Rzeszów – the undiscovered Carpathian Foothills

27.07.2016

Looking for unspoilt nature, seclusion and peace on holiday? If so, the Carpathian Foothills in the south-eastern tip of Poland are the place for you. From hiking, winter sports and riding to simply slowing down and recharging your batteries, there are all sorts of ways to relax here. The town of Rzeszów is located in the heart of this region, close to the borders of Slovakia and Ukraine, and is the gateway to the Carpathian Foothills. 

Green as far as the eye can see: Bieszczady National Park

Lush fields, green woods and mountains – Bieszczady National Park in the Carpathian Foothills (Podkarpackie) has it all. Poland’s third-largest national park is part of the East Carpathians UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where deer, wolves and bears live in the wild. Visitors can ride around the huge park on an old narrow-gauge railway or, of course, explore the waymarked paths and nature trails on foot.

Water, water everywhere: Lake Solina

Beautiful Lake Solina is less than an hour’s drive from Bieszczady National Park. More than just a lake, its area of 2,200 hectares and depth of up to 60 metres make it Poland’s largest reservoir. The colossal dam is an engineering masterpiece (82 metres high and 665 metres long!) that visitors can walk along. Anyone who’s afraid of heights would be better off taking a boat trip on the lake or admiring it over a cup of coffee in the waterside village of Solina.

Off the beaten track: Magura National Park

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With its hilly landscape and thick belts of woodland, Magura National Park is still relatively unknown. The huge rock formations shaped by the wind and weather are particularly intriguing. Anyone interested in the traditional timber-frame constructions found in southern Poland should walk along the wooden architecture information trail. In total, Magura National Mark has 85 kilometres of footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways. 

The largest open-air museum in Poland: Sanok

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At the edge of the Bieszczady Mountains, on the shore of the River San is the ancient little fortress town of Sanok. Time seems to stand still here: the castle dates back to the 14th century and the marketplace is surrounded by pretty, old houses. Sanok is also home to Poland’s largest open-air museum, which offers an interesting insight into the life and culture of the Lemkos and Boykos. Wooden homes and churches are typical of both these ethnic groups. 

Rzeszów – the gateway to the Carpathian Foothills

With its population of approximately 180,000, Rzeszów is not a large town, but it is still considered the regional centre of the Carpathian Foothills (Podkarpackie). The town lends itself to cycling. The company Romet has 20 bike hire centres. Sights worth seeing include the castle and the Lubomirski family’s summer palace, the marketplace, the historic town and the magnificent town hall, which now houses the local history museum. It is interesting to take a look underneath the historic streets too: when the rich citizens ran out of space for their goods in the 17th century, they built cellars for storage. The result was a labyrinth of cellars, passageways and steps which is now open to visitors. 

Music in the splendid residence

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The castles and palaces in this region also deserve a mention. To this day, they are testament to the former glory of Poland’s nobility. The group of castles belonging to the Lubomirski and Czartoryski families in Łańcut, east of Rzeszów, is one of the most important aristocratic residences in Poland. The whole estate is now used as a museum and the backdrop for Łańcut’s annual music festival. 

Getting there/airport

The Irish budget airline Ryanair will start operating a new service from Berlin to Rzeszów on 2 September 2016. Flights on this route will depart from Berlin-Schönefeld three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport is approximately ten kilometres north of Rzeszów town centre and is served by regular buses. Poland is a very hospitable country. A lot of Poles speak some German, which makes communication easier for international visitors.

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