Category: National Parks

Category: National Parks

Hiking in Poland

If you enjoy getting your boots on, strapping on a backpack and setting off to the great outdoors, then hiking in Poland is definitely something you should consider. The variety of routes and terrain on offer is impressive, from Poland’s mountainous areas to their National Parks, hiking options range from long treks lasting a week to short rambles alongside lakes.

Poland has 15,000 miles of well-marked hiking paths taking you through an incredible variety of landscapes ranging from dense forest to mountain passes. There’s a route for hikers of all abilities and ages, from gentle strolls around lakes to the high peaks of the Tatra Mountains.

The mountain regions such as the Tatras, Beskids and Sudetes are delightful to explore and they attract many thousands of walkers each year and in every season.

All of the 23 national parks in Poland have a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Many of them offer specially prepared hiking trails with shelters. Within the Carpathian Mountains, there is a cluster of six national parks, the remaining seventeen parks are scattered all around the country proving visitors with the full range of flora & fauna, rivers & lakes and landscapes in Poland’s portfolio.

For exciting high-altitude hikes head for the southern mountain ranges. The Tatra Mountains are the most popular destination in Poland for hiking. The High Tatras are the most challenging and many hikers head for the cross on the summit of Mount Giewont at 1895m. If you don’t like steep slopes, then there are plenty of alternative walks available, particularly in the valleys around Zakopane.

Further exciting hiking experiences can be found in the nearby Pieniny Mountain range and the Bieszczady Mountains in the south east.

Beskid Sądecki is a mountain range in the eastern section of the Western Beskids and this provides hikers with a good selection of walking paths and mountain hostels.

The Sudetes, are a mountain range in Central Europe, shared by Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. A favourite way to explore the Sudetes is to take a trip to the Karkonosze National Park, a 55.75 sq km belt that runs along the Polish – Czech border for some 25km. The park is the most popular hiking territory in the Sudetes and has 33 different trails covering a total of 100km. The two main gateways are Szklarska Poręba and Karpacz, from where most tourists ascend Mt Szrenica and Mt Śnieżka respectively. The ancient and peculiar ‘table top’ rock formations of the Góry Stołowe (Table Mountains) are among the highlights of the Sudetes.

Most of the National Parks in Poland provide excellent hiking routes, those that are worthy of a special mention are: Wigry National Park, Świętokrzyski National Park, Roztocze National Park, Biebrza National Park, Kampinos National Park, Wielkopolska National Park and Wolin National Park.

The Świętokrzyski National Park in Małopolska near Kielce is the lowest mountain range in the country and has a well-known 18 km walk that includes an ancient holy site that is now a monastery.

For those that enjoy easy walks and gentle terrain, Roztocze National Park is ideal.

Tours & Experiences

Hiking Trails in Poland

Hiking & Camping Tours in Poland

Bieszczady National Park

Bieszczady National Park is located in south eastern Poland within the Subcarpathian Voivodeship and it is the third largest national park in the country at just over 292 square kilometres. The park became part of the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in 1992, an area which includes land in both Slovakia and Ukraine.

By far, the largest element of Bieszczady National Park is natural forest (mostly beech) and animal life is abundant there; including many endangered species such as brown bears and grey wolves. You may also see European bison, moose, deer, wildcat, beavers, European otter and lynx.

The park attracts bird watchers from all over Europe and is home to many rare and endangered species of birds of prey including Golden Eagles, Lesser Spotted Eagles, Honey Buzzards and owls.

Don’t be surprised if you see snakes in the park because the largest population of Aesculapian snakes in Poland have made Bieszczady National Park their home. The Aesculapian is nonvenomous but can grow up to 2 metres in length. You may also see adders and grass snakes.

In addition to the wildlife already mentioned, there is also a large population of amphibians living in the park such as frogs, toads, fire salamander and newt.

One of the main reasons why there is such an abundance of wildlife in the park is the way that visitors are managed with an emphasis on all activities not adversely affecting the natural inhabitants that live there. Around 70% of the park is regarded as strict preserve, which means that the use of trails is restricted.

The park is visited by around 400,000 people each year. Despite restrictions, there are still 129 km of hiking trails & 124 km of nature paths to explore. There are also areas put aside for horse riding, cross-country skiing and cycling.

Woodless, grass-covered ridges, called połoniny, are a distinctive feature of the mountains in Bieszczady National Park.

Bieszczady National Park also conducts environmental education in the form of talks, lectures, training courses, seminars and workshops.

Bory Tucholskie National Park

Bory Tucholskie National Park is located in the northern part of the country in the Pomeranian Voivodeship within the Tuchola Forest; which is the largest woodland area in Poland.

The park was created on 1 July 1996 and covers an area of 46.13 sq km consisting of forests, meadows, lakes, inland dunes and peatlands. The park forms the core of the Tuchola Forest Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO in 2010.

The forested areas are predominantly pine trees and yews and the local wildlife includes deer, wild boar and wolves.

Within the park, there are 21 glacial lakes with crystal-clear waters; which are home to around 25 species of fish and European beavers.

Bory Tucholskie National Park is a haven for birds, at the last count 144 species were found including crane and eagle owl. The park is also home to several species of bats.

In the Park you can find rare species of plants, such as sundew or clubmoss in addition to over 300 species of fungi. There’s also a few gems to discover such as the 600-year old oak tree named Bartuś; which is located by Lake Płęsno and has a circumference of 608 cm.

Among the area's attractions are the Stone Circles in Odry, along the Wda, constructed ca. 1st to 3rd century AD. The circles have diameters of 15 to 33 metres, and their interior is covered with stone pebbles, under which graves can be found.

The national park is very popular with tourists, particularly those who enjoy agrotourism, kayaking, inland yachting, cycling and hiking.

Lake Charzykowy is popular with sailors and provides good yachting conditions in summer and winter. The lake is the second biggest body of water in Bory Tucholskie covering an area of 1363,8 ha and is around 30 meters deep. The lake’s shoreline is inhabited by cranes, herons, cormorants and grebes.

Within the park, there are three educational paths with a total length of 16.4 km in addition to five hiking trails with a total length of 45.6 km. There are also trails for horse riders and mountain bikers.

Around 7% of the park is under strict protection and 91% is under partial protection leaving just 2% where any kind of business activities are permitted.

Słowiński National Park

Słowiński National Park is a very popular attraction for nature lovers and hikers and is located in the Pomeranian Voivodeship between Łeba and Rowy on the Baltic coast. The park is 186 sq km in size and extends for 33 km. In 1977 the park was placed on Unesco’s list of World Biosphere Reserves.

Słowiński National Park consists mainly of lakes and rivers surrounded by peat bog, meadows and woods. The two largest lakes being Łebsko and Gardno. Historically, the lakes in Słowiński were bays; however over time, they were slowly cut off from the Baltic sea by the sandbar and today, they are shallow lagoons.

The area is famous for its moving sand dunes, a curiosity which occurs as waves and wind carry the sand inland at a speed of 3 to 10 metres each year. Some dunes can reach heights of up to 30 metres.

In total, the park provides hikers with 140 kilometres of tourist walking trails; which are well-maintained and include benches and places to rest. There are also a number of observation towers beside the lakes. Around the park there are plenty of parking areas as well as hotels and camp sites, particularly in Łeba.

Słowiński National Park is located on the path of migrating birds and at times can be home to over 250 species including swans, ducks, crows and eagle owls. Large parts of the lakeshores have been made into strict no-access reserves, free from human interference and birds feel safe there. Mammals that you may spot include hares, deer and wild boar.

The park is named after the Slav tribe, the Slovincians and the best time to visit is in late spring and summer.

The original idea of creating a preserve here came out in 1946, at a conference in Łeba with scientists from Poznań and Gdańsk.

These two tours of Slowinski via Tripadvisor are highly recommended:

Slowinski National Park Private Tour

Private Full Day Tour: Moving Dunes – Słowiński National Park

Tatra National Park

Tatra National Park is located in the Tatra Mountains in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Małopolska region, in central southern Poland. Extending into Slovakia, the Tatras are the highest range of the Carpathian Mountains and they form a natural border between the two countries.

Poland and Slovakia have cooperated on efforts to protect the mountain range since the early 20th century and in 1992, the Polish and Slovakian national parks in the Tatras were jointly designated a transboundary biosphere reserve by UNESCO, under its Man and the Biosphere Programme.

The Tatra National Park is 211 square metres in size and is headquartered in Zakopane. The Polish Tatras boast two dozen peaks exceeding 2000m, the highest of which is Mt Rysy at 2499m.

The landscape of the Tatras consists of sharp-edged towering peaks and numerous rock formations including narrow gorges, which drop hundreds of metres to icy lakes. There are no glaciers in the Tatras however patches of snow can be found at any time of the year.

Within the Tatra National Park, you will find caves, streams, waterfalls and lakes. There are around 650 caves in the park and some are open to the public. The Wielka Sniezna cave system is the longest at 18 kilometres and also the deepest at 814 metres. The largest lake is Morskie Oko at 349.000 m² reaching depths of just over 50 m.

The park is the most visited of the National parks in Poland and is very popular with hikers who can enjoy 270 kilometres of hiking trails. Within the park, you may see Tatra chamois, marmot, brown bears, lynx, otters, eagles, falcons and wolves.

At the northern foot of the Tatras lies the Podhale region, which is home to the Górales or the Goral (highland) people. Here, old folk traditions still form a part of everyday life and distinctive elements of their culture include the Podhale language, music, cheesemaking, and craft works. The popular salty smoked cheese oscypek is made from sheep milk and is a classic traditional Górale staple and can be purchased from most shops in Zakopane and Krakow.

Kampinos National Park

Kampinos National Park begins just outside Warsaw’s northwestern administrative boundary and is known locally as Puszcza Kampinoska. It stretches west for around 40km and is one of the largest National parks in Poland.

Created in 1959, Kampinos National Park covers just over 385 km² of which 46.38 km² is strictly protected and it was added to UNESCO’s list of biosphere reserves in January 2000.

Forests account for around 70% of the park’s area, and the most common tree is the pine followed by oak.

Kampinos is very popular with Warsaw’s hikers and cyclists, who take advantage of its 300km of marked walking and cycling trails. The eastern part of the park is favoured by walkers as it’s accessible by public transport; the western part is less visited. The park is visited by 1 million tourists each year.

There’s around 1245 species of plants within the park, of which 69 are protected.

The park includes Europe’s largest area of inland sand dunes, mostly pine tree covered and up to 30m high. Other parts of the park are barely accessible peat bogs that shelter much of its animal life. According to biologists, there are 16,000 species of animals, of which the most numerous are insects and birds. Numerous animals have been reintroduced into the park including moose, beaver and lynx and today, 83 species of animal in the park are regarded as endangered.

Tourists are welcome on the Park’s walking, cycling, horseback and skiing trails. In addition to  half day and one day hikes, there are two long trails that traverse the entire length of the park, both starting from Dziekanów Leśny on the eastern edge of the park. The red trail (54km) ends in Brochów, and the green one (51km) in Żelazowa Wola.

Bivouac sites designated for camping are the only accommodation options within the park’s boundaries, but there are hotels close by in Czosnów, Laski, Leszno, Tułowice and Zaborów.

Many important events have taken place in Kampinos National Park and reminders of Poland’s turbulent past are numerous including tombs of insurrectionists from the 1863 anti-Russian uprising, war cemeteries from Polish German war of 1939 and tombs of members of anti-German resistance (1944–45).

A great way to explore Kampinos is on a bicycle. Check out this cycle tour of the park via Tripadvisor – Click here.

Bialowieza National Park

Bialowieza National Park is located in the north east of Poland in the Podlaskie voivodeship and covers an area of around 105 sq km. The park is part of the Białowieża Forest, which straddles the border between Belarus and Poland.

Bialowieza National Park is well-known for two reasons. Firstly, it is home to Europe’s largest land mammal, the European bison and secondly, the park shelters a sizeable chunk of original lowland primeval forest; which has remained undisturbed for hundreds of years. The forest has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve.

The park is called the “last untouched wilderness of Europe” and has an inner zone consisting of old-growth forest which has been living without much human intervention for over 800 years.

Białowieża Forest is the last remnant of the primeval forest which once covered most of Europe and several species of fauna, which were once native in forests throughout Europe, but which have now been mostly eradicated can still be found there.

In addition to European bison, the area is also home to wolves, Red Deer, Lynx, Wild Boar, Elk and Roe Deer.

The inner zone of the Białowieża National Park is completely preserved and protected by a fence, with tourists only allowed inside with guides.

Inside, the forest lives, breathes and decays as it has for thousands of years. Outside of the inner-sanctuary several more km of forest are semi-preserved although sadly there are many reports of thinning and cutting of trees, supposedly due to disease, but more likely due to corruption and the market demand for large trees.

The town of Białowieża is on the edge of the forest and is located in the Polish part of the reserve. Here you will find the Nature and Forest Museum.

This museum features exhibitions relating to the park’s flora and fauna, the park’s history, and the archaeology and ethnography of the region. The viewing tower provides terrific views, and just north of the museum you will find a grove of 250-year-old oaks.

The number of bison in the world is estimated at 5,000, half of which live in Central Europe. In Poland, three quarters of the local population of these great mammals live in the wild. You can come across them not only in Bialowieza Forest, but also in the Bieszczady Mountains, in Masuria and in West Pomerania.

If you’re staying in the capital, we highly recommend the Bialowieza National Park private tour from Warsaw. Meet the driver in your accommodation in Warsaw, relax onboard an air-conditioned Mercedes vehicle and head to the Bialowieza Forest. Once there, join a 3-hour guided tour with a local guide.