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Szlak samochodowy: Pieniny objazdowo

Car trail: touring the Pieniny

Miasteczko wśród gór widziane z góry.
Krościenko nad Dunajcem Tourist region: Pieniny i Spisz
The following route may only be 13 km long, but what a journey it is! A car trip along the Pieniny trails offers many natural and cultural wonders and countless opportunities for rest and recreation. Plan a super day with us in one of the most beautiful regions of Małopolska!

Practical information

Piktogram długość trasy 13 kilometres

Piktogram miejsce startuKrościenko nad Dunajcem

Piktogram dojazd drogą numer 969 z Nowego Sącza (z północy) lub od strony road no. 969 from Nowy Sącz (from the north) or from Nowy Targ (from the west) to Krościenko nad Dunajcem (the route partly coincides with the ‘The Gorce that you don’t know’ car trail) and from there to Szczawnica.

Piktogram mapa


Before setting off to Szczawnica, 4 kilometres away, it is worth stopping briefly in Krościenko nad Dunajcem.

Piktogram parking A free car park is near the new church on the approach to the centre from Nowy Sącz. Driving from Nowy Targ, you must get to the roundabout and turn left.

You can also park on Market Square, although this car park is often crowded, and there is a parking charge on weekdays from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.

Krościenko charms with its small-town buildings at Market Square and along Zdrojowa Street. You can breathe a little after your journey on the boulevards by the Dunajec, visit the local church  and the regional chamber in the old presbytery, or even go to the seat of the Pieniny National Park which is located about 700 metres away (towards Nowy Targ) with an attractive natural history exhibition, passing halfway through an interesting votive chapel in Ptaszkowa dedicated to St. Roch, a patron saint of the sick and the suffering.

The town is also a convenient starting point to the most famous peak of the Pieniny – Trzy Korony. A walk along the trail  ‘Along Sokola Perć from Trzy Korony to Sokolica’ provides plenty of unforgettable experiences!

After getting to know the charms of Krościenko nad Dunajcem, continue to Szczawnica. From the car park, where you are staying, head towards the previously mentioned roundabout. If you are coming from Nowy Sącz and stop by the new church, just go straight ahead for a few dozen metres and leave Market Square by the temple. You then pass over the characteristic bridge over the Dunajec and follow its banks.

A glimpse of the Dunajec River Gorge

After 4 kilometres, you will find yourself at the beginning of Szczawnica, a popular and beautiful spa town, which is a good starting point for mountain trips into the Pieniny. This is also where one of the most important attractions of the Pieniny – the Dunajec rafting – ends. You will need more time on this trip to participate in the rafting, but we strongly encourage you to plan it for next time!

Piktogram parkingAt the final stop of the Dunajec rafting trip, when entering the town, you must stick to the riverbank by turning off the main street to the right.

From the car park, you set off in the direction of the rafting harbour, cross the bridge over the Grajcarek River and, after a while, pass the road leading to the ‘Orlica’ Polish Tourist Society Mountain Shelter, the entrance to Pieniny National Park and the Dunajec River crossing. If you continue your walk, you will reach the Polish-Slovakian border, and after passing it, a few minutes later, you will find yourself at the mouth of the Leśnicki Creek.

A pleasant walk along the Dunajec River will take you about 40 minutes (one way). Stop in the Mountain Shelter for a coffee and a delicious cake!

A walk through the spa

When you reach its centre, you will set off on another walk through the spa part of Szczawnica. Head to the right after leaving the car park and get to the main street. After passing the bus station, turn right down the road (about 1.7 kilometres from the previous car park).

Piktogram parkingAt the lower station of the Palenica ski resort cable car. The car park has to be paid for; there is no free alternative.


To get to know the charms of the spa, leave the car park at Główna Street (the one you were on) and turn right into Zdrojowa Street after about 150 metres. As you walk up the hill, you will pass the mineral water pump room, which is worth a visit to taste the local acidulous healing waters. Their occurrence is related to volcanic processes in the area thousands of years ago. One of the extinct volcanoes is Mt Bryjarka, at the foot of which we are currently located. It is worth knowing that there are many volcanic remains in Małopolska, so the region can boldly be called the land of sleeping volcanoes.

After a 10-minute walk, you will reach Dietl Square, where there is an obelisk of its patron and a fountain with a sculpture of The Woman with a Jug. To Dietl, privately a friend of Józef Szalay, the owner of Szczawnica, we owe a new field of medicine – balneology – dealing with the influence of underground waters on the body. It was Józef Dietl who conducted research in many localities and contributed to the establishment of Polish spas.

The spa part of Szczawnica has its unique atmosphere, which is created by historic buildings in Alpine style around Dietl Square: Dom nad Zdrojami, Stara Kancelaria, Willa Holenderka, Willa Szwajcarka, and Willa Pałac, which houses the Spa Museum. It is worth going a little higher to look at the Spa Chapel (just above Willa Szwajcarka) and see the bust of Józef Szalay, the spa founder. The characteristic building of the Inhalatorium sanatorium is one of the oldest spa houses in Poland. Depending on the weather, you can take a longer stroll in the Górny Spa Park, sit in one of the numerous eating establishments here and soak up the spa atmosphere.

Piktogram opcja wycieczkiSupposing you are planning a weekend or longer in Szczawnica, it is worth going to Mt Bryjarka to look from the cross located there (in 1902, it was erected by Józef Górecki's company, the same which mounted the cross on Mt Giewont) from above at the health resort and the slopes of the Małe Pieniny located on the other side of the valley, along which runs the border with Slovakia.


It takes about 50 minutes to get there from Dietl Square. You have to go up, following the yellow trail signs and follow the signposts ‘To the cross’; the final section is without a trail. There are two more places worth visiting in Szczawnica. The first is the St. Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr Church, built in the 19th century, with its neo-Gothic decoration and beautiful paintings. The second is the Dolny Park, which contains the historic Chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa, a viewing arbour and a small pond. The church stands at Zdrojowa Street, which you will use to descend to the centre, and the park is located opposite the car park, so, after descending to Main Street you have to turn right and walk about 300 metres.

In Ruś Szlachtowska / Szlachtowa Ruthenia

You have visited Szczawnica and will hopefully return for future trips, so we are off! After leaving on Main Street, turn right and head east. In this section, the road is very narrow in many places, so we recommend caution. A low speed will help you to continue contemplating the beautiful old buildings. On many buildings, you will notice signs with drawings characteristic of Szczawnica, which years ago made it easier to find the correct address.

As we leave the town behind, we step into the realm of Ruś Szlachtowska /Szlachtowa Ruthenia, a territory steeped in history. Once home to the villages of Szlachtowa, Jaworki, Biała Woda and Czarna Woda, this land cradled a Ruthenian population that had its own unique culture. Their isolation, nestled between the dense Lemko settlements of the Beskid Sądecki and the Poprad Valley populated by Poles, and neighboured by the Szczawnica highlanders to the west, fostered the development of a distinct dialect, costume and customs.

After 4 kilometres, you will find yourself in Szlachtowa. In the village, it is worth seeing the former Lemko Orthodox church and now the Church of Our Lady Mediatrix of Grace with three characteristic domes giving it a Byzantine appearance, quite unusual for this area. The temple is a slight detour from our main route, and you'll need to take a left turn in the village centre into Jana Pawła II Street to reach it.

The next stop is the Józef Szalay Pieniny Museum in Szlachtowa, where you can learn about the history of the area and discover the achievements of the local people living at the crossroads of cultures, religions and nationalities.

Piktogram parkingParking places are right next to the museum.

At the end of the valley

The last stop on the route is Jaworki (7 kilometres from Szczawnica). The village name may not mean anything to some people but mentioning that the Homole Gorge is located here will certainly evoke many associations.

Piktogram parkingThe choice of where to leave your car depends on your individual preferences. You can use the large car park on the right-hand side of the road or one of the smaller ones on private properties (all paid) near the entrance to the Homole Gorge or the one by the St. John the Baptist Church. Here, you can leave your car free of charge.


The further plan of the day depends on individual preferences. There are two options: exploring the Homole Gorge or going to the Biała Woda Reserve.

The entrance to the Homole Gorge is located near the paid car park. From the first steps after leaving the road, you will see spectacular rock walls up to 120 metres high, among which treasure and gold were sought and lime was burnt centuries ago. The green signposted path leads you along the stream flowing along the bottom of the canyon; there is a specific microclimate here, and it is almost always humid. After about 20 minutes, the rocks will end, and for another 20 minutes, you will walk along a stone footpath. At the place where the trail turns right onto a cross-country forest road, you have to turn left (no signs), and the trail will take you to the centre of Jaworek.

The second option is to go to the Biała Woda Reserve. If you want to visit it, you walk from the paid car park along the road to the village centre. You must backtrack from the church to the crossroads by the restaurant you drove through. In either case, you will walk for 30 minutes along Biała Woda Street, the area of the former village of that name. On your left, you will pass an Orthodox chapel, which is the only trace of the former inhabitants of the area. Many of the modern buildings you see on your walk attempt to replicate the local traditional architecture.

The entrance to the reserve is marked, and immediately behind it is Bazaltowa Skałka / the Bazaltowa Rock. You will reach a rest point after wandering along it a few moments later. If you venture further into the valley, you will come across Gazdówka, and a refreshment stand, with two interesting wayside crosses just behind them. A few steps further, you will find another shepherd's hut, a waterfall and, at the level of the timber yard (slightly to the right), a sheep grazing area. This is an excellent opportunity to stock up on sheep's milk products in season. It takes about 15 minutes to reach this place from the reserve border. Following the yellow trail, after about three-quarters of an hour, you will reach the Rozdziela Pass, where a large sheep grazing centre operates in summer.

This is how you will end this short but scenic route. Not many kilometres, but plenty of places of interest. Much more time is needed to explore the charms of this area in more detail.

Suggestions for hiking in the surroundings

If the car trip described above has piqued your curiosity about the Pieniny and the western part of the Beskid Sądecki, we suggest exploring these hiking trails in the area:

  • ‘Around Jaworek or a journey through the Pieniny and the Beskid Sądecki’ – this route invites you to conquer the highest peak of the Pieniny – Mt Wysoka and discover the picturesque Rozdziela Pass.
  • ‘On the extinct volcano’: a long but not exceptionally challenging hike leading along the slopes of the mentioned Mt Bryjarka, allowing you to get to know the western edge of the Beskid Sądecki.
  • ‘Across: a suggestion that instead of going rafting, you should cover this beautiful route on your feet, and coming back through Slovakia, you should look at the Pieniny from a different perspective and visit the village of Leśnica, whose inhabitants have an impact on the weather in Szczawnica...

From Szczawnica, it is also possible to go to the nearby Spisz and visit it using the ‘Polish Spisz’ car route or on foot:

As you can see, a one-day trip between Krościenko nad Dunajec and Jaworki can be a few exciting days in this unusual area. There is no shortage of attractions for young and old alike. Let yourself be tempted!

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