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There's no way to cover the entire country in just 1 week, so this itinerary is divided into two itineraries for you to choose between, depending on how you want to spend your time: Warsaw plus Kraków and southern Poland; or Warsaw plus Gdansk and northern Poland.

Southern Poland Itinerary: Warsaw & South

Days 1 & 2: Warsaw

Get settled in and, if you've got the energy, try to arrange for an organized city tour by bus in the afternoon. Warsaw is sprawling, and even if you're not an "organized tour" type of person, this is one place where a bus tour makes sense. Spend the second day with a more leisurely stroll of the Old Town, admiring the "old" look of the place, even though it's barely 30 years old. Warsaw's Old Town was totally destroyed in World War II and rebuilt brick by brick. Don't pass up the chance to see the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, which will help you to understand that spirit of the city. If it's a nice day, try to get out to Lazienki Park. On Sunday, you might even catch the weekly open-air Chopin concert. For a more intense immersion, touch-screen through the multimedia presentations at the revamped Chopin Museum.

Days 3 & 4: Kraków

Drive or take the train to Kraków -- either way, it will take about 3 to 4 hours. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy Poland's most popular travel destination. Dedicate at least 1 full day to the Old Town and the Wawel Castle area, including the castle Cathedral, whose crypt is filled with tombs of Polish kings. Leave another full day for Kazimierz and the sights of the former Jewish quarter.

Day 5: Kraków Daytrip -- Auschwitz or Wieliczka

The former Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau lies about 90 minutes west of Kraków by car; alternatively, you can go by train or bus, or book one of several Auschwitz day tours through the tourist information office. It's a must, particularly if you've never had the chance to visit a Holocaust site in the past. Plan to sleep back in Kraków; after a day of touring the camps, you'll want to come back to a place full of life. If you're traveling with small children and looking for a more suitable day trip, try the Wieliczka Salt Mines, easily reachable from Kraków by bus or train, or via a guided tour booked through the Kraków tourist information office.

Day 6: Zakopane

If you've got time and energy for more travel, hit the bus and head down to the Tatra resort of Zakopane. If you get an early enough start, you'll have enough time for a bit of a mountain walk; otherwise, you'll have to content yourself with a stroll around town and maybe a cable-car ride to the top of one of the peaks. For an offbeat, old-style villa that really captures old Zakopane, book a room at the Pensjonat Szarotka.

Day 7: Return to Warsaw

If you're leaving from Zakopane, take the bus back to Kraków and the train back to Warsaw. Leave at least 2 hours for the journey to Kraków and 3 to 4 more for the trip back to Warsaw.

Northern Poland Itinerary: Warsaw & North

Days 1 & 2: Warsaw

Get settled in and, if you've got the energy, try to arrange for an organized city tour by bus in the afternoon. Warsaw is sprawling, and even if you're not an "organized tour" type of person, this is one place where a bus tour makes sense. Spend the second day with a more leisurely stroll of the Old Town, admiring the "old" look of the place, even though it's barely 30 years old. Warsaw's Old Town was totally destroyed in World War II and rebuilt brick by brick. Don't pass up the chance to see the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising, which will help you to understand that spirit of the city. If it's a nice day, try to get out to Lazienki Park. On Sunday, you might even catch the weekly open-air Chopin concert. For a more intense immersion, touch-screen through the multimedia presentations at the revamped Chopin Museum.

Days 3 & 4: Gdansk & the Tri-Cities

This Baltic Sea port is one of the real highlights of any trip to Poland: a beautifully restored city, rich with history and natural beauty. Don't miss stunning ul. Duga, Gdansk's main shopping thoroughfare; also take in the Amber Museum and a walk along the pier. To understand why Gdansk natives are so proud of their political past, visit the Roads to Freedom exhibition. For a change of scene, track down the giant murals in Zaspa, a housing estate from the Communist era. If the weather is warm, be sure too to spend some time on the beach and greet the sunset from Sopot's long and lively pier; after sunset, Sopot comes alive with drinking and dancing spots.

Days 5 & 6: The Mazurian & Suwaki Lake Districts

Head south and east to visit a nature-lover's paradise: The Mazurian Lake district. This area is famous in Poland for its ample sailing and kayaking opportunities. While you're in the area, stop in at the Wolf's Lair, the site of the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler's life made by his own officers (an episode explored in the 2008 Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie). In the Suwaki Landscape Park, try getting a room at the Jaczno Lodge, a lovely cluster of stone and timber houses hemmed in by woods and the pristine water of Lake Jaczno.

Day 7: Return to Warsaw

Catch the train or bus back to the capital. Depending on where you start from, the trip back could take the better part of a day. If you're driving, allow time to hit plenty of traffic on your way into Warsaw.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.