The Polish Tatras
Superb hiking amongst the highest Carpathian summits
The gateway to the Polish Tatras is the vibrant mountain resort of Zakopane, situated at the foot of the range at around 900m. with the Tatra National Park (Tratrzanski Park Narodowy) lying immediately south within easy reach of the town.
From gentle valley walking to precipitous mountain hikes, there are over 250km of marked paths in the Park, covering everything from gentle ambles beside rushing mountain streams to more serious hikes along airy ridges and protected scrambles to jagged summits. The scenery is glorious and the views stupendous, and despite the compact nature of the range there is a sense of remoteness and wilderness at odds with the actual size.
Although relatively unknown to UK hikers, make no mistake – these hills are the real deal and offer full-on mountain days. Consequently, they are popular, but there always seems to be a great friendliness and camaraderie amongst hikers that makes for a highly enjoyable experience.
Trekking in Poland
Modern-day Poland is a large country, roughly the same size as the UK and Ireland combined. All the principle mountain ranges lie in a swathe across the south of the country, straddling the borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine, and include the Sudety, the Beskids, the Pieniny and the Bieszczady.
But the jewel in the crown of Poland’s mountains are the High Tatras, a compact range designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that forms the border with neighbouring Slovakia and contains the highest summits of the Carpathian chain. Only about one-third of the range lies in Poland – a miniscule-sounding 70 square miles in all – but despite the small geographical size, these are proper mountains, and the walking opportunities are disproportionately extensive.
The gateway to the Polish Tatras is the town of Zakopane, a vibrant mountain resort situated about a two-and-a-half hour drive south of the historic city of Krakow, Poland’s second city and former capital.