In Poland the main national tourist organisation that establishes and maintains tourist routes is PTTK. It is an association established by the merger of the Polish Touring Society and the Polish Tatra Society in 1950, grouping tourists. PTTK is the biggest tourist society in Poland. It has nearly 68,000 members, associated in 291 branches, consisting of almost 1,800 clubs. The society's task is to promote qualified tourism and sightseeing in Poland.
Tourist signs have over 130 years. The first tourist signs in Poland were made in the Tatra Mountain regions in 1887. Tourists have been used to the appearance of signs and the way of marking for years. They trust that the trail will lead them to a certain place, thanks to them they have a sense of security during hiking. PTTK has been marking the trails since 1950. Marked hiking trails are one of the most visible elements of tourism development. A unified network of hiking trails secures the safety of tourists in a specific area.
The tourist trail is marked out and marked with uniform signs (symbols), equipped with devices and information signs. A hiking route provides the safe passage to tourists of average skill level and experience regardless of the season. The trail or its section may be temporarily closed because of unfavorable weather conditions, avalanche danger, forestry work or temporary protection of natural values. Usually trails can be traversed in both ways but there are some exceptions from these rules eg. famous Orla Perć trail in the high Tatras can be traversed only one way due to huge number of tourist, extreme difficulty of the trail and safety measures.
There are also various types of walking and educational paths (e.g. natural, forest, archaeological, historical, etc.) that are marked differently than tourist routes. There are also cultural routes e.g. the Route of St. James, the Amber Route, Piast Trail, etc. for which individual signs are created.
Here we will concentrate on hiking trails as they are probably the most commonly used by ITS Poland tourists. Hiking trail marks are white with a colorful stripe in the middle. White circle with a colorful circle in the middle means the start or the end of the trail. It is a common misconception that the colour means difficulty of a hiking trail. The colour only shows the difficulty of skiing trails not the hiking ones.
A red trail is the main hiking trail in the given area. It is the most valuable for tourists. It goes through the most valuable in terms of natural environment and landscape areas.
A blue trail is a long distance trail.
A yellow trail is a a short connecting route or access route to other trail.
A green trail leads to characteristic spots, the highlights of a given area.
A black trail is rather short trail to some point.
Numerous hiking trails are present in all regions of Poland and are very popular tourist routes in all national parks. This is why it is good to know what particular signs mean to be able to admire beautiful landscapes safely. ITS DMC Poland usually advices the groups to hire also professional guides that help with symbols and also provides invaluable advice and knowledge about particular areas. Professional help is especially advisable in mountain areas. Contact one of ITS Poland professional group advisors to check our offer!
Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska