8 Reasons to Spend New Year’s in Poland
Ahhhh… New Year’s Eve. The final evening to what has either been an incredible and fabulous OR dreadful and awful year. Oh and the promise of what 2017 can bring; the anticipation! As a decently well-traveled, Los Angeles native, now-living-in-Europe, social butterfly, I annually endure the age-old question: “Oh my God… how can I top last year’s NYE?” Never fear friends, I have the answer and it lies in the Central European country of Poland! Here’s 8 reasons why you absolutely have to spend your NYE in Poland!
Krakow Old Town. Photo by: Hans Kool
1) The Poles Know How To Party
As an American, I really thought I knew how to party… until I moved to Poland. These people really can drink and know how to have a good time. From small and affordable traditional shot bars to craft beer and cocktail bars to rooftop nightclubs, Poland has something to offer to any kind of partier. There’s a plethora of the bars and clubs that will be having NYE themed parties to choose from. If you really can’t decide on a venue or just want to hop around bars and clubs, Warsaw and Gdansk have NYE themed pub crawls for an extremely affordable price. And don’t forget… FIREWORKS when the ball drops! There’s nothing quite like ringing in the new year with a glass of champagne and fireworks with a huge palace or castle as the backdrop.
2) Budget Friendly & Easy On Your Wallet
Poland’s currency is the Polish Zloty. Check the exchange rates – trust me, you’ll be thrilled! This makes Poland an extremely affordable destination for many travellers. Combine that with NYE, where pre-fixed menus are usually over-the-top expensive; not in Poland. For example, on the high-end, a nice, pre-fixed NYE meal for two with alcohol will only put you back €45 at most. A standard dinner and drinks will only cost you less than €20 and alcohol is dirt cheap (€1 vodka shots, €2-3 pints of beer, €5 fancy cocktails) and available 24 hours a day. For those of you craving some extravagance but have always been apprehensive due to a budget, you can end 2016 sightseeing and partying around one of Poland’s cities in a limo (starting from €22 per person) or helicopter at a budget-friendly price.
3) Escape The Crowds
We all know that the major European cities like London, Paris, and Berlin are going to be a zoo on New Year’s Eve! Taxis will be nearly impossible to hail and Uber surge prices will be over the roof! Save yourself the aggravation and head over to Poland where most of the crowd are fun-loving locals! To be quite honest, all of the Polish cities are so compact that walking is certainly not out of the question [just remember, no open bottles while walking :)].
Nowy Swiat, Warsaw. Photo by: Adam Smok
4) Explore the Undiscovered and Be Different
Trust me, I get it… Poland? What in the world is there to do in Poland? Coming from Los Angeles, I had the same sentiment, only to be completely proven wrong. The entire capital city of Warsaw was completely destroyed during the Second World War but has been beautifully rebuilt. The Old Town is breathtaking. The city itself is incredibly modern and accessible with a reliable public transportation system (Metro, bus, train, trams). Krakow is also another beautiful city that wasn’t destroyed in the War that has a stunning Old Town with a great nightlife. Other cities of mention include the Northern Seaside city of Gdansk and the Western city of Wroclaw. Both have gorgeous old towns and their own regional flare, which gives the respective cities its own unique charm and character.
5) Christmas Markets
My favorite thing about Europe in the wintertime is hands down, the Christmas Markets. I’ve been to numerous European countries during the holiday season and have scoured many Christmas Markets. Believe me when I say, Poland does not disappoint! You can walk around all bundled up, looking at the lights with a mulled wine in hand, munching on delicious Polish goodies such as pierogies, kielbasa, and pączki (donuts). Check out the Christmas Markets in the Old Towns of Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk- they are absolutely magical!
6) Wintery Wonderland in the Mountains
Bet you didn’t know that you can ski and snowboard in Poland! The southern parts of Poland offer various skiing/snowboarding destinations for the active traveler. Unlike the Swiss and Italian Alps, skiing/snowboarding in Poland is quite affordable. Most of the resorts in Poland will only charge between€20-30 a day on the slopes- really can’t beat that! For those of you non-ski/snowboarders, never fear. You can still immerse yourself in the mountains and have a wintery, snowy time in the picturesque town of Zakopane. Zakopane is THE Polish go-to for a winter getaway. Grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine and ring in the near year all cosied up by the fire in the wintery wonderland of the Polish mountains.
Winter in Zakopane.
7) Ice Skating & Wintery Activities
It’s every European’s must-do activity in the winter time. It’s also a must-do that can get quite pricey. But unlike skating at the Somerset House in London, which will set you back £7.50 or Patinoire du Grand Palais in Paris which ranges between €15-27, skating in Old Town Warsaw is completely FREE! Another great option is skating at The National Stadium in Warsaw, which has 2 different ice rinks and will only cost you less than $5 depending on the day. The National Stadium also has sledding and zip lining for you daredevils. Another great, free option is the Ice Sculpture show that takes place in the old town of Poznan. Many of the other major cities also have ice skating and other winter activities. Check out some festive holiday activities and events in Warsaw and Gdansk that will not break the bank and ensure the warm holiday feeling you’ve been craving.
8) Poland’s Rich History and Traditions
Poland has a very rich and long history, which is not to be overlooked. Either before or after your mad, New Year, champagne and vodka hangover, visit the numerous museums dotted all over the country. If you’re in Warsaw, The Warsaw Uprising Museum and the super interactive Copernicus Museum are both absolute must-do’s. I’m sure when you think castles, Poland’s not one of the first places you think of but actually, there are tons of beautiful castles scattered throughout the country. Check some awesome destinations out here.
Lastly, Poles often throw Sylwester Parties on or around December 31st. This is to celebrate the nameday of Sylwester, which is on NYE. So, end your 2016 with all the Sylwesters and warm, fun-loving people of this amazing country and kick off 2017 Polish-style. As they say in Poland, “do siego roku!”