Podlaskie dazzles with its pristine nature, diverse landscape and exotic charm. Here are TOP 10 places you simply can’t miss when in north-eastern Poland.
1. Białowieża Forest
Feel the might of nature in Europe’s oldest primeval forest. Meet the Kings of the Forest – European bisons – which freely roam these lands. Take a walk on the Bison’s Ribs – a boardwalk pathway, which leads into the heart of the forest. Wander into the depths of the Strict Protection Area, which is accessible only with a licensed tour guide. You will be left in awe over the sheer number of the shades of green, the vibrant micro cosmos of a moss-covered tree and the monumental majesty of ancient oaks. Experience the peace and harmony which drive the life of the Forest. Białowieża itself offers a number of historic treats, such as the beautiful Palace Park and the former railway station built for Russian Tsar Nicholas II, which now hosts the Carska Restaurant.
The Białowieża Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While in Podlaskie, take some time to stop in its capital city. Although almost 300 thousand in population, Białystok is a city to relax in tune with its peaceful rhythm of life. At the city’s main square, Rynek Kościuszki, be sure to taste specialities of local cuisine, which mirrors the region’s multicultural character. Visit the Branicki Palace to marvel at its Baroque architecture and French style gardens. Check out the stunning “Girl Watering a Tree” and dozens of other Białystok murals.
Did you know that Białystok is one of a few cities with a nature reserve within their limits?
The Las Zwierzyniecki Nature Reserve is just a short 10-minute walk from the centre.
3. Post-Camaldolese Monastery in Wigry
A symbol of the Suwałki District and the Wigry National Park. A stroll along narrow alleys winding around the buildings of the monastic complex will send you back in time. Get carried away by tales of the Camaldolese monks, marvel at the stunning view from the clock tower, descend to the crypts, where the monks rest in eternal peace, or visit the papal apartments, which hosted Pope John Paul II.
In for a longer visit? Stay the night at one of the hermitages, where monks used to live in religious seclusion. If you are looking for a place to stay with an extraordinary ambiance, you can’t get any better that this!
4. Kruszyniany and Bohoniki
For generations, the area of Polish-Belarusian borderland has been home to the community of Polish Tatars. Visit the 300-year old mosque in Kruszyniany and listen to the tales of the region, in which the Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim have been living in harmony for ages. Enjoy oriental flavours of traditional Tatar cuisine in the nearby Tatarska Jurta tourist farm and restaurant.
Did you know that the mosque in Kruszyniany is the oldest in Poland?
There is also a second mosque in Podlaskie; it is located in the village of Bohoniki.
Supraśl is a charming and intimate town surrounded by the majestic Knyszyn Forest. It features unique micro climate qualities and is one of the two health resorts in Podlaskie. The town’s historic architecture is in perfect sync with nature. Its present character reflects its long-standing traditions.
Relax on the riverfront or get into a kayak to paddle along the Supraśl River. Stroll through the picturesque Wiktor Wołkow Boulevard or dive into the greenery of the Knyszyn Forest, which features a dense network of hiking and cycling trails. Visit the monumental Orthodox Monastery of the Annunciation and the Museum of Icons to marvel at unique pieces of Orthodox sacral art.
Plan an evening at the world-famous Wierszalin Theatre and see one of its award-winning plays.
6. Suwałki Landscape Park
The Suwałki Landscape Park offers jaw dropping vistas. Its unique landform was created by a glacier 10,000 years ago and features picturesque hills, green valleys and gleaming lakes. Dive into Poland’s deepest lake – Hańcza, soak up stunning views from atop the Cisowa and Zamkowa hills, and marvel at the moonlike landscape of thousands of postglacial boulders scattered around the Bachanowo nature reserve.
Did you know that the Suwałki Landscape Park is the oldest in Poland?
It was established back in late 1970s.
Agnieszka Osiecka, a famous Polish poetess and songwriter, used to call Tykocin “a fairy-tale town”. It is a picture-postcard little town with big history which still resounds in its preserved original architecture and Baroque style synagogue. If you love Kazimierz upon Vistula, you will certainly delight in Tykocin upon Narew as well. Take your time and stroll at leisure along Tykocin streets to soak up the atmosphere of a traditional Jewish town. Do not miss the Great Synagogue and the Baroque style Holy Trinity Church. Be sure to savour the delicacies of the Jewish cuisine, such as tzimmes, kugel or kreplach, at the Tejsza restaurant just opposite the synagogue.
Tykocin is home to Podlaskie’s only castle. You can stay the night here, and enjoy the flavours of Polish court cuisine.
8. Biebrza National Park
The largest national park in Poland covers a vast wetland full of marshes and peat bogs. The Biebrza Valley has retained its natural character and provides habitat for a wealth of bird species, including the remarkable ruff, which proudly flutters its wings in the Biebrza National Park’s logo. Featuring an extensive network of hiking, cycling and kayaking trails, the Park lets you immerse (at times even literally!) in the pristine nature untouched by human hand.
When crossing the Park along the Tsar’s Route, be prepared
to meet the mighty elk, majestically strutting around the wetlands.
9. Land of Open Shutters
Trześcianka, Soce, Puchły – these 3 gorgeous villages in south-eastern part of the region are known as the Land of Open Shutters. They are famous for intricately ornamented wooden houses, stunning colourful Orthodox churches, but most of all for the overwhelming serenity. In many villages in Podlaskie it is still a daily habit for wizened locals to chit-chat sitting on benches in front of their houses.
Planning on a longer stay in the Land of Open Shutters? Be sure to pay a visit to neighbouring villages of Plutycze, Ciełuszki, Ploski and Ryboły.
10. Holy Mount Grabarka
Grabarka is the heart of Polish Orthodox Church and an important pilgrimage site for many worshippers from all over Europe. Several centuries ago, when a deadly outbreak of cholera decimated local population, thousands of people sought shelter from the epidemic. They found it on Mount Grabarka. Their prayers and water from a nearby spring brought them salvation. As a token of gratitude, those who survived built a shrine atop the mount. Today, as you amble amid thousands of votive crosses brought here by pilgrims over the last hundred of years, you can sense profound mysticism in the air.
At present, there is a women’s Orthodox monastery atop the mount, and pilgrims still believe in the healing powers of water from the spring.