In the south of Poland there are beautiful mountains. They run along the border with Czechia, Slovakia and Ukraine. There are 3 main mountain groups, each of them is divided into many ranges:
- Świętokrzyskie mountains
- Carpathian mountains
- Sudety mountains
So, if you decided to travel to Poland, make sure you visit at least one of those mountain ranges. There are actually many advantages of hiking in Polish mountains:
- amazing landscapes
- great diversity of nature
- variety of trails - from short and easy ones to via ferrata-like trails
- trails are well-marked
- compared to Western Europe prices are low
- safety - there are no vast secluded areas (like in US National Parks)
- mountain infrastructure is well-developed.
Just one more important thing before we read on.
Easy as those trails may be, we all need to remember about safety. Polish mountains might not be very high, but, still, the weather is unpredictable.
Tatra mountains are Alpine-like and hiking there can be dangerous, especially in wintertime:
- practical info on hiking in Poland
- choose proper map
- stay safe during winter hikes
- choose well your backpack
- take all necessary hiking gear
- avoid these common mistakes in the mountains
- weather in Tatras is unpredictable
- rules in National Parks
OK, let's have a look at the best day hikes in Polish mountains.
These trails are OK both for beginners and all the other mountain aficionados who look for fantastic natural getaways. There are no chains or exposure points, trails are wide and safe. Almost all of them are circular, so that we don't need to descend on the same trail.
Table of contents
1. The Black Pond (Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy) in Tatra mountains
This trail is recommended by Jan Kuczera from Popstrykane Podróże blog.
Route: Kuźnice (Zakopane) → Przełęcz Między Kopami pass → Murowaniec mountain hut → Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy → Kuźnice
Time: 5-6 hours
Height difference: 600m
Trail color: yellow, blue
The Black Pond is one of the spots that attracts countless tourists in high season. Given the relatively easy access and the uniqueness of the spot, that comes as no shock.
Nevertheless, there is a way to experience this magnificent place, while not being bothered by the crowds of tourists. The key to finding the right moment is choosing to go off season. Anyway, no matter when you decide to go and how many people you meet on the way, I guarantee you will not be disappointed after reaching the destination.
I planned my trip to Tatra mountains for early November. There was quite some snow on the track, but still you can manage to pass without any special equipment.
We start our hike in Kuźnice (part of Zakopane) and take the yellow trail until we reach the Przełęcz Między Kopami pass. This is about a half way up. Then we take the blue trail and continue your way up, passing the Murowaniec PTTK House and after 45 minutes we are standing eye to eye with the beauty of the Black Pond.
There is no doubt you will be amazed by how exceptionally the dark water contrasts with the whiteness of the snow covering the surrounding peaks.
The way down is the same for half the way. You can (and you should) stop at Murowaniec for a warm soup and a quick bite to regenerate. After you reach the Przełęcz Między Kopami again you can either take the same path (yellow track) back or continue descend along blue trail until we come down to Kuźnice again.
The route is not very difficult and definitely worth considering if you are up for a day trip in Tatra mountains with excellent views on the way.
If you would like to stay in Tatra mountains, you can find nearby hotels in Zakopane here:
2. Turbacz peak in Gorce mountains
This trail is recommended by Dorota Balcarczyk from Born Globals.
Route: Koninki → Turbacz mountain hut → Turbacz peak → Obidowiec peak → Koninki
Time: 5-6 hours
Height difference: 700m
Trail color: blue, yellow, red, green
Turbacz, 1310 meters above sea level is the highest peak of Gorce mountains – one of twenty eight mountain ranges in Poland. The area is a national park and offers outstanding views. It is home for numerous animals – including wolves and lynxes. You’ll also see a variety of plants. If you hike there in spring you will enjoy fields covered with purple crocuses. 🙂
I recommend you to start the hike in Koninki and take the blue trail up the mountain. At first you will walk in the forest but as you climb higher – amazing views at surrounding mountains open up. After 7.5 kilometers of ascent you will reach a mountain hut. There you can relax, get a drink and refresh while admiring a great view of Tatra mountains.
You’ll have a short walk left from the mountain hut to the peak of Turbacz. Then go down along red and green trails and you’ll have more great views over Gorce and the Tatras.
The whole trip is 16.5 kilometres long, but it is not difficult. I’ve seen many families with kids in different ages hiking the trail. Take it easy, relax when you need it and enjoy. The views will be a great reward for your effort
If you would like to stay close to Gorce mountains, you can find available hotels in Rabka Zdrój here:
If you're planning to stay in Krakow, you may look for hotels here:
3. Gęsia Szyja peak in Tatra mountains
This trail is recommended by Szymon Król from Za miedzą i dalej.
Route: Wierch Poroniec → Rusinowa Polana clearing → Gęsia Szyja peak → Rówień Waksmundzka → Psia Trawka → Toporowa Cyrhla
Time: 5 hours
Height difference: 350m
Trail color: green, red
We set off from parking lot on Wierch Poroniec.
The beginning of green trail is a nice wide trail. It's definitely not steep - such mild ascend is a great warm-up on first day of hiking. It leads partially in the forest, but at some places we get to admire stunning views of Slovak High Tatra mountains.
After about 50 minutes of relaxed hiking the terrain is getting even and we enter the amazing Rusinowa clearing. We get to admire beautiful landscape of the highest mountains in Slovakia! The best one is Gerlach peak - it reaches 2654 metres.
Then we start climbing rather steep steps in the forest - we need to ascend about 280 metres. It's a bit demanding, but the view from Gęsia Szyja peak is worth the effort. At the top we get to admire the same views we already saw, but this time the landscape more dramatic - we're at 1465 metres.
Then the trail goes gently down. We pass Rówień Waksmundzka clearing, which is perfect place to have a picnic. From there we can enjoy mountainscape of Bielskie Tatras.
Then we get on red trail leading to Toporowa Cyrhla. This trail may not be very picturesque (forest path), but it's nice and wide, very easy to hike. Getting to Psia Trawka trail fork takes about one hour.
We stay on red trail and head to the highest district of Zakopane - Toporowa Cyrhla. It's peaceful and quiet area offering fantastic view on Polish Tatra mountains.
If you would like to stay close to hiking trails, then Toporowa Cyrhla might be good choice for you. You can book a lovely apartment here:
4. Skrzyczne peak in Silesian Beskid mountains
Route: Szczyrk → Pod Skrzycznem → Skrzyczne mountain hut → Pod Skrzycznem → Becyrek → Szczyrk
Time: 4 hours
Height difference: 740m
Trail color: blue, green, red
Skrzyczne (1257 m) is the most popular peak in Upper Silesia region. It attracts hikers, bikers, trail runners, skiers and paragliders.
It's best to climb this mountain on blue trail which starts in Szczyrk on the main road. By the way, Szczyrk is a popular tourist resort with ski jumps.
The trail is very pleasant to hike and after about just two hours of ascend we get to see nice panorama of Silesian Beskid mountains. As usual, the higher we hike, the better the landscape gets.
Top of Skrzyczne peak is a big flat area with look-out tower. It's great place to contemplate the beautiful mountain nature. There's also mountain hut where they serve perfect tomato soup. 😉
We climb down do Szczyrk along green trail. Descend takes about one hour and a half. Final part of the trail is an asphalt road.
Generallly there are lots of hiking trails in Silesian Beskids, so we have a lot of flexibility when it comes to planning the hikes. Trails are well-marked and it's practically impossible to get lost there.
If you would like to stay close to Silesian Beskid mountains, you can check available hotels here:
5. Trzy Korony peak in Pieniny mountains
Route: Sromowce Niżne village → Trzy Korony mountain hut → Szopka pass → Trzy Korony peak → Kosarzyska fork → Sromowce Niżne village
Time: 3 hours
Height difference: 550m
Trail color: yellow, blue, green
Some say that Pieniny are the most beautiful mountains in Poland, that they are even more awe-inspiring than Tatra mountains.
I like high mountains better, but I need to admit that Pieniny are great getaway. The landscape is enriched with picturesque Dunajec river - the terrain is actually a deep gorge.
Trails aren't demanding - perfect option for families with children or hikers who want to warm up before bigger challenges.
The landmark of Pieniny is Trzy Korony (982 m). It's not the highest mount, but it's definitely the most popular.
Close to the top there is artificial steel footpath and some steps installed to make the ascend possible. Peak of Trzy Korony is also fitted with a steel platform. The view from the top is amazing - 360° landscape takes your breath away, especially when the weather is sunny.
Since this trail is very popular, it's advisable to hike there as early in the morning as possible - later during the day it may not be possible to contemplate the nature in peace.
If you would like to stay close to Pieniny mountains, you can check available hotels in Szczawnica - nearby health resort.
6. Tarnica peak in Bieszczady mountains
Route: Wołosate village → Tarnica peak → Goprowska pass → Halicz peak → Bukowska pass → Wołosate village
Time: 6 hours
Height difference: 600m
Trail color: blue, yellow, red
This route is a bit longer than the other ones, but sooo worth to hike! It includes the highest mount in Polish Bieszczady - Tarnica peak (1346 m).
Bieszczady are considered to be the wildest and most secluded mountains in Poland. Well, they are as secluded as they can get - it's easy top get to the area by car and there are already quite a lot of hikers, especially in the summer.
Big advantage of this trail is that is leads through famous Bieszczady mountain pastures - picturesque vast areas typical for these mountains. They are called połoniny and are a real eye candy. Plus, we get 360° view.
What's worth to remember is that on this route there's no mountain hut, so we need to remember to take enough food and water to hike for about 6 hours.
It might be a good idea to visit Bieszczady in September, when temperatures are pleasant and the mountains are rust-colored. Great thing that is!
If you would like to stay close to Bieszczady, you can find available hotels here:
7. Rysianka alp in Żywiec Beskid mountains
Route: Żabnica Skałka village → Pawlusia alp → Rysianka mountain hut → Liptowska alp mountain hut → Redykalna alp → Cukiernica clearing → Żabnica Skałka village
Time: 5 hours
Height difference: 550m
Trail color: green, blue, yellow, black, green, black
This route is located in Żywiec Beskidy mountains. The highest point in this route in Liptowska alp mountain hut - 1269 m.
This option is so worthwhile because we pass a few clearings on our way, from which we get to admire Beskidy mountains, and when the weather is favorable, also Tatra mountains. Especially Rysianka clearing welcomes us to take a break and contemplate surrounding nature. There's something very calming about this place.
There are two mountain huts on our way, both serve delicious food, so there's no need to carry a lot of snacks.
It's actually surprising that those mountain huts are so close to each other.
Explanation is, as usual, the rivalry between two countries - Liptowska alp shelter was built in 1930s by German organization Beskidenverein. Poles wanted to have their own mountain hut, so chose the most convenient location available and... voilà - we have Rysianka mountain hut situated 15 minutes of walk from Liptowska shelter.
Actually, Żywiec Beskids are great option if you want to relax and breath in some fresh air. You won't get very tired there, but for sure you will forget about everyday problems.
If you would like to stay in quiet, green area close to hiking trails, then Węgierska Górka village might be just for you. You can check available options here:
8. Pilsko peak in Żywiec Beskid mountains
Route: Korbielów village → Buczynka pass → Miziowa alp mountain hut → Pięciu Kopców peak → Pilsko peak → Miziowa alp mountain hut → Korbielów village
Time: 5 hours
Height difference: 900m
Trail color: blue, black, green, yellow
Pilsko is another mountain from Żywiec Beskid range. I have to admit, besides Tatras, Żywiec Beskid is my favorite range.
This hiking option is fine for beginners, however there are a few steep points. The majority of tourists hike up along yellow trail and walk down on the same path, but I think this option is a bit boring. The advantage of blue-black-green trails is peace and quite - there are few hikers on those trails.
The ascend from Miziowa alp mountain hut to Pilsko is rather steep, but it's also very wide, so there's plenty of space to take a break.
The actual Pilsko peak belongs to Slovakia, so when we get to the flat top with guidepost which suggest this is it, but it's not. 😉
However, it's great spot for taking pictures and catching our breath. When the weather is favorable, we get to admire scenic panorama of Beskidy mountains and all the villages and towns in the region.
There's narrow path among dwarf mountain pine which leads to proper mountain peak - it takes about 10 minutes to get there. On the Pilsko top there's cross and a small altar, but I've never seen any mass being performed there.
If you feel it'd be great to stay close to Żywiec Beskid mountains, you may find some nice hotels here:
9. Babia Góra peak in Żywiec Beskid mountains
Route: Krowiarki pass → Babia Góra peak → Brona pass → Markowe Szczawiny mountain hut → Szkolnikowe Rozstaje → Krowiarki pass
Time: 5.5 hours
Height difference: 700m
Trail color: red, blue
I know there are already two other hiking routes in Żywiec Beskid mountains, but I just couldn't resist mentioning Babia Gora National Park. 😉 Babia Gora mountain is called Beskidy Queen - it's the highest summit in Poland outside Tatra mountains (it reaches 1725 metres).
It's also central point of Babia Góra National Park - popular place for nature lovers and hiking aficionados.
The red trail leading from Krowiarki pass is the easiest option to get there. It gets steep at some points, but the efforts are rewarded with fantastic views which start near Sokolica peak. When the weather is nice, Tatra mountains are also well visible.
Because of the significant height, the views from Babia Góra are more astounding than from other Żywiec peaks.
When we get closer to the top the trail gets rocky, but still it's easy to hike and good option for families with children.
It's actually the descend which is a bit more tricky - big steep stones on the west part of the mount aren't fast to hike.
If you would like to stay close to Babia Góra, then you can look for nearby hotels here:
10. Szczeliniec Wielki in Stołowe Mountains National Park
Route: Szczeliniec Wielki parking → Szczeliniec Wielki pass → mountain hut → Piekiełko gorge → Szczeliniec Wielki parking
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: very easy
Height difference: 150m
Trail color: yellow, red, blue
This circular route is very short, but sooo interesting! It's actually the best option for families with children - there are stony steps with chains, narrow corridors, nice landscapes, mountain hut and, most importantly, fancy rock formations which will interest even the biggest city animal. 😉
I remember hiking there with my family when I was about 6 years old and I can still recall the awesome experience of exploring winding path hidden among enormous boulders. I was wondering if maybe some great wizard threw them about, so that people can play hide-and-seek.
Szczeliniec Wielki is a small mountain (only 919m), but it's the highest peak in Stołowe mountains (Table mountains).
It's worth to keep in mind that there's a price to pay for the fact this trail is so easy and picturesque - there are crowds of tourists all year round.
To avoid getting stuck in traffic jams it's best to set off as early as possible, preferably on week days. Also, it's better to take with us some snack and water, as the prices in Szczeliniec shelter are much higher than in other mountain huts in Poland.
If you would like to stay close to Table mountains, you can find available hotels here:
11. Mały Staw lake in Karkonosze National Park
Route: Rozdroże Łomnickie parking → Polana w Karkonoszach clearing → Samotnia mountain hut → Strzecha Akademicka mountain hut → Rozdroże Łomnickie parking
Time: 2.5 hour
Height difference: 450m
Trail color: green, blue, yellow
Nice and easy route with spectacular view points. For me this area is the most beautiful in Karkonosze National Park.
The highest point we get to is Strzecha Akademicka mountain hut on 1266 metres, so it's not very high. But on our way we get to admire mountain lake and post-glacial moraine (high rock formation created by glacier). Added bonus are fancy boulders liyng here and there, so typical for Karkonosze National Park and unique in this part of Europe.
Samotnia shelter (1195m) is a big mountain hut which can serve many, but in the summer it can get crowded. It's advisable to set off early in the morning, especially if you hike in high season.
Generally, Karkonosze are very interesting when it comes to rock formations and all geology lovers will be delighted there. 😉 Trails are wide and safe, so hiking there is a good idea if you travel with family.
If you feel like Karkonosze might be a good place to stay, you can check hotels in Karpacz - tourist resort located close to hiking trails:
12. Smreczyński pond in Tatra mountains
Route: Kiry, Zakopane → Hala Ornak mountain hut → Smreczyński Staw pond → Kiry, Zakopane
Time: 3.5 hour
Height difference: 300m
Trail color: green, black
And here we have the last route, located also in the highest Polish mountains, but this one is very unobvious.
When people hear "lake in Tatra mountains" first what comes to their mind is Morskie Oko. But there's one more post-glacial pond worth visiting, also easily accessible and amazingly scenic as well! It's Smreczyński Staw pond (1227m)
It's hidden in the forest above which reign Western Tatra summits. This pond is actually very often omitted by hikers who go by to explore Western Tatras. It's also very often forgotten by tourists who visit Kościeliska valley and finish their walk in Hala Ornak mountain hut. And Smreczyński Staw is only half an hour walk from the shelter! 😮
Added bonus of this route is already mentioned Kościeliska valley, which is considered the most beautiful valley in Poland. It runs along a stream which gives calming sound - very relaxing experience. In upper part of teh valley there are fancy boulders, perfect for an interesting photo. In the past this valley was used for mining industry, but (thank heavens) now is solely for tourists. In Koscieliska valley are numerous caves, which are available for tourists to explore.
If you want to stay close to Tatra mountains, check the available hotels here: