Ahhh, this is more like it. Situated just north of Poland’s 10% share of the Carpathian Mountains, Krakow is the place to be for travelers itching to get out and explore the country’s geologic wild side. Everything from hiking, climbing and skiing to rafting, caving, cliff jumping and more is at your disposal here. Combine that with a climate that provides ideal weather for all your seasonal activities and you’re pretty much covered no matter what time of year you decide to visit. Heard enough? Neat. Then let’s make a quick inventory of some of the city’s choicest nearby options.
Look south. The Tatras, highest peaks of the Polish Carpathians, are far and away Krakow’s biggest draw. Summer to winter, these bad boys are teeming with adventurers tackling the beautiful mastiffs on foot, bike or board (many of whom also opt to bunk up for a night or two in the nearby mountain town of Zakopane, Poland’s ski capital). A little further north and east from here, Pieniny National Park plays home to one of Poland’s most beautiful rivers: the Dunajec. Either by kayak or traditional wooden raft, this tributary of the Vistula provides the kind of incredible valley scenery that will leave you wondering, “Is this really Poland?” If you’re looking for caves, you may want to skip the south altogether in favor of northern destinations like Ojcow National Park and Jaskinia Mamutowa. Great climbing and subterranean excursions about here, as well as plenty of opportunities to hike and bike the picturesque south-Poland countryside.
Don’t feel like venturing outside the city proper? No problem. Just southwest of downtown Krakow you’ll find Zakrzowek Lake, a beautiful limestone-framed quarry that adventurous locals use for everything from swimming and cliff jumping to biking and rock climbing. There’s also a really cool, 320 meter white water kayaking course near the outlying town of Tyniec that the good people of Poland saw fit to construct along the Vistula. Daily, the Krakow Kayak Club (see our link) offers runs down this surprisingly creative and exciting aquatic passage. And how about the miles of hiking trails in nearby Las Wolski Forest? With so much to do, it’s hard to encapsulate it all in a few paragraphs, but trust us - when it comes to outdoor excitement, Krakow is still Poland’s undisputed capital.