8 Things to do in Southern Poland

Wondering what to do in the south of Poland besides visiting Krakow?

Below it’s a list of things you can add to your itinerary of southern Poland besides seeing the tourist attractions in Krakow:

1. Attend Zakopane Folk Festival

If you’re planning to travel to southern Poland in the summer, be sure to schedule your trip in the middle of August to coincide with the International Festival of Mountain Folklore in Zakopane.

Zakopane highland folk festival is by far one of the best festivals you can attend in Poland because of all the cultural events it features. The festival is held between the 18th and 26th of August and features singing contests, beautiful carriage parades, traditional Polish highlander dancing, firework shows, outdoor food markets, arts and crafts fairs, as well as cool workshops where you can learn tailoring and glass painting skills.

2. Climb the northern summit of Mt Rysy

A visit to Southern Poland would not be complete without taking a day trip to the Tatra Mountains region to climb the northwestern peak of Mount Rysy. Climbing Mt Rysy peak from the polish side is a bit more difficult than climbing it from the Slovakian side, but you get to climb to the top of the highest peak in the High Tatras so the trek is more than worth it!

The great thing about climbing the summit of Mt Rysy is that you can fairly get to the top of it in just 4 hours because the footpath to the top is marked with signposts, colored markers and fixed chain-ropes to help you climb the more difficult sections of the trail. Once at the top of Mt Rysy, you’ll get the most stunning panoramic views of Morskie Oko Lake ever!

3. Tour Auschwitz concentration camps

Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim is, without a doubt, one of the most infamous attractions you'll visit in southern Poland. These concentration camps are the largest ever built by the Nazis and consist of an army barracks and prisons (Auschwitz I), and extermination camp (Auschwitz II–Birkenau).

You can visit the Auschwitz camps yourself, though it’s definitely worth visiting the concentration camps with a private tour from Krakow to learn more about their history. Whichever way you do it, the sobering experience of being inside a gas chamber and walking the prisoners barracks will be something you won’t be forgetting in a while!

4. Tour Wieliczka Salt Mine

Another thing you can’t miss adding to your itinerary of 8 things to do in southern Poland is taking a tour of Wieliczka Salt Mine – one of the oldest working salt mines in the world.

The tour of the salt mine lasts around 45 minutes and you get to see superb salt sculptures of Pope John Paul II and the rock salt carving of Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" on a wall.

You can also visit this place independently, though if you plan to take tours of both Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz concentration camps, you may as well combine the tours into one. Most tour operators in Krakow such as “Krakow Tours”, “Krakow Shuttle” and “Krakow “Discovery” offer 1 day tours of these two places for around $60 (~230 zloty).

5. Raft down the Dunajec River

Rafting is another popular outdoor pursuit in Poland and what better way to enjoy a rafting trip as a tourist than on timber raft?

Just like the Vah River in Slovakia, the Dunajec River is popular because of the opportunity for timber rafting trips. On a wooden raft tour along the Dunajec, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Pieniny Mountains, and be able to visit the ruins of Medieval Royal Castle in Czorsztyn and Nidzica Castle along the way.

6. Spend a day in Ojcow National Park

If you’re looking for fun things to do in southern Poland outdoors not far from Krakow, you’ll certainly want to include in your itinerary a visit to Ojcow National Park. Ojcow is a small but stunning national park where you can enjoy nice hiking trips, biking and horse-drawn cabs.

One of the coolest attractions in Ojcow national park, besides the huge boulders, is a medieval castle called Pieskowa Skała, which was built sometime in the 14th century. Pieskowa Skała castle is open to the public so you can take a tour of the castle to see interesting exhibits on display such as tapestry works, stoneware, brass and copper utensils, a silver thread embroidered bed cover, and more.

Another attraction you must visit in Ojcow National Park is the Dark Cave (Jaskinia Ciemna), which is also open to tourists (cave tour are around $2).

7. Take a tour of the breweries

If you love doing tours, you should definitely plan to tour the breweries in southern Poland such as Zywiec Brewery (20 minutes drive south of Bielsko-Biala) and the Tyskie brewery in Tychy (21 minutes drive south of Katowice).

Both Tyskie and Zywiec breweries offer tours of their museums and breweries for around $9 where you get to learn about the fermentation process of beer and then, enjoy some freshly made beer.

8. Take a ride of the Old Town of Krakow

Krakow old town is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Poland and taking a tour of the old quarter is one of the must do things in southern Poland. Walking is a nice way to see the old town but it isn’t the only way.

You can do everything from horse-drawn carriage tours and hop on an electric cart, to take a city tour on a rented bike or hop on a boat for a riverboat tour of the Vistula River.

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