City, Snow & Spa in Southern Poland « Baltic Travel Company
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Baltic Travel Blog

City, Snow & Spa in Southern Poland

Posted on November 28th, 2018.

Krakow is one of the most visited places in Poland but there is much more to the country! It has many historic and charming Old Towns, hundreds of miles of coastline and some impressive mountains. On this short break, I’m venturing South to explore the historic Malopolska Region (Lesser Poland), known for its natural beauty.

Upon arrival in Krakow, we are met and transferred to Zakopane. The drive takes about 2 hours through a scenic Polish countryside until we reach our destination at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. As it is December, the town is decorated for Christmas with fairy lights, candles, Christmas trees and the air is chilly from an evening frost. The traditional wooden chalet style buildings, typical to Southern Poland, house local cafes and restaurants serving hearty Polish cuisine and offer coziness that rivals the Danish “hygge”.

Our dinner is served in a local restaurant Karczma Przy Mlynie. It specializes in a traditional Polish cuisine, lots of delicious soups, meats and potatoes! Half-way through the meal, musicians arrive and provide a joyful entertainment for the guests.

The next morning, we are headed for the Gubalowka Hill Funicular. The Gubalowka is 1123 meters above the sea level and funicular conveniently takes you up in under 5 minutes. The view over the town and the surrounding Tatra mountains is spectacular. There is a café and outdoor tables where you can relax and admire the view. In summer months it is also popular starting point for scenic hikes.

Between the lower funicular station and Krupówki street there is a local market selling souvenirs, clothing and home-made treats such as jams, pickles, honey, etc. The little cylindrical shapes of cheese catch the eye, it is called Oscypek, smoked cheese made of sheep’s milk. It is a local specialty which can only be produced between April and October, when the sheep used is fed on fresh mountain grass. It takes 6 – 7 liters of milk to make 1 kg of cheese. The cheese is put into beautifully carved, wooden moulds and then smoked using pine and spruce wood, which gives the cheese its golden colour on outside while keeping it white on inside. It is best served grilled with cranberries and you will also find in Krakow’s Christmas market.

From Zakopane we are headed to the winter resort of Bialka Tatrzanska, which is about 30 minutes’ drive away. Kotelnica Bialczanska Ski Resort is the largest in the region and offers 14 kilometers of slopes with varied difficulty levels. There are also several kilometers of cross-country trails.

The Resort is popular with Poles and tourists alike and offers great facilities such as ski school, ski and snowboard equipment rental, ski lifts, chair lifts and cosy cafes. One day ski pass cost around 105 PLN (~ £ 20) and 4-days one is 345 PLN (~ £ 70).

In early December there wasn’t much snow on the ground, but the slopes were open with the help of snow cannons and temperatures below zero degrees. The best months for skiing are January and February.

Hotel Bania Thermal & Ski is conveniently located right by the slopes and, as the name implies, offers thermal pools where you can relax after a day on the slopes or take advantage of the spa centre offers.

On the way to Limanova, we stop for a visit at the wooden church of St. Simon and St. Jude Thaddeus in Dobra, located on the Malopolski Trail of Wooden Architecture. Built in the 17th century, this little church has a beautiful baroque style interior. It is open for public during the summer months from June to September and for the masses during the winter.

We spend an overnight in Limanova at the Hotel Limka28, trendy hotel with friendly staff, great food and atmosphere.

In the morning we are heading east to the biggest spa town in Poland – Krynica, famous for its thermal waters. Along the route we take a cable car to Jaworzyna Krynicka ski station. The clouds are low, and it is magical at the top with snow covered trees and frost. We pop into a local restaurant and it is a perfect setting for a steaming cup of mulled wine!

In the town itself, Krynica Zdroj, we take a walk along the promenade and admire the charming architecture and taste the thermal waters. It is understandable that the water is good for you, but the taste is not to everyone’s liking. We tried!

From Krynica it’s about 2,5 hrs drive back to Krakow, where we join the buzz of the Christmas Market in the centre of the town. Even when temperatures are below zero, outdoor cafés on Krakow’s Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny) are heated, decorated for the festive season and very welcoming.

Please contact us for a tailor-made holiday to Poland or have a look at our City & Snow in Poland for a similar itinerary.

Author: Daina Kontrima for Baltic Travel Company.

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