Visit Western Małopolska at Nature’s Pace

Wooden buildings in Lanckorona
Western Małopolska is a vast area stretching from the Lanckorona hills, Kalwaria Paths (Kalwaryjskie Dróżki), through the surroundings of the papal town of Wadowice, the picturesque Carp Valley, the industrial landscape of the vicinity of Oświęcim, Chrzanów and Trzebinia, to the unique panoramas of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland with castles on the Eagles’ Nests Trail and the largest desert in Europe: the Błędów Desert. An extraordinary mix of landscapes, cultures, traditions, and natural and industrial heritage gives these lands the atmosphere and features of a borderland.

We suggest you start your journey through the western part of Małopolska in an absolutely unusual place, where Angels are said to live, and the views of the undulating hills covered with a colourful mosaic of meadows and forests have always been an inspiration for artists: for years, those have been the attractions of Lanckorona. The rare beauty and idyllic character of the wooden architecture of the town are downright charming. Walking along the Silent Whispers Lane and the Lovers’ Lane, we will reach the Castle Hill overlooking the city, where you can observe the panorama of the area. From here, it is not far to the Kalwaria Paths and the Bernardine Monastery, both UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Here, while walking or admiring the area from the perspective of a bike saddle, not only can you have a fantastic rest, but also recharge your spiritual batteries.

Sanktuarium w Kalwarii Zebrzydowskiej

Further on the route, the Carp Valley, commonly known from the surrounding amusement parks, can be seen from a completely different angle if we only get into a kayak or on a bike and discover the land of fields, meadows, fish ponds and meandering rivers, whose landscape has been shaped by nature and the work of human hands. Natural wealth, water bodies, rural climate, hiking paths, bicycle routes, canoeing trips on the Vistula and Skawa, forests and hills: all this is located on just 310 square kilometres. The Carp Valley is also a bird sanctuary of European importance, protected in the Natura 2000 area. It is home to endangered flora and fauna, with the emblematic night heron, the symbol of the region, at the forefront. Here we will feel the atmosphere of the historic Duchy of Zator with its rich culture and history, which has left its mark on castles and in the surrounding palaces and churches. We will also become familiar with the centuries-old tradition of carp breeding and we will discover other unique local products. On the trail, we will meet local producers who will share with you their passion for beekeeping, basket making, ceramics, painting, cooking and invite you to a unique museum: the Carp Valley Eco-Museum.

 

Widok z lotu ptaka na Dolinę Karpia

The western outskirts of Małopolska are also an industrial landscape, which may not have much to do with ecotourism at first glance. However, the fascinating industrial heritage – factories turned into museums and cultural centres, the Emperor Ferdinand railway, and working-class districts designed according to the garden city concept – all make this area unique. It is worthwhile stopping at least for a moment in historic cities surrounded by greenery. Every ecotourist will surely be delighted by the Old Town in Oświęcim with the Piast castle, the medieval Market Square in Kęty, guarded by St John Canthius, and the town of Andrychów which has preserved the atmosphere of a Galician town.

Rynek w Kętach

If visiting the land of extinct volcanoes, learning about the history of mysterious castles guarding old trade routes from Krakow to Silesia, or travelling by draisine trolley sounds like a travel challenge to you, you must visit the Tenczyn Castle in Rudno and the Lipowiec Castle with the unique Vistula Ethnographic Park, and go for a pedal-powered draisine ride. In Regulice, local enthusiasts have created an amazing ecotourism attraction: the Local Draisine Railway, driven by the work of human muscles and running along the disused railway line No. 103 among forests, fields, limestone rocks and numerous Triassic springs. The area is peppered with real geological gems and the surrounding landscapes show a harmonious symbiosis between man and nature.

Zamek Lipowiec

The Kraków-Częstochowa Upland attracts visitors with a unique view of rocky valleys, vast forests and limestone outliers, the more so as its hills emerging from the greenery are crowed by medieval strongholds of the Eagles’ Nests Trail. For centuries, their role was to protect trade routes in the emerging Piast state, which made the region the cradle of Polish culture.

Zamek Rabsztyn

The Jurassic Upland is a perfect place for active recreation: hiking, cycling and climbing limestone rocks. On the trail, you cannot miss the ‘silver city’ of Olkusz, the cradle of Polish silver and lead mining, dating back to the 13th century. Another must-see is the Błędów Desert: the largest quicksand area in Central Europe, created as a result of forest logging, mainly for the needs of Olkusz mines.

Widok z lotu ptaka na Pustynię Błędowską

Western Małopolska is a perfect destination for a short trip, a weekend break, and a longer stay alike. Everyone will find there something interesting for them.  For more eco-travel inspiration, be sure to refer to Western Małopolska eco-guides at https://visitmalopolska.pl/w-rytmie-eko