Set in attractive countryside amid the wooded hills of the Beskid Sądecki, Krynica (kri-nee-tsah), often known as Krynica-Zdrój (Krynica Spa), is Poland’s largest spa and mountain health resort.
Much of the year, patients repair here to drink from around a dozen local mineral springs, each one prescribed for a different ailment, and to relax in the mountain air. In midsummer, though, you can banish any notion about this being a laid-back spa for quiet convalescence amid the pines. It’s a full-on summer holiday retreat, chock-a-block with families with prams (strollers), long queues at ice-cream stands, and impromptu rock concerts on the promenade featuring local knock-offs of Axl Rose and Lady Gaga.
It wasn’t always this way. In the early decades of the 20th century, Krynica was a fashionable hangout for the artistic and intellectual elite and continued to be so right up until WWII. Splendid villas and pensions were constructed during that period, blending into the wooded landscape. Many of these are still standing (the best are along ul Bulwary Dietla, near the promenade).
Development continued after the war but priorities shifted towards cheap mass tourism, and massive concrete holiday homes and sanatoriums came to occupy the slopes of surrounding hills. Nevertheless, if you’re in the mood for it, Krynica can be a lot of fun, and here and there the town has even managed to retain some of that former laid-back, refined atmosphere.