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Carpathian Mountains

When thinking about Poland, mountains are not usually the first thing to spring to mind, yet the country’s southern border is defined by the beautiful and dramatic Carpathian (Karpaty) chain, the highest mountain range in Central Europe.

Its wooded hills and peaks are a beacon for hikers, cyclists and skiers, and because of the region’s remoteness, this ‘forgotten corner’ has been able to preserve its traditional folkways better than most other parts of the country.

Perhaps best known is the resort of Zakopane in the heart of the Tatra Mountains (Tatry), the highest section of the Polish Carpathians, but the prettiest hills are arguably in the Pieniny or Bieszczady ranges. Elsewhere, a mosaic of undemonstrative towns shelter Unesco-listed wooden churches and provide jumping-off points for a half-dozen national parks. Beyond those, historic regional centres such as Przemyśl, Tarnów and Sanok retell Poland's tumultuous history in time-worn stone.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Carpathian Mountains.