7 Great Winter Holiday Destinations in Poland
There’s much more to winter holidays in Poland than just skiing, although it ought to be said that Poland is a very fine skiing location. Skiing not your thing? Try bison tracking, go on a sleigh ride, or relax in a winter spa!
A popular tourist town all year long, Zakopane is a prime spot for spectacular selfies. Located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, its streets and rooftops are especially picturesque when covered in snow. Zakopane is not all sightseeing either; it’s the perfect city for winter sports enthusiasts. The spectacular winter competitions of the Ski Jumping World Cup take place there, and there are many exceptional ski slopes and hiking trails to try out. To add some culture to an otherwise athletic holiday, travellers can find out more about Witkacy, a controversial and colourful artist associated with the city.
If you make it to Zakopane, it’s worth dropping by the charming hills of Bukowina Tatrzańska. This village is famous for its magnificent view of the Tatra Mountains and for its thermal waters. Bukowina also hosts the Highlander Carnival, a must-see event presenting the folklore of the Tatra mountains every February. There’s a number of ski lifts in Bukowina Tatrzańska, and a neighbouring village, Białka Tatrzańska, is one of the best skiing resorts in Poland.
At the other end of the country, far up north, lies the seashore town of Kołobrzeg. The idea of going to the Baltic coast during winter might seem surprising at first but nevertheless Kołobrzeg is worth the trip. Firstly, the Baltic Sea looks stunningly beautiful during the coldest months of the year. Secondly, in winter the sea exhales extra amounts of beneficial iodine in the shoreline air, making a visit to the coast especially healthful. Kołobrzeg also offers health baths in its famous salt springs or in locally harvested mud.
If you don’t feel like travelling too far away from the capital, Spała makes an excellent weekend getaway. Located only 100km from Warsaw, the city’s local Olympic Sports Centre is equipped with fabulous facilities, including an in-door swimming pool and a cryo chamber. Outdoorsy tourists can also go on a sleigh ride, go cross-country skiing or even try winter paintball.
The town of Giżycko is such a popular yachting resort that it is sometimes called the sailing capital of Poland. Its status is linked to the fact that Giżycko lies between two large lakes that have navigable connections to other surrounding bodies of water. In winter, the lakes often become frozen solid with thick since the city is located in one of the coldest areas of north-eastern Poland. As a result, Giżycko is also a popular iceboating destination.
There’s nothing quite like going bison tracking in the winter. Searching for these majestic animals in the snow-covered wilderness is a very thrilling experience, and there’s no better bison haven in Europe than Białowieża Forest. The last remaining primeval forest in Europe is home to about 500 specimens of European bison. Designated guides take tourists on wildlife tours all year round. The village of Białowieża lies deep in the forest and has great accommodation for those wishing to stay there overnight.
Located in the Karkonosze Mountains, Karpacz has a decent skiing resort, but the city is mostly worth visiting for the wide range of winter activities it offers. Snow scooters can be rented for an enchanting ride around the beautiful countryside. Families with children will appreciate the special winter playground with snow tubes. There’s also a 19th-century medieval church that was brought from Scandinavia. This wooden building, called the Wang Chapel, is a marvellous example of Romanesque architecture.
Author: Marek Kępa, January 2016