European bison, wisent (Bison bonasus), herd in forest, Bialowieza Forest National Park, Poland.

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Białowieźa National Park

Top choice in Mazovia & Podlasie

Once a centre for hunting and timber-felling, Białowieża (Byah-wo-vyeh-zhah) is now Poland's oldest national park. Its significance is underlined by Unesco's unusual recognition of the reserve as both a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. The park can be found 20km east of Hajnówka.

The forest contains 120 species of birds, along with elk, wild boars and wolves. Its major drawcard is the magnificent European bison, which was once extinct outside zoos, but has been successfully reintroduced to its ancient home.

Note that the reserve does close sometimes in inclement weather.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Mazovia & Podlasie attractions

1. Palace Park

0.57 MILES

Palace Park was laid out in the 19th century around a splendid residence built for the Russian tsar, on the site of an ancient royal hunting lodge once…

2. Nature and Forest Museum

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Located in the modern visitors centre and hotel, this museum features exhibitions relating to the park's flora and fauna (mostly forest scenes with…

3. European Bison Show Reserve

1.68 MILES

This modern and large enclosed animal park around 4km west of Palace Park is your best chance to see an actual bison. Though the bison died out in the…

4. Strict Nature Preserve

3.24 MILES

This is the oldest section of the Białowieża National Park and covers an area of around 47.5 sq km, bordered to the north and west by the marshy Hwożna…

5. Nature Museum

9.48 MILES

This museum near the entrance to Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park gives a great introduction to the myriad plant and animal species living in the park.

6. Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park

9.69 MILES

Unesco World Heritage Site Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park is the oldest wildlife refuge in Europe and the pride of Belarus. At the National Park…