We have already published the article “Castles and Palaces in Krakow Area” about this type of attractions, we have also already talked about all religious attractions in the region in our article “Religious attractions of Krakow and its vicinity”. This is why this time we will concentrate on national parks and their highlights.
All national parks in Kraków area are connected with hilly, rocky and mountainous geological formations. Ojcowski, Tatra and Pieniny National Parks are usually the first choices of international tourists. Still Gorczański and Babiogórski National Parks also have much to offer and they are not as crowded as the former 3 which can be a real advantage in COVID and post-COVID world.
It was created in 1956 as then, the sixth national park in Poland. Currently, it has an area of 2145.62 hectares and its buffer zone has 6777 hectares. The main aim of the park was the protection of Prądnik Valley with caves, plant and animal life in this area. The land of the park is built of Jurassic limestone created about 150 million years ago. Such a geological structure created favourable conditions for developing of caves. In the park there are about 700 of them. The most famous one is Łokietek Cave. In the park there are also deep canyons even up to 120 m high. Furthermore, there are 950 plant species and 1200 animal species. The most interesting animals are bats. There are 19 species of them living in Ojcowski region. In the park we will also find architecture monuments such as Pieskowa Skała Palace and Ojców Castle ruins. Visit in the park can be easily combined with a trip to Kraków as this old Polish capital is only 20 km from the park (30 min drive).
It was created in 1981 to protect the beauty of landscape and wildlife in Gorce Mountains. The national park covers central part of Gorce range including Turbacz summit (1310 meters above sea level) and has the area of 7 030 hectares. The park includes all the highest Gorce peaks: Turbacz, Jaworzyna Kamieniecka, Kiczora, Kudłom, Gorc and Czoło Turbacza. The animal symbol of the park is a European fire salamander. The oldest anthropogenic monument is Bulandy Chapel at Jaworzyna Kamieniecka Glade. 95% of the park is covered in forest, which can boast many over 100 years old trees. The biggest attractions of Gorce are its glades which offer magnificent views to nearby mountain ranges of the Tatra, Pieniny and Beskidy Mountains. In the park there are many picturesque tourist and educational trails.
Babiogórski Nasional Park was created in 1954 and its area is 3391.55 hectares. The park is located at altitude between 810 meters above sea level and 1725 meters above sea level. The area covers northern and southern part of Babia Góra range. It is a vast sea of forests with an island of alpine type mountain pastures. The highest peak is Diablak, which is also the highest peak in all Western Beskidy range. Babiogórski National Park’s main goal was to protect classic plant floors of mountain species, rock flora species and plants which are unique for only this part of Poland. In the park there are also numerous animals such as bears, wolves, lynxes and deer; 105 bird species such as woodpeckers, eagle owls and capercaillies; there are also unique species of insects. When it comes to rock formations there are two interesting grottos (Golden Well and at Churches). Babiogórski National Park is visited every year by 100 000 tourists.
Tatra National Park was created in 1955 to protect Polish Tatra mountain area which consists of the only mountain range in Poland with alpine character. The park area is 21 197 hectares, 70% of it is covered in forests, 30% consist of meadows, rocks and water. It is also the only place in the country where we can observe a chamois, a marmot and over 200 species of mountain plants. The highest peak in the park and whole Poland is Rysy 2499 m above sea level. Tatra mountains have climate zones which also influences creation of fauna and flora zones. Currently, Tatra National Park is visited by about 2.5 million tourists every year and the main city of the region Zakopane is called a winter capital of Poland. For more info check our two articles about Zakopane trails: Zakopane Trails for the Beginners and Zakopane Trails for the Advanced Climbers & Mountain Safety Rules.
It was created in 1932 to protect fairly small group of mountains from Czorsztyn to Szczawnica towns and Dunajec gorge in this area. The park area is 2 346 hectares. The most famous peaks include Sokolica 747 m above sea level and Trzy Korony 982 m above sea level. In the park there are 35 km trails among them walking, cycling and skiing ones. Still, the most popular attraction of Pieniny is rafting in Dunajec gorge. There are also anthropological attractions such as castle ruins in Czorsztyn. Flora of his fairly small area is very diverse. 167 species of typically mountain plants were noted and also 2 endemic species. There are also 7 thousand animal species here. The most interesting ones include butterflies species and bats. Lots of tourist claim that Pieniny are the prettiest mountains in Poland.
Summing up, Krakow area has lots to offer for natural environment lovers. It is a paradise for all these who enjoy trekking and climbing. With so many diverse ecosystems and geological formations it is a place that can be visited many times and rediscovered from various angles. If you like nature, walking or climbing just contact one of ITS Poland’s group specialists and start planning your journey!
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska