There are plenty of scenic road trips through Poland. This particular trip focuses on the Giant Mountains and the province of Lower Silesia, south of Wrocaw. But the lakes north of Warsaw and the coastal areas to the west of Gdansk are all spectacular; even if they're just seen from the car window.
Day 1: Wrocaw
The capital of Lower Silesia makes a good base for starting this exploration of Poland's scenic southwest. Once you've had a chance to walk around Wrocaw's Old Town square, the Rynek, take the train, bus, or your own wheels to the nearby city of Wabrzych, home to one of Poland's most spectacular castles, Ksiaz Castle. Wrocaw is also a great base for exploring Poland's two wooden "Peace" churches, one at Swidnica and the other at Jawor. Plan on spending the night at one of Ksiaz Castle's very nice hotels or (if you are driving) at the Bolków Hotel near Jawor, with its excellent restaurant.
Day 2: Jelenia Góra
The regional capital of Jelenia Góra is a natural stopping off point for exploring Karkonosze National Park and Poland's Giant Mountains. But before heading for the hills, stop to admire the town's nearly perfect baroque town square and be sure, too, to have a nut-and-chocolate pancake at the little cafe Kawiarnia Nalesnikarnia on the square. There's a museum here to help you bone up on your Karkonosze history before venturing onward. Spend the night at the Paac Paulinum, a renovated villa deep in the forest that surrounds the town.
Day 3: Karkonosze National Park
Get an early start and head for one of the park's main resorts of Szklarska Poreba or Karpacz. Both are more or less the same: Ramshackle collections of old mountain lodges, hotels, cafes, ticky-tacky gift shops, and plenty of bike- and ski-rental outlets. The drive along the main road between the two towns is absolutely jaw-dropping, cutting through tiny mountain villages, green fields, and here and there, rocky peaks. The drive is fun, but if you've got the time and energy, try one of Szklarska Poreba's mountain bike trails. Around a dozen trails fan out from the town, catering to all levels of ability. You may want to extend your visit here and skip the trip to Kodzko (below).
Day 4: Kodzko
Get another early start and begin the journey east to the town of Kodzko. A trip here feels like a journey back in time; not long ago the towns and villages along the route were part of Germany, and the area retains a strong Teutonic feel. Kodzko itself feels like one of the most remote towns in Poland, stuck in the center of a sliver of land that extends deep into the Czech Republic. Don't miss a tour of the Kodzko fortress and, if you have time, check out the picturesque village of Miedzygórze, another Alpine village on the lip of the mountains. Book a room or at least have a meal at the Hotel Korona, a good value hotel/motel on the edge of Kodzko.
Day 5: Back to Wrocaw
The drive back to Wrocaw is a straight shot north on the E67 highway about 120km (75 miles), or an easy bus ride. Leave about 2 to 3 hours for the journey. On the other hand, if you've got more time, keep pushing east toward Zakopane and the Tatras and more mountain splendor.