KRAKOW, as the former capital of Poland, has many magical places worth visiting. However, when you are in this city of kings, your sightseeing should not be limited only to its borders, because at a short distance you can find unique places where the beauty and history will move you and remain forever in your memory.
Visiting Krakow, you can hike through national parks and discover caves and mines, to learning about the old culture in the castles or t the tragic history while visiting the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz – this is what beautiful Lesser Poland has to offer plus much more.
A Stroll around Ojców and the Prądnik Valley
Unquestionably, one of the most picturesque and interesting places for a trip is the town of Ojców, located north-west of Krakow, and the entire Prądnik Valley. The area abounds in limestone rocks, castles and caves, beautifully blended into the landscapes of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. In addition to the wonderful views and numerous hiking and biking routes, the area offers many places for rock climbing. The nature is protected in the Ojcowski National Park, the smallest of all Polish national parks.
Discovering the tragedy of the Holocaust in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp
Our travels should lead us not only to places that are easy and enjoyable to perceive, but also to places where we can be confronted with the toughest and most tragic history. People from all over the world are coming here to take part in Auschwitz tours, which will remain in their memories for the rest of their lives.
A visit to the German concentration camp situated in the town of Oświęcim, near Krakow, will become a memorable history lesson, because all buildings, objects, photographs and documents stored there are perfectly preserved, and the exhibitions force you to ponder and feel the enormity of the tragedy that happened here many years ago.
History below the ground level in Wieliczka
Traveling south-east of the former capital of Poland, you will come across a truly unique town – Wieliczka. The town is best known for its salt mine, uninterruptedly operating since the 13th century, and placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978.
Unique exhibitions of mining tools and machines, huge underground rooms, corridors extending for many kilometers, and even the possibility of staying in the underground for the night, make this extraordinary place one of its kind. Having visited the mine, you can learn even more about its history by the visit to the 13th century Saltworks Castle, and you can finish your stay in Wieliczka on the town square, admiring its historical buildings.
A painted village of Zalipie
Located somewhat further north of Krakow, lies a unique settlement which is well worth seeing – even if you have only little time. For many years, Zalipie has been known for a local custom of painting the cottages with floral motifs. The custom of decorating the interior of the houses, the entire yard and the dishes with colorful paintings or cut-outs appeared in the 19th century. There are about 20 cottages decorated in this way, including the farmhouse of Felicja Curyłowa which is a part of the Tarnów Ethnographic Museum, and the Municipal Cultural Center – “Dom Malarek”.
A walk with bats in the Wierzchowski Caves
Speaking of Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, you should not forget to visit the slightly less known but truly beautiful and unique Wierzchowski Caves that are open for visiting. The Upper Wierzchowska Cave, which is 975 meters long, has a complex system of corridors and chambers, through which you will be led by the well-marked, secured and illuminated route. In the Mamutowa Cave, or the Lower Wierzchowska Cave, the remains of the mammoth were once found, and that is why it was named “Mamutowa”. Although it is much shorter, it has climbing routes of exceptional difficulty level which adds to its attractiveness.
Discovering the surroundings of Krakow can be an unforgettable experience. However, if you want to explore the charms of lesser Poland in and out, it will be wise for you to use the qualified guides and tour offers that will reveal to you all the secrets of these exceptional areas.
Without them, it may happen that you pass, without noticing, some truly interesting places that due to their special character might have imprinted into your memory for the rest of your life.
More information about Cracow and its surroundings you can find on https://discovercracow.com/krakow-tours-and-trips/