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Poland

Independent Warsaw and Krakow: Capitals Past and Present

Program No. 18187RJ
Experience the wonders of Poland as you stroll cobbled paths and enjoy the country’s rich social and cultural history, discovering a trove of museums, monuments and cafes at every turn.
Length
9 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,099
Flights start at
1,050

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jun 14 - Jun 22, 2023
Starting at
2,099
Sep 13 - Sep 21, 2023
Starting at
2,099
Sep 28 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,099
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jun 14 - Jun 22, 2023
Starting at
2,529
Sep 13 - Sep 21, 2023
Starting at
2,529
Sep 28 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,529

At a Glance

Reduced to rubble during World War II, the city of Warsaw is once again a proud capital following a painstaking restoration and reconstruction made possible by the hard work of the Polish public. Discover this inspiring urban success story firsthand, then move from political capital to cultural capital as you continue the journey amid the impressive art collections and cozy restaurants of Krakow, where a maze of cobblestone alleyways contains the largest concentration of historical monuments and cultural treasures in Poland.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles and 2 hours per day with periods of standing. Getting on and off the subway/motorcoach. Terrain includes cobblestones and uneven ground. Some stairs to negotiate.
Independent City Discoveries
Independent City Discoveries
Learn with a Group Leader and enjoy educational programming while also getting independent time to explore on your own. Most Independent City Discoveries include lectures, self-guided excursions and passes for public transit and museums.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy a concert featuring the works of great composer and Polish native son, Frédéric Chopin.
  • With an expert in Krakow, discover the Market Square, where the surroundings have remained unchanged for almost 700 years.
  • Hear a lecture on Jewish Renaissance in Poland, then set off to experience Krakow’s Jewish Kazimierz district and its modern-day renaissance.

General Notes

Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "Budapest and Prague: Capital Cities and Jewels of Central Europe" (#21707) for even more learning in Europe!
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Culture Smart! Poland
by Greg Allen
A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.
Poland
by James Michener
In his epic style, Michener presents the sweep of Polish history from the earliest days to 1983 in this massively researched novel.
Poland Map
by Michelin Travel Publications
A self-folding, full-color map of Poland at a scale of 1:700,000, updated annually.
The Zookeeper's Wife
by Diane Ackerman
A marvelous storyteller, Ackerman recalls madcap, bohemian Warsaw before WWII, the devastation of the city by Nazi bombs in 1939, the horrors of the holocaust and heroic efforts in the resistance in this moving tale of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, directors of Warsaw Zoo.
Eyewitness Guide Poland
by Eyewitness Guides
An informative, visual guide to the history, culture and attractions of Poland.
Kingdom of Auschwitz
by Otto Friedrich
Otto Friedrich's slim book is an intensely personal account of the infamous Auschwitz death camp. He covers the entire history of Auschwitz in short chapters punctuated with eyewitness accounts and testimonies.
The Essential Guide to Being Polish
by Anna Spysz, Lech Walesa (Foreword)
"I invite you on this journey into the depths of the Polish soul," writes Lech Walesa in this nuanced guide to Polish history and culture. Co-author Anna Spysz is the former editor of the Krakow Post. One in a new series of cultural handbooks by New European Books.
Heart of Europe, The Past in Poland's Present
by Norman Davies
A history of Poland in reverse chronology from the Solidarity Movement to early civilization, condensed from the author's definitive three-volume history.
The Magic Lantern, The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague
by Timothy Garton Ash
With a chapter each on Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague, this eyewitness account by an astute journalist and historian shows these vibrant cities during a time of great change.
The Romani Gypsies
by Yaron Matras
Matras delves into the history of the Romani, an ancient and misunderstood European culture that has survived through modern times.
Krakow Map
by ITMB
A folded city map of Krakow with an inset map of the city center at 1:10,000, along with a metropolitan area and regional map.
Chopin in Paris, The Life and Times of the Romantic Composer
by Tad Szulc
A biography of the famed composer Fryderyk Chopin.
Lonely Planet Polish Phrasebook
by Lonely Planet
This handy pocket phrasebook includes pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary.
Polish Writers on Writing
by Adam (EDT Zagajewski (Editor)
Featuring 20th-century writers, including Nobel Prize winners Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska, this collection captures the brilliance and originality of a literary culture considered one of the most important and influential of our time.
The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski
This acclaimed novel is based on the author's own experiences in World War II Poland. The often disturbing account of a young Jewish boy's journey through rural Poland as he tries to evade everyone from SS officers to anti-Semitic Polish peasants will leave an indelible impression.
Poland, The First Thousand Years
by Patrice M. Dabrowski
A fluidly written, reliable history of the Polish state from the late medieval period to the 20th century, including the nation’s complicated and controversial relationships with oppressors like the Prussian Empire the Soviet Union.
To Begin Where I Am, The Selected Prose of Czeslaw Milosz
by Czeslaw Milosz, Madeline G. Levine (Editor), Bogdana Carpenter (Editor)
Culled from a lifetime's worth of publications, these essays by the Lithuanian-born Polish poet and Nobel laureate Milosz address the Polish experience at home and abroad in the 20th century.
The Spies of Warsaw
by Alan Furst
Alan Furst sets his richly atmospheric tale of espionage and love squarely amidst the leafy boulevards, grand squares, stately mansions and elegant cafes of the glittering 1937 capital. With a map on the inside covers, this isn't just a gripping WW II-era thriller, it's a guide to Warsaw of today.
Kaleidoscope of Poland, A Cultural Encyclopedia
by Oscar E. Swan
This encyclopedia of all things Polish features close to 900 entries and 600 images covering Polish customs, folklore, history, significant individuals, language, geography and more. An informative reference and handy supplement to the traditional guidebook.
A Traveller's History of Poland
by John Radzilowski
A wide-ranging, accessible and effectively condensed brief history of Poland through the 1990s. With a useful chronology and historical gazetteer, this book marches confidently through the centuries.
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9 days
8 nights
10 meals
7 B 1 L 2 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Warsaw, Check-in, Orientation Welcome Dinner
Warsaw
D
Hotel Mercure Warsaw Grand

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation. 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically a 3-course set menu and lunches on this program are typically a 2-course set menu. Breakfasts will offer a typical European-style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea, and water. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals. This is a Road Scholar Independent program. It is designed for participants who want high-level Road Scholar instruction, a few group activities, and who are capable and comfortable setting out on their own for a significant part of the day/night. There will be several hours each day of educational content. Most meals will be on your own (excluded from the program cost) to enjoy what you like, and there will be substantial free time for personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Before dinner, we will have an orientation bus excursion of the Old Town.

Dinner: We will enjoy a 3-course set menu welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Warsaw Old Town, Free Time
Warsaw
B
Hotel Mercure Warsaw Grand

Activity note: Getting on/off subway, motorcoach. Walking/standing up to 2 hours. Some stairs to negotiate.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: We will enjoy a field trip by bus and on foot, seeing sites including Lazienki Park, the Royal Route, the Chopin Monument, and the Palace on the Water, before driving along the Royal Route to the city center to see the Ghetto Monument.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. For art lovers, we recommend the National Museum, a house of art from ancient to contemporary. Warsaw's historic center is home to the Royal Castle, a symbol of Warsaw and of Poland herself, as well as the charming Palace on the Water. The former residence of Polish kings and the seat of parliament, it was deliberately razed to the ground by the Nazis during WWII, then subsequently reconstructed with extraordinary painstaking care, thanks to the generosity of the Polish public. At 5:00 p.m., meet for a hospitality hour at the hotel. Your Group Leader will be happy to help you organize your free time, or answer any questions you may have.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: We will attend a Chopin concert at Szuster Palace. In Poland, Chopin’s music defines a nation and the country's long struggle for independence, described by German composer Robert Schumann as “cannons hidden among blossoms.” No one before Chopin, nor anyone since, has been able to create a sonic universe from the melodies and rhythms surrounding Poles.

DAY
4
Lectures on Polish Economy, Society, & Democracy, Free Time
Warsaw
B
Hotel Mercure Warsaw Grand

Activity note: Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: At the hotel, we will enjoy a discussion and lecture on current Polish economic and social challenges. After a break, we will then take in a second lecture on the unique Polish experience of the second half of the 20th century, including the influence of Catholicism, Communism, and democracy. At 11:00 a.m., meet for a hospitality hour. Your Group Leader will be happy to help you organize your free time, or answer any questions you may have.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Free Time. Suggestions include the Wilanow Palace, a precious monument of the Baroque, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and the Warsaw Rising Museum, an homage to the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 and where the Polish spirit and pride is on full display.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Transfer to Krakow, the City of Art & Culture
Krakow
B,L
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Luggage will be transferred via van directly to the Krakow hotel; only hand luggage needed. Walking 1/3 of a mile. Riding by train approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and transfer via train to Krakow, which retains the largest concentration of historical monuments and cultural treasures in Poland. Upon arrival in Krakow, we’ll enjoy an expert-led walk of the old town, including the Market Square and St. Mary’s Church.

Lunch: We will enjoy a light lunch at a local restaurant in Krakow.

Afternoon: We’ll settle into the hotel, then attend a discussion and lecture at the hotel on Krakow as a center of art and culture.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Krakow: Jewish Renaissance in Contemporary Poland, Free Time
Krakow
B
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Getting on/off subway. Walking/standing up to 2 hours. Some stairs to negotiate.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: At the hotel, we will take in a lecture about the Jewish renaissance in contemporary Poland. After the lecture, we’ll set out on an expert-led field trip to Kazimierz, the ancient heart of Jewish Krakow, via public transportation. For almost 700 years, Krakow was home to a large Jewish community. In the past, Kazimierz was a distinct town with its own market square, town hall, and Poland’s oldest synagogue, called the Old Synagogue. Its thriving culture blossomed in the 16th century. Following the tragedy of WWII, Kazimierz was deserted, but today enjoys a far-reaching renaissance.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Free Time. You may want to explore the rest of Kazimierz.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Great Polish Masters of Art, Free Time
Krakow
B
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Getting on/off subway. Walking/standing up to 2 hours. Some stairs to negotiate.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: At the hotel, we will have a discussion and lecture about the great Polish masters of art, such as Jan Matejko, Daniel Schultz the Younger, and Piotr Michalowski. After the lecture, we will enjoy an expert-led field trip to Wawel Hill via public transportation. This fortified architectural complex is a testament to the golden age of Krakow in the “City of Kings.”

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Free Time. Suggestions include the Mehoffer House Museum, Matejko House Museum, and Royal Castle and Cathedral. You may like to visit the National Museum and take in its current exhibitions.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
The Great Personalities of Poland, Free Time
Krakow
B,D
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Getting on/off subway. Walking/standing up to 2 hours. Some stairs to negotiate.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: At the hotel, we will have a discussion and lecture on the great personalities of Poland, including people like Chopin, Marie Curie-Sklodowska, Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, Czeslaw Milosz, and Wislawa Szymborska, who changed Poland and the world. At 11:00 a.m., meet for a hospitality hour. Your Group Leader will be happy to help you organize your free time, or answer any questions you may have.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Free Time. True papal enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Archdiocesan Museum, located in the former home of Pope John Paul II. The Collegium Maius was one of Europe's first universities and boasts astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus among its alumni.

Dinner: We will enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: During dinner, we will enjoy a klezmer concert. The rest of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
Krakow
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.