Nevertheless, this region has changed a lot in the last few years. It greatly opened to tourists and a lot of new comfortable hotels, shops and restaurants emerged. There are countless hiking, cycling and horse riding routes, picturesque meadows, mountain peaks, but also villages and small towns. It is enough to move away from larger towns to plunge into the rich world of plants and animals. Bieszczady are really worth to be discovered especially during COVID pandemics that threatens huge agglomerations.
Połonina is an East Slavic word borrowed from the Ruthenian language (a West Slavic form would be płonina) and it means a plowed place - empty, useless, i.e. unsuitable for farming. Top of most Bieszczady mountains have Połoniny on top. It is a natural layer of vegetation, the range of which has been significantly extended by human activity (shacking and pastoralism such as cutting bushes, shrubs and trees, burning forests, barracks, grazing sheep and cattle, mowing). They are used for grazing and for tourist they offer amazing views. As lower parts of the mountains are covered in deciduous forests, upper parts are empty grasslands offering panoramic views. The main „Połoniny” include: Caryńska, Wetlińska and Bukowska.
In Bieszczady region this group includes interesting objects of wooden church architecture with numerous collections of icons. Many churches still hold Greek Catholic or Orthodox services, so churches do not only serve as monuments. Among the dozens of objects on the Trail of Icons, it is worth visiting, among others to Ulucz, the wooden church of Ascension of the Lord, one of the oldest wooden churches in Poland (first built between 1510-1517, current wood construction is dated at 1659). No less interesting is the Orthodox church in Zagórze-Dolina, erected in 1836, with a strong influence of Latin architecture and art. Inside there is a baroque altar from the middle of the 19th century. Moreover, Orthodox churches in Równia near Ustrzyki Dolne and in Smolnik near Lutowiska deserve special attention. They have been standing in the same places for several centuries.
Bieszczady Mountains have a whole network of routs especially prepared for horse riding lovers. One of good examples is PTTK Bieszczady Horse Trail. It connects Wola Michowa with Wołosaty, running through the Nasiczne and the Otryt range. The individual sections of the route are designed for a 5-8 hour hike. Another significant attraction is also chasing horses from summer pastures to winter pastures (and vice versa), in which more experienced riders can take part.
The Bieszczady narrow-gauge railway was opened in 1898. The train was mainly used to transport timber and passengers. Since 1993 it has been traversing the Bieszczady tracks again carrying only tourists. The train travels the 11-kilometer section between Majdan and Przysłup, stopping along the way in Cisna and Dołżyca. The second route connects Majdan with Balnica. Each of the stops is an opportunity to start hiking in the closer and further areas of the station.
The inhabitants of Bieszczady Mountains have been burning charcoal for centuries. The best material is obtained from deciduous trees, especially beech and hornbeam trees, and both species are abundant in these parts of the country. Today, due to the development of new technologies and environmental protection requirements, metal charcoals furnaces are used. Their characteristic silhouettes scattered in the meadows have become one of the symbols of the Bieszczady Mountains. The largest number of firing stations was located in the forest districts of Lesko, Baligród and Cisna and it is there that it is best to look for charcoal makers who explain the principles of their work to tourists. There is also Open-air Museum of Charcoal Firing. It is located at the entrance to the village of Muczne. In addition to the exhibits, such as: retorts and the construction of a charcoal mill, a number of information boards have been set up, presenting, among others, the history of the development of the wood industry in the Bieszczady Mountains and the history of coal workers.
The icons that are in the Historical Museum come mainly from the Bieszczady and Subcarpathian churches, which were destroyed in the mountains, deserted after the war and displacements. While strolling through the museum halls, tourists can learn about the history and types of Carpathian icons and see the most beautiful and valuable ones. The museum also boasts the largest collection of works by Z. Beksiński one of the most well-known contemporary Polish painters. The Folk Architecture Museum covers a huge area and it is devoted to the culture of Boyko and Lemko communities. The residential and farm buildings and their equipment preserved in the museum show how people lived and worked in Bieszczady mountains.
In the Forest Promotion Center in Muczne tourists can find out how big a deer or a bear is. They can face the wolf face to face and understand why it is not worth going off the trails at night. The trip is very informative, especially since the guide tells about the habits of wild creatures in Bieszczady. Tourists that have more time can also drive to the Bison Show Farm. Bison of the Białowieża-Caucasian breed are bred here and can be seen from the viewing terraces. The farm is located in the Muczne forestry, by the Stuposiany - Tarnawa Niżna road, approx. 2 km before the Muczne village.
Solina lake itself is not entirely natural as it is an artificial lake. Still, it offers a variety of natural attractions. The dam and hydroelectric power station were built from 1960. Currently, Solina dam is the highest one in Poland, as it has 81.8 m height and 644 m length. Solina reservoir has 22 km2 and long coast line, as on average it is 166 km. The lake and its surrounding is often visited by tourists. There are a few hotels by the lake. The lake is perfect for windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and also swimming at officially marked out beaches. During summer there is an additional attraction of tourist cruise ships. The dam itself is also very popular tourist destination for all visitors in Bieszczady region.
The castle in Lesko was built in the 16th century but since then it has been rebuilt several times after fires, and finally in the 19th century it was rebuilt according to the design of Wincenty Pol. Currently, there is a large guesthouse here.
It is the highest peak of the Bieszczady Mountains. It is 598 m above sea level high. Tourists can reach Tarnica from Wołosate (short, but steeper) or from Ustrzyki Górne (longer, but more gently). Since recently, the ascent has been greatly facilitated, because comfortable stairs lead to the very top. People can reach the iron cross itself, to crown their effort there with a photo with a beautiful panorama.
Sine Wiry is a landscape reserve protecting the gorge of the Wetlina River Valley. The 2.5 km trail awaits tourist with the most beautiful rock steps in the Bieszczady Mountains. The Wetlina water falling on them creates fantastic cascades and whirls. Tourists sit here on boulders, in the sun, with their feet in the water. They absorb nature and enjoy life.
It is a nature reserve that is very comfortable to visit. The route runs along specially prepared wooden piers, from which you can admire the marsh and mud plants (mainly sphagnum moss). Walking through the peat bog in Tarnawa is a real paradise for botanists. There are two trails.
A trip to Bieszczady Mountains in winter is a challenge for people who are interested in truly extreme activities and very fit. It is impossible to imagine the conditions prevailing there in winter, if you have not experienced it. The thickness of the snow cover often exceeds a meter, so going on the trail without proper equipment and communication is out of the question. In addition, there is a gusty wind, intensifying the feeling of low temperatures this is why it is a tour only for experienced tourists.
Although Komańcza is not geographically located in the Bieszczady Mountains, it is so close that Bieszczady tourists usually also get there. People visit the Convent of the Sisters of Nazareth and more specifically, several of its chambers, where the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, was interned during the communist era. It is good opportunity to discover this famous Polish martyr. Several rooms have been dedicated to the Primate, in which information boards tell the story, and household appliances remember the priest. There are walking paths around the monastery, along which tourist reach, among others to the statue of Our Lady of the Forest.
The list of Bieszczady Mountains attractions is very long. This is truly perfect location for wild nature and small village lovers. The climate of the Bieszczady Mountains helps to calm down, distance yourself from the world and gain strength. Due to the large area covered by the mountain meadows, it is difficult to talk about crowds there, even in the season. Discover Bieszczady with ITS Poland DMC. Just contact one of our professional trip advisors and we will make your Bieszczady dream come true!
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska