Winter in Poland? Not only in the mountains!
Our country has such a rich and interesting offer for the coldest season of the year that you can have a fantastic time also outside the Sudety Mountains or the Carpathians. Ski slopes, cross-country trails and ice-skating rinks, spas and thermal baths, forests, hot springs all await – and for the brave ones also the ice-cold rivers and the Baltic Sea!
Where to hit the slopes?
Why, in virtually every region of Poland. The largest ski station in the north of the country is Kurza Góra in the village of Kurzętnik in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship. The offer includes three illuminated ski routes (a total of 2.5 km downhill), a winter amusement park for the kiddos, an ice-skating rink, a ski school and the largest “snow factory” in Europe, as well as seven year-round tubing tracks (including one for children).
The resort of Gołdap with the ski slope Piękna Góra (272 m above sea level) is the winner of the best European tourist destination in the category of health and wellness tourism in the European EDEN competition (in 2019). It triumphed in the “Winter attractions 2020” online survey as well. Also located in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, it has three ski routes (350 m, 500 m and 750 m) with ski lifts: two T-bar lifts and a two-seater chairlift situated next to the inn, along the longest downhill route. An over a kilometre long concrete toboggan run goes down from the top of Piękna Góra toward the inn. It is open both in the winter and summer seasons. The café on the summit has a revolving floor which makes a full circle in 50 minutes, allowing visitors to admire the post-glacial panoramic view outside along with the town of Gołdap and the Romnicka Forest.
In the Pomeranian Voivodeship, in the heart of Kashubia, at the foot of the Wieżyca hill (329 m above sea level) on Ustrzyckie Lake, there is a year-round Centre for Active Recreation in Koszałkowo-Wieżyca. In winter, you can hit the illuminated and groomed slopes equipped with snow-making machines and ski lifts. Children can use a ski kindergarten with a conveyor belt. The ski equipment rental will service your skis, while licensed ski and snowboard schools await those eager to learn. There’s also sledding and new snowtubing routes on the menu.
At the foot of Jesionowa Mount in the Suwałki region in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, the year-round Szelment resort proudly advertises its offer, as the winter season there can last up to 100 days! You can choose from ten ski and snowboard routes (difficulty levels from blue to black), hone your skills in licensed ski and snowboarding schools, rent boards, practice snowtubing – you name it.
The Fojutowo Inn in the locality of Legbąd in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship is planning to launch a ski slope starting in mid-January 2023. As many as six ski slopes are found in the picturesque town of Kazimierz Dolny on the Vistula River in the Lubelskie Voivodeship (Stacja Narciarska Kazimierz Dolny). Also in the same voivodeship, you can visit the Narciarski Raj u Rzetelskiego in Chrzanów with 4 km of trails and a chairlift. As for Warsaw, every year skiers eagerly congregate in Górka Szczęśliwicka.
Cross-country skiing in the woods
Fans of cross-country skiing will find a lot of trails to explore. Many of them are managed by the local sports and recreation centres, such as snow-covered cross-country trails recommended for families with children in the “Dojlidy” Water Sports Centre run by the Białystok sports and recreation centre (up to 3.5 km of trails, rental with 100 ski sets) and the “looped” routes in Uroczysko Siwa Dolina near Tomaszów Lubelski, in the “Tomasovia” forest sports complex (5 km). Cartusia Ski Arena in Kartuzy has been specialising in cross-country skiing for years now. The season starts already in November, and the total length of all trails is 5 km.
Cross-country skis are also a great idea for wintertime exploration of the Kampinoski National Park, the Białowieski National Park and the Piska Forest in Masuria with a demanding, 25-km loop between two villages, Wiartel and Ruciane-Nida, where you can find ascents up moraine hills and yellow trails for everyone (in total 66 km of trails). Forests and parks are also a nice place for winter walks or sledding with the little ones.
Breath-taking ice-skating venues
If you go looking for ice-skating rinks in Poland, whether outdoor or covered and operating year-round, you will find plenty to choose from. Topping the rankings of the most beautiful open-air ice skating rinks, the Ice Park in Kraków’s Jordan Park is the largest one in Poland, with two rinks (1200 m2 and 400 m2 – for children) and an Ice Alley. Other places ranked very highly include the ice skating rink in the Old Town Square in Warsaw, in the market in Katowice and on the Sopot’s Kuracyjny Square, overlooking the Gulf of Gdańsk right where the famous pier begins.
For several years now, there has been a growing group of enthusiasts of winter swimming, many of them members of the so-called “Walrus Clubs” (walrus is the animal after which this sport got its Polish name). The oldest one of them, active since 1975, functions in Gdańsk. Its members dip into to the Baltic Sea at the beach in Jelitkowo, but the group also takes an active part in the season openings of similar clubs in various parts of Poland. You can also immerse yourself in the icy sea water in Sopot, where a local club also operates (in winter, members meet every Sunday at noon), as well as in Mielno, where the most iconic event of this community takes place, i.e. the International Dipping Championship. The next one, due to take place on 9-12 February 2023, will be the 20th edition. The Moczymorda Club uses the western beach in Ustka, and the Morświny Club in Świnoujście organises the annual Inwazja Morsujących Mikołajów, or Invasion of Ice Swimming Santas, in which the participants wear, you guessed it, costumes of the gift-bearing saint. Many other places in Poland offer the option of taking an icy dip. Created by an enthusiast of this activity, the constantly updated Morsowa Mapa Polski (Ice Swimming Map of Poland) has several hundred locations.
Another interesting idea for those not bothered by the cold is winter kayaking. For example, one-day or weekend trips on the Czarna Hańcza or Kashubian rivers Słupia and Łupawa (only organised trips, with an instructor).
After such challenges for the body, it is delightful to visit warmer waters, i.e. thermal pools, such as in the Bania complex in Białka Tatrzańska, Chochołowskie Termy in Chochołów, Maltańskie Termy in Poznań, Termy in Uniejów or many others.