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.