Polish Eats: What to Eat and Where to Get It

In my previous post, I went over all the things to do and where to stay in Poland. And now, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite parts of traveling…THE FOOD.

I was fairly well-versed in Polish food before traveling to Poland because my grandmother would make it at special occasions and holidays, so I was really excited to try all of that food, plus some other classic polish foods that I researched before going. I was really happy because the food lived up to all my expectations!

Main Dishes

Pierogi: If you don’t know what a pierogi is…maybe you shouldn’t be traveling to Poland. (Joking.) It’s a potato and cheese, cabbage, and/or meat filled dumpling topped with butter, sour cream, bacon or fried onions! They can also be filled with a fruit like blueberries or strawberries for dessert. You can get these at literally 90% of the restaurants in Poland.

  • Get pierogi in Zakopane at: “Restauracja Rusałka”
    Ok, so I’m not sure if this is the actual name of the place, but it is attached to the linked guesthouse/hotel. Outside of a Michelin Restaurant we ate at, I think this was the best food I had in Poland. The restaurant is kind of a hole in the wall place, but we got meat pierogi, potato and cheese pierogi, and a fried chicken breast plate. They all came with boiled potatoes (which were somehow just AMAZING) and a side cabbage salad (also AMAZING). This is maybe a 10 minute walk from our Zakopane hotel Villa Belweder and it closes fairly early – I think around 7pm. So stay out of the main city, have an early dinner, and hit up the hotel spa for the evening.

zakopane food

  • Get them (and a beer) in Przemyśl at: Piwiarnia Warka
    Since not many folks in Przemyśl speak English, we somehow managed to communicate our order to them. It was a bit confusing because it wasn’t clear if you order food at the table or inside and we were all getting a little hangry. I also accidentally ordered 0% alcohol beer here, so be aware that is a thing. Surprisingly not that bad. (You order everything at the bar inside btw.)

warka beer

Bigos: Bigos is a hunter’s stew that mostly consists of shredded cabbage and kielbasa and thick bacon-like cuts of meat. It’s served with a brown rye type bread. If you don’t like cabbage, you will not like this.

  • Get bigos & pierogi in Warsaw at: Gościniec Polskie Pierogi
    You can get like 20 different kinds of pierogi here. I tried bigos here and blueberry pierogi with sour cream and they were both great.

Galumpki/Gołąbki: I think the former is the Americanized spelling. It’s basically meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves and topped with a tomato sauce. 10/10 would recommend.

Kopytka: Basically a potato dumpling, but different than a pierogi – kind of more like a gnocchi. I wasn’t to jazzed about these. Even soaked in butter they didn’t have much flavor.

  • Get galumpki and kopytka at: Kuchina n Doroty
    Great restaurant for traditional Polish food

Fried Potato Pancakes and Goulash: Goulash sounds scary, but it’s just a meat stew. These usually come together and they’re so, so good.

  • Get it in Krakow at: Kuchina n Doroty
  • Get it in Zakpane (along with other regional foods and a beer flight) at: Ciupaga 

Borscht: Borscht is a beet based soup. Not going to lie, I had never tried borscht before Poland and I’m not a huge fan of beats. However, borscht was delicious!

Traditional Polish Roast Duck with Apples or Kaczka Pieczona z Jabłkami

  • Get borscht and duck in Krakow at: Restauracja Sasiedzi
    We randomly came across this Michelin Star Restaurant and decided to stop because none of us had ever been to a Michelin Star Restaurant before and it was SUPER cheap. It might have been one of the greatest meals I’ve ever eaten.

Kielbasa: Polish pride and joy. One of the most delicious sausages you will ever eat. Also a popular street food – get it on a roll with onions.

Street Foods

Zapiekanka: This is essentially a French bread pizza with fun toppings. Corn, cucumber, ham, and mushrooms seemed to be the “traditional”, but in Krakow you can get it with a thousand different combinations. My favorite part is that it’s topped with ketchup. YES KETCHUP. AND IT’S AMAZING. Apparently putting ketchup on pizza is popular because we went to a pizza restaurant in Przemyśl and everyone was putting ketchup on their pizza. So as a ketchup lover, I happily lathered up my pizza in ketchup. It was a little different than American ketchup – a bit sweeter, so I feel like it went a little better with pizza than the ketchup I’m used to here in the US.

  • Get it in Krakow at: Mrs & Mr Zapiekanka
    They have like 30 different variations of zapiekanka and it’s amazing.


  • Get it in Przemyśl at: Mega Zapiekanka Stand
    A tiny little stand toward the beginning of the main street area. Traditionally  zapiekanka have mushrooms on them, but I hate mushrooms. You can order about 4-5 different kinds of zapiekanka here, luckily including ones without mushrooms.


Obwarzarnek: This is like if a bagel and a pretzel had a baby. Served topped with poppy seed, sesame seed, or salt. They have these in carts all over Krakow’s Main Market Square.


Obwarzarnek in Krakow’s Old Market Square. There are many small carts selling these!

Oscypek: Smoked sheep’s cheese. They usually serve this with cranberry jam from a small kiosk or cart. I saw this in Warsaw and then again in Zakopane where it’s literally everywhere. Very delicious.


Baked Goods

Pączki: Poland’s national donut! Essentially a jelly donut, but more delicious


Babka: The babka I grew up eating has a sweet, light, almost citrus flavor and has more of a bread consistency. There’s also another kind of babka that can be made with chocolate and has a heavier consistency. We were able to find both.

Makowiev (Poppy seed roll)


The taller one is a babka and the flatter one is the poppy seed roll.

Sernik: Polish cheesecake

  • Get it in Zakopane (with a beer) at: Roma
    Roma a small place at the foothills of hiking to waterfalls. There’s outdoor seating and we enjoyed a sernik and beer after our hike.

sernik and beer

Chrusciki: This was the only thing on my list to eat that we didn’t find. These are kind of like very thin crunchy dough sticks and are popular for special occasions because they’re hard to make. Almost like the outside of a cannoli.

Non-Polish Foods to Eat in Poland


  • Get it (with a Bloody Mary) in Przemyśl at: Mamma Mia Pizza
    Let me tell you, this was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. Maybe it was because it went so well with the ketchup Polish people put in pizza, but damn it was delicious. Also had my first taste of Polish vodka in a Bloody Mary.


  • Get them in Przemyśl at: Kebab Reina
    As in a lot of Europe, kebab places are really popular in Poland. We went to this one twice and it was delicious. Get the wrap.


  • Get them in Krakow at: Beef Burger Bar or Well Done 
    Well Done is an American restaurant that has everything from burgers to fajitas to ribs to pancakes.


I love getting random snacks in foreign places, so don’t forget to grab fun snacks on your road trips or just while you’re walking around.



About six and then again two years ago I took two separate trips to Germany where I was able to see the dorfs (villages) where my grandmother and grandfather lived before they immigrated to the United States in the 1920’s. My mom still keeps in contact with some of her cousins and relatives there, so we were able to see them, and I was able to see some cool family history like the house where my grandfather lived before he moved to the United States and the house of my great-grandparents. It was a very cool experience to see your family history come alive and be in the actual place where your recent ancestors lived.

The other (mostly) half of me is Polish, so I wanted to do the same for Poland. Unfortunately the family history there is not as simple/known, so it was a bit more tricky to pinpoint an exact location. Regardless, I still wanted to go and that is what prompted my cousin and I (and our partners) to take a vacation to Poland!

Poland was a wonderful place to visit. There is enough to do that you won’t be bored, but also not so much to do that you’ll be overwhelmed by everything you need to see. There is a tourism infrastructure in the larger cities, but it’s not overrun by tourists. Poland gets around 15 million tourists a year, while somewhere like France gets 85 million. The people are friendly and many in the larger cities spoke English. If you greet people with a “Dzień dobry!” (Hello!) you will probably get spoken to back in Polish, which is a great thing! By the end of the trip I was able to do some very basic communications…aka mostly ordering food and saying hello/thank you. Poland was also so, so cheap. It’s a member of the EU, but still uses its own currency, the złoty, which currently has an exchange rate of 1 złoty to $.25 USD. Prices are not inflated and you can get a full meal + beer and water for around $8 USD.

The easiest place to fly into if you’re coming from the US is probably Warasaw. We all flew into Warsaw, traveled to Przemyśl (which is where our great-grandfather is from and five hours southeast from Warsaw), Krakow (2 hours west from Przemyśl) and parted ways. My cousin and her husband went to Austria, while my fiance and I went to Zakopane (2 hours south from Krakow). We drove back up to Warsaw (5 hours from Zakopane) to get our departing flight. Because of our stop in Przemyśl and the fact that there was four of us, we decided to rent a car at the Warsaw airport the day we were departing Warsaw to go to Przemyśl. Driving in Poland was pretty simple, but people do drive very fast and will be on your bumper if you don’t move out of the left lane fast enough!

Because this post is so long, check out my other post solely about Polish food and all the yummy food we tasted on our trip!



We stayed in Warsaw for two nights and one full day. I felt this was enough to see everything I wanted to see in Warsaw (except the Neon Museum – was a little bummed to miss that), but I could have stayed another day to see ALL the main points of interest. Unfortunately Warsaw was 80% destroyed during WW2, so in terms of history, there is not much to see. The city itself is very modern and there are plenty of parks, museums, and the public transportation is excellent.

What To Do

Old Town, Royal Castle & St John’s Cathedral – Old town was fun to walk around and the Royal Castle and church were really beautiful. There are lots of restaurants you can eat outside at or grab a drink. I tried Polish wine here and it was the only place we went to where I saw Polish wine on the menu (vodka is more their thing).


Inside the Royal Castle


Fotoplastikon Musuem – very small and cheap museum that uses an old machine to show you old pictures in “3D.”


Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


River Walk – simply walk along the river. By our hotel on Saturday night there were a bunch of food trucks and people playing music outside

A few things we didn’t get to see – Łazienki Królewskie Museum & Park – Church of the Holy Cross – Neon Museum- Warsaw Uprising Museum – Palace of Culture and Science

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Warsaw River View. It was a very simple city hotel, which is what we wanted. You get a wonderful breakfast included and it was clean and in a good location.


Przemyśl castle.jpg

Przemyśl isn’t exactly the hottest tourist destination in Poland, although it does have its own tourism app and public wifi! It’s essentially on the boarder of Poland and Ukraine and we decided to go here because it is the hometown of our great grandfather. Not only that, Przemyśl was really cool because it’s one of the oldest settlements in Poland and it’s clearly not heavily visited by non-Polish tourists. This is what made it one of my favorite parts of the trip because I felt like we got to see what “real Poland” looks like. We arrived in the late afternoon on Sunday and left for Krakow Tuesday morning.

What We Did

Fort Borek – This is a pre-WWI fort that you can walk around. It was very quiet and we had the entire thing to ourselves which was pretty cool. On our quests to find these forts and in search for another fort we ended up driving through a legit cornfield for wayyyy longer than we should have. They were doing road work on the normal route, so we decided to take a different way that Google maps had mapped as roads, but they were definitely not real roads. So don’t be fooled. To get to Fort Borek I think you do have to go on a dirt road for a little, but it’s not long and also is a normal dirt road, not through corn 🙂

Przemyśl Underground – These are 15th and 16th century tunnels. The whole thing will take you around 30 mins and is in the center of town. It’s an interesting part of Przemyśl’s very old history.

Franciscan Church in Przemyśl – Baroque church right in the town square. I was surprised at how ornate it was inside given the fact that Przemyśl is a smaller city.


Casimir Castle – Not much to see inside, but you can go up to the top and see really nice views of the city.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at this Airbnb. I would highly recommend. It was a really nice Airbnb and was about a 10 minute walk from the city center.



What We Did

Main Market Square (Rynek Główny) – There are lots of restaurants where you can sit outside (I’d recommend only getting a drink though; they are most likely very touristy), get an obwarzarnek, and do some shopping. We also did a vodka tasting and visited the famous Polish chocolate company’s store E. Wedel. It’s worth a stop! You can also see traditional horse drawn carriages and do all your souvenir shopping in the yellow building in the middle of the square. In this huge building there are tons of vendors with all kinds of Polish handicrafts. Out of all the places we visited, I would recommend getting souvenirs here. Zakopane also has a decent market, but I thought the one in Krakow was the best.


Obwarzarnek in Krakow’s Old Market Square. There are many small carts selling these!

Plac Nowy – really cool if you like flea markets and street food. Here is where we got our zapiekanka in Krakow. There’s also a meat stand with kielbasa as well as an ice cream stand. There’s a variety of different vendors selling things from carved rolling pins (so your pin will make a design in the dough) to traditional flea market type stuff, including some very “interesting” WW2 memorabilia (German stuff…if you catch my drift).


St Mary’s Basilica – I’ve been to a million churches in Europe at this point and I must admit, this one is pretty cool.

Wawel Royal Castle – We didn’t end up going inside, but walked around. There is a legend of a Krakow dragon that if you go inside I’m sure you’ll learn more about because he allegedly lives in the castle. Outside the castle on the water-side, there’s a iron statue of the dragon that randomly spews fire! We saw the fire, but when we waited around for a few minutes, he didn’t do it again.

Polish Aviation Museum – this is a bit outside the city so we saw it on our way out. It was a really comprehensive Aviation Museum with a gigantic outdoor lot filled with old planes. Kevin said it was the best aviation museum he’s ever been to because it had a bunch of old WW2 era planes, new planes, and a bunch of design failures, so you got to see plane designs you wouldn’t normally see.

Auschwitz-Birkenau – Auschwitz-Birkenau is an intense place to visit, but it’s also an important part of history. Words cannot describe visiting a place like this. It is solemn, sad, and shocking, but there’s also a juxtaposition that it was a beautiful day, with trees and green grass. But then you go inside and see the rooms filled with hair, shoes, and other possessions of the victims as well as their pictures on the walls with their arrival and death dates, and it brings the reality back that this happened. It’s extremely important to remember what happened here and to keep this part of history preserved, albeit dark and devastating, so future generations understand that this happened.

You can take day tours, but we had a car so we were able to drive ourselves. I believe you need to reserve a tour in order to see the entirety of the monument and museum. A few tips – plan to get there at least a half hour before your tour. Your tour will leave on time and if you’re late, they will make you catch up to that tour. You’ll miss some important parts and also be “those people” in a place you definitely do not want to be “those people.” We were running a little behind because of traffic and road construction that caused us to miss our exit and instead of letting us join the next tour, they had someone find our tour guide and walk us through to meet them. Considering it was very crowded, it was kind of a long and awkward walk/push through a ton of people.

You also have to go through a security line that includes a metal detector and are only allowed to bring a very small bag. Think like a 12” thin bag. I had to check my bucket bag I usually travel with.


Other things to do we didn’t get to: St Francis’ Bascilica – Oskar Schindler’s Factory -Wieliczka Salt Mine – Kościuszko Mound

Where We Stayed

Because we were traveling as a group, we decided to stay in an Airbnb again. Personally if I’m traveling with a group of people, I prefer to stay at a place where we can hang out and decompress together for at least a few of the nights. This Airbnb was in Kazimierz, which is Krakow’s historic Jewish Quarter. It’s right by the Plac Nowy flea market and a bunch of cool restaurants. It was large and clean. If you have a car in Krakow, you can easily park it on the street. It was a little confusing at first to figure out where exactly you can park it (since all the signs are in Polish), but we mostly just followed the lead of other cars by parking in between people who were already parked. You need to pay for the day to park, but the good news is you can pay for a few days in advance and just put the ticket on your dashboard. I think it was around $10 USD/day to park.



zakopane 1

Zakopane wasn’t actually my first choice of mountain destination in Poland because it seemed a little built up and touristy. The original plan was to visit the Table Mountains, but Kevin requested air conditioning and absolutely reliable wifi, so I compromised and we visited the Tatra Mountains in Zakopane instead. It reminded me a bit of Poland’s Lake Tahoe or Yosemite. It wasn’t as touristy as I thought and we quite enjoyed it. We were able to get some hiking in and overall enjoy the scenery. If you’re going in the winter and are into skiing, there is also plenty of skiing in this region as well.

What We Did

Siklawa Waterfalls & Tatra National Park – It’s about a 50 minute hike to the foot of the waterfalls into the Tatra Mountain National Park. I’m not sure if there just wasn’t enough rain, or we just didn’t get close enough to see them. It was still a nice two hour total hike and we got to see some beautiful views and scenery. For the more serious hiker, there are TONS of hiking trails further into the mountains as well.

Gubałówka Cable Car – It will take you up to the top of the mountain so you can see some really beautiful views. There are also restaurants as well as a bunch of souvenir stands. (The souvenir stands are better at the bottom of the mountain though.) There’s another cable car on the opposite side of Krupówki Street as well – Mount Kasprowy Wierch Cable Car – but I read that one can have very long waits, so I decided to with Gubałówka. There was essentially no wait and it went very quickly.

cable car 1

Market & Krupówki Street – Krupówki street is great for shopping. There are a bunch of regular clothing stores, restaurants, and souvenir shops. At the food of hill (by the Gubałówka cable car) and Krupówki Street there is a huge market that has a bunch of things like traditional scarves, crocheted lace, wood carvings, blankets, and lots of oscypek.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Villa Belweder. It was definitely one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at. (I think its rival is the resort I stayed in in Nha Trang, Vietnam.) The room was huge and decorated with unfinished pine. It was quiet, the breakfast was delicious, and there was a free spa you could use in the evenings. They were also very accommodating for a minor request I had regarding room choice, which I appreciated. It is about a 25 minute walk from the town center/happenings, but the walk is so nice that we didn’t mind. In fact, I walked it round trip four or five times over the course of our two days in Zakopane.

Back to Warsaw

After our time in Zakopane we drove on Sunday for most of the day to get back up to Warsaw. We stayed at Airport Hotel Okecie this time since we planned to get back to Warsaw around 8pm and our flight was the next morning at 6am. They have a shuttle and also a really nice restaurant where I had a mouth-watering udon noodle curry.

We really loved Poland and I think you will too. It’s cheap, has all the charm of Europe, but with a little bit more edge. We went around Labor day and the weather was great around that time.


Knowing a lot about Polish culture, I had an aggressive souvenir list. I typically try to stick with jewelry, a piece of art, and/or a Christmas ornament or food as things to bring back for myself or others. There are a lot of cool things you can get in Poland, so here’s my list. I was ready to purchase everything, but realized that my grandparents and parents have a lot of these things already, also from Poland. As dark as it sounds, I’ll eventually inherit these one day, so I took it easy on certain things, like the wood carvings. For instance, I saw a carving of the Polish eagle and my Dad pretty much has the same exact thing.

Painted and/or carved wooden eggs – these are displayed in homes around Easter. I only saw these at a few stands in Krakow’s Main Market Square, so get them there.

Wood carvings – there are a TON of beautiful wood carvings all over Poland. You can get boxes, sculptures, plates. These are really popular in Krakow and Zakopane. I got a carved and painted plate, which is something my grandmother had also brought back for my mom.

Ceramics and Crystal table settings are very popular. There were a lot of these in the Krakow main market square.

Amber jewelry is all over the Krakow market. I already have some of this, so I didn’t get any while I was there.

Anything that says “POLSKA” – I really wanted a hoodless sweatshirt that said one of the cities we visited, but I wasn’t able to find one (not even at the airport!), so I left a little disappointed. There were lots of tshirts and hats though. We did get a really cool beer glass that says “Krakow: Satisfaction Guarantee” (yes, that is exactly what it says) at the Plac Nowy flea market.

Dolls – There are these Polish porcelain dolls (or plastic, too) dressed in traditional Polish outfits. Are you surprised to hear that I already had these as well? You can also get Polish nesting dolls – they are very similar to the Russian and Ukranian ones you are probably familiar with.

Ornaments – For some reason I was expecting a lot more Christmas stuff (even though we went in September), but there wasn’t much. A few places in the Krakow market had really nice ornaments, but there were NONE in Zakopane.

Traditional Polish outfits! These looked like they were mostly kid sized, but there were definitely some adult ones too. My cousin and I’s grandmother used to dress us and our brothers up in these as kids (our parents were also subjected to this as children)!


Please note: These are based off my own experiences and are not to be taken as absolute facts.  As with anything in the world, things are subject to change at any time and your experience might not be the same as mine.  Also, all of these pictures are my own and owned by me.  Please contact me if you would like to use them.