Feel free to tailor the route to your liking, using our suggestions about nearby attractions, interesting places, and hiking trails. Are you ready to embark on this adventure?
access from the east and west on national road no. 28, from the north S7 to Lubień and from there on road no. 968. When coming from the north, due to traffic jams at the intersection with DK28 and in the town centre, you can turn right after the station gas station on the outskirts of Mszana, turn left and take Starowiejska Street south (watch out for numerous speed bumps!).
Mszana Dolna – Krościenko nad Dunajcem section
Krościenko nad Dunajcem – Nowy Targ section
Nowy Targ – Rabka section
Mszana Dolna invites you to ‘A walk with a pump’
The tour starts on the border between the Gorce and the Beskid Wyspowy in Mszana Dolna. The village was first mentioned in 1254, but town rights were not granted until 1345. Near the neo-Gothic Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Jana Pawła II Street), the medieval urban layout has been preserved, as well as a pump which served the inhabitants for many years and the outline of the foundations of the town hall and inn. If you want to learn more about the history of the town, you can take 'A walk with a pump,' a description of which can be found in the Limanowa District app (there is a version for Android devices and for iOS devices.
approximately 1 hour.
If you wish to visit this part of the village, you can park on Market Square. To get there, take road no. 28 and turn left after the bridge over the Mszanka River if you're coming from the west, or turn right if you're coming from the east, into Jana Pawła II Street. Look out for the church, which is perfectly visible from afar and can serve as a landmark to guide you.
It is worth noting that Mszana Dolna lies on the route of the Galician Transversal Railway, opened in 1884, whose total length is about 800 kilometres and runs through the Carpathian region. The station building is located on DK28 (at the entrance from the western side) and is currently housing commercial and service premises.
From the centre of the village, take road no. 968 towards Zabrze. On your right, you will pass the manor park with a group of old trees, the manor house built by the last owner, Henryk Piotr Krasiński, in the English 'cottage' style and a chapel where his family coat of arms has been preserved. Nearby is the oldest building in the town: a brick granary farmhouse from the 18th century, which now houses a hotel. At the roundabout (less than a kilometre from the start), you continue along road no. 968 to Zabrze.
To the right, there is a road leading to the villages where the trails start, leading to the highest peak of the Gorce – Mt Turbacz (1310 metres above sea level); Niedźwiedzia (green trail); Konina (black trail to Kudłoń and further through the Borek Pass yellow trail); Poręba Wielka Koninek (in the heart of Gorce, from Koninek to Turbacz); Poręba Wielka with a walking path to Tobołów and further as from Koninek. The latter village has the headquarters and the Educational Centre of the Gorce National Park.
Through the Przysłop Pass to Szczawa and Kamienica
After about a kilometre, a signpost directs you left to the village of Łostówka. Where did this name come from? It is said that once upon a time, a highlander was walking through the valley and saw 100 zlotys on the road. Overjoyed, he exclaimed: 'Oh, a hundred!’ And that is how it has remained to this day.
The road climbs gently to the village of Lubomierz.
On the right (11 km), you can see the wooden Church of St. Joseph the Bridegroom from 1915. In the 1960s, it was used to venerate a graceful painting of Our Lady Queen of the Gorce from the 17th century, most probably from the Greek Catholic parish in Pacław. The image of Mary was returned to followers of that rite in 1993.
on the side of the main road on the lane leading to the church.
W Lubomierzu można zatrzymać się też na chwilę nieco dalej i udać się na krótki quest poświęcony osobie Bulandy, słynnego bacy, wyjątkowej postaci w historii Gorców, porównywanego z zakopiańskim Sabałą.
Warto wiedzieć, że Lubomierz od dawna cieszy się dużą popularnością. Bywał tu Karol Wojtyła, późniejszy papież Jan Paweł II, na wakacje przyjeżdżała tu nasza noblistka Wisława Szymborska, a Władysław Orkan na Przysłopiu umieścił akcję jednej ze swoich powieści pt. „W roztokach”. Dziś popularność wsi związana jest głównie ze stacją narciarską Lubomierz Ski.
In the pass, on the left, there is a parking place for those taking the yellow trail to Mt Kudłoń and further into the heart of the Gorce. You can also turn right and follow the narrow road down to the Trusiówka Glade, where there is a camping site and car park. From here, hiking and cycling trails start, leading to Mt Kudłoń, the Gorce and towards Mt Turbacz. Here, we encourage you, if you have enough time, to take ’The Lesser Known Gorce’ hiking trail. And if not now, we leave you this idea for the future. We go further.
We reach the village of Szczawa (25 km), where springs of therapeutic waters that have a favourable effect on the functioning of kidneys, respiratory tract and digestive system flow. Their properties were mentioned as early as the 15th century. The taste is not the best, but the medicine does not have to taste good, it should be effective.
From the car park on the border of Szczawa and Kamienica, near the cemetery, you can set off on foot or by bike towards Mt Mogielica (about 9 km).
The next village – Kamienica (29 km) – was a clerical settlement centuries ago, belonging to the Poor Clares Monastery in Stary Sącz. After confiscating the monastic property in 1782, the Austrian authorities handed the village over to the owners of Szczawnica, the Szalay family. In the 19th century, the village was owned by Maksymilian Marszałkowicz, an industrialist and a political and social activist, who built a sawmill and paper mill here.
In Kamienica, it is worth visiting the chapel of the Szalays located in the cemetery and, the palace park with beautiful old trees and the Marszałkowicz manor house.
All the facilities are located within a few dozen metres of the car park at the church.
Along the Dunajec River bank
On the Dunajec River bank at the mouth of the valley is Zabrze (35 km), where road no. 969 runs, leading left to Łącko. The town is famous for its liquor, which 'gives strength and makes the skin glow,' – plum vodka – and apples grown here. To the right, the road leads to Krościenko nad Dunajcem. You are heading in the direction of this village. For a dozen or so kilometres, you will glimpse beautiful views of the Gorce hills (on the right) and the Beskid Sądecki hills (on the left).
The road often runs along the Dunajec riverbank, so be careful.
In Tylmanowa (40 km), there is a junction with the road to Ochotnica, which you can take as a shortcut through the Knurowska Pass to get to the southern side of the Gorce. However, we encourage you to continue along the main route, where many more attractions await you.
In the central part of the village, there is a wooden church dedicated to St. Nicolas from the 18th century. Nearby, on the rocky hill Baszta, a calvary with sculptures by Tomasz Zabrzeski was built (the signpost leading to the calvary is located just after the stream behind the crossroads with the road to Ochotnica). It is worth noting that Józef Tischner, the future priest and professor, spent the first several months of his life in Tylmanowa.
On the straight section of the road, you are accompanied on the left by a view of the viewing tower on Mt Koziarz.
Note: at the end of the straight road, there is a sharp curve to the left, and then the road curves tightly to the right around the hamlet of Kłodne.
You are still in the Tylmanowa area; on the left, on the slopes steeply ascending over the Dunajec River (46 km), there is the Kłodne nad Dunajcen Nature Reserve, where a natural fragment of the Carpathian beech forest is protected.
Krościenko nad Dunajcem – beautiful Market Square at the foot of Mt Trzy Korony
You will reach Krościenko nad Dunajcem (51 km): a must-stop. Here, you have to see the small-town houses at Market Square and along Zdrojowa Street (on the other side of the Dunajec River), take a breather on the boulevards by the Dunajec River and the local church and the communal regional chamber in the old presbytery.
Ample, free car parks are near the new church on the approach to the centre. It is also possible to park in Market Square, but on weekdays, it can be crowded, and parking is charged from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.
About 700 metres from the market square (in the direction of Nowy Targ), is the Pieniny National Park Museum. Halfway to it, at the exit of Trzy Korony Street, is an interesting votive Chapel of St. Roch in Ptaszkowa, the patron saint of the sick and suffering. It was built in 1710-23 to avert the plague.
Krościenko is an excellent starting point to reach the most famous peak of Pieniny: Trzy Korony. In the Pieniny National Park, tickets entrance are valid for the viewing gallery on the summit of Mt Trzy Korony and Mt Sokolica.
At a distance of 4 km from Krościenko is Szczawnica, a town where the Dunajec rafting trip ends. Further into the valley are Szlachtowa (9 km) and Jaworki (11 km), with its interesting Church of St. John the Baptist. It is necessary to spend at least one day getting to know the charms of this corner.
In Szczawnica, in the spa and the town park, the coats of arms on many houses are worth noting. It is also worth going to Palenica using the ski lift of the ski station of the same name and walking along the ridge of the Małe Pieniny to the place where the Dunajec River Gorge ends and the river flows more calmly into the wider valley.
In Szlachtowa, tourists are invited to visit the Józef Szalay Pieniny Museum, while in Jaworki, as many as three attractions await you: the Homole Gorge and Biała Woda and Zaskalskie-Bodnarówka reserves.
On the way to Nowy Targ
After a rest in Krościenko, you need to head towards Nowy Targ. The road climbs up through successive villages. You pass Grywałd with its wooden Church of St. Martin from the 15th century (the parking place is at the foot of the hill on which the temple stands), Hałuszowa, Krośnica (the road to Czorsztyn with the ruins of the Wronin Castles and Sromowce Niżne, where the Dunajec rafting trip begins). You arrive at the Snozka Pass (9 km): another 'mandatory' stopping point.
You will find a comfortable car park on the right-hand side of the road.
From here, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the Tatras to the south, the Pieniny and the Beskid Sądecki to the east and the Nowotarska Valley to the west; there is also a unique monument, 'The Organ' by Władysław Hasior, erected in honour of those who brought power to the people. The artist intended its metal elements to create original sounds in the wind. There are some who have allegedly heard them, but there is no evidence of this in the form of recordings.
Mt Wdżar, which evidences the volcanic activity in Poland, also rises here. Two others, Mt Jarmuta and Mt Bryjarka, are also nearby, towering over Szczawnica. It is worth spending an hour or so walking along the blue trail towards Lubań to look at one of the quarries.
The road further on will also provide you with beautiful views. Descending from Snozka, you have a view of Lake Czorsztyńskie and the Nowotarska Valley. On the way, you will pass Kluszkowce. There is the Czorsztyn Ski ski station inviting tourists, also in the summer season, as there is a bike park, a toboggan run, a chairlift and a sandy beach by the lake.
It is worth noting the Dunajec flood protection dyke (on the right) and the western wall of Jezioro Czorsztyńskie (on the left), which protect the Podhale i Spisz regions from flooding.
Soon, you will reach Dębno Podhalańskie (17 km from Krościenko). It is worth stopping here to see the first of the four wooden churches of St. Michael the Archangel in Podhale.
Signposts lead from the main road to a comfortable car park near the church.
Tradition links the origins of the temple with an apparition of St. Michael to local robbers, whose figure was said to have appeared to them on one of the oak trees. The church was built in the 15th century and is one of the most valuable monuments of wooden architecture, not least because it is built without nails, all the elements being clearcut.
After visiting the church, continue west towards Nowy Targ.
You will discover other wooden churches in Harklowa, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (20 km, you need to turn off the main road to the centre of the village, there is a place to park by the church) and in Łopuszna (24 km), the Church of St. Trinity and St. Anthony the Abbot. Prominent personalities are associated with the latter village: Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer and Rev. Prof. Józef Tischner.
From the main road, the signposts lead to the car park at the church (24.5 km). While heading deeper into the village, you will reach Tischnerówka, which has a small car park.
The Manor House in Łopuszna, which belonged to the Tetmajer family, is located next to the church. A little further from the main road is the Father Józef Tischner Memorial House, a famous Tischnerówka, where the Professor's highlander shirt and his skis are on display. While following in the footsteps of Father Tischner, one can also visit the shepherd’s hut on the Sumolowa Glade in the hamlet of Zarębek Wyżni, next to which several of the Professor's books were written in a small hut, and visit his grave.
From Łopuszna, head in the direction of Nowy Targ (to the west). Before you reach the capital of Podhale, you will pass through two former royal villages. The first of these is Ostrowsko, whose history dates to the 13th century. In 1947, the unit of Józef Kuraś 'Ogień,' one of the commanders of the independence and anti-communist underground, was destroyed in one of the homesteads. To this day, there is a dispute among historians about the assessment of his character. For some, he is a hero; according to others, he has crimes of genocide on his conscience.
Another village is Waksmund. The settlement is mentioned as early as 1234 in connection with its being granted to the Cistercians by the Kraków Voivode Teodor Cedro and brought to nearby Ludźmierz. The name Wachszmuuth appeared a century later, after German colonists, using the privileges of the Magdeburg law, settled here. For sending five armed men to the battle of Grunwald, the villagers received a glade and forest in the Tatras from King Władysław Jagiełło, and the area is still called the Waksmundzka Glade.
Centuries ago, robbers used to prowl here…
In Nowy Targ (32 km), at the first crossing behind the bridge over the Biały Dunajec River, turn right into Szaflarska Street, which will lead you through Market Square and Kościuszki Street. After crossing the bridge over the Dunajec River, following the road signs, you reach the Church of St. Anne (33 km), located on a hill next to the larch cemetery. According to legend, they were supposed to have placed an image of the church's patron saint, looted in Hungary, in the altar.
convenient car park in front of the cemetery.
From the car park at the St. Anne's cemetery, you will easily drive onto national road no. 47, a section of the route from Zakopane to Kraków: the popular 'Zakopianka.' Soon after leaving the town, you will see beautiful views of the Tatras on your left.
You pass Klikuszowa (the Gorce-Klikuszowa Cross-Country Skiing Centre is located here), climb to the highest point through which the 'Zakopianka' runs to the village of Rdzawka and after a few kilometres, you will reach another gem of wooden architecture – the Church of the Holy Cross on Mt Piątkowa. You will see it on the left, 14 kilometres from Nowy Targ.
Driving in this direction, you need to turn off onto a side local road and leave your car there to get closer to the Church.
Legend has it that centuries ago, robbers attacked a wealthy merchant on this spot; the merchant raised his eyes to the sky and cried out: Holy Cross, save me! After these words, a burning cross appeared above him, the forest rocked, and the terrified robbers ran away in terror.
On the northern side of 'Zakopianka', towards Kraków, there is a spring called Pocieszna Woda. The name has nothing to do with cheerfulness or laughter. Centuries ago, the word Pocieszny meant encouraging and comforting.
The spring is said to have gushed out at the site of the incident described above. Although studies do not confirm the healing properties of the local water, local inhabitants consider it a panacea for eye and leg disorders.
From the church, you descend along sharp bends into the Raba Valley, admiring the panorama of the Beskid Wyspowy with Mt Luboń Wielki (with a transmitter on top) in the foreground. At the bottom of the descent, it is worth slowing down a little to avoid missing the exit to road no. 958.
Rolling Stock Open-Air Museum in Chabówka
Leaving 'Zakopianka' (17 kilometres), take road no. 958 in the direction of Rabka Zdrój. After about 150 metres, you will find yourself at the railway station in Chabówka, where the train from Kraków to Zakopane changes direction once again. Years ago, you could travel by train through Rabka Zdrój, Mszana Dolna, Limanowa, Nowy Sącz, all the way to the Bieszczady. Railway enthusiasts are encouraged to visit the nearby Rolling Stock Open-Air Museum with its many interesting exhibits. To get there, you need to head towards the viaduct and turn right just before it, and the street will lead you to the open-air museum.
It is located on the grounds of the open-air museum.
Rabka-Zdrój – a town full of attractions for children
Those not interested in railways can immediately follow road no. 958 to the right (to the east) to Rabka-Zdrój (19 kilometres), a children's health resort called the City of Children of the World.
The optimal way to park your car is to go straight over the roundabout and use the car park on the left. From there, you will be close to everywhere and find yourself in the middle of Rabka's attractions.
Symbolically end your journey in front of the Rabka railway station at the St. Nicholas Monument. His figure is accompanied by children, one of whom holds the town coat of arms, and the other grasps money poured by the saint (a reference to the legend according to which St. Nicholas received a substantial inheritance from his parents, which he generously shared with his neighbours).
Crossing the railway tracks along Orkana Street, you will reach the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the Władysław Orkan Museum (350 metres). Nearby is the Rabcio Puppet Theatre, and you can walk to the Rabkoland Amusement Park.
Going the other way (to the south), you will pass through the spa part and soon enter the beautiful, extensive Spa Park. In its lower part (at Chopina Street), there is an, where many events for children take place in the summer season, and next to it stands a rather peculiar fountain with seven elephants raising their trunks upwards. An additional attraction is the summer 'water-light-sound' shows.
And so, in the city of the children of the world, we end our journey around the Gorce. We are sure you have planned further trips to this region along the way, and we will see you again soon!