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.
How to get to Ojców National Park
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.
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 ).
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.