The 7 finest parks and inexperienced areas in Kraków: from riverside meadows to beautiful nature reserves

You’re nearly definitely in Kraków for the beautiful cobbled streets and photogenic palaces on each nook, however that is additionally considered one of Europe’s greenest cities – solely Vilnius in Lithuania has extra inexperienced house.

Kraków’s parks are a part of the image, however higher nonetheless are its really wild areas; the meadows, forests and nature reserves discovered on the finish of a brief tram experience from the middle. Whether or not you wish to hike by way of a river valley to a 1000-year-old monastery, climb pagan mounds, or discover a sci-fi-inspired backyard, it’s doubtless Kraków has a park that is good for you.

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It takes simply an hour to walk the entire of Planty Park © David Clapp / Getty Pictures

Planty Park surrounds the Previous City

You’ll in all probability move by way of this skinny strip of inexperienced that circles the Previous City a dozen instances. It was planted by the occupying Austrians within the 1800s, who stuffed within the medieval moat and assembled fountains, gazebos and streetlights within the picture of Vienna. 

You’ll be able to stroll the entire Planty circuit in below an hour, with the landmark Wawel Fortress helpfully positioned on the southern finish. Or, simply use it because the locals do as a straightforward respite from the crowds of the Previous City. Even in vacationer season, you’ll at all times discover a free bench below the shade of a chestnut tree to take pleasure in an ice cream.

Hike the paths by way of Las Wolski and Bielańsko-Tyniecki

Only a few minutes by tram west of city the cobbles give solution to an expansive nature reserve set alongside the valley of the Vistula River. There are playgrounds, museums and the town zoo at its fringes, nevertheless it’s value making a day of it as a result of the deeper you go the wilder it turns into. Not one of the well-signposted climbing trails take quite a lot of hours, and also you’re by no means actually removed from the subsequent restaurant, however the trails by way of woodland, riverfront and limestone cliffs really feel relaxingly distant.

It’s a two-hour hike to the small village of Bielany, previous slopes crammed with grapes, the place you’ll be able to strive regionally grown Pinot Gris on the Srebrna Góra vineyard. In summer season, catch the Kraków water tram for a fairly cruise alongside the river to the 1000-year-old Tyniec Abbey perched on the cliffs. You’ll be able to take pleasure in wonderful Polish cooking right here whereas speaking to the chatty Benedictine monks.

Two people in silhouette walk through a misty park with a large castle building in the distance
Błonia Meadow has hosted occasions that make it a part of Poland’s nationwide story © Tomasz Mazon / Shutterstock

Błonia Meadow is a picnic sizzling spot

Extremely, this pasture was utilized by locals to graze their livestock proper into the Seventies and it’s a welcome miracle that these 50 hectares proper within the metropolis heart have escaped Kraków’s relentless growth since. The flat expanse of grass is good for sunbathing, picnics, and making canines run after issues.

It’s well-liked with Popes too. The lots of Jan Paweł II, or John Paul II as he’s recognized internationally, given right here helped rally Poles in opposition to Communism and have become a part of the nationwide story. Błonia nonetheless hosts rock live shows and celebrity monks so test forward for occasions earlier than visiting.

Henryk Jordan Park is the town’s finest park for sports activities

In order for you extra motion than Błonia provides, head throughout the street. Henryk Jordan Park is known as for the person who based the park and launched Poland to the concept of bodily train to remain wholesome. It stays true to his spirit with tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, and a skate park. 

The park has an pleasant household really feel, particularly on weekend mornings, as youngsters are let unfastened on the slides and sandpits or contained in the inflatable balloons that float round on the small boating lake. The vast avenues, planted with century-old elms, are particularly fairly sat below winter snow, when Kraków’s youngsters may be discovered throwing themselves down the toboggan hill.

A huge artificial mound with a path circling it and a view of the city of Krakow in the distance
It is a steep stroll up Kościuszko Mound, however the views are value each step © Nahlik / Shutterstock

Get one of the best Kraków views from Kościuszko Mound

Few issues are extra Krakovian than the town’s distinctive enthusiasm for constructing synthetic hills. There are 4 metropolis mounds, and all are well-liked for his or her views on clear days. Wanda and Krakus are prehistoric, pagan ritual websites rising up about 50ft (15m). It’s believed they acted as historic calendars, as 4 instances a 12 months sundown aligns between the 2 mounds – making it definitely worth the journey to take a surprising picture. 

The 115ft-high (35m) Piłsudski Mound is extra trendy, constructed by hundreds of volunteers within the interwar interval as a monument to Prime Minister Marshal Piłsudski. However it’s Kościuszko Mound that steals the present. It was inbuilt honor of Tadeusz Kościuszko, a globe-trotting freedom fighter whose position in Polish uprisings and the American Battle of Independence made him a hero in each nations, and the mound incorporates filth from Polish and US battlefields. The paved walk-up is steep, sweaty work however reveals Kraków, the encompassing countryside and even the Tatra mountains past. After conquering the climb, reward your self with a beer at one of many bars and cafes housed within the Austrian-era fortress that rings the bottom of the mound. 

Stanisław Lem Science Backyard is incredible enjoyable for teenagers

Set in a spacious nook of Park Lotników Polskich, the science backyard is impressed by the sci-fi books of native, and internationally-acclaimed creator Stanisław Lem. The gear and installations clarify every thing from magnetism to acoustics, nevertheless it’s all brilliantly hands-on. There’s a large kaleidoscope, hand-cranked whirlpool and dozens of different issues to spin, push and prod. Children find it irresistible, and oldsters love that their youngsters are studying. 

It’s effectively definitely worth the 15zł (US$3.30) entry charge (10zł for teenagers), whereas a handful of the larger sights just like the planetarium and toboggan run price a couple of złoty additional. The park is open seasonally, from April to October. 

Zakrzowek is a lagoon within the wilderness

Generations of locals have heat recollections of summer season vacation flirtations struck up over beer carried in by backpack and loved on the banks of this flooded quarry. A part of the enchantment for the scholars who come right here on heat weekends is that swimming has at all times been formally prohibited.

A complicated historical past of possession has left Zakrzowek fully undeveloped, permitting nature to rework it into an deserted wilderness. The curve of limestone cliffs fringed by deep woods and glowing lagoon water is beautiful. However it could not final. Zakrzowek is at the moment fenced off by the town because it develops the 100 hectares right into a sanctioned pure reserve by 2023.