Category: National Parks

Category: National Parks

Lesser Poland (Malopolskie)

Lesser Poland

Lesser Poland – updated 22 September 2022

Lesser Poland (Malopolskie) is located in south-east Poland and has the city of Kraków as its administrative capital. The region has played an important part in Polish history and once was the focal point of the ancient Polish kingdom.

Lesser Poland

Mountains

The region is very rich in natural beauty, to the north you will find the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, to the south, the Tatra, Pieniny and Beskidy Mountains and to the west is a broad range of hills.

National Parks

Lesser Poland has six National Parks and 11 Landscape Parks including: Tatra National Park and Babia Góra National Park in addition to many areas for tourism and recreation, including Zakopane, which is Poland’s most popular winter resort.

Lesser Poland

Skiing

In the winter, thousands arrive in Zakopane to ski, especially around Christmas and in February. The most popular skiing areas are Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka. There are a number of cross-country skiing trails in the forests surrounding the town.

Historic sites

The province also has many historic sites. The salt mine at Wieliczka, the pilgrimage town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Kraków's Old Town are ranked by UNESCO among the most precious sites of world heritage.

Lesser Poland

John Paul II

At Wadowice, birthplace of John Paul II is a museum dedicated to the late Pope's childhood. The area of Oświęcim, with the former Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz-I and Auschwitz-II-Birkenau is visited annually by a million people.

Lesser Poland

It is widely agreed that everyone should visit Auschwitz at least once in their lives, it is a stern reminder of the horrors that human beings can inflict on each other and for some people, a life-changing experience.

Another tourist destination is the town of Bochnia with its salt mine, Europe's oldest.

Krakow

Kraków may no longer be Poland's political capital, but it makes a strong case for being the country's cultural capital. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world. According to official statistics, in 2019 Kraków was visited by over 14 million tourists including 3.3 million foreign travellers.

Tours & Attractions

Lublin (Lubelskie)

Lublin Province

Lublin Province – updated 23 September 2022

Lublin Province is located in south-eastern Poland and is named after its regional capital, the city of Lublin. The region has two National Parks, Polesie National Park and Roztocze National Park in addition to 17 Landscape Parks. It also has a number of historical sites including the UNESCO-listed Old Town in Zamość.

Lublin province

Health Spas

Lublin province attracts visitors and tourists from near and far with a multitude of attractions and things to do such as hiking in the Vistula glacial valley, boat trips along the river in Kazimierz Dolny or treatment at one of the provinces many health spas.

World War II

Prior to World War II, the area was one of the world’s leading centres of Judaism with 300,000 Jews living there. During the war, the area became the site of the Majdanek concentration camp, Bełżec extermination camp and Sobibór extermination camp in addition to several labour camps. After the war, the few surviving Jews largely left the area; today there is some restoration of areas of Jewish historical interest, and a surge of tourism by Jews seeking to view their families' historical roots.

Majdanek Concentration Camp

Kazimierz Dolny

The western part of the province is the most visited by tourists, in particular the town of Kazimierz Dolny, a hugely popular weekend getaway for Warsaw and Lublin residents. Many painters retreat to this small town to paint and sell their work and galleries can be found in almost every street.

Lublin province

Lublin

The city of Lublin is definitely worthy of a day trip, it has a thriving cultural and academic scene, a small but quaint Old Town and an impressive collection of Renaissance and baroque townhouses. There are plenty of sites to explore such as Lublin Castle, the Donjon Castle Tower, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Lublin, the Trinity Tower, and the Lublin Underground Trail.

Zamość

Other popular places to visit in the province include: Zamość with its unique Old Town architecture, the Lublin Renaissance Route, the Museum of Southern Podlasie, Chełm Chalk Tunnels and the Zamoyski Museum in Kozłówka.

Tours & Attractions

Subcarpathia (Podkarpackie)

Subcarpathia

Subcarpathia – updated 23 September 2022

Subcarpathia (Podkarpackie) is located in the south-eastern corner of Poland and has the city of Rzeszów as its administrative capital. The region is one of the greenest provinces in Poland with nearly 36% of the area being protected. The protected elements are mostly woodland including remnants of ancient primeval forest.

National & Landscape Parks

Within Subcarpathia, there are two National Parks (all of Bieszczady National Park, and parts of Magura National Park) and eleven Landscape Parks.

Bieszczady National Park

Whilst exploring the region, you’ll find hundreds of kilometres of tourist trails. The area is extremely popular with hikers who come to the province to enjoy the scenery and fauna, which includes lynxes, wildcats, wisents and golden eagles to name a few.

Cycling

There are over 1,750 kilometres of cycling routes with varied levels of difficulty in Subcarpathia. Experienced cyclists are attracted by the routes in the Bieszczady, Low Beskid and Slonne Mountains. The Green Velo Eastern Cycling Trail is popular with beginners and families with children.

Cycling in Poland

Tourist attractions

There are many tourist attractions in the province including historic and heritage sites. The Wooden Architecture Route comprises 9 trails and has a total length of 1202 km. It leads to 127 landmarks of wooden architecture, such as churches, tserkvas, open-air expositions, complexes of small-town buildings, manor houses and palaces. Of particular notice are the jewels of wooden architecture recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Castles & Palaces

Lovers of castles and palaces will not be disappointed, the region has many including Lancut Castle and the fairy tale Krasiczyn Castle.

Krasiczyn Castle

Krasiczyn Castle is more of a palace come stately home than a castle and is beautifully photogenic, the kind of place where young girls dream of marrying their Prince Charming. Whitewashed walls, turrets and an arcaded courtyard all help to give Krasiczyn that Cinderella feeling.

The City of Glass

No trip to Subcarpathia is complete without a visit to Krosno, known as, “The City of Glass”. Check out the Glass Heritage Centre. In the past each and every Polish household had some glassware from Krosna in their home.

Lubusz (Lubuskie)

Lubusz

Lubusz – updated 23 September 2022

Lubusz is a region on the western side of Poland, which is well-known because of its forests, lakes and parks. Nearly 50% of the province is covered in woodland and the northern and central areas are home to a multitude of lakes. Dotted around the area are bathing resorts, holiday centres and farms providing accommodation and services to the many tourists who visit Lubusz each year.

Lubusz

Parks

The main attractions in the Lubusz region are the Drawa National Park, the Warta Estuary National Park and the 19th century Mużakowski Park, which is a landscape park located on both sides of the Polish-German border. The province attracts cyclists, hikers, horse riders and kayakers and is also very popular with hunters and mushroom pickers.

The City of Wine

The two main cities in the Lubusz region are Gorzów Wielkopolski and Zielona Góra, the latter going by the nickname “The City of Wine” due to its many vineyards including the old Wine Park in the city centre.

Tourist attractions

The city has numerous tourist attractions and important historical sites such as the Palm House on Wine Hill and the preserved medieval Old Town and Market Square. Gorzów Wielkopolski is home to St. Mary's Cathedral, which has an interesting history and was founded at the end of the 12th century.

Another popular attraction in Lubusz is the village of Lagow, which has a spectacular lake divided by the village centre in the middle. It is also home to a castle built by the Knights Hospitallers during the 14th century.

Lubusz

The small town of Żagań is famous for its huge 13th-century Church of the Assumption and the Gothic 14th-century Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

Bats

South of the town of Międzyrzecz is a 30 km long network of fortifications built by the Germans just prior to World War II known as the Miedzyrzecz Reinforced Region. A section of this underground network is designated as the Nietoperek Bat Nature Reserve, central Europe’s most important bat hibernation site, which provides shelter to some 30,000 bats of 12 different species.

Masovia (Mazowieckie)

Masovia

Masovia – updated 23 September 2022

Masovia (Mazowieckie) is located in mid-north-eastern Poland and has the city of Warsaw as its unofficial capital. It has an area of around 35,000 square kilometres and a population of just over 5 million.

Kampinos National Park

Protected land

Masovia has a lowland landscape with forests (mainly pine and oak) that cover 20% of the entire area. The primary forests are Kampinos Forest, Puszcza Biała and Puszcza Zielona. Nearly 30% of Masovia is classified as protected land comprising of Kampinos National Park, 171 nature reserves and 62 protected landscape sites.

Warsaw Chopin Airport

Masovia attracts many thousands of visitors from within Poland and from abroad. The region is home to Warsaw Chopin Airport, the busiest airport in Poland and many tourists stay in the province for a few days prior to exploring the other regions in the country.

Kampinos National Park

Kampinos National Park is one of the largest national parks in Poland and is popular with tourists making day trips from Warsaw to hike and cycle among the park's primeval forests, sand dunes, and marshland. The park has 300km of marked walking and cycling trails to enjoy and has been designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Warsaw

Masovia is the centre of infrastructure, industry, education, research & science in the country. It is ranked first in the country according to Gross Domestic Product, due entirely to Warsaw, which is the financial centre of East-Central Europe. The area has the lowest unemployment rate in Poland and is classified as a very high-income province.

Masovia

Warsaw is home to many theatres and well-known institutions such as the National Philharmonic, the National Opera House & the National Library and is also home to many monuments and impressive historical buildings. Warsaw Old Town was almost completely demolished during World War II but was restored back to its former glory and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Frédéric Chopin

There are plenty of interesting things to see in Masovia outside of Warsaw. You can find impressive cathedrals in Płock and Łowicz, and the manor house where Frédéric Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola.

Castles in Masovia

There are many castles to explore in the region such as Czersk, Pułtusk, Ciechanów, Opinogóra, Rawa Mazowiecka, Sochaczew and Liw, you’re also find interesting churches, palaces and parks.

Tours & Attractions

Podlasie (Podlaskie)

Podlasie

Podlasie – updated 23 September 2022

Podlasie (Podlaskie) is primarily rural and remote with the exception of a few urban centres and is located on the east side of Poland bordering Lithuania and Belarus. The voivodeship constitutes a part of the ecologically clean area known as “the Green Lungs of Poland” and is a lush expanse of forest, farmland and lakes boasting four national parks, three Landscape Parks, 88 nature reserves and 15 protected landscape areas.

Bialowieza National Park

The most famous of the national parks is Bialowieza, which 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.

Around & About in Białystok

The other three national parks are Narew and Biebrza, known for their marshlands and Wigry; which is known for its lakes.

Forests

The province has a number of forests, some of which are the only ones in Europe to have retained their original character. The forests of Białowieża, Augustów, Knyszyń and Kurpiowska have an extremely diverse selection of flora and fauna. Visitors may see bison, wolves, lynx and moose.

Białystok

The capital of Podlasie is the large, busy city of Białystok. Its proximity to the region's national parks makes it a good base.

Bialystok Tourist Information

Of the sixteen Polish voivodeships, Podlasie has the lowest population density, and its largely unspoiled nature is its biggest attraction. Around 30% of the area of the voivodeship is under legal protection.

Podlasie is the most diverse of all Polish voivodships and has been inhabited for hundreds of years by members of different religions and nations.

Milk

Nature also plays a big part in the region’s economy. The province is the largest milk producer in Poland, and it also has a thriving wood and furniture industry.

The Podlaskie Museum of Folk Culture is not far from Białystok and features a great collection of the local folk art and typical examples of peasant houses and farm buildings characteristic of the region. The museum is located at the northern borders of Białystok, in the settlement of Wasilków, on the road to Augustów.

Tours & Attractions

West Pomerania (Zachodniopomorskie)

West Pomerania

West Pomerania – updated 23 September 2022

West Pomerania (Zachodniopomorskie) in north-west Poland has a border with Germany to the west and the Baltic Sea to the north and is considered to be one of the greenest regions in Poland and also one of the most attractive for tourists. There’s plenty on offer for visitors including beaches, woodlands, national parks, lakes, seaside resorts, golf clubs, cycling routes and health spas.

Szczecin

Its capital and largest city is Szczecin, which is a busy working port. Other important ports in the region are Świnoujście and Police. The major seaside towns in West Pomerania are Międzyzdroje, Dziwnów, Kołobrzeg and Mielno.

West Pomerania

Wkrzańska Forest

West Pomerania has a very diverse landscape ranging from sandy beaches to lakes to large forests. One of the most popular forests in the region is Wkrzańska Forest, which is shared between Germany and Poland with 22% of the forest being on the Polish side.

National Parks

The province has two national parks, Wolin National Park, situated on the island of Wolin and Drawa National Park, which is a part of the huge Drawsko Forest. It also has 6 natural parks, 75 reserves, 3 forests and upwards of 1,100 Sites of Unique Nature.

Crooked Forest

Each year, many tourists visit the Crooked Forest located near the town of Gryfino. It is a grove of about 100 oddly shaped pine trees planted around 1930. The reason why the pines are shaped this way has never determined and remains a mystery to this day.

West Pomerania

Golf

Golfers can enjoy a good choice of courses such as: Binowo Park Golf Club, Amber Baltic Golf Club, Modry Las Golf Club & Kamień Country Golf Club.

Szczecin was once called Stettin and was a city located in Germany. It was transferred to Poland at the end of World War II. The city is known for its 19th-century Wały Chrobrego, or Chobry Embankment, and the renovated Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle, now a cultural centre.

Tours & Attractions

Pomerania (Pomorskie)

Pomerania

Pomerania – updated 23 September 2022

Pomerania (Pomorskie) is Poland’s most northern province. It covers an area of over 18,300 square kilometres and has the Baltic Sea on its northern border and Russia (via the Vistula Spit) to the north-east.

Coastline & Lakes

The region has 316 km of coastline with sandy beaches and a staggering 2,901 lakes. If you wanted to swim in a different lake every day, it would take you almost eight years!

Tricity

The epicentre and capital of Pomerania is Gdańsk, northern Poland’s metropolis, which together with Gdynia and Sopot forms a conurbation called Tricity – one of the main cultural, commercial and educational centres of Poland inhabited by over 1.2 million people.

Pomerania province

Like most of the region, Gdańsk has changed hands many times over the centuries, with each invader leaving their mark on the architecture and culture of the city for today’s visitors to enjoy.

Health resorts & spas

The province is well-known in Poland for its beaches, health resorts & spas, which attract tourists by the thousands each year. It also has many interesting historical sites such as the UNESCO-listed Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, a marvel in red brick and the largest castle in the world measured by land area.

National Parks

Pomerania also boasts two national parks, Slowinski National Park and Bory Tucholskie National Park, it also has nine landscape parks and 127 nature reserves. In total, one third of Pomerania is occupied by green areas, which attracts tourists from all over Europe who can enjoy a number of outdoor activities in the region such as cycling, hiking, angling, canoeing and birdwatching to name a few.

Pomerania province

Kashubia

Away from the beaches and miracles in red brick, you’ll discover Kashubia, a region that is steeped in tradition and even has its own language.

Since 2005 Kashubian enjoys legal protection in Poland as an official regional language. It is the only tongue in Poland with this status.

Tours & Attractions

Hiking in Poland

Hiking trails Poland

Hiking in Poland – Updated 23 August 2022

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.

Hiking in Poland

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 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.

Hiking in Poland

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.

Hiking in Poland

Hiking in the Tatra Mountains

With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, border relations are now freer than ever. Thus, for dedicated hikers, the opportunity to explore the region in depth is very much an option. Poles are the first to say how wonderful the Slovakian Tatras are, and it’s well worth bearing this in mind if you want to get a full flavour of this wild region.

Probably the easiest way to get to the Polish side of the Tatras is to take a plane to Krakow and then take the train (five hours) to Zakopane. If you want to get to the Slovak side, then Bratislava airport is currently rebranding itself as a low-cost hub (Vienna East!). Alternatively, Vienna to Bratislava is only about an hour and-a-half by train. From Bratislava take the train via Poprad to Stary Smokovec. Poprad also has an airport.

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

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.

National Parks

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.

Bieszczady National Park

Bieszczady

Bieszczady National Park – Updated 23 August 2022

The 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.

Bieszczady National Park

Natural Forest

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.

Bieszczady National Park

Aesculapian snakes

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.

Aesculapian snake

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.

Bieszczady National Park

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.

Bieszczady National Park

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.