Recognised as the country’s oldest national park, Białowieża is located northeast of Warsaw, adjacent to the Belarusian border. Since 1979, it’s been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, thanks to its rich biodiversity and undisturbed nature (part of the park has been left untouched for over 800 years, and is now only accessible to biologists working on-site as well as small guided tourist groups of no more than 20 people). The park is home to over 250 bird, 13 amphibian, seven reptile and over 12,000 invertebrate species as well as 59 mammal species – including the largest population of European bison on the continent. Białowieża village is the area’s main tourist hub – here you can book tours, hire bikes and visit the Museum of Natural History and Forestry.
Białowieża National Park, Parkowa, Białowieża, Poland, +48 85 681 23 06
An easy 30 minutes’ drive from Warsaw city centre, Kampinos (also referred to as Puszcza Kampinoska) is the capital’s main weekend getaway, where you’re likely to see many cyclists and casual strollers, especially on a sunny day. If you’re lucky you might also spot some beavers, lynxes or elks roaming among the pine trees. To find out more about the species, head to the Kampinos Museum (Muzeum Puszczy Kampinoskiej) on the southern outskirts of the park. For history enthusiasts, there are numerous war cemeteries dotted across the area such as Palmiry.
Kampinos National Park, Tetmajera 38, Izabelin, Poland, + 48 22 722 60 01
The park covers a large part of the Stołowe Mountains (also known as Table Mountains) in the Lower Silesia region, which are characterised by unique plated rock formations and labyrinth-like passages. The park’s vast green spruce forests are also home to a variety of flowers such as Turk’s cap lilies, carline thistles and globeflower as well as mouflons, deer, grouse and eagle oaks. Since the Middle Ages, the natural springs at the nearby spa resorts of Duszniki Zdrój and Polanica Zdrój are renowned for their healing properties. Frederic Chopin visited the Duszniki Zdrój spa in 1826.
Stołowe Mountains National Park, Słoneczna 31, Kudowa-Zdrój, Poland, +48 74 866 14 36