To get to the heart of Poland’s past and royal heritage, exploring both the capital Warsaw and southern city of Kraków is imperative. Both are medieval yet cosmopolitan, combining formidable hotels and contemporary restaurants with days of historical discovery. In Kraków, medieval streets lead up to the awe-inspiring Wawel Castle on the hilltop, the long-time home to Polish royalty. In Warsaw, its Royal Route runs through the Old Town to the striking Wilanów Palace, passing 15th to 17th-century churches and palaces that lend Warsaw its outstanding architectural credentials.
Further afield, Polish history lessons continue. The 13th-century Wieliczka Salt Mine offers a fascinating adventure, travelling 100 metres underground to discover the Chapel of St. Kinga, hewn by miners from the rock itself, as well as ethereal subterranean lakes. More sobering and educational still, the network of Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau remains a haunting and poignant commemorative site.