Poland World War II History Tour

A 11 day trip to Poland 
5
5 out of 5 stars
1 reviews

Heroes that will never be forgotten and stories that changed the world, Poland was at the heart of World War II. This in-depth tour travels from the 1939 battlefields of Westerplatte to the uplifting stories of Schindler’s Factory and the Warsaw Ghetto, with Hitler’s hideout, Auschwitz, Treblinka and various other tales in between. Spread across Gdansk, Warsaw, and Krakow, it’s an uplifting 11-day story of a country reincarnated upon the sacrifice of its heroes. For more custom trip ideas, visit the Poland tours section on Zicasso.

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Gdansk, Gdansk Old Town, Museum of the Second World War, Gdansk Shipyard, Westerplatte, Wisloujscie, Ketrzyn, Masuria, Rastenburg, Treblinka, Warsaw, Powazki Cemetery, National Military Museum, Warsaw Uprising Museum, Warsaw Old Town, Museum of History of Polish Jews, Warsaw Ghetto, the Ghetto Wall, Uprising Memorial, Wieliczka Salt Mines, Krakow, Cloth Hall, Wawel Castle, Schindler’s Factory, Auschwitz-Birkenau

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Gdansk – A City Revitalized and Reincarnated After Multiple Wars

Write a tick list of European empires and there’s a good chance Gdansk was in the thick of them all. Prussia’s Teutonic Knights, the Hanseatic League, Napoleon, a monastic military, plus ongoing battles as it sought for Polish independence. Glimpse that history and it’s unsurprising that this was the city where the first shots of World War II were fired. But all that is for later. Touch down, transfer to an Old Town hotel, and go for a welcome drink with your guide. Stop, relax, ease yourself into the Polish atmosphere and admire how such a bloody history can look so beautiful today. The guide will provide an orientation to the streets close to your hotel but there’s nothing too historical today; it’s more a chance to take a stroll and feel the Poland of today.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Gdansk – Relaxed Exploration of Historical Gdansk and its Worldly Importance

On a guided walk through Gdansk, you piece together millennia of architecture and conflict. While the city was mostly destroyed during World War II, getting razed to the ground was nothing new; it had been destroyed countless times before. The modern incarnation is affectionate to past empires, the streets filled with icons from all different eras. You travel along Renaissance walls to Dutch-Mannerist memoirs, into medieval Catholic churches, and around Gothic defensive walls. The cathedral suffered incredible damage and is a good place to bring the story forward to 1939 and the September Campaign. Your guide explains how Gdansk’s status was used by Hitler as an excuse to invade and take over Poland. The story then continues when you explore the port before you return to the heart of the old town, this being a relaxed half day of private touring that can run at a flexible pace.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Gdansk – The Start of the War: Westerplatte, Wisloujscie, and Solidarity Movement

Now the battlefields, where the harbor channel of Westerplatte is where the first shots were fired on September 1st, 1939. That was the Nazi invasion anyway because as you explore more of Gdansk’s war history, there is great evidence of the Soviet Red Army making a later invasion during the same war. Take in the medieval fortress of Wisloujscie, another place of countless quarrels, before an uplifting story in the afternoon: the Solidarity Movement. Gdansk has also been a place of rebellion, and you’ll hear about the heroes that paved the way for the city to become what it is today, especially in and around Gdansk Shipyard.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Ketrzyn to Masuria – Nazi High Command: Hitler’s Haunting Wolf’s Lair

Bunkers lay ruined in the forest, ripped apart by tree roots, shrouded in moss. Bricks have crumbled and nature has somewhat taken over, but the brutality of the regime remains inevident. This hidden Ketrzyn lair is where Hitler commanded his troops throughout a large part of World War II, particularly his ill-fated campaign east into the Soviet Union. It’s been left evocatively untouched, nature reclaiming as Hitler’s base is left in a redolent state of decomposition. Drive here in the morning, and a local guide leads the tour, so many stories emanating from the bunkers, not least a failed 1944 assassination attempt. You spend the rest of the day on the lakeside, Masuria a serene place to capture another side to Poland.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Treblinka to Warsaw – Remembering Poland’s Jews: The Death Camp and Warsaw’s Uprising

Sounds echo hauntingly through the fields of Treblinka. Hundreds of thousands lie beneath the ground, while many thousands of others have had their bones exhumed over subsequent decades. Only in Auschwitz more were murdered, Treblinka a notorious death camp that really brings home the scale of the killing. While it is now a place to remember the events and people, this can be a heart-breaking, almost sickening World War II site. As you travel into Warsaw there’s the need for something more upbeat: the Warsaw Uprising. The city’s population fought the Nazis and their tale is superbly remembered in the new Warsaw Uprising Museum, another site that honors the sacrifices and successes that eventually followed. Understanding this story is the perfect staging point for your first night in the capital city; everything seems more colorful when you recognize the ashes it was all built upon.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Warsaw – Poland’s Dead Heroes: Powazki Cemetery, the Warsaw Ghetto, and Jewish Histories

Next for the heroes, those that you may know the story of and those whose stories are yet to be written into books. There are people like Wladyslaw Szpilman, the pianist who was remembered in Roman Polanski’s 2002 movie. At the Powazki Cemetery, there are also all those people the world has never heard of, those who rebelled and altered the course of history without finding a game. The cemetery is a beautiful place to be, out in nature, amongst the narratives of hope. Those narratives continue in the Warsaw Ghetto, which has been partly left in its World War II state. Bricks are crumbling, factories lay open, ruinous walls glimpse at the devastation. But then there is the Uprising, the hope, and history that are remembered through monuments and shrines to the fallen. Most of this history is a Jewish one, and you can also visit synagogues that have withstood so much, especially from a time when Jews were confined to the walled ghetto.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Warsaw – A New Future: Exploring the Beautiful Old Town

The Ghetto Wall and Uprising Memorial lead you onwards to the Warsaw of today, a vibrant city that has reinvented itself during the last two decades. Gaze up at Stalin’s Museum of Science and Culture to hear the stories of Soviet rule that succeeded Nazi takeover. Wander the medieval Old Town, and discover a proud past that preceded World War II. Visit the Museum of History of Polish Jews for more eye-opening tales that continue into the 21st century. Spend the afternoon in the National Military Museum, where the artifacts may not always be charming but are always eye-opening. The last two days can be challenging as you discover both personal details and the enormous scale of war. Today is very upbeat and fills you with admiration for what Warsaw and Poland have achieved in a post-war context.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Krakow – Discovering Krakow, Poland’s Cultural Heartbeat

Take some time to stop and reflect, the train across Poland showcasing a patchwork of villages and farmlands. Look out of the window and muse on what you’ve experienced as the train rumbles into Poland’s ancient capital. Krakow remains the country’s cultural heart and mostly escaped the ruin of World War II. Back then it was Hitler’s personal lawyer who ruled the city, Hans Frank commanding the Nazi occupation from medieval Wawel Castle. This afternoon, you tour the castle with a local guide and gain an intimate backdrop to the events of the city, coming to see how Krakow is just another microcosm of what occurred all across Poland. Like Warsaw and Gdansk, you have a free evening to stroll the old city, where every building appears to be painted a different pastel color.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Krakow – May They Never Be Forgotten: A Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Haunting and heartbreaking, Auschwitz-Birkenau is perhaps the world’s most notorious historic site. Over a million were murdered here, and the site holds no punches in narrating what took place. Most of it hasn’t been touched, so you walk the lanes of those worked to death, stand in the chambers where Jews were gassed to death, feel the nauseating confinement suffered by those who starved to death. Personal possessions only make it more difficult to take in, piles of them standing as a testament to the 20th-century’s greatest atrocity. This can be a difficult day and it’s often too much to take in. Your tour is flexible and there are no time restrictions, so you can see and understand more should you wish. Krakow provides a counterpoint, one of the city’s cafe terraces a good place to reflect on what you have just witnessed.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Krakow – Uplifting Scenes of Rebellion: Schindler’s Factory and Other Krakow Monuments

Your final day in Poland is wonderfully uplifting. While World War II history will naturally lean towards death and destruction, there are always stories of rebellion to take home with you. After all, without the hope, there would be no today. Spend the morning in Schindler’s former factory, Emalia where 1,200 Jews were employed and saved from the Holocaust. Take in Krakow’s odes to peace times, like the Cloth Hall and a dragon that breathes fire beneath the fortress. Find chandeliers and sculptures crafted from salt in Wieliczka, where the artistic stories continue for nine levels beneath the ground. Then sip on a drink on Krakow’s main square, looking around at one of Europe’s most pristine cities. The history may be harsh, but the future is bright and Poland’s cultural heartbeat remains quite breathtaking.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Krakow – Departure

Today is left free, and you should find Krakow a good place to buy any souvenirs you want to take back. You’ll be transferred to the airport with more than enough time before your departure flight.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,745
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.