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Occupying the southwestern part of Poland, Silesia (Śląsk, pronounced shlonsk in Polish), is a diverse collection of historically powerful cities, industrial engine rooms and low-rising, farm-flanked mountains.

Wrocław, the region's historical capital and Poland's fourth-largest city, is the overwhelming draw here, yet smaller cities such as Nysa and Jelenia Góra also offer distinctive sights and activities. To the south, stretching over the Czech border, the Sudetes Mountains promise scenic beauty and idyllic resort towns, and are popular with hikers, bikers and spa fans.

The rich and turbulent history of this region is never far beneath its charm. Silesia boasts memorable architecture ranging from medieval fortresses to baroque cathedrals. Great tragedy is also remembered here: Silesia was where Nazi Germany set up the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps, now preserved as an essential, unforgettable memorial.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Silesia.