The Best Things to Do in Białowieża, Poland

Białowieża, Poland
Białowieża, Poland | © Northern Irishman in Poland

Białowieża is one of Poland’s most beautiful little villages. Aside from your visit to this stunning UNESCO listed park, the village itself offers many exciting activities all on its own.

A mere two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the Belarus border, the town draws its influences from an eclectic mix of Russian, Polish and Belarusian history and culture. Most tourists will be here to explore the last primeval forest in Europe – Białowieża National Park, where you can find wild bison in their natural habitat. Beyond this, there are many other attractions on offer.

Białowieża

1. Dine out in style at Stoczek 1929

Bar, Restaurant, Polish, European

Stoczek 1929 | © Northern Irishman in Poland
© Northern Irishman in Poland

Eat your lunch or dinner at one of the oldest surviving restaurants in little Białowieża, known as Stoczek 1929. The venue itself has been renovated and refurbished through the years, but superb food, welcoming staff and a warm atmosphere have remained constant. One of the best restaurants in Białowieża, the menu takes its inspiration from a selection of Polish and Belarusian recipes. The beer menu also has a wide variety of Lithuanian, Belarusian, Russian and Polish beers, all of which are available in light, dark and wheat options.

Relax by the lake with a morning coffee

The lakes at Białowieża

Come face to face with bison

Białowieża National Park is famous for its resident ‘king of the forest’ – the bison. In order to be lucky enough to actually see a bison, you should book an early morning tour. These start in the middle of the night at around 3 am as bison are nocturnal animals. The tour is specially organised by the Białowieża National Park rangers who will provide you with an experienced guide to take you on a 6-hour walk through the deepest parts of the forest. You will be briefed in advance on how to dress and what to bring with you. The tour can be booked individually or in a group and prices vary depending on group size and season. Seeing bison is not guaranteed, but those who join the guided tour are rarely disappointed.

Białowieża National Park

Drink Bison-Grass vodka (Żubrówka) with the locals

While Białowieża is not exactly a drinking town, there is no excuse for not sampling Bison-grass vodka. Also called Żubrówka, you are in the heart of the region where it was invented. The drink is distilled and flavoured with a slice of genuine bison grass (hierochloe odorata) from the Białowieża Forest. This grass gives the spirit its yellowish tinge. As well as the traditional yellow vodka, you can also get Żubrówka Biała Wódka (white), Żubrówka Czarna Wódka (black) or Żubrówka Złota (gold). Head to one of the village bars after sunset and drink a few shots of this with locals. To cushion the blow, many of them drink apple juice after each shot – which comes advised!

Żubrówka – Bison grass vodka

Take a night-vision tour with binoculars

Białowieża National Park has over 10 different types of tours, so there is something to please everyone. The night-vision tour with binoculars (available to rent) allows you to see animals just as the sun goes down, typically starting an hour before sunset. The forest is full of surprises and you really never know which animals you might encounter. Bison, deer, fox, wild boar, tawny owls and pigmy owls are amongst the animals often spotted.

Białowieża National Park

2. Visit the Museum at Białowieża Visitor Centre

Bar, Restaurant, Polish, Contemporary, European

Restauracja Parkowa, Białowieża | © Northern Irishman in Poland
© Northern Irishman in Poland

Gain some insight into the history of Białowieża National Park and the region, by spending a few hours in the village’s museum. It’s housed within the grounds of Białowieża Visitor Centre, inside the main complex. Check the museum’s website for opening times.

Białowieża Visitor Centre

3. Białowieża Art Gallery

Art Gallery

Bialowieza06

The Białowieża Visitor Centre contains a small but delightful art gallery. Entrance is usually free as the art gallery is adjoined to the shop, which sells souvenirs such as fridge magnets, books and cuddly bison toys. The art gallery contains over 100 paintings ranging from forest animals, to the landscape, people and buildings in the village. Many of the paintings are also for sale.

Białowieża art gallery

4. Attend a Mass at St. Theresa's Church

Church

St. Theresas Church, Białowieża | © Michal Gorski / WikiCommons
© Michal Gorski / WikiCommons

Białowieża has a few churches, most of which are Roman Catholic. It’s a religious village and masses are held regularly – in some parishes more than once a week. The best option is to check the notice board at the village’s main Catholic church, St. Theresa’s, for mass times. The church can also be visited at other times.

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