This national park covers around 60 sq km and protects the Świętokrzyski (Holy Cross) Mountains, Poland’s oldest mountainous geological formation (and lowest, due to erosion over more than 300 million years). Unusual piles of broken gołoborza (quartzite rock) on the northern slopes hint at how ancient this mountain range is. It offers the perfect full-day, back-to-nature escape from urban Kielce.
The most popular activity is hiking, and ambitious visitors usually opt to follow the ancient pilgrimage route from the town of Nowa Słupia to a Benedictine monastery high in the hills at Święty Krzyż (Holy Cross) and then continue onward to the hamlet of Święta Katarzyna. The trail, of moderate difficulty, runs about 18km and takes from six to seven hours to complete. Alternatively, you can just hike up the segment from the Nowa Słupia park entrance to the monastery, which covers 2km. From Holy Cross, you can get a bus and connect back to Nowa Słupia.