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Travel Pattern #2 Ojcow National Park by bike

The Ojców National Park

Ojców National Park (pl. Ojcowski Park Narodowy)

Excellent option to go outside the city during visit in Cracow (15 km away of the city). Ojców National Park is the smallest national park in Poland, with the small village of Ojców, placed in the heart of the park. You can cross it by foot within one day. The national park is placed in Lesser Poland Voivodeship, in the Jurassic Cracow-Czestochowa Upland. The upland arose on the Polish Krast formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks (limestone, dolomit). The Ojców National Park is the most beautiful and spectacular site in Polish Krast with many of sinkholes, valleys, caves, outliers and mogotes.

NP map

Ojców National Park with hiking routes and main attractions. Source: http://www.opnorgpl.host247.pl

How to get to Ojców National Park

By car:

Travelling to the national park by car is the easiest and quickest way. You must follow the National Road Nr 94 (pl. Droga Krajowa 94) in direction of Olkusz, after the village of Biały Kościół, you must turn right (direction road sign to Czajowice), at the end of the village you can find small car park or you can go further, to the end of the road and turn left to the Ojców. There is a lot of car parks, where you can leave the car and hike the national park. The car parks in borders of national park are paid.

By bus:

If you don’t have a car or you are backpacker (just like me ), you can try the public buses, which  are going regularly between Krakow and Olkusz. Remember to get out of the bus in the bus stop “Czajowice”. When you are outside, you have to take short walk, after getting out straight in the direction the bus have driven without you, and then turn right (direction road sign to Czajowice), after 700 meters of walk through the village, you will lose the asphalt road – you are in front of the national park entrance.

But how to find the correct bus?  Yeah, rightful question. To be honest, the Cracow Bus Station, especially for the small, private buses is very bad organized. It could be little hard to find yourself there and to find correct bus.

First option, and the easiest one, is to find the bus to Olkusz on the electronic board in the hall of the Cracow’s Bus Station.  The hall is small and you will have any problem to find it, there is shown the latest bus departures… and just wait for a while for bus to Olkusz or through Olkusz, then just go to the right place (for instance G2; remember the letter “G” indicates the upper floor of bus departures, the letter “D” is for down floor). Remember about getting out on bus stop Czajowice. It the best option, because on the way to the National Parks the inn (Zajazd “U Elizy”) is located, where you can rent a bike to travel the national park in the best way.

Second option is to get in to the bus going directly to the heart of the national park – small village named Ojców. The carrier supporting this route is named UNIBUS. UNIBUS buses are starting from Ogrodowa Street 4 ( Opposite to the Galeria Krakowska – huge shopping mall close to the Bus and Train Main Station ) or from Pawia Street – the car park of supermarket “Biedronka” (see map with marked of these two alternative bus departure locations). Departures from Cracow: 6.00, 7.00 8.00, 10:40, 13:45, 15:25, 17:15, 19:05. Departures from Ojców to Cracow: 9:35, 11:50, 18:20 and 14:30, 16:20 after phone contact ( phone number:  502 170 548 ).

Microbuses to Ojców

Microbuses to Ojców – Departure places

How to move around the park?

The Ojców National Park contains two valleys channeled by small brooks: Prądnik and Sąspówka in the limestone upland. The erosion potential of this kind of rock is the root cause of such picturesque landscape with plenty of caves and outliers. Most of the hiking routes in the national parks go along to the main road and the brook, because of this fact the best option to move quickly around the park is to rent the bike.

You can rent the bike here:

Zajazd “U Elizy”, Lokietka Street 16, Czajowice – The inn located on the route from the main road to the national park (see map). Call the inn earlier to book required number of bikes: 784 074 841 or 602 754 841; htt://www.zajazduelizy.pl. The inn offers also accommodation and restaurant.

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Travel Pattern #1 Weekend in Cracow

Krakau_Markt

Cracow (pl. Kraków)

The second largest city of Poland, its former capital city and one of the biggest touristic attraction of Central Europe.  This is the city from category of “must-be-here”.  Renaissance architecture, old churches, Wawel Castle, Old Town, Kazimierz – old Jewish borough in daylight and gigantic number of clubs, pubs and restaurants for lovers of night life.

Wherever you live, Cracow is a perfect city for weekend travel. Because of its cultural and leisure riches, it’s popular destination of many airlines, easy communication between the airport and city center, friendly public transport, main train and bus station in city center, many accommodation opportunities and a lot of things to do. Two-days, weekend travel allows you to sightsee only the tight city center, but don’t worry. It is not going to be the race against the clock. Major touristic sites are close to each other, the best way to sightsee the city center is to do it with your feet. I promise, you will find the time for everything: getting to know great places, quiet café in cozy cafee-house, relax and evening high jinks.

Travel plan:

DAY 1:

Old Town, Main Square with Sukiennice  and Wawel Castle following with Droga Królewska (lt. Via Regia, en. Royal Route)

The Royal Route - today path

The Royal Route – today path

Royal Route is one of the almost twenty of touristic routes through the city. For weekend purposes is perfect one. It shows all the best known places in the borders of so-called Old Town. Of course, you could cross it out during few hours, but it is not worth of effort – to come to Cracow and 10 centuries of history just get like eye-blink. So, dive into the city, feel this, hear the voices of pavement, smell the history, talk to the peoples, ask these old women selling their cheeses which one is the best. By the way, this cheese is not from the Cracow, but from mountains – one hundred kilometers away on the south, they struggle every day with the road to get here and earn some money for evening dinner.

1) Matejko Square and St.Florian Church

The Matejko Square

The Matejko Square

I would advise to start following of Royal Route from the north – Matejko Square and St.Florian’s Church and leave the majestic castle of Wawel as the finish of today walk.  St. Florian – patron of firemen and steelmakers, will be carried through all your walk around Cracow Old Town ( there is also St.Florian Gate, St. Florian Street, etc.). The church will initially founded in XII century. Its foundation is related to the legend. According to this, in 1184 oxen carrying the remains of St. Florian to the Wawel Castle came to a halt at a place where the Church now is. It was impossible to move them as long as the decision about the construction of the temple was taken.  The pope John Paul The Second was affined with Cracow all his life, he was working in St. Florian Church before he became the Pope, as Karol Wojtyla. Then, in 1999 he elevated the Church to a minor basilica.

The St. Florian Church

The St. Florian Church

 Entrance to the Church: free, open every day from sunrise to sunset
Visit site: http://www.swflorian.net (unfortunately only in Polish)

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