Krakow, the jewel of southern Poland, has long been recognised a Central European mecca for budget travellers, alongside Prague and Budapest. While Warsaw remains less popular and its charm less immediate, the Polish capital is a popular gateway city to the Baltic States, Belarus and Russia.
Given the vastness of the Polish countryside, old Catholic villages, the ski slopes of the High Tatra mountains and the riviera along the Baltic coast, Poland might be seen as a Central European cousin to France. Certainly Napoleon, while rampaging across Europe, thought the Grand Duchy of Warsaw worth fighting for:
"Marie, I have revived the name of your country.
It still exists, thanks to me."
Napoleon Bonaparte to his Polish lover,
Marie Walewska, 1806