The Polish people tend to be friendly, laid back and welcoming
Poland is a Catholic country, and particularly in the
countryside people are fairly conservative and generally quite
devout. If visiting churches, make sure you are appropriately
dressed and covered up to avoid causing offence. In the cities,
attitudes tend to be more liberal.
The home is of great importance in Poland and this is where the
Polish come into their own. If you are lucky enough to be invited
to someone's house, you'll be treated like royalty. Warm
hospitality is renowned and hosts will do everything they possibly
can to make their guests comfortable.
Food and drink
Polish food is very comforting - perfect to warm you up on a
cold winter's day.
Poles take great pride in their domestic pork. Along with
potatoes and cabbage, it makes up the core of the Polish diet.
Bread is also a staple; especially rye bread, commonly served with
Because many Poles are devout Catholics, fish is also widely
eaten, especially on Fridays and during Lent. Salmon, cod, trout
and carp are the most popular choices, and are available year
round. Preserved herring, in a variety of styles, is common as an
appetiser or snack.
There are numerous dishes that are likely to come up on the menu
when eating in Poland, but the following are the most common
Pierogi: ubiquitous on Polish menus, these
flour dumplings are the ultimate comfort food. Savoury fillings
include meat, cabbage and mushrooms, or ground potato and cheese.
Pierogi filled with fruit or sweet cheese are often served for
Kielbasa: kielbasa is the generic word for
sausage in Polish. On a restaurant menu, kielbasa usually refers to
the reddish smoked variety, grilled and served with mustard. White
(biala) kielbasa resembles bratwurst.
Bigos: is a hearty meat and vegetable stew;
there are a number of variations on the theme including pork, lamb
or venison with apples, sauerkraut or mushrooms.
Poland is most famous for vodka found throughout the country in
a variety of infusions and flavours. The older generation favour
clear vodkas drunk neat, while the younger generations tend to mix
vodka with soft drinks. Top quality vodkas include Krakus and
Wyborowa while the most popular brand is Polonez.
Beer remains popular too, and certain Polish brands can rival
the best German and Czech brews. Zywiec is the most ubiquitous
lager beer - although the best beers are likely to be found
regionally, the product of independent or micro breweries.
Its vulnerable location sandwiched between super powers on
either side, Poland's history is one of unrest and invasion.
Despite this, though, Poland has retained a unique cultural
heritage and proved itself as a proud and indomitable nation.
The country's first historically documented ruler was Mieszko I
(c. 935-992), Duke of Polans (a territory roughly equivalent to
The last independent King of Poland abdicated in 1795. The core
of the country became the Grand Duchy of Warsaw under the
protection of Napoleon I. Between 1815 and 1918, Poland ceased to
exist as a politcal entity, and was divided between Russia, Prussia
(then Germany), and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In 1939, Poland had the largest Jewish community in Europe
(almost 3.5 million). This may be why 70% of the Nazi extermination
camps during WWII were located in what is now Poland, including the
three most infamous ones : Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Belzec
(each with an estimated number of deaths over 600,000).
Did you know?
Famous Poles include:
- The classical composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), born in
Poland to a Polish mother and a French-expatriate father (hence his
- Marie Curie (born Maria Sklodowska ; 1867-1934), the first and
only Nobel laureate in two different sciences and first female
professor at the Sorbonne University.
Facts and figures
||Central European Time (UTC +1)
/ 120,696.41 sq miles