Bieszczady Mountains is a part of Poland which is still extremely unspoiled, unexplored, wild and peaceful. For some time, I thought about whether to share this place with others or keep it a secret:)
Most foreigners I talked to haven’t heard of this beautiful region at all. The Poles know of course where it is, heard of its beauty but most haven’t visited the place yet. Then in 2012 a friend told us that we really needed to go there and see for ourselves, as this is one of the most exciting places for nature lovers.
Encourage by the stories we heard, we decided to spend a week in September, our favorite time of the year to travel around Europe.
So what makes it so unique?
The region lies in the south-east of Poland, on the border with Ukraine. With not even 20 persons per square kilometer (50.5 per square mile), it is the least densely populated area in the country.
Therefore if you are longing for solitude and peace there is no better place to go.
Don’t look for five stars hotels, aqua parks, discos or crowded bars. I can tell you already – you won’t find any (if so, let me know:). This is a place where many people decide to come to and make a new start – away from the crowds and rush of big cities.
There is no fakeness, no mad dash for money. Everything has its own, slow rhythm. And I guess this is something that surprised me the most. Accustomed to the city rush, running late for work, meetings, gym class… I had a hard time at the beginning to relax fully and just let it be. This is what you will experience in those tiny villages here. Cars pass slowly through the streets. People in shops take their time to talk to shop assistants about “everything and anything” and no one waiting in the queue seems to bother.
In the Bieszczady Mountains I had the pleasure of meeting some of the most companionable people. Both hosts at places we stayed at and other travelers we met along the way were always very relaxed and friendly. We heard some incredible stories of people who chose to move here from other countries or cities in Poland to find the tranquility they were missing elsewhere.
Last but not least, the places we stayed at were really incredible and made you feel just like at home. The regional decors, the wooden cottages, no TVs but a fire place instead in the middle of the living room and a porch with a rocking chair and a warm blanket. Can you ask for more?!
I recommend staying at Smolnikowe Klimaty which is run by a young couple Paulina and Przemek. They serve amazing food and welcomed everyone with incredible hospitality. There is only one road leading to their cottage, going over a few wooden bridges…
Visit also Chata Magoda run by Jagoda and Maciek, who have the most beautiful décor inside their cottage with a fantastic porch to sit on in the evenings.
Would you be surprised if I said that this region has to offer some culinary highlights? I guess you would. One of them is well known Chata Wedrowca (Wanderer cottage) which serves Naleśnik Gigant z Jagodami (giant pancake with blueberries). It is some kind of funnel cake popular in North America with local blueberries and lots of cream. It costs about 40 PLN and the pancake is huge. You can even order half a portion, but you probably won’t be able to eat it all. The dish has been given a certificate “Made in Bieszczady” as a regional product.
Bieszczady is a mountain range part of the Carpathians. It is not particularly high in elevation, with the highest peak on the Polish side being Tarnica with 1346 meters. But measureless meadows known as poloniny with treeless summits offer stunning views over the area. A lot of the hiking trails pass through rivers, creeks and beech woods which are populated by black storks, brown bears, wolves and bison. Since 1991, Bieszczady National Park is part of the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve.