Many people wonder whether to go on vacation to the Polish seaside or to Croatia or to another country on the Mediterranean Sea. This dilemma should be resolved methodically, because it all depends on what exactly we expect. Some people want a break from work, others want to bask in the sun, and others are looking forward to water sports. We present a broad comparison in which we will add one more variant – a holiday by a lake in Poland.
The beaches of the Baltic Sea are famous for their golden sand. Most of them are several dozen meters wide. Although there are places (for example around Jastrzębia Góra) where it is very narrow. It is very crowded in tourist places, and people enclose themselves with screens. Theoretically, to protect yourself from the wind that carries sand. However, it is better to choose a quieter place. Thanks to this, you can take advantage of recreation on the sandy beach.
Most of the Croatian beaches are rocky. This is due to the proximity of the mountains that go down to the sea itself. This creates amazing views right on the water. Thanks to this, the sea is transparent. In many places you can see the bottom at a depth of up to 10 meters. To lie on the beach, you will need a mat or beach loungers. It’s also good to buy gel swimming shoes so that you don’t cut yourself on a stone. It is not worth looking for sand in Croatia as it is not natural in this place.
Polish lakes mostly provide grassy beaches. Often the trees reach the water itself. Poland is a country with sandy soils, so lakes in Masuria, Pomerania and the Lublin region often have large sandy beaches. You can also find a piece of shadow here. Particular attention should be paid to Lake Piaseczno in the Łęczyńsko-Włodawskie Lakeland due to the large sandy beaches on the eastern shore and to the Białe Augustowskie Lake and its beaches called Patelnia.
Unfortunately, the Baltic Sea does not attract with clean water. Usually it is green or brown. This is due to the large amount of fine dust on the bottom. The bigger the waves, the more it hits. This does not mean the water is unfit for bathing, but it is not clear. In warmer periods, cyanobacteria sometimes bloom, and when the water is calm, they float to the surface. This could be the real problem that keeps beaches out of bathing for weeks.
The rocky bottom and high salinity of the Adriatic Sea make the water on the Croatian coast clean and transparent. However, the movement of vessels is much greater than in Poland. It can be worse in marinas and around the fairways due to human activity. The beaches outside the cities and on the islands are very clean. Croatia has a lot of islands. They cover the beaches on land, thanks to which the waves are much smaller than on the Baltic Sea, and the water does not lift particles from the bottom.
There is a common misconception that Polish lakes are not clean. This is a misconception based on data from thirty years ago. Activities aimed at improving the quality of the environment have been carried out for a long time. Wastewater treatment plants are built first, because this brings about a quick effect. It is worth checking the list of 233 very clean lakes, which we have prepared based on the data of the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.
Recent years have brought numerous construction works of large hotels on the Baltic Sea. Some are even located in the middle of nowhere. It is a bit like Egyptian resorts. However, still many people choose private accommodation or campsites located in famous places. It is worth mentioning here, for example: Międzyzdroje, Dziwnów, Pobierowo, Rewal, Kołobrzeg, Mielno, Darłowo, Rowy, Łeba, Karwia, Władysławowo, Trójmiasto, Jantar, Stegna or Krynica Morska.
Croatia is a country that has always faced the sea. For this reason, there is dense coastal development here. Many very old fishing villages are now resorts. Many people take advantage of the possibility of accommodation in such an old house. The advantage is great views of the sun setting over the sea. The campsites are also noteworthy. Warm nights allow you to spend a pleasant night in a tent.
Traditionally, we rest in houses or campsites by the Polish lakes. Their standard has improved significantly. On the popular lakes in Masuria or in the Gniezno Lake District, you can find luxury hotels that do not differ from international standards.
There are few water sports attractions in the open sea in the Baltic Sea. This is the result of turbulent waves which can be dangerous. The Bay of Pucka is a perfect place. For many years it has been the destination of windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts. The water is calm and shallow.
The Croatian coast is sheltered by islands, thanks to which many tourist destinations have excellent infrastructure available not only in the season. In addition, there are many boat rentals that allow transportation to the nearby islands.
On popular lakes in Poland you can meet inflatable boats, boat and canoe rentals. It is worth choosing the areas where rivers flow, because canoeing can be an additional attraction during the summer vacation.
Where to go diving
The Baltic Sea is a moderate place for divers. There are many interesting objects to see, but the clarity of the water is not encouraging. Moreover, the waves are not inviting. It is completely different in the lakes. Many of them have sensationally clean water and excellent diving bases. It is worth mentioning, for example, Lake Ińsko, Lake Hańcza, Lake Budzisławskie, Lake Łęsk, Lake Pluszne Wielkie, Lake Piłakno or Lake Probarskie.
Croatia beats all Polish diving areas. Clear water is almost certain. In addition to the sunken ships, which may be several hundred years old, you can observe beautiful fish. Anyway, you do not need to put on a cylinder to observe underwater life. Often a mask with a tube is enough.
Food is a very individual matter. It is worth noting that cod fishing is forbidden from the beginning of May to the end of August. In general, the Baltic Sea is not very rich in fish. Meal prices vary greatly by location. In a crowded place by the beach it will definitely be more expensive than in a side street. Unfortunately, most places in seaside resorts offer bar meals or beach standard: fried fish with chips and salad. This is what tourists expect and there are such dishes. To eat something special, you have to search. Unfortunately, it is similar at the lakes. Here, however, there are many possibilities for grilling on your own. Of course, if someone likes it.
For Poles, Croatian food may be surprising. The traditional cuisine is dominated by fish and seafood, which are very fresh. It is worth mentioning that in Croatia there are farms of mussels, sea bream, tuna and many other fish. There is no catch limit for farmed fish. A typical addition to dinner is boiled potatoes with garlic and blotch (leaf beet is not spinach!). There is also a strong Italian influence in Croatian cuisine. Pizza and pasta dishes are very popular. It is worth trying local wines, especially Graševina or Prošek. Products made on site are much cheaper than in Poland.
Weather and water temperature
It is usually sunny in summer at the Baltic Sea, but there is no guarantee that it will be so for the whole vacation. The sea is to the north and the wind from that side brings in moist air. It often rains by the shore, and twenty kilometers inland is quite dry. The sea temperature rarely exceeds 20 degrees. This means that there are many people on the beach and few in the water.
It rains very rarely in summer in Croatia. There is a clear difference in the climate where Dalmatia begins. South of Zadar it is clearly warmer and drier. In August, gardens must be watered otherwise they would dry out. Pomegranates, lemons and figs can be grown without covering for the winter. At the beginning of June, the temperature of the sea water almost always exceeds 20 degrees. In August you can expect it to be 28 degrees. You can only dream about something like that in the Baltic Sea. The water is suitable for bathing until October.
The situation in Polish lakes is very interesting. Their temperature is clearly higher than in the Baltic Sea. The warmest lakes are usually in Podlasie. Usually the water heats up to around 23-25 degrees. Shallow lakes are warmer. As small bodies of water they heat up quickly and lose temperature quickly. The swimming conditions are good in June, July and August.
The last 20 years have been a period of intensive road development. The S3, S7 and A1 routes provide a quick connection from the south of the country to the Baltic Sea. However, we are still waiting for the S6 expressway that will connect Szczecin with Gdańsk. It is still crowded at the seaside as people are concentrated in resorts.
Most people who travel to Croatia as a family choose a car. You can already enjoy convenient connections to the southern border, although many people are still waiting for the completion of the Węgierska Górka bypass on the S1 road or for the extension of the S19 expressway to the border with Slovakia. You can already travel through Slovenia on the highway from Ptuj to the border with Croatia. There have been huge traffic jams here for many years. To sum up, from Krakow to Croatia you need to count at least 10 hours of travel. It is 7 hours to the Baltic Sea. Of course, it all depends on the exact goal. However, for many years the trip to Croatia was shorter than to the Baltic Sea.
The main lakes in Poland are Pomerania, Masuria and Greater Poland. There are many tourist lakes and thanks to that the traffic is evenly distributed. Also, some go to the lake for an hour, and others all day. There are places where you can already feel the water, but there is still a long journey to your destination. Such extremely crowded places are Białe Lake, Skorzęcin and Giżycko with all commuting.
Poles started going to Croatia encouraged by low prices. The influx of tourists (also from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) caused an increase in prices. However, in Poland, also accommodation and restaurants became more expensive. Our expectations regarding the standard also increased. Twenty years ago, Poles were driven mainly by the price. Now they take into account the standard, the view from the window, the distance to the beach. And the prices for the campsite are in mind. When comparing prices, it is worth checking whether we are comparing an object of the same class. If the most important criterion for choosing a holiday offer is the price, it is worth looking for offers by the lakes in Podlasie or the Lublin region. It is still much cheaper there than in other tourist regions.