The Bottom LineIf you're a foodie looking for a combination of hands-on cooking and cultural sightseeing in Poland, Poland Culinary Vacations delivers. The groups are small (a maximum of 12 people), the lodging is four- and five-star, the food (which includes breakfast) is excellent, the transportation from village to village is in a spacious minivan, and the tour director / owner, Sarna Rose, and her staff are accommodating. The company is still new and some kinks need to be worked out but, overall, Poland Culinary Vacations provides an amazing experience.
Visit their website
- The groups are small (a maximum of 12 people), so the attention is individualized. There is no waiting for 30 or more people to make it to the bus, etc. And, since the groups are so small, individuals can request side trips based on the group's consensus and be accommodated.
- Lodging is at four- and five-star hotels where breakfast is included. The hotels feature spa and swimming pool amenities, and Internet access.
- All meals are included, and evening dinners at gourmet restaurants and local eateries are not pre-set. Selections can be made from the regular menu.
- Hands-on cooking was with local women in their villages and at the famed Culinary Institute in Cracow.
- Cultural tours, including UNESCO World Heritage sites, were included.
- Touring was by private van. The tour director, guide and driver were accommodating in every way.
- The tour was so jam-packed with activities, there was no time to enjoy the amenities at the hotels or to investigate the towns alone.
- While an itinerary exists online, no trip itinerary was snail mailed or emailed prior to the trip. No mention of shots was made. While the hotels have top-drawer towels, bath mats, hair dryers, shampoo, etc., no wash cloths are provided, and that should be mentioned so one can bring them from home.
- The tour began in Krakow but ended in Wieliczka, which meant a cab fare to Krakow.
- While the Culinary Institute in Cracow provided printed recipes, none were available for the delicious foods prepared in the villages.
- A trip to a local grocery store and a better trip to a local bakery would have been appreciated to see how Poles shop, etc.
- The tours are offered in the summer when airfare is highest.
- Cooking vacations in Malopolska (Lesser Poland) and Silesia regions of Poland. Tours in the other regions of Poland are in the works.
- Hands-on and demonstration-style cooking lessons in Polish farm homes and urban restaurants.
- Side trips to farmers markets, food festivals, and cultural sites.
- Seven days, six nights. Six breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
- $2,950 per person double occupancy. $350 single supplement. Prices subject to change.
Review - Trip to Lesser Poland with Poland Culinary Vacations
If I had gone to Poland on my own, I know I could have cooked with gourmet chefs in their restaurants because of my own background as a chef. But it's doubtful I would have been able to go into a villager's home and cook with her. Sarna Rose, president of the company, needs to work out some kinks, but this is a new venture, and I predict even greater trips in the future.
Foodie that I am, I could have cooked all day, everyday. I couldn't get enough. But the side trips to major cultural hotspots made sure I really got a flavor for the cities I was in and balanced out the tour. There are steps to negotiate, especially in the Wieliczka Salt Mines (800 steps going down, in fact!). I was unaware that there was an elevator down. I would have taken it, had I known.
I'm ready to visit all the other areas of Poland once Rose has them available. I received a discount on the land-package portion of my trip.