Why Poland Is The Next Big Thing in Eastern Europe Holidays

The breathtaking trail in Poland beckons you forward
The breathtaking trail in Poland beckons you forward

Have you loved exploring countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia? Poland should be next on your list!

 
If you are looking for a new Eastern Europe holiday on foot, UTracks has added two trips in Poland’s mountains for 2020, one guided and one self-guided.
 
Here is how you can plan the perfect walking holiday in Poland and what makes the country the next big thing in Eastern Europe trips.
 
Stunning view of the Tatra mountain range in Poland

 

Why should Poland be on my radar for an active Eastern Europe holiday?

Easily accessible from all main European cities, Poland is a country where you can find a little bit of everything – from grand architecture and world-class monuments to thousand-year-old history, temperate climate and warm, hospitable people. However, Poland’s greatest attraction is its nature. Wild, diverse and untouched, it is a paradise for the active traveller who loves to be on the move and explore on foot.
 
Looking onto the patchwork of Polish villages nestled into the countryside

 

Where do the new UTracks trips go?

The new Eastern Europe tours explore the southern part of Poland. It is a region worth visiting not only to understand Polish history and culture – here is where you will find Krakow, the former capital of Poland – but also immerse yourself in unspoilt nature. The area is known as ‘home of the mountains’. Think of virgin forests, swift mountain rivers, limestone peaks, intriguing rock formations, hidden caves and castle ruins. Similar to places such as Transylvania, its traditional towns invite visitors to get away from the bustle of modern life.
 
The morning fog adds an eerie layer to the beautiful Polish setting  

What is the scenery like?

Krakow is approx. 100 kilometres from the towering ridges of the Tatra Mountains (the highest range in the Carpathians and the country’s natural border with Slovakia) and the valley where Vistula (the biggest river in Poland) cuts through the region from the west to the east, separating the mountains in the south from the lowlands in the north. There are 6 National Parks in the area, plus nearly 100 nature sanctuaries and landscape parks. So you will be surrounded by nature every step of the way!
 

Fairytale Polish castles perched on the river's edge

 

Are the itineraries of the guided and self-guided trip the same?

Both trips visit the same part of the country, such as Pieniny, the smallest but also one of the most picturesque mountains in Poland, which at 12 km long and no more than 4 km wide have the most complicated geology in the entire Carpathian range. There is also a very memorable walk along the ridge above the deep gorge of Dunajec River. However, they do not follow the exact same route.
 
Walking in the Pieniny Mountains
 
For example, the guided trip go to the gentle Gorce mountains (where you will see many shepherds!) and the Babia Góra peak, the so-called ‘Queen of Beskidy Mountains’, which offers panoramic views; while on the self-guided trip you have the option to go for a walk at the less-known Pieniny Spiskie, where you can see mosaic of fields, meadows, small forests and limestone rocks.
 
Following the path through a green valley in Poland

 

How difficult are the treks?

The guided and the self-guided trips are both graded as moderate, however they are not technically difficult and distances are not long. They are perfect for anyone who loves folk traditions, seeing a different side of Europe and of course hiking in the mountains! For more flexibility, the self-guided trip offers a greater choice of hiking trails, from easier paths to more challenging walks. There is something for everyone, which is what makes Poland ideal for an Eastern Europe holiday.
 
Deer are one of many wild animals who call the Tatra mountains home

 

Is there any wildlife?

Yes, especially in the Tatra Mountains and the other National Parks. Bears still live here, as well as wolves, foxes, lynxes, deer, chamois, wild boars and other game. Seeing them in their natural environment always makes for an impressive sight. With a bit of luck, you should be able to spot animals while you walk, look out for them through your binoculars… or at least find their fresh traces on the ground.
 
View of Pieniny and Tatra Mountains walk

 

When is the best time of the year to visit?

The self-guided trip offers convenient daily departures from early May to late October, while there are four monthly departures for the guided option, in June, July, August and September. Summer temperatures in the mountains can be quite warm, sometimes up to 25oC (although at times they may drop to 15oC) and there is no snow at the High Tatras. The region is in a transient climate zone and, as with all mountains, weather can change suddenly and rain can be expected at any time.
 
Unique Polish haystacks that make you do a double-take
 
In the recent years, like other countries in Eastern Europe such as Romania and the Czech Republic, late spring and early summer have become warmer, making it a great time of the year to explore the mountains. The area is at its busiest from mid-July and in the first weeks of August but it is much quieter at the end of summer and once autumn comes; this is also the time of the year many locals prefer to walk in the mountains – although there are no guarantees for the weather, having an ‘Indian summer’ is not unheard of!
 
Polish ladies preparing a traditional lunch in a beautiful setting

 

Finally, are there any local dishes or delicacies I should try while I’m there?

Meat, potatoes and cabbage are a staple of Polish cuisine. Typical dishes include 'rosół soup', served with pasta; 'bigos', a type of hunter’s meat stew; and 'pierogi' dumplings, which can be either savoury or sweet. While you are in the mountains sample some smoked 'oscypek': either oval or spindle shaped and considered as the king of Polish cheeses, it is made by highlanders from the Tatra, Pieniny and Beskid Mountains, who have been using the same recipe for centuries.

And then there is the 'obwarzanek krakowski'. As the historic and artistic centre of the region, there will be plenty to see and do in Krakow (where both trips start and finish) but make sure you don’t leave the city without trying one of these delicious ring-shaped breads. They are one of Kraków’s symbols, just like frankfurters are associated with Frankfurt and parmesan cheese with with Parma. You will find them sprinkled with salt, sesame or poppy seeds and they can be bought in the Main Market Square and all through the city.
 
Check out the new Poland: Pieniny and Tatra Mountains Walk and Poland: Carpathian Mountains Guided Walk and start planning your Poland summer holiday now.
 
If you would like to get a taste of the country by bike, UTracks also offers a Lithuania, Belarus and Poland Cycle.
Poland

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