Pieniny is a mountain range that will delight anyone. Even if you have already seen other beautiful European mountains, such as the Alps or the Caucasus. The Pieniny Mountains have an extraordinary charm, a combination of tradition and unspoiled nature. You can spend a lazy time in Pieniny by one of the streams, soaking your feet. You can go rafting, kayaking or pontooning. Or you can climb one of the many peaks and encounter a flock of sheep along the way. The Pieniny Mountains truly have a lot to offer for all nature lovers! Most importantly, it only takes less than 2 hours from Krakow to get to this Wonderland!
Pieniny impress not only with its colorful nature, but also with its colorful history, which dates back to Paleolithic times! The fates of Slovaks, Vlachs, Lemkos, Hungarians and Poles merged in these mountainous areas. The surrounding villages witnessed the invasions of Tartars and Hussites. The history of Pieniny is long and colorful. How long? It is enough to say that, according to archaeological discoveries from 1985, it dates back more than 50,000 years! The earliest inhabitant of Pieniny was a Neanderthal man, whose remains were found in a cave in Oblazowa. Further excavations uncovered more ancient inhabitants who were involved in mining and fishing. It is therefore fair to say that the excellent climate of the Pieniny Mountains was already appreciated long before Szczawnica became a spa resort. However, it was not until the Middle Ages that the Pieniny gained special prominence, when Saint Kinga founded a monastery of Poor Clares in the vicinity of Nowy Sacz.However, the real heyday of Pieniny can be dated to 1840. At the beginning of the 19th century, Szczawnica gained, fully deservedly, the status of "a pearl among spas". It began to organize holidays for tourists, including mountain tours. However, in addition to tourists, scientists and artists, such as Jozef Dietl and Wincenty Pol, also began to flock to the Pieniny, eventually making the area famous. Nature here has created fascinating rock formations and conditions perfect for the development of many different species of plants and animals. For this reason, the Pieniny Mountains have earned the title of National Park.
We recommend starting your visit to Pieniny at the Pieniny Museum in Szlachtowa. It is a small museum, but one where you will receive knowledge about Pieniny and the history and traditions of these mountains in a nutshell! We love such small, local museums. Here you can learn a lot about Pieniny by walking around the museum with a special app, in which a voiceover narrates in an entertaining way, also in English. There you will learn, among other things, who Jozef Szalay was and how big a role he played in the development of Szczwanica and Dunajec raftings. You will also find there the patroness of Pieniny: St. Kinga, Pieniny castles, sacred treasures: Catholic and Orthodox and traditional folk costumes of Pieniny inhabitants: Pieniny and Ruthenian highlanders. You will take a look inside a Pieniny cottage and a highlander shepherd's hut. You will learn interesting facts about the famous rafting trips down the Dunajec River and the history of the SPA in Szczawnica. We highly recommend a visit to the Pieniny Museum to families with children! Children will certainly like the large "cross-country bicycle" and cheerful drawings on Szczawnica's Shalay coats of arms, In the shepherd's hut be sure to look for a spiked dog collar, which protected him from wolf attacks!
The Dunajec River is undeniably the most beautiful mountain river in Poland. After construction of a water dam at Niedzica there were created two artificial lakes, Czorsztyn and Sromowieckie. On Lake Czorsztyn you can see 2 beautiful medieval castles, Niedzica and Czorsztyn itself. The rafting starts very close to the village of Sromowce Wyżne. You can raft down through Dunajec Gorge on traditional wooden rafts. Each raft is composed of elements build from wooden boards. The raft is guided by Pieniny's highlanders, always dressed traditionally. To steer they use two wooden poles locally called "spryszki". This kind of rafring is very old, probably the oldest in Europe. Between Cerveny Klastor in Slovakia and Szczawnica in Poland, the Dunajec River breaks through the Pieniny Mountains which are composed of dolomite rocks. During r,the afting you can admire beautiful steep white walls inhabited by endemic fauna and flora. For these reasons in this region in Poland and Slovakia the Pieniny National Park was established. The flow down to Szczawnica takes around 3 hours but it can be prolonged to a further city called Kroscienko nad Dunajcem.
In the Pieniny Mountains you will find many peaks to climb. The highest of the Pieniny peaks is Wysoka. Wysoka in the Pieniny Mountains, also known by the codename Wysokie Skałki, is a peak 1050 meters high, hidden perversely in the Lesser Pieniny Mountains. The cunning location has not escaped the eyes of surveyors and satellites, which have unanimously hailed Wysoka as the highest peak in the Pieniny. In the Pieniny Mountains you will find many peaks to climb. The highest of the Pieniny peaks is Wysoka. Wysoka in the Pieniny Mountains, also known by the codename Wysokie Skałki, is a peak 1050 meters high, hidden perversely in the Lesser Pieniny Mountains. The cunning location has not escaped the eyes of surveyors and satellites, which have unanimously hailed Wysoka as the highest peak in the Pieniny. Other very famous peaks in the Pieniny are Sokolica and Three Crowns. These are beautiful mountains, but they are also highly frequented. Therefore, if you do not like crowds, we suggest going to another peak like Wysoki WIerch or Chwała Bogu, where you are sure to find silence and enjoy beautiful views. And if you are lucky, you will also find flocks of sheep!
On Lake Czorsztyn you will see the beautifully located ruins of two medieval castles. The Lake Czorsztyn is an artificial water body which exists thanks to construction of the dam at Dunajec River. The Niedzica Castle stands at an altitude of 566 m. The outline of Niedzica Castle can best be viewed from the ruins of Czorsztyn Castle on the other side of the lake. It is known as one of the most picturesque castles in Poland and adorns the covers of many books. Ever since the big fire of 1790 the Czorsztyn castle has remained in ruins. There is a beautiful panoramic view from the balcony of the upper castle across the Tatra and Pieniny Mountains. Inside there are exhibitions covering the history of the castle and its surroundings.
Over 200 kilometers of unforgettable views are offered by this new splendid cycle route, called VeloDunajec. Built-in accordance with the highest European standards, it crosses the picturesque areas of the Dunajec valley, with magnificent views on several mountain ranges such as: the Tatras, Gorce Mountains, Beskidy Mountains and, of course, the Pieniny Mountains. While following its course, cyclists can reach the historic Church of St Michael the Archangel in Dębno Podhalańskie, the medieval Dunajec Castle in Niedzica, Pieniny National Park with the Dunajec Gorge, the pedestrian and cyclist footbridge over the Dunajec (which takes you across Poland -Slovakia border), the health resort in Szczawnica, the Sądecki Ethnographic Park. For the most part, this beautiful route is only accessible by bicycle, so you don't have to worry about cars and trucks passing by. And even when the road leads along a regular road, these are usually very rarely traveled routes!