Every year, the nation of Poland, which is a member of the European Union, attracts around 20 million visitors. That makes it the 19th most visited country in the world! There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful, fascinating country, it’s no wonder it’s so popular with tourists from around the world.
Many people across the globe don’t know a lot about Poland. After all, it doesn’t feature in Western media as much as many other nations. For instance, did you know Pope John Paul II was Polish? If you’re considering a visit to Poland, you might want to find out a few more facts about the country.
Interesting Poland Facts
If you’re looking to learn a little more about Poland, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a list of 14 fascinating facts about Poland to educate you on all the wonders of the nation. Even if you’ve already done a lot of research and reading about the nation, we bet you won’t have heard all of these fun facts!
1. Poland Is Home To Some Amazing Wildlife
Poland is home to some truly mind-blowing animal species. Since the nation offers a range of varied habitats, there are so many different types of animals across the country, some of which you may never have seen or even heard about before.
The vast, primeval forest of Bialowieza is one of the best places to see different animal species. Venturing into the forest is like stepping through a portal and going back hundreds of years to the days when Europe was mostly forest. Among the dense greenery, all kinds of different species thrive, including herds of European bison, the heaviest land animals in Europe!
The trees are home to some slightly more menacing animals too since packs of wolves make their home there. But don’t worry, wolves rarely attack humans, so the forest is safe for visitors, providing they follow basic safety protocol and stick to the track.
2. Poland Has Its Own Seven Wonders
You’ve probably heard of the Seven Wonders of the World. But did you know that Poland has its own Seven Wonders? The list of wonders was put together by the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita in consultation with the general public. Polish people take great pride in their list of unique, historic wonders.
The list of wonders is comprised of:
- Wieliczka Salt Mine, one of the world’s oldest salt mines
- Torun Old Town, a historic settlement in the northwest of Poland and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Malbork Castle, the world’s biggest castle
- Wawel Castle and Cathedral, 13th and 14th-century buildings exhibiting various different architectural styles
- Elblag Canal,
- Zamosc Old Town, a 50-mile canal and one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments
- Krakow Market Square and Old Town, the largest Medieval town square in Europe
This list demonstrates the wide variety of amazing sites across Poland, as well as the diversity of attractions. Each attraction welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, from history buffs to nature lovers.
3. Polish Beer Is Flavored With Syrup
Like most other countries in Europe, beer is extremely popular in Poland. But beer in Poland tends to be a little different from what most visitors expect. One of the most fun facts about Poland is that in the average Polish pub, sweet syrups are often added to pints of beer.
Popular flavors include apple, raspberry, and ginger. While it may not be what visitors are used to, Polish drinkers swear by drinking sweetened beer and many newcomers soon pick up a liking for the sweeter taste.
As well as flavored beer, Polish vodka ( which is considered traditional Polish alcohol) is extremely popular. Some claim vodka was invented in Poland, though that claim is hotly contested by Russians.
4. Some Interesting Sports Are Popular In Poland
Poland is a nation of sports lovers. The population is very active, with many Poles of all ages spending plenty of time in the great outdoors. But along with well-known games like soccer and basketball, some slightly more obscure sports are well-loved in Poland.
One of the most interesting sports trends in the country is speedway. Speedway is a motorcycle racing sport, where bikes with no brakes hurtle around a circular dirt track. Tens of thousands of spectators follow teams in the Polish Extraleague and the atmosphere at matches is electric!
Volleyball is another extremely popular sport in Poland. The Polish national teams have won numerous gold medals in European championships, and games are often held at large soccer stadiums in front of enthusiastic crowds. Whatever the sport, the crowds are just as important as the players, demonstrating a passion for sport rarely seen outside the nation.
5. Many Famous Inventions Originate In Poland
Some of the most interesting facts about Poland concern the country’s contributions to science. Many game-changing inventions originated from inside Poland, or from Polish nationals living elsewhere. Perhaps that’s because Poland has always made education a priority area, forming the world’s first Ministry of Education, all the way back in 1773.
The bulletproof vest, walkie-talkie, paper clips, graphene, and even the toothbrush all have their origins in Poland! One famous Polish scientist is Marie Curie, who conducted trailblazing research on radioactivity, helping the world to understand the effects of radiation and earning a Nobel Prize in physics for her efforts. Although she’s often referred to as French and was indeed naturalized as a French citizen, her birthplace was in Warsaw.
Polish scientists continue to innovate and discover at various top-class research institutions across the nation. Today, university education is free for Polish citizens, and Polish residents benefit from one of the best education systems in the world.
6. Mushroom Foraging Is A Popular Activity Across The Nation
Sports aren’t the only popular outdoor activity in Poland. Many residents of Poland travel the forests and countryside, collecting edible mushrooms with their families.
In September and October, Polish people flock to mushroom hotspots to enjoy finding these woodland delicacies. Later, the mushrooms could go into making a wide variety of yummy dishes, including zapiekanka, also known as Polish pizza. But the main appeal of mushroom picking lies in exploring the forest and spending time with friends and family.
Mushroom pickers use local knowledge to ensure they’re picking safe, edible fungi. Especially in the countryside, many Polish people have a deep connection to the land and know-how to safely collect food from the wilderness.
Learn more about some amazing Polish food with our guide here!
7. The Polish Air Force Had A Big Impact In World War II
One of the proudest parts of Poland’s history is the role their intrepid fighter pilots played in World War II. Poland was the first country to fall to Nazi, Germany and was fully occupied by late 1939. But that didn’t stop many Polish people from fighting, as they fled across Europe before joining another country’s military and returning to fight.
Long after Poland had been occupied, the nation’s pilots continued to fight courageously. Traveling across Europe in the air or on foot, they would eventually end up in various countries, with many finding their way to Britain where they flew for the UK’s Royal Air Force.
During the famous Battle of Britain, 145 Polish fighter pilots fought in the air. One pilot, Sergeant Antoni Glowacki, shot down five German bombers in a single day! These Polish pilots are today honored as some of the bravest and most effective men to see combat against the Nazis.
8. Gdansk Is A City Of Contrasts
Poland has a lot of interesting cities, all with different attractions. But one of the most interesting is Gdansk. Before WWII, the city was an independent city-state, as well as an important trading destination for other countries, meaning it has a unique character and history.
Gdansk is packed full of signs of its fascinating history. The city is home to many Dutch-style buildings, Prussian sculptures, and other nods to its cosmopolitan history. The various museums and galleries spread across the city are another major tourist draw, documenting the eclectic culture which has thrived in the city over the centuries.
Gdansk draws in huge numbers of tourists each year, with many coming to enjoy the varied cultural sites and soak in the atmosphere. From the old town to the docks, there’s something for everyone in this unique city.
9. Poland Is Home To The World’s Largest Castle
Malbork Castle in the town of Malbork isn’t just Poland’s biggest castle. It’s the biggest castle in the entire world! The castle looks like something from a fairy tale, with its beautiful brick spires, towers, and walls. With its riverfront location, it’s one of the most beautiful sites in the country.
The thirteenth-century fortress was built by Teutonic Knights during the Thirteen Years’ War, served as a residence of Polish kings, and was partially destroyed during WWII. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination and stands as one of Poland’s 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Visitors who wish to get up close and personal with this Medieval wonder can explore the grounds and visit the castle museum. There’s plenty of history and folklore to be discovered across these vast grounds.
10. Heavy Metal Is Extremely Popular In Poland
Musically, Poland might be best-known for its classical composers like Frederic Chopin. If that’s all you know about Polish music, you might have an idea that it’s classy and refined. But today, the music scene has a little more edge and many young Poles are fans of death metal.
Artists like Acid Drinkers, Behemoth, and Vader all have hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans. On public transport, it’s not uncommon to hear screamed vocals and heavy guitar riffs pouring out from headphones all around you!
Heavy metal festivals are also common in Poland. One of the most popular is the Mystic Festival, held at the vast Krakow Arena, attracting tens of thousands of metalheads from all over the world.
11. Every Polish Name Has Its Own Holiday!
Take a look at a Polish calendar and you might notice something interesting. Each date is marked with two common Polish given names.
These dates are known as name days and they’re very important in Poland. When a name day rolls around each year, the lucky folk with the matching name will receive gifts, flowers, and congratulations from friends and family!
Some names appear twice or more on the calendar. When this occurs, a person takes the first name day after their birthday to celebrate. It should be noted that this custom is not celebrated in the regions of Upper Silesia and Kashubia.
12. There Are Over A Hundred Bird Sanctuaries In Poland
A key part of Poland’s thriving biodiversity is its bird population. There are hundreds of different avian species to be seen across the country, including some unique to the region.
There are also more than a hundred bird sanctuaries spread across the nation. Visit one of these sanctuaries and you could see rare species like the white-tailed eagle (the national bird of Poland), barn-owl, kingfisher, cormorants, and many more.
Sanctuaries are spread across the country’s various habitats and often have facilities for visitors to hike around the area, or hunker down with a pair of binoculars and see how many different species they can spot.
13. The polish Language is Extremely Difficult
One of the most interesting facts about Poland is that the Polish language is considered one of the toughest languages to learn in the world. What makes it so complicated is that it uses seven cases, and 32 letters, which makes for really complex grammar.
Pair that with how hard pronunciation is and you can see why it is one of the hardest languages to learn in the world. 97 percent of people who live in Poland speak Polish as their first language.
14. Poland Has 17 Nobel Prize Winners
The Noble Prize is one of the most distinguished awards you can win in the world and Poland has won in both Literature and Peace. These include Maria Sklodowska-Curie (physics and chemistry) Henryk Sienkiewicz Joseph Conrad and Frederic Chopin just to name a few.
Most people don’t know that Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and the only person to win it 2 times.
Discover More Facts About Poland
There are so many wonderful contrasts in Poland. From the bustling cityscapes to the untamed wilderness, there really is something for everyone.
Poland is a large country, full of different regions and new places to explore. When you visit the nation, you’ll discover even more facts about Poland first hand!