Category: Regions of Poland

Category: Regions of Poland

Lesser Poland (Malopolskie)

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Lublin Province (Lubelskie)

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Subcarpathia (Podkarpackie)

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Lovers of castles and palaces will not be disappointed, the region has many including Lancut Castle and the fairy tale 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, cue the scene with the glass slipper but lets leave out the ugly sisters!

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.

Holy Cross Province (Swietokrzyskie)

Holy Cross Province (Swietokrzyskie) is located in south eastern Poland and has the city of Kielce as its regional capital. Often referred to as, “The heart of Poland” the region is home to the Świętokrzyskie Mountains and Świętokrzyski National Park.

Holy Cross Province isn’t the biggest in Poland at only 11,700 square kilometres but it is very popular with tourists. In addition to the National Park, there are nine Landscape Parks to explore and a multitude of other attractions.

The Świętokrzyskie Mountains are not particularly high; however they are ancient. Quartzite has been discovered in the area that is 500 million years old. The highest peak is Mount Łysica at 614 m and is located within the Świętokrzyski National Park.

Łysa Góra at 595 m is the second highest mountain in the region and is known locally as Święty Krzyż (Mount Holy Cross). If you believe local folk legend, during Pagan times, witches would practice their dark arts on Mount Łysiec. The mountain is also home to The Sanctuary of The Holy Cross Wood Relic. Today, you can see remains of a 9th century stone rampart surrounding the top of the mountain in addition to the Benedictine monastery with its Relics of the Holy Cross Tree. The 1000 year old monastery is managed by the Missionary Oblates. 

Within the region, you will find Poland’s first Jurassic Park, the Bałtów Tourist Complex; which contains a 1 km long educational path with 100 life-size models of dinosaurs, the Jurassic Museum, the Prehistoric Oceanarium, a zoo and the Sabathówka Witches’ Village.

Other popular attractions include: the Museum of the Kielce Region Countryside Ethnographic Park in Tokarnia, which aims to maintain the most valuable monuments of rural and small-town housing in the Kielce Region and present them in an environment similar to the original. The museum exhibits an interesting collection of horse-drawn vehicles.

Other attractions you will find in the region are; the Krzemionki Archaeological Museum and Reserve, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, the Living Museum of Porcelain in Ćmielów and the ruins of Krzyżtopór Castle in Ujazd.

Kielce has a history back over 900 years, and the exact date that it was founded remains unknown. It is a lively city centred on the Rynek (the main square), the cathedral, the remarkable Palace of the Kraków Bishops, and a pretty expanse of parkland surrounding both of them.

Silesian (Slaskie)

Silesian Voivodeship is located in southern Poland and has the city of Katowice as its capital. The province is one of the most important industrial regions of Poland with a proud history of mining.

The Silesian region is the most densely populated voivodeship in Poland (379 people per square kilometre, compared to the national average of 124) and also one of the wealthiest. Over 13% of Poland’s gross domestic product (GDP) is generated there.

There’s much more to the Silesian Voivodeship than industry, the region also has 8 Landscape Parks including: the Eagle Nests Landscape Park, the Little Beskids Landscape Park and the Silesian Beskids Landscape Park. You’ll also find nature preserves and mountain ranges within the region.

Taking the Trail of the Eagles Nests is a great way to explore many historical sites including a chain of 25 medieval castles between Częstochowa and Kraków. The trail has been named the “Eagle's Nests”, as most of the castles are located on large, tall rocks of the Polish Jura Chain featuring many limestone cliffs, monadnocks and valleys below.

Favourite tourist destinations include the castle in Pszczyna or the Hochbergs hunting lodge in Promnice and mining facilities such as the “Guido” Coal Mine, the Queen Louise Adit and UNESCO listed Tarnowskie Góry Silver Mine have been turned into fascinating and educational underground tourist attractions.

The town of Bielsko-Biała is surrounded by the Beskidy Mountains and this part of the region is very popular with winter sports enthusiasts. There are around 200 km of ski routes to enjoy serviced by over 150 ski lifts. Many of the ski slopes are equipped with artificial snow generators and are illuminated at night. The most visited winter resorts are Szczyrk, Brenna, Wisła and Ustroń.

Each year, millions of pilgrims from all over Poland flock to Jasna Góra in Częstochowa, mainly to see the blessed icon of the Black Madonna. Pilgrims travel on foot for several days often covering hundreds of kilometres.

Opole (Opolskie)

Opole (Opolskie) is Poland’s smallest province at just 9,400 square kilometres; however it packs a punch for its size and is a treasure trove of attractions for tourists. The province is rich in culture with famous castles and palaces, lots of historical sites and an abundance of beautiful lakes and rivers. The capital of the region is the city of Opole.

Opole is located in southern Poland and around 15% of the one million inhabitants of the voivodeship are ethnic Germans (that’s 90% of all ethnic Germans in Poland). Ethnic Germans first came to this region during the Late Middle Ages because the area was once part of the Prussian province of Silesia. As a result, the German language is co-official in 28 communes.

Opole province is a green region and has the warmest climate in the country. It has three Landscape Parks, Opawskie Mountains, Góra Świętej Anny and Stobrawa and three large lakes, Turawskie, Nyskie, and Otmuchów. Lake Turawskie can be reached by bicycle from Opole and is an ideal location for boating or kitesurfing, fishing for pikeperch or birdwatching from the lake’s sandbanks or lagoons.

Lake Nyskie, a reservoir on the River Nysa Kłodzka with a view onto the Opawskie Mountains and Czechia’s Rychlebské hory, is the perfect place for sunbathing, camping, angling and boating, particularly during summer season.

Popular tourist attractions in the region include the Silesian castle in Brzeg, built during the reign of the Piast dynasty, the Franciscan monastery on top of Saint Anne Mountain and the medieval defence fortifications in Paczków (referred to as the Upper Silesian Carcassonne).

The Silesian castle in Brzeg was initially a stronghold. Today it is the Museum of the Silesian Piasts, among other exhibits, the museum houses Europe’s largest collection of gravestones of a single dynasty.

Another castle of note is the fairytale castle in Moszna; which was allegedly once inhabited by the Knights Templar.

JuraPark Krasiejów is the world’s only museum standing on an active palaeontological dig and here you can take a journey back in time and view almost 200 models of 70 species of Mesozoic amphibians and reptiles. The Palaeontological Pavilion houses Europe’s biggest fossils from Triassic amphibians and reptiles, viewed through the glass floor.

The Central Museum of Prisoners of War in Łambinowice  is a unique place commemorating the prisoners of the three POW camps that operated within the local military training ground. The first camp was set up by the Prussians for French POWs during the Franco-Prussian War. During World War II, one of the biggest Wehrmacht POW camp complexes existed here: Stalag VIII B, Stalag 318/VIII F and Stalag 344. After the war, part of the complex was used by the Polish Security Service (SB) as a labour camp where Germans and Silesians were held before being displaced from Poland and former members of Nazi organisations were imprisoned.

The Wooden Religious Architecture Trail will take you from Opole across Opole Silesia to a total of twelve charming old churches, among them a top-class historical site: St. Anne’s Pilgrimage Church which is based on the outline of a five-petal rose.

Lower Silesia (Dolnoslaskie)

Lower Silesia was handed back to Poland from Germany at the end of WWII and is known for an abundance of historic architecture of various styles. During the Middle Ages, the region was part of Piast-ruled Poland and was one of the leading regions of the country with its capital Wrocław being one of the main cities of the Polish Kingdom.

Within Lower Silesia, you will find many castles and palaces, well preserved or reconstructed old towns, numerous spa towns, and historic burial sites of Polish monarchs and consorts. The region is one of the most visited provinces in Poland.

There’s over 100 castles and palaces in the region including: Książ Castle, Czocha Castle, Grodziec Castle, Gola Dzierżoniowska Castle, Oleśnica Castle and Kamieniec Ząbkowicki Palace.

Książ Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the province due to its mysterious underground tunnels. During World War II, Ksiaz Castle was taken over by the occupying German forces and following Hitler’s direct orders, a system of tunnels was constructed underneath the castle and surrounding areas. In 2018, a 1.5km section of the tunnels was opened to the public as a tourist attraction and a 45 minute tour is available.

Other attractions in Lower Silesia include: Kłodzko Fortress, Fort Srebrna Góra, Wambierzyce, Legnickie Pole, Henryków, Lubiąż Abbey, Krzeszów Abbey, Oleśnica Mała, Vang Stave Church, Churches of Peace, Sokołowsko, Cave Bear, Museum of Gold Mining and Metallurgy in Złoty Stok, Coal Mine in Nowa Ruda, Museum of Industry and Railway in Jaworzyna Śląska, Skull Chapel in Czermna, Mount Ślęża, Table Mountains, Owl Mountains, Karkonosze, The Main Trail Sudetes, Barycz Valley Landscape Park and connected with the history of World War II – the tunnels of Project Riese, a German Gross-Rosen concentration camp, German War Cemetery and Park Peace in the Nadolice Wielkie.

The most widely visited city is Wrocław, a city with a unique architectural and cultural make-up, symbolised by its magnificent market square. The Festival of Good Beer is held here every year, on the second weekend of June.

Łódź Province (Lodzkie)

Łódź (pronounced woodge) province is located in central Poland and is named after its capital and largest city.

The area has seven landscape parks and a number of well-known tourist attractions including the Museum of Art in Łódź; which has one of the biggest modern art collections in Europe, Poland’s only thermal spa in Uniejów and Kamieńsk Hill on the slope of the Bełchatów mine; which is a popular skiing facility.

The spa at Uniejów is also a giant aquatic fun park with swimming pools, water slides and rapid rivers and is a fun day out for the family.

An unusual but very interesting attraction is the PGE Power Giants museum in Bełchatów, an interactive educational centre, which explains how electricity is produced.

Tomaszowska Okrąglica is a collection of three tourist attractions in one location, the Blue Springs Reserve, the River Pilica Open-Air Museum (Poland’s first museum devoted to a river) and the Nagórzyckie Caves Underground Tourist Route.

Other popular attractions include the Safari Zoo in Borysew and the narrow-gauge railway linking Rogów with Rawa Mazowiecka and Biała Rawska. The railway was built in 1915 during World War I and today its cars transport tourists along a 49 km route, one of the longest narrow-gauge lines in the country.

Within Łódź province, you will find interesting historical buildings such as the well-preserved 12th-century Romanesque collegiate church in Tum and the 14th-century Royal Castle at Łęczyca.

The Łowicz region is a centre for traditional Polish arts and crafts, and the town’s regional museum showcases folk costumes, paper cut outs, and embroidery.

The city of Łódź was once home to a massive textile industry prior to going into decline after the second World War and today, it is famous for its architecture, Jewish heritage, cultural institutions such as museums and art galleries and a vibrant, buzzing nightlife. It is also the focal point of Poland's growing film industry.

Greater Poland (Wielkopolskie)

Greater Poland (Wielkopolskie) is often referred to as being the “Cradle of Poland” and if you want to experience the essence of Poland’s eventful history, this is the province to head to. The Polish state was founded here in the Middle Ages with the cities of Poznań and Gniezno being the early centres of royal power. Gniezno was once the capital of Poland prior to being moved to Kraków.

Today, Greater Poland is a historical province with an immense pride in its long history, the largest city is Poznań, followed by Kalisz, which is the oldest city in the country.

Kalisz was first mentioned in the 2nd century AD as Calisia, a trading settlement on the Amber Route between the Roman Empire and the Baltic Sea. Gniezno has a charming Old Town with winding streets and colourful, slope-roofed buildings. Both towns provide attractions worthy of a day trip.

15 km south of Poznań is an area of around 75 square kilometres of forest and lakes, which forms the Wielkopolska National Park. The province also contains part of Drawa National Park and has several Landscape Parks including the Rogalin Landscape Park, which is famous for its 2000 monumental oak trees.

The city of Poznań has many interesting sights, a huge student population and a very lively vibe. The city centre is buzzing at all times of the day and night and is packed full of restaurants, bars and clubs.

Away from the cities, you will find delightful towns, rural scenery and a good choice of attractions including the Iron Age settlement in Biskupin, the great cathedral of Gniezno, castles, palaces and churches.

The sleepy lakeside town of Kórnik is very popular with tourists because of its small, distinctive castle, the town of Żnin attracts railway enthusiasts due to its steam train and Rogalin Palace Museum helps visitors understand Poland’s historical noble and opulent past.

Rydzyna is a historic town within the region and was the seat of King Stanislaus I during his first short reign from 1704 to 1709. The town has a delightful preserved old town and a multitude of historical buildings and is often referred to as ‘the pearl of the Polish baroque.’

Lubusz (Lubuskie)

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.