Poland was independent between the two World Wars of the 20th century, but shortly thereafter emerged as a socialist republic under strong Soviet influence. It regained its independence as recently as 1989. Now a member of the EU, Poland is rapidly developing its facilities and an infrastructure to better look after its foreign visitors. One of the best places for mountain adventures in Poland is in the south, amongst the Carpathian Mountains on the border with Slovakia. Accessed through the cosmopolitan city of Krakow and the colourful mountain resort town of Zakopane, this region is one of the best-kept secrets of the European adventure travel scene. The highest part of the Carpathians is known as the Tatras and has a well-established network of hiking trails, leading to lofty summits such as Rysy (2499m / 8199ft), Poland's highest peak.


Poland shares borders to the east and northeast with Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, to the south with the Czech Republic and Slovakia and to the west with Germany. To the north lies the Baltic Sea. The Baltic coast provides almost 525km of sandy beaches, bays and steep cliffs; between Gdansk, and the port city of Szczecin to the west there are many seaside towns offering unpolluted water and some fine beaches. Northern Poland is dominated by lakes, islands and wooded hills joined by many rivers and canals. The Masurian Lake District to the northeast is a patchwork of lakes and forests with Lake Hancza, the deepest lake in Poland, located here. The longest river, the 1,090km Vistula, or Wisła, rises in the Tatra mountains and empties into the Baltic, cutting a wide valley between the capital, Warsaw in the heart of the country, to Gdańsk on the coast. The rest of the country rises slowly to the Sudety mountains, which run along the border with the Czech Republic, and the Tatra mountains, which separate Poland from Slovakia. To the west, the River Oder, with Szczecin at its mouth, forms the northwest border with Germany. Poland counts almost two dozen national parks, covering an area of 3,200 sq km, and including the oldest, Białowieża National Park, east of Warsaw on the border with Belarus, and one of the largest, Bieszczady National Park, part of the Carpathian mountain range. These parks are home to European bison, brown bears, lynx, wolves and even some wild horses. And Białowieża contains a fragment of the forest that once covered Europe prehistoric times, with some oaks dating back half a millennium. Polish forests are largely pine though, accounting for two-thirds of the total.

Time Zone

Time Zone in Poland is GMT +1hr