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Top ten reasons to go hiking in Poland

Top ten reasons to go hiking in Poland

If you look at a topographic map of Poland, it will tell you quickly why hiking is in the country’s DNA. The Carpathian Mountains sweep across the south of the country like a cloud of climbing opportunities, all with silver linings. The Tatras Mountains are the most colossal of Poland’s Carpathians, a limestone landscape of great gorges and great gorgeousness. The Carpathians are also easily accessible from the ancient city of Kraków, which is just one of our ten reasons to make hiking in Poland your next natural adventure. 

1. The towering peaks of Tatra National Park

Rather incredibly, there are 23 national parks in Poland, with Tatra one of the largest, covering 211.6 km² of the Tatra or Tatras Mountains, a limestone landscape of great gorges and great gorgeousness. Trek up to the likes of Kopa Kondracka (2,005m) or Mount Przehyba (1,175m) on our High Tatras Mountains tour. Another Tatras treat is the trek through spectacular alpine scenery of Valley of the Five Lakes, with beech forests and traditional wooden mountain huts en route. Or, on this same tour, walk through the Strążyska Valley to Siklawica waterfall and the park’s gateway town of Zakopane, just 4km from the heart of the park. 

Tatra National Park is a like a gem studded into the Carpathian belt that wraps itself around the south of the country.

2. The baby belle of Babia Góra National Park

Babia Góra National Park is a lot smaller, covering nearly 40km2 of the Zywiecki Beskid Mountains, in the western Carpathians. Another southern belle, highlights on our walking tour here include a climb up to Devil’s Peak (1,725m), also known as Diablak, the highest point in the Babia Góra massif after which the national park is named. Although this park can get quite busy in the height of summer months, one of the joys of trekking here is that you can get superb views of the Tatra Mountains’ snowy peaks, as soon as you get above 1,500m. This tour is open from mid-May until the end of September, so you can hike here in quieter times too. 

The sun sets over Devil’s Peak in one of Poland’s most heavenly landscapes, the Babia Góra massif.

3. Dunajec River Gorge 

This Polish stunner runs through the Pieniny Mountains in the south of the country and across into the north of Slovakia. Walk along the 200m high cliffs of the canyon on both the Polish and Slovakian side, both being protected by Pieniny National Park and accessible by a pedestrian border bridge. Most tourists explore the river itself on a traditional, decorated wooden raft, guided by boatmen, many of whom have navigated these waters for years. 

Just another day in Dunacec.

4. Easy European access

Poland’s Carpathian Mountains are very accessible, with the historic town of Kraków proffering a perfect entry point to these exquisite elevations. There is an international airport in Kraków, served by these airlines. The Polish airlines company LOT, for example, which flies to North America, has direct flights from Chicago to Kraków. In addition, Poland has a great rail network, with direct connections to other European countries such as Czechia, Germany and Slovakia. For more information on train travel, see our blog on how get cheap rail tickets or read the train guru Mark Smith, otherwise known as The Man in Seat 61’s guide on train travel to and within Poland

5. Kraków is exciting and insightful

The Old Town, Wawel Royal Castle and Jewish Quarter Kazimierz are all high on visitors’ lists, as is the city’s very cool cultural scene. This ranges from top notch opera, theatre and galleries, such as the Bunkier and MOCAK Museums of Contemporary Art. Check out Forum Przestrzenie, a former concrete Soviet hotel converted into a hipster food and bar scene, or seek out some Polish street food at Plac Nowy, also in Kazimierz. Keen open water swimmers will love Zakrzówek Park, a quick tram ride from the city centre where there is a restored quarry with superb swimming areas. Get there early to avoid the crowds, but it’s definitely worth it. In total contrast, we also recommend travellers visit the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in the town of Oświęcim. In the words of the Museum, “One cannot understand the modern world without a thorough knowledge of the history of the Nazi German concentration camp, Auschwitz.” 

Not what you expect just outside a

6. Mixed ability trekking

Although this is a mountainous country, hiking in Poland doesn’t take you to extremes. This holiday in the High Tatras, for example, is categorised as easy to moderate, with various daily walking options. So you can choose a trail that isn’t too taxing one day, but push yourself a bit more the next. The routes follow unpaved walking trails, which are well marked with signposts. In addition, we provide a navigation app with maps and route notes, which you can use on your phones for navigation, as well as GPX files.  

7. Solo travel 

Many of us live chaotic lives where we are either constantly plugged in or peopled out, and escaping on our own is like a spa for the mind, body and soul. Hiking in Poland is perfect for solo travellers, with both our High Tatras and Babia Góra National Park walking holidays open to those who yearn for some solitary refinement. Like all of our holidays, we provide 24/7 support on the ground, a carefully crafted itinerary that guides you safely throughout your journey, and welcoming hosts to greet you at the end of the day. So if you want to travel solo, rest assured that we have your back. 

Take on some soulful, solo trekking in Poland.

8. Beautiful border crossings

As our Polish adventure holidays take you so close to the border with Slovakia, it’s worth considering a two country combo holiday. Although you dip into Slovakia briefly on some of our Polish hiking holidays, you could hop over the border and explore Slovakia’s magnificent lakes or highest peaks in its own Tatras National Park for longer. Or consider heading west over the border into Czechia and explore some of our hiking holidays there. Another cheeky combo is to travel between Kraków and Berlin by train (7h) where you can swap hiking for sailing on a bike and riverboat holiday between Berlin and Stralsund. Sleeping on board, by day you cycle along the likes of the Oder-Havel or Finow Canals, through the Ruppin Lake District and Lower Oder Valley National Park, which straddles the German and Polish border, as well as to the historic Polish port city of Szczecin. 

9. Fill your boots with Poland’s famously hearty food 

Food here stretches way beyond pierogi and vodka and is guaranteed to energise and surprise you while hiking in Poland. Pierogi dumplings, stuffed with meat, vegetables, cheese or even chocolate are just a starter on a mountainous menu of local specialties. Soups are common, such as żurek, made with sour rye flour, potatoes, vegetables and meat, or czarnina which is a very traditional soup made with duck or goose blood and vinegar. You can get a blood-free version called ślepo if that makes you feel a bit squeamish. Schabowy is a popular pork cutlet, and kluski are popular potato dumplings. But for a filling feast, bigos is the biggie, an iconic Polish stew made with sauerkraut, beef, pork or game. 

Oscypek is Polish smoked cheese cooked on the grill, and typical of mountain areas.

10. Adventurers love hiking in Poland

Don’t just take our word for it, but read a bit of feedback from customers who have loved hiking in Poland: 

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our hiking adventure in Southern Poland. The hotels we stayed in were excellent and our driver, Zibi, was reliable and a wonderful person who told us more about the area. The High Tatras, in particular, were very beautiful.” By Cheetah, Oregon, USA. 

“We had a seven day hike through varied terrain along the Polish Slovakian border. Accommodation was mostly friendly high quality hotels with great food, to a fairly simple and rustic mountain chalet. Stunning vistas, friendly locals, and good food and drink were the highlights. We could not fault the organising of this trip, and must praise the excellent driver who was on time, every time. Highly recommended.” – Matt, Australia

We just returned from a guided walking holiday to the Polish High Tatras, Dunajec Gorge and Krakow. It was an amazing experience for us as we have never done this before… we did not feel rushed and were able to enjoy all the amazing sights of the Tatra Mountains and the hospitality of the Polish people. Thank you for all the arrangements. Will definitely recommend this to friends!” – Joseph, Irene and Jessica 

Fantastic holiday, great walks, great scenery and organisation.” – Kevin V