The outstanding natural beauty of the landscape surrounding Krakow should not be overlooked by visitors. Due to its close proximity (only 24 kilometres away), Ojcow National Park (Ojcowski Park Narodowy) is one of the easiest day-trips to make from Krakow, and certainly one of the most rewarding.
Despite being one of the smallest of Poland’s 23 national parks, Ojcow ranks with the best of them. Occupying the dramatic Pradnik and Saspowska river valleys, the landscape is characterised by thick woodlands, incredible limestone rock formations and deep ravines.
Many of Ojcow’s iconic rock promontories have been assigned names and legends by the locals, the most notable among them being Hercules’ Club (Maczuga Herkulesa), Deotyma’s Needle (Igla Deotymy) and the Krakow Gate (Brama Krakowska).
Ojcow is also home to 400 registered caves (and the 15 adorable bat species that hibernate inside them), the two largest of which – the Dark Cave and Lokietek’s Cave - are open to the public.
But it isn’t only natural monuments that make the area unique; cultural monuments within the park include two castles – Kazimierz Castle and Pieskowa Skala, the Grodzisko Church and Hermitage, and the wooden Chapel on the Water (Kaplica Na Wodzie).
The sights are all connected by a large network of trails for hiking, biking or horseback, and Ojcow is also an incredibly popular playground for rock-climbers.
The Ojcow National Park is essentially oriented around Kazimierz Castle and the small village of Ojcow at the centre of the valley. The main park entry point and parking lot are located here, and buses arrive and depart from near the foot of Kazimierz Castle.
In additional to the trailheads of all the park’s hiking paths, nearby you’ll also find the small, nap-worthy park museum, several places to sleep and eat, and the local salmon farm that supplies them with fresh fish.
Getting to Ojcow from Krakow
The quickest way to get to Ojcow is by car. However you will need a good map or navigator as it's easy to get lost if you don't know the area well. 24 kilometres from Krakow, the journey takes about 30-45 minutes. There is lots of parking available in the national park, and most of it is paid parking, which is some kind of a park entrance fee.
If you don't have a car, catch a bus from the private Unibus rank on Ogrodowa street just across from Galeria Krakowska. Tickets are purchased from the driver, and it drops you off at the parking area near Kazimierz Castle. For the most up to date bus schedules check park website www.ojcow.pl.