Poland and its southern neighbour Slovakia are separated by the mighty Carpathian Mountains, of which the highest part are the Tatras. At their foot lie several historical regions, among them the colourful Podhale and Spisz. Located south of Krakow the region is inhabited by Gorale – highlanders, an ethnic group of independent culture and dialect.
Our Polish High Tatras, Dunajec Gorge and Krakow self guided walking holiday in Poland runs through villages and towns located in picturesque valleys and dales. Most of the route follows the Dunajec – a beautiful mountain river. During this walking tour, you will get the opportunity to visit two national parks and two UNESCO world heritage sites, including the great Kraków, and many other attractions which are not accessible by car. You will walk on forested trails and optionally summit some of the highest peaks in the area.
- Tatra Mountains
- Dunajec Gorge
- The old town of Krakow – former Polish capital
- Wieliczka Salt Mine (optional)
- Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum (optional)
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival in Krakow
Arrival and accommodation in a hotel in Krakow. Meeting our local representative, who will give you detailed travel information and maps. They will also explain the course of the following days as well as answer all necessary questions. In the afternoon, you will have a chance for individual sightseeing of the Old Town, Market Square, and the Jewish Quarter.
- Accommodation: Hotel Kazimierz or similar
Day 2: Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains | 7-16 km
After breakfast, a private car transfer will take you to Zakopane, a lively resort located in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. In 2 hours you will reach the hotel situated close to the Tatra National Park entrance. After leaving your luggage in the hotel, you can take a moderate walk along one of the Tatra valleys. There are several options to choose from, all of which are described in the extended materials you’ll be provided upon booking.
- Walking for the day: Approximately 1 to 3 hours hike, depending on the preferred level of difficulty
- Easy trail: 7 km, ↑290 m
- Moderate trail: 16 km, ↑670
- Accommodation: Czarny Potok Spa Hotel or similar
Day 3: Tatra Mountains | 19-23 km
A full day of hiking in the Tatra Mountains. Among suggested routes are the peaks of Kopa Kondracka (2,005 m), Czerwone Wierchy (2,096 m) and Swinica (2,301 m).
- Walking for the day: Approximately 4 to 8 hours hike, depending on the preferred level of difficulty
- Easy trail: 19 km, 4-5 hours, ↑1,000 m
- Moderate trail*: 23 km, 7-8 hours,↑1,300 m
- Accommodation: Czarny Potok Spa Hotel or similar
*Important note about the moderate option (Swinica climb): the path, whose western section forms the second part of our route, is often called a via ferrata, which is misleading since – despite the metal chains, brackets and ladders as well as being comparable to an Austrian/German via ferrata grade 2 (B) – the Orla Perć is NOT a via-ferrata like those in the Alps. There is no cable to which you could clip yourself, which means that you are unprotected unless you clip yourself to the chains.
Day 4: Spisz Region and Slovakian Pieniny National Park | 15 km
After breakfast, a car will be waiting to take you to the Slovakian side of the Pieniny national park. This day’s hike follows a rolling landscape and passes several exciting limestone formations. You will descend to the valley of Dunajec. Accommodation is on the Polish side of the river near the entrance to the Dunajec gorge.
- Walking for the day: Approximately 6 hours hike, 15 km, ↑310 m
- Accommodation: Hotel ‘Nad Przelomem’
Day 5: Pieniny Mountains | 14 km
Start of the walk through the Dunajec Gorge. This day’s route follows the so-called “Pieniny Way” to the spa town of Szczawnica. The route can be optionally done by wooden rafts operated by local Highlanders.
- Walking for the day: Approximately 3-5 hours hike
- Easy trail: 14 km, 3 hours, ↑240 m
- Moderate trail: 14 km, 4-5 hours, ↑650 m
- Accommodation: Budowlani Spa Hotel
Day 6: Beskidy Mountains | 14-21 km
The 6th day starts with heading eastwards from Szczawnica and pass a village Jaworki, where a population of Greek-catholic Lemkos lived until the end of World War II. This day’s walk leads through a range of mountains called Beskidy and ends up on the peak of Prehyba (1,175 m), where a mountain chalet is located. On the way, you may also pay a visit to a nature reserve Homole Gorge with unusual rock formations. Overnight stay in a mountain chalet on Prehyba peak.
- Walking for the day: Approximately 3 – 6 hours hike, depends if chosen to do an extra walk in the area
- Easy trail: 14 km, 3-4 hours, ↑640 m
- Moderate trail: + extra walk – additional 7 km / 2 hours ↑440 m
- Accommodation: Mountain chalet on Prehyba Peak (Przehyba Peak)
Day 7: Rytro and Krakow | 9 km
The last walking day’s route leads from Prehyba peak to Poprad valley to a quiet summer vacation area around Rytro. There it ends the walking part of this trip. A car will transport you from there back to Krakow, where in the afternoon you can once again spend time on individual sightseeing.
- Walking for the day: Approximately 2.5 hours hike / 9 km
- Accommodation: Hotel Kazimierz or similar
Day 8: Departure
Return home or individual stay extension.
What to Expect
Accommodation is in nice 3-star hotels, one night in a mountain chalet. The mountain hotels have spa facilities and a swimming pool. The accommodation was chosen to be close to national parks and trails. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Click to view default hotels
- Hotel Kazimierz, Budowlani Spa Hotel, Czarny Potok Spa Hotel, Hotel Willa Pod Skocznią, Hotel ‘Nad Przelomem’
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is always included. With exception of one day, there are mountain huts/chalets along the trail which offer simple, hot food and drinks. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in the hotel or from several restaurants in towns and villages where the accommodation is located. Most restaurants offer local specialities as well as international cuisine.
Difficulty & terrain
This walking tour is appropriate for beginners and intermediate walkers. There is a choice of two walks on some days, which allows adjusting the walking difficulty to one’s experience (read more about difficulty grades). The biggest elevation gains are on days 2 and 3 in the Tatra mountains. The route follows unpaved walking trails, which are well marked and signposted. The trails are described in detail in the ‘tour notes’ booklet as well as marked on maps (maps scale 1:25000 – 1:30000). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from May until mid-October. Weather is best in June – September. As July and August are the busiest months, it is preferable that you book as early as possible. In late October you may encounter some snow in the higher parts of the Tatra mountains. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your holiday on any date in the season – so please indicate desired starting date when booking.
The Polish Carpathian mountains lie in the temperate zone of Central Europe. They are an important barrier to the movements of air masses. The average temperatures vary from 14 degrees in May to 20 in August. Highest precipitation occurs in June. On average rainfall occurs 180 days a year.
Click to view travel options and route planner
Recommended arrival and departure airport: Krakow (KRK).
By train or bus
- Krakow Airport is the largest regional airport in Poland. The airport is located 11 km west of Kraków. The train is considered the best solution from the airport to Krakow’s city centre for its travel time and cost. The train is available from 5:18 am to 12:15 am and has services every 30 minutes. The journey from Krakow airport to the city centre will take 20 minutes, and the ticket fare is €2.5. Cost of taxi from/to airport to the city centre would be approx. 70 PLN (€17).
- 7 nights accommodation, as described in the itinerary, with breakfast included
- 3 car transfers between accommodation as stated in the itinerary
- Introductory meeting with a company representative at the beginning of the trip
- Luggage transport between places of accommodation (except for Przechyba mountain chalet);
- Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road note; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked
- 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme
Options, extras & supplements
- Single room supplement for members of a group
- This holiday is available for solo travellers upon request only; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Half Board (evening meals included)
- One extra night in Krakow before or after the holiday
- Guided tour of Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow with return transport
- Guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum near Krakow