The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy, walk and be healthy (...). The best of all ways to lengthen our days is not to steal a few hours from night but to walk steadily and with a purpose
There are many reasons to visit Poland:
- Polish food is great (not only pierogi and vodka 😉)
- cities in Poland are awesome: Warsaw, Cracow, Gdansk and Wroclaw
- Poland is one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe
But there's more.
It's Polish mountains - beautiful natural gems in southern part of the country.
When we hear Polish mountain range, first thing which comes to our mind are Tatra mountains. True, they are the highest and most beautiful mountain range in Poland, but there are other scenic ranges in the southern Poland.
The treasure which is yet to be discovered by international travelers is Beskidy mountains. For me, they are one of the best places to visit in Poland! Also, Beskidy mountains offer the best hikes in Poland.
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They may not be the highest Polish mountain range - the topmost peak Babia Gora reaches 1725 metres (5659 ft). Beskidy mountains may be a bit less picturesque than famous Tatra mountains. There are no soaring dramatic peaks or steep ridges which take your breath away.
But they're definitely worth visiting. Beskidy mountains are paradise for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts - there are loads of hiking and biking trails, ski resorts, lakes and paragliding starting points. There's also lots of mountain huts which offer delicious homemade food - you won't get hungry in Beskidy mountains. 😉
Beskidy mountains are divided into several ranges:
- Beskid Slaski (Silesian Beskid)
- Beskid Zywiecki
- Beskid Sadecki
- Beskid Wyspowy (Island Beskid)
- Beskid Niski
- Beskid Sredni (Makowski)
- Beskid Maly
Beskidy aren't demanding - they're perfect for family hikes or hikers who don't want to strain themselves but appreciate great views and fresh air. Because Beskidy mountains aren't high, the trails aren't steep.
Where to hike?
Interestingly, Beskidy are perfect option also for thru-hikers - there's famous Main Beskid Trail.
Main Beskid Trail is almost 500 kilometres (310 miles) long - it goes along southern Polish boarders. It starts in Ustron village in Silesian Beskids and ends in Wołosate village in Bieszczady mountains. The official record in hiking time is 115 hours (I wonder if I'd be able to hike it in 2 weeks!).
As much as we'd like to challenge Main Beskid Trail, we've recently had only 1 weekend day available so we squeezed out of it the best we could - we hiked in Silesian Beskid range which is the closest to Katowice.
We simply adore these mountains - we hike there whenever we've got a free weekend day. Nice views, undemanding trails and fresh air - there's actually nothing more we could ask for. I'd say that in Beskidy there are the best trails in Poland!
There are many ranges of Beskidy mountains and you may also want to have a closer look at our southern Polish natural treasures - here's a few words about Zywiec part, Silesian mountains, Little Beskids and Island range.
Don't think twice if you plan to visit Poland and like nature - go to Beskidy mountains. They're true playground for nature lovers. 😉
Beskidy mountains offer one of the best hikes in Poland. The most popular peaks in Beskidy are:
- Skrzyczne - 1257m. The highest peak in Silesian range. There's mountain hut and lookout tower at the top. It's one of the most popular mountains in Beskidy - there are lots of hiking trails (suitable also for trail runners) and also start point for paragliders. Skrzyczne forms part of popular Szczyrk ski resort.
- Klimczok - 1117m. One of my favorite peaks in Silesian range. There's mountain shelter near the peak which serves amazing food (is that the main reason I like Klimczok? 😉). Nice and easy, very pleasurable hike.
- Pilsko - 1557m. Second highest peak in Zywiec range. The mountain is partially divided between Poland and Slovakia. Hikers get to admire beautiful panorama from the top.
- Turbacz - 1315. The highest peak in picturesque Gorce mountains. It's especially nice to hike there in the spring when crocuses make the landscape eye-catching.
- Babia Gora - 1725m. The highest peak in Zywiec range and generally the highest point outside of Tatra mountains. When the weather is nice hikers can enjoy scenic view of Tatras and Beskidy mountains. Very rewarding hike, but it's worth to keep in mind that the weather on Babia Gora tend to be very capricious.
- Czantoria - 995m. Popular mount in Silesian range. In the summer it attracts especially families with children, in wintertime it's a popular ski slope. There's a chair lift taking tourists to the top, so it gets a bit crowded when the weather is nice.
- Barania Gora - 1220m. Lots of hiking trails, beautiful landscape. Perfect option for day hike. There's something about Barania Gora which makes us return there almost every year.
- Leskowiec - 919m. Popular mountain in Little Beskid range. Another pleasant hike, suitable for all kinds of hikers. Vast meadows and dense forests make for an amazing landscape. Mountain hut near the top offers tasty food and accommodation.
There's a very useful online hiking map of Polish mountains - you can check it here.
Is it safe to hike in Beskidy?
Tourist infrastructure in Beskidy mountains is well-developed. There is a variety of trails suitable for all levels of hiking experience. There are many options for day hikes. Trails are well-marked, paths are wide and safe. There are lots of mountain huts which offer accommodation and food, so there's no need to carry kilograms of food and drinks.
Generally, it is safe to solo hike in Beskidy mountains. There are no bears or remote god-forsaken places. Other hikers are usually friendly and willing to help you if they can. There is Internet coverage in Beskidy mountains, except the highest peak Babia Gora.
Beskidy are also the best mountains for winter hikes in Poland. Lovely snowy landscapes, but no avalanche risk make Beskidy great option for winter hiking.
However, it's always advisable to come prepared and follow mountain safety rules. They which will make our hiking trip in Polish mountains safe and enjoyable:
Where to stay?
Hiking trails start in the villages. The most popular mountain villages which offer accommodation and restaurants are:
- Wisla - village in Silesian Beskids. One of the most popular places with lots of tourist attractions. You can check available hotels here:
- Brenna - another picturesque village in Silesian Beskidy mountains. Small and quiet, perfect natural getaway. You may check available accommodation here:
- Istebna - hidden in the mountains, close to Slovakia's and Czechia's border. Here you will find available hotels:
- Szczyrk - the biggest mountain resort in Beskidy. In winter it's a famous ski resort. You may check available accommodation in Szczyrk here:
- Zawoja - mountain village located close to Babia Gora National Park. Great starting point of many hiking trails. Here you would find available places to stay in Zawoja:
- Rabka - located close to Gorce National Park and Island Beskid. Famous for its healthy climate and picturesque landscape. Here are available hotels in Rabka:
- Korbielow - charming mountain village located in Zywiec Beskid. One of my favourite places in Beskidy! Here you will find available accommodation in Korbielów:
If you prefer to stay in a town or city, you may choose from the below locations:
- Zywiec - mountain town located over a scenic Zywiec lake. Famous also for its local brewery. Lots of pubs and restaurants. You may find available hotels here:
- Bielsko-Biala - lively town which is developing very fast. Museums, fun parks, cycling trails - it has it all. You can check available accommodation here:
Skiing in Beskidy mountains
Skiing in Poland also remains to be discovered by international tourists. There are also ski resorts in Beskidy mountains. The ski pistes aren't very long, but also aren't very steep, so are perfect places for beginners. The most popular ski resorts in Beskidy are:
- Beskid Sport Arena
- Istebna Zloty Gron
- Szczyrk Mountain Resort
- Wisla Nowa Osada
- Wisla Soszow
- Ustron Czantoria
How to get there?
Because the majority of Beskidy villages are hidden in the mountains, they don't have very good public transportation.
The best way to get to Beskidy mountains is to travel by plane and then rent a car. The closest airports are: Katowice Pyrzowice and Krakow Balice airports.
Car is the fastest and most convenient option if you want to explore Beskidy region. You can check offers on car hire here:
If you prefer not to rent a car, you can travel by train or bus from Katowice or Krakow. However, the options are limited and it's best to choose the most popular mountain resorts: Wisla, Szczyrk, Rabka.
You can check train timetable here.
When it comes to buses, there are a few private lines which offer shuttles to Beskidy mountains. You may check the shuttles here.
I know - Polish cities are more popular, easier to get to and offer more tourist attractions. Simply, big Polish cities are attractive tourist destinations. Cheap and offering many interesting sites, they are perfect for sightseeing and tempt to stay there as long as possible.
Also, Tatra mountains are increasingly popular, enticing tourists with breathtaking views and alpine nature.
But there are also Beskidy mountains - undiscovered Polish mountain range, currently overlooked by international travelers, but soooo worth seeing! Beskidy offer nice and undemanding trails which will lead you along quiet forests, scenic meadows and beautiful ridges.
Poland is truly beautiful and Beskidy mountains are the icing on the cake which will make your stay even more memorable. Believe me, hiking in Poland might be one of the best adventures ever!