The 60 sq km Świętokrzyski National Park covers a stretch of low-lying hills known as the Świętokrzyski Mountains. It offers the perfect full-day, back-to-nature respite from urban Kielce. This is 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.
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.