south, leaving the Tricity behind. Keep in mind that on Summer weekends there can be extremely heavy traffic on the highway, resulting in long queues by the toll points. Drive on weekdays to avoid the traffic.
What is Toruń famous for?
Toruń was the hometown of Copernicus, a famous Polish astronomer who lived in the 1400s. Today, the medieval heart of the city is perfect for a trip back in time, and the historical buildings are often home to museums that showcase local history and culture.
The charming city is often overlooked by international tourists, though it is most certainly worth a visit!
The Medieval Town
When in Toruń, you can’t skip the Medieval Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historical buildings are very well-preserved and the cobblestone streets are perfect to get lost in.
Wander around until you reach the monumental Old Town Hall, which has been turned into a museum after the Second World War. Step inside and walk through the exhibitions located within the wonderful historical interiors.
Travelers can climb the Town Hall tower to get the best view of the city.
Admission tickets cost 15 PLN (3.3 EUR) per person, entry is free of charge on Wednesdays. Tickets to the tower cost an additional 15PLN per person.
The Leaning Tower… Of Toruń
Did you know that Poland has its own equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? It may not be as large or as famous as the one in Italy, though the Leaning Tower of Toruń is a landmark worth visiting nonetheless.
Admire the medieval tower from the outside, sadly the interior is not accessible to the public. From the tower, you can follow the large defensive walls that protected the city in medieval times.
Travelers who wish to learn more about astronomy should pay a visit to the Planetarium. The attraction offers astronomical shows along with two interactive exhibitions.
Check the official website for the daily show schedule. An admission ticket costs below 15 PLN (3.3 EUR) per person.
Next on your Poland road trip: Łódź,1 hour 50 minutes
Photography by Marcin Polak.
Hop back on the A1 highway and continue south. In around 2 hours, you will reach the city of Łódź (or Lodz in English), the last stop on the journey before making your way back to Warsaw.
What can you do in Lodz?
Łódź isn’t a popular tourist destination in Poland, despite being one of the largest cities in the country and just an hour and a half west of Warsaw. The times when Łódź was just an industrial town are long gone, and the city’s countless trendy hangouts and cultural venues prove it.
When in Łódź, you should definitely stroll down Piotrkowska Street, the longest commercial street in the entire country and the cultural heart of the city.
Some travelers may not be willing to walk down the whole street, as it is over four kilometers long. In that case, be sure to at least visit the northern part of the street as that’s where all the busy bars, restaurants and shops are situated.
Visit the street after dusk falls and experience Lodz’s vibrant nightlife in one of the numerous clubs or bars.
Off Piotrkowska Center
When you’re exploring Piotrkowska, be sure to turn into the Off Piotrkowska Center. The trendy venue is home to unique shops and exotic restaurants all located in and around a renovated industrial factory. Even if you’re not in the mood for dining, the spot is worth visiting solely for its cool industrial vibe.
Be sure to drop by Manufaktura, another factory-turned-cultural spot in Łódź. Guests can satisfy their shopping needs at the local shopping gallery, dine at one of the restaurants, learn about the city’s history in the museums or wander around the outdoor area and simply enjoy the architecture.
Your rental car can be dropped off at the car park off Drewnowska Street, there are over 3500 complimentary parking spots.
What is the best restaurant in Łódź?
For dinner, consider going to Anatewka. The unique restaurant just off Piotrkowska Street serves traditional Jewish cuisine. Łódź has historically been a melting pot of four cultures, and the eatery focuses on the Jewish culture and its delicious dishes. Open daily between 11 AM and 11 PM.
Which hotel should you pick in Łódź?
Vienna House Andel’s
Spend the night at the Vienna House Andel’s Lodz, an elegant 4-star hotel near the heart of the city. The property features modern rooms, an indoor pool, a fitness center, a spa and wellness center, and a stylish interior design. A private underground car park is available at an extra cost.
A good budget-friendly alternative in Łódź is the Boss Hotel. The hotel features well-equipped rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and a bar and restaurant. Guests can relax at the seasonal outdoor terrace. A car park is available at no extra cost.
Next on your Poland road trip: Warsaw, 1 hour 30 minutes
Your Polish adventure doesn’t have to end here! Click here for our travel guide that will take you through Kraków, Wrocław, and Poznań before finishing in Berlin.
If you choose to end the trip here, drop off your rental car directly at Warsaw Chopin Airport before leaving. Car rental companies that support airport drop-off can be found via Rentalmoose.
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