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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » April 30, 2014
Polska…tastes good!
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Greatest Hits of Rural Tourism
April 30, 2014   
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The best and most inventive farms offering accommodation and services to tourists have been highlighted on a list of the “greatest hits” of rural tourism in Poland. The list is contained in A Study of the Potential of Rural Tourism Products in Poland and Their Competitiveness on the Regional, National and International Markets for Tourist Services. The study was compiled by the Polish Tourism Development Agency in 2012 at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

A large number of Polish rural tourism farms were studied and the farms that made it onto the list stand out with services and products that ensure a wide and diversified range of leisure activities for visitors. People who come to such farms can choose from a variety of attractions that allow them to be creative and help them pursue their interests and hobbies. Farms selected as the “greatest hits” rely heavily on the heritage of rural Poland and the report aims to highlight the potential of Polish villages and the opportunities it presents.

Unique nature

The Milicz Ponds, located in Lower Silesia province, are one of the finest natural habitats in Poland and Europe. The ponds are a sanctuary and breeding ground for over 270 kinds of birds, including rare water bird species such as the Greylag goose, the black-necked and red-necked grebes, the western marsh harrier, the Eurasian bittern, the little crake and the ferruginous duck. More than 60,000 migrating birds come to the Milicz Ponds every year, making the place ideal for both novice and expert birdwatchers. Especially for them, a number of lookouts have been built in the area, providing excellent bird watching opportunities also to tourists who enjoy taking photographs of birds (photo safaris) or just relax in the open. Other than the bird watching haven, the Milicz Ponds are known for fish farms dating back 800 years. The local specialty is the Milicz breed of carp, celebrated during a festival called the Carp Days. Tourist who come to visit the area should also try other freshwater fish that inhabit the clean waters of the Barycz River. Angling is one of the ways to do that.

The Milicz Ponds are a popular destination for fans of healthy lifestyles and recreation. Local attractions include a 400-meter race for families, a Nordic walking competition and an array of scenic bicycle trails crossing forests and nature reserves. Those who like horses can try a ride along a picturesque and horse riding trail.

A large bird population is also the main draw of the Rzeczpospolita Ptasia (Bird Republic) in Lubuskie province. This is a one-of-a-kind project undertaken by the Unitis Viribus Friends of Słońsk Association to establish a club for bird lovers who come to Słońsk, a picturesque little town on the edge of the Ujście Warty (Warta River Mouth) National Park. The number of birds of different species spotted on the park’s meadows and overflow areas in just one day sometimes reaches 250,000. All bird-loving visitors to Rzeczpospolita Ptasia can apply for Bird Republic “citizenship” and “passports”, which so far have been issued to over 2,000 people from many countries in Europe. Accommodation and meals are provided in a hotel and rural tourism lodgings. Activities available in the Bird Republic include hiking and biking bird-watching expeditions to the Ujście Warty National Park (bicycles can be rented from a local farm), canoeing, a hiking and biking trip along a “Stork Route” and visits to an exhibition of regional crafts. Tourists can also learn about the history of Słońsk, attend music concerts in the Słońsk parish church and take part in angling contests. Bird Republic “citizens” regularly come back for outdoor conventions combined with educational activities.

Piątka znad Biebrzy (The Five by the Biebrza River) are five rural tourism farms in the Biebrza River National Park and the Biebrza Valley in Podlasie province. They are U Marysi (Marysia’s) in the village of Jaziewo, Nad Stawem (On the Pond) in Okopy, Agroturystyka nad Biebrzą (Rural Tourism by the Biebrza River) in Sztabin, Dworek na Końcu Świata (The Manor House on the Edge of the World) in Kopytkowo and Chata za Wsią (The Cabin Near the Village) in Hamulka. The five farms form a partnership aiming to promote the Podlasie region, the local traditions, hospitality and history and the distinctive natural beauty of the Biebrza River valley. The farms provide lodgings for tourists and the available activities include trips and tours that start in any of the five villages, as convenient for guests.

The Piątka znad Biebrzy farms offer rafting, canoeing, angling, Nordic walking, horse riding, a bicycle rental and a Biebrza River photographic safari. Visitors can also watch the locals bake the famous Podlasie delicacy sękacz, which is a large, cylindrical and spiky cake. Tourists who like to cycle can go on a biking tour of the five villages, called Around the Center of Europe in Five Days. Each of the five farms has a specialty of its own. The Nad Stawem farm welcomes fans of equestrian sports, offering training for beginners and horse rides in the open for more skilled riders. Agroturystyka nad Biebrzą, Chata za Wsią and Dworek na Końcu Świata all offer rafting on the Biebrza River. The owners of Agroturystyka nad Biebrzą, in turn, operate a medical center called Biebrza, which provides treatment and rehabilitation for patients with mobility and respiratory problems. The farm organizes rafting trips down the Biebrza River that last from one to several days, but tourists can also opt for a canoe expedition spanning the Biebrza River, the Augustów Canal and lakes in Podlasie province, or a biking tour of the Biebrza River National Park. Agroturystka nad Biebrzą has a recreational equipment rental with 12 six-seat rafts, 40 canoes, 40 cross-country bicycles and more.

The Chata za Wsią farm holds demonstrations of traditional methods of baking the sękacz cake and Podlasie-style pancakes. The farm’s guests can also see folk craftsmen make elaborate Easter eggs and carvings and on request, a guide takes tourists to renovated bunkers from the World War II era.

Depending on the season, the Dworek na Końcu Świata farm offers a range of sightseeing tours of the Biebrza River National Park. They last several hours each and include an expedition across swamps and bogs and a Biebrza safari over land and water.

Short and long trips around the Biebrza River National Park are also available at the U Marysi farm, which mainly takes visitors to tourist trails in the Czerwone Bagno (Red Swamp) nature reserve. The farm guests can also watch nature documentaries and slideshows and visit a miniature museum of the local countryside.

The Sudety Horse Riding Trail in Lower Silesia province provides a comprehensive service package that, along with the main attraction, a horseback tour of the beautiful Sudety Mountains, offers tourists a wide selection of recreational activities. Regarded as the most enjoyable horse riding trail in the Polish mountains, the Sudety Horse Riding Trail is also one of the most difficult ones in Europe. Spanning 360 kilometers, it meanders amid the picturesque Sudety Mountains all the way from Karpacz to Lądek-Zdrój, cutting through the Stołowe Mountains National Park and the scenic parks of Śnieżnik, Rudawy and the Sowie Mountains. Steep and narrow paths covered by stones in mountainous sections are a challenge for both riders and horses and as such, the Sudety trail is more suitable for seasoned riders. The 360-kilometer distance can be covered in a week when divided into eight sections—an effort well worth making for the mountain landscapes and nature and the unique opportunity to see places of tourist interest from horseback.

Apart from offering spectacular vistas, each section has its own attractions appealing to fans of historic buildings (Duszniki-Zdrój, Karpacz) and the distinctive architecture of the Sudety Mountains (Międzygórze), World War II history buffs (“an underground city”), nature lovers (the Stołowe Mountains National Park, the peat bogs near Batorów) and tourists interested in churches and pilgrimages (the “Lower Silesia Palestine,” an Eastern Orthodox church). Other tourist and cultural attractions along the trail include the Museum of Paper Making and the Chopin Manor House in Duszniki-Zdrój, the Violetta Glassworks, which is famous for its crystal glassware, a goldmine in Złoty Stok, a defunct uranium mine with an underground tourist trail in Kletno, the Salt and Minerals Museum in Stronie Śląskie, the Kłodzko Fortress, the Bear Cave and many others.

Riders can find accommodation in one of the area’s many hostels and rural tourism farms, where they can also take the opportunity to explore the local folk culture and the cuisine of the Lower Silesia region. The places also offer a first-hand experience of the local nature, in addition to healthy local dishes and a variety of other attractions and activities available to regular tourists. These include equestrian tourism, horse riding lessons, holiday stays, summer and winter camps, miniature zoos, open-air museums, handicraft and pottery workshops. In winter, nearby chair lifts are handy for skiers. Some farms located along the Sudety Horse Riding Trail provide activities during which visitors can learn about farming methods, find out how healthy and organic food is made and explore the cultural heritage of local villages, which includes traditional occupations and professions.

Herbs

For over 20 years, the Podedwórze district in Lublin province has specialized in growing chamomile, delivering the plant to many businesses in Poland and abroad. Podedwórze is home to the Kraina Rumianku (Land of Chamomile) farm, the oldest theme village in Lublin province. In addition to delightful scents and spectacular white chamomile fields, the farm offers visitors a range of educational and recreational activities. Far away from the city bustle, the Kraina Rumianku managers have made the most of the pristine nature, local culture and abundance of herbs. Part of Kraina Rumianku is a Center for Regional Education and a Rural Spa with beauty treatment rooms housed in impressive, 100-year-old granaries sitting amid flowers and herbs.

In its ethnography studios, the Center for Regional Education conducts workshops centered on vanishing professions of the Lublin region. During the activities visitors can, for example, bake bread, starting with threshing rye with flails in a barn, and learn to weave, from hand-picking flax to spinning it on a wheel to weaving linen on a loom. Fans of arts and crafts can attend pottery classes and learn how to make decorative ceramics, make flowers of plaited straw, weave tapestry and paint on glass and wood.

In Małopolskie province, 22 farms with accommodation for tourists are linked by a picturesque tourist trail with the appealing name of Małopolska Wieś Pachnąca Ziołami (Małopolska Countryside—Scent of Herbs). Carefully selected from among numerous rural tourism farms in the region, the 22 farms specialize in growing and using herbs. The farm owners are skilled in cultivating herbs, know their properties and know how to dry them. They also know how to arrange herb bouquets and use herbs in regional cuisine and unconventional medicine as the basis of therapeutic baths. Herbs and spices grown in the 22 gardens include lovage, tarragon, peppermint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, and sweet balm. The farmers use vegetables and herbs from their home gardens as ingredients of healthy regional dishes to which they treat visitors. Many also offer herbal baths, aromatherapy, different kinds of massage and other rejuvenating treatments based on the relaxing and energizing properties of herbs.

Herbs aside, tourists who come to Małopolska Wieś Pachnąca Ziołami farms have many other activities to choose from. They can join in farm chores such as harvest, haying and milking cows and help the hosts pick potatoes, feed farm animals, collect eggs, take honey out of beehives, shear sheep and so on. They can also pick herbs and leave them to dry. Other local attractions include folk festivals, parish fairs, hunting parties, firefighting competitions, caroling and folk dance shows. Many also like to visit historic churches, castle ruins and museums in the area.

Herbs are also the main focus of the Ziołowy Zakątek (Herbal Nook) farm in the Grodzisk district near the town of Siemiatycze, 70 kilometers west of the Białowieża Forest. Tucked away in a beautiful forest, Ziołowy Zakątek encourages visitors to explore herbal medicine or just relax—and to relive the times when the scent of flowers and herbs penetrated villages and when houses had thatched roofs. The farm has one of the largest herbal collections in Poland. Apart from educating visitors about traditional herb cultivation, Ziołowy Zakątek offers several inventive leisure activities, such as a “Herbalist’s Corner” that gives amateur herbalists an opportunity to try their hand at making herbal blends and infusions. An activity package called Stories on Wings takes visitors on guided tours of the local forests, in addition to horse rides, sleigh rides and bonfire parties.

Vanishing and traditional occupations

The rural district of Wojciechów in the eastern Lublin province has a long-standing tradition as a local center for blacksmithing. It is home to Kowalska Wioska w Wojciechowie (Blacksmith’s Village in Wojciechów), a site comprising the Wojciechów Smithy and an open-air museum called Wojciechosko Zagroda. They are a stop on the Iron and Blacksmithing Tourist Trail that introduces tourists to the blacksmithing tradition, which lives on in the area. The trail passes through several locations, taking visitors on an 8-hour tour to show them how melted iron is turned into horseshoes.

Blacksmiths in Wojciechów rose to prominence in the early 20th century when a smithy opened at the Wojciechosko Zagroda farm in 1918, followed by the Wojciechów Smithy in 1920. The secrets of the trade have been passed on from fathers to their sons ever since. What started in Wojciechów as traditional horseshoe making evolved into artistic welding and applied arts. Twenty-five years ago, local residents undertook concerted efforts to preserve the profession of a blacksmith and turn Wojciechów into a major blacksmithing center. The smithy in Wojciechów hosts national blacksmithing conventions attended by blacksmiths from both Poland and abroad and drawing a total of 15,000 tourists.

Wojciechów is home to Poland’s only Blacksmithing Museum, with a collection of over 1,000 tools and other items related to the trade. The museum is housed on the top floor of a 16th-century tower, making a visit quite a challenge. Visitors to Wojciechów can also see traditional blacksmiths and artistic welders at work, and other sights include an old wooden smithy from 1918 and a blacksmith’s cabin from the early 20th century, furnished with traditional household items, tools and other items of everyday use, many of which have been forged in the local smithies.
Celebrating old rural traditions, the Wojciechosko Zagroda farm welcomes tourists to a cottage and a barn where the staff thresh grain, make flour on special quern-stones, weave yarn on a loom, spin wool, milk goats and demonstrate other chores. Tourists can also try their hand at pottery, make paper decorations and attend classes in natural history. On request, the staff help guests organize barbecues, campfire parties, team-building events, receptions and rides in horse-drawn carts.

The Folwark Zrębice farm in Silesia province has a different way of promoting the region and focuses on the legacy of local butchers. The farm is home to Poland’s first School of Homemade Meats, established to preserve vintage recipes and meat processing methods, teaching students where to find such recipes and how to make good use of these. With projects such as a “Rural Weekend with Homemade Meats,” the school works to encourage people to make sausages and hams at home.

Apart from food workshops, lodgings and meals, the Folwark Zrębice farm offers a range of outdoor events and activities, such as walks and rides in horse-drawn carriages (sleighs in winter) and a narrow-gauge train.

Near the southeastern town of Ustrzyki Dolne in the Bieszczady Mountains lies Gospodarstwo u Flika (Flik’s Farm), a genuine Bieszczady-style farm specialized in baking leavened bread in a wood-fired oven on horseradish and cabbage leaves. Visitors to Flik’s Farm will find breathtaking views, crystal-clear air, accommodation, delicious meals and a host of other attractions. For 12 years in early August, the farm has organized a Bread Festival during which visitors can see the entire bread-making process and hear live music performed by folk bands from Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania. Craftsmen from across the Podkarpacie region, where the Bieszczady Mountains are located, come to make their wares at the farm and then sell them to tourists. Visitors to Flik’s Farm can try their hand at traditional bread making and crafts such as weaving wicker and making paper and felt. Other activities available at the farm include angling, barbecue parties and picnics by a bonfire. Those who like to stay active while on a vacation can take paragliding lessons, rent a bike or swim in a pool. The farm is open throughout the year and in winter visitors can take advantage of a dozen or so chair lifts in the neighborhood to ski, take downhill rides in sleds and check out the local cross-country skiing trails.

Traditional bread baking methods are also the specialty of the Chlebowa Chata (Bread Cottage) farm in the village of Górki Małe, perched in the picturesque valley of the Brennica River in the Beskidy Mountains, Silesia province. The farm was established to show tourists what life looked like in Polish villages a century ago. To this end, the farm’s wooden cottage has been furnished with vintage items such as 90-year-old wooden rural furniture and traditional household appliances. The main equipment in the house is a bread oven that the hosts use to bake leavened rye bread and pancakes, which are particularly popular with young visitors. Exhibited in the cottage are machines used to process grain and other equipment that peasants used to make butter and cottage cheese and to take honey out of beehives. Visitors can do all of that themselves as well as try their hand at other farm chores such as threshing, grinding grain on quern-stones, and sifting flour. The farm also offers table tennis, a basketball court, a campfire site and a playground. Tourist attractions in the nearby Brenna district include skiing centers, historic wooden buildings, churches, shrines and a historic distillery.

The Garncarska Wioska (Pottery Village) farm at Kamionka near Nidzica, Warmia-Mazuria province, is a non-agricultural farm whose tourist appeal largely results from traditional, vanishing crafts, customs and production technologies. Visitors to the farm can buy locally produced clay pots, handmade paper and clothes, and the farm also offers lodgings and recreational facilities. Local attractions include live demonstrations of traditional, Mazuria-style wedding customs complete with regional dishes and a folk band. During such events, visitors can don Mazurian outfits and sing songs in the local vernacular, aided by songbooks they are handed out by the staff. Garncarska Wioska also sells local handicraft wares and food products, including honey from the region’s apiaries.

Horses

Nestled in the lush surroundings of Łagów, Lubuskie province, the Ranczo u Zapotocznego (Zapotoczny’s Ranch) rural tourism farm draws visitors with a friendly and peaceful atmosphere that makes everybody feel at home. Apart from standard accommodation services with meals, the owners have a special activity package for guests. The farm offers horse riding, rides in horse-drawn carts, sightseeing trips, biking, hiking and different water sports, including canoeing and scuba diving. Regional traditions are showcased in an exhibition of vintage household items such as trunks and chests, cauldrons, spinning wheels, scythes and sickles.

The Agrorelaks farm in Brynica, just outside the Stobrawa River Scenic Park in Opole province, is famous for breeding the Silesian horse. Services and attractions available at Agrorelaks are targeted at tourists who seek active forms of relaxation, but this is also a good place for nature lovers and fans of traditional Polish countryside, with a special focus on the local culture of Poland’s southern borderlands. Along with clean air and breathtaking landscapes spanning the local meadows and forests, Agrorelaks guests are offered a number of recreational activities such as horseback riding and rides in horse-drawn carts in summer and sleighs in winter. First-timers can take horse riding lessons with skilled instructors and since the Silesian horse is a very tame breed, the lessons are a safe experience. Every year, Agrorelaks teams up with other local organizations to hold the large Hubertus festival for hunters and avid horse riders, helping promote the region and the local cuisine.

Also in Opole province, in the village of Śmiechowice, is the Babskie Ranczo (Women’s Ranch) farm, designed specifically as a recreational facility for women. The owners encourage horse riding as a leisure activity that allows people to stay out in the open in harmony with nature. Since woman riders differ from men in what they expect of the horse riding experience, this farm takes great care of its female visitors, from the right choice of horses and saddles to places where they can relax after exhausting riding lessons. The farm welcomes girls, adult women and mothers with daughters throughout the year, offering riding lessons regardless of the weather. The guests can also learn about horse psychology during classes conducted by an animal behaviorist.

The Baborówko Palace near Szamotuły in Wielkopolska province is a small palace surrounded by a 7-hectare park 30 kilometers from Poznań and 220 km from Berlin. Visitors like to come here to practice equestrian sports or take horse-riding lessons. More activities are available at the local stable and horse-riding center throughout the year and in all kinds of weather. The hosts also offer outdoor events and meals prepared fresh from locally grown ingredients. Accommodation for guests is available in the palace’s stylish rooms and in family suites in an outbuilding.

Culinary heritage

The Karczma Kaliska (Kalisz Inn) recreational farm in Małopolskie province offers lodgings and meals in a turn-of-the-century setting, with a special focus on the local culinary heritage. Visitors can see a collection of vintage machines and devices used to produce food, a genuine bread oven and a wooden inn. The local “manor homestead” is a place for visitors to get together and practice traditional occupations and crafts. Other attractions at Karczma Kaliska include rides in horse-drawn carts, a bike rental and sporting competitions.

The Dworek Tradycja (Tradition Manor House) farm in the small village of Bełczna, 90 kilometers east of Szczecin in West-Pomerania province, is a beautiful place sitting amid fields and forests and far from the main roads. The heart of the farm is a manor house built more than 300 years ago, which over the centuries has been used as a home, an inn and a pastor’s residence. After the war, it also housed a county archive and a rural school.

The farm gives cooking aficionados a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore healthy food products and bake bread in a genuine wood-fired bread oven. Visitors can learn how to make tasty and healthy dishes and fruit preserves and how to store them in pantries in the right way. The farm owners also offer cooking workshops, teach their guests about environmental protection and conduct training in relaxation and personal development techniques. The pristine nature in the manor house’s picturesque neighborhood favors recreational tourism, such as hiking, biking and horse riding. Visitors can choose from a variety of activities, including boat trips down the Rega River all the way to the Baltic Sea, angling, mushroom picking, paragliding, expeditions in all-terrain vehicles, a photographic safari and sightseeing tours of nearby churches and derelict manor houses.

The Tatarska Jurta (Tatar Yurt) farm in the remote village of Kruszyniany, some 3 km from the Belarusian border and 50 km from the nearest city of Białystok, is an attractive destination for nature lovers and for history enthusiasts keen to explore the culture of the Tatar people, who started settling in the area in the 16th century. Visitors to the Tatarska Jurta farm, which lies in the heart of the Knyszyn Forest, can pitch up a tent and get the full “Polish Orient” experience, complete with traditional Tatar cuisine and accommodation in original Tatar yurts. A stay at the farm gives tourists the opportunity to visit a mosque, a Muslim cemetery, a small Orthodox church and several other historic sites of religious importance.

A farm called Trzy Świerki (Three Spruces), in Warmia-Mazuria province, offers a varied mix of activities for fans of nature, quiet surroundings, astronomy, birds, geology, photography and active recreation. The central building is a traditional Mazuria house built in 1896 and surrounded by a garden. Perched on a hill, the house overlooks the picturesque Lake Ostrówek and the Romnicka Forest. Visitors to Trzy Świerki can watch and take pictures of birds and other animals, catch fish, pick herbs and flowers and explore the local forests where wild strawberries, raspberries and mushrooms are in abundance. The tasty finds can then be dried in special mushroom driers or processed into preserves. The farm has a telescope, a treat for those who like to watch the night sky.

More adventurous tourists and those who just like to stay on the move can take a bike ride on one of many tourist trails in the area, rent a canoe, play golf and practice winter sports, including skating on a frozen lake, cross-country and downhill skiing and tobogganing.

Education and handicrafts

The Synowcówka settlement in Łódź province combines traditional rural tourism services with facilities suitable for business events and corporate training. Located near a forest, meadows and a river, the settlement is part of a nationwide network of so-called learning homesteads, offering activities during which visitors can test the purity of water and study the local fauna and flora. In the Synowcówka vegetable garden, the staff also conduct workshops and classes in traditional food processing and storage methods. The nearby pine forest is excellent for mushroom picking and encourages bike rides and hiking, while a stable in the village of Pustkowa Góra, 2 kilometers from Synowcówka, offers horse riding. Avid anglers can catch fish at Synowcówka and in Ciosna 12 kilometers away.

The Pod Lipą (Under the Linden Tree) farm in Przychojec, Podkarpacie province, offers visitors an inventive range of attractions such as a Rural Museum, a flower arranging and wicker weaving studio, and an educational herbal garden. Guests can join the hosts in baking pancakes in a traditional bread oven and try their hand at making butter and cottage cheese. The farm buildings house a photographic exhibition on vanishing professions, an international collection of banknotes depicting rustic scenes, and an extensive collection of beer bottles and mugs. Entertainment for guests also comprises barbecue and bonfires parties combined with the tasting of homemade wine and tinctures. Visitors can also ride a horse or pony and those with mobility problems are offered a range of treatments such as medical massage and special exercises.

The Ostoja Dworska (Manorial Refuge) farm in Leśnica near Małogoszcz, Świętokrzyskie province, is a perfect place to embark on a motorcycle, bicycle and hiking expedition to the Świętokrzyskie Mountains as well as guided tours of the region. The farm offers its guests live demonstrations of folk culture, customs and traditions with a distinctive local flavor, such as stories told by a bonfire and dances to regional music. Ostoja Dworska also sells folk craft products made of natural materials.

Świętokrzyskie province is also home to the Kapkazy-Szkoła Wrażliwości (School of Sensitivity) rural arts center, which is located near the town of Bodzentyn. Operated by a partnership of local farms, this unique place brings together artists and art lovers who seek a quiet retreat. The Kapkazy center comprises a pottery gallery with items made on the site, and a theater that hosts theatrical productions, concerts and art exhibitions, in addition to pottery and theater workshops. Located in a green and quiet neighborhood, Kapkazy offers a delightful mix of nature and art and is often used as a venue for exhibition openings, artistic events and outdoor painting sessions. The local attractions include a Native Flavors Laboratory where the staff demonstrate traditional bread-making methods and show visitors how butter and cheese are made. Guests can find out about a variety of traditional cooking methods and learn how to make fruit preserves and healthy foods. They can also sign up to a range of workshops to learn traditional weaving techniques and local handicrafts. Those who sign up for a pottery class can learn to make, decorate and bake clay pots and other dishes. They are also taken on sightseeing trips combined with digging for clay. Moreover, those visiting Kapkazy are given an opportunity to discover the performer in them during acting and singing workshops.

The Ekozagroda “Jabłoniowy Sad” (Apple Orchard Organic Farm) in Opole province sits amid 11 hectares of meadows and arable land where the Mała Panew River flows into Lake Duże Turawskie. Meadows account for 8 hectares of the farm, which also features a large orchard. Apart from a 20-year-old house, the farm buildings are more than 100 years old and include a home apple juice factory where juice is pressed out of apples and other locally grown fruit. Aiming to preserve natural biodiversity, this organic farm does not have any monocultures. Jabłoniowy Sad sells organic products such as fruit juice, vegetables and fruit grown in the local garden and pork from pigs bred at the farm. It offers workshops for children, teaching them about organic farming, healthy food and environmentally friendly waste disposal methods such as freecycling and upcycling. The workshops are conducted in Polish, German and other languages by volunteers from around the world.

Agroturystyka nad Jeziorem Sopień (Rural Tourism by Lake Sopień) is a farm in Kujawy-Pomerania province where accommodation for guests is available in a 19th-century barn with stone walls. Sitting on the bank of Lake Sopień, apart from lodgings, the farm offers lessons in making bread and dairy products for schools and families with children. Keen to promote old traditions and vanishing occupations, the farm owners encourage their guests to visit a nearby smithy that offers blacksmithing workshops and demonstrations of the trade.

Visitors to this rural tourism farm are offered activities that are rare at this kind of establishment, such as “4x4 Tourism” driving lessons in all-terrain vehicles during which drivers negotiate bumps and hills and traverse water obstacles. Families with children can also attend circus classes and the farm’s modern horse riding center offers a range of activities tailored to both novice and advanced riders, such as individual classes with instructors, riding lessons for kids, steeplechase training and rides in horse-drawn carts.

The farm is far from the nearest village and has its own beach just 200 meters from the farm buildings. Its location in the Marshy Valley of the Drwęca River—an area protected under the European Union’s Natura 2000 program—draws nature lovers, bird watchers and photographers. Such visitors are offered canoeing expeditions and open-air photo sessions in the picturesque valley and the nearby Brodnica Scenic Park.

Unique landscape and architecture

The Podlaski Przełom Bugu (Bug Water Gap) scenic park near the Belarusian border is home to Uroczysko Zaborek (Zaborek Wilderness), a 50-hectare complex of vintage wooden buildings with accommodation for tourists. Its historic buildings amid meadows and pine forests along the Bug River form a sort of an open-air museum. Guests can rent rooms in a presbytery from 1880, an old windmill, and a white manor house dating back to the days of the January Uprising of 1863. Conferences and training sessions can be held inside a wooden church that also houses an art gallery for pictures painted during outdoor workshops held in the neighborhood. Tourists who stay at Uroczysko Zaborek can take the opportunity to visit the nearby stable in Janów Podlaski, which is famous around the world for its stud farm that specializes in Arabian thoroughbreds. Other local attractions include a tourist trail along the river with three major religions as its leading theme. The trail spans a Catholic sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, the remains of Muslim cemeteries of the Tatar people in Studzianka and Lebiedziew, an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Jabłeczna.

In summer, Uroczysko Zaborek offers rafting down the Bug River and rides in horse-drawn wagons that in winter are replaced with large sleighs. The owners also organize sports and recreational activities, in addition to folk craft workshops whose attendees can learn to make crepe paper decorations and cook the distinctly Polish pierogi dumplings. Since the farm has a stable, it recently started offering horseback riding lessons.

Siedem Ogrodów (Seven Gardens) in West Pomerania province is an appealing farm with accommodation for tourists, composed of seven different small houses, each surrounded by a beautiful garden. The farm especially appeals to nature lovers and those who like to be creative while on vacation. Tucked away amid the forests, lakes and meadows of the pristine Wałcz Lake District, the farm offers a variety of art workshops. Fans of active recreation can, in turn, go hiking and biking, take a canoe trip down the Drawa River, sail on Lake Betyń, or learn to ride a horse.

The Osada Karbówko (Karbówko Village) farm, perched in the picturesque valley of the Drwęca River near the town of Golub Dobrzyń, Kujawy-Pomerania province, offers a wellness and spa center with hot tubs and a Finnish sauna, in addition to a miniature zoo and a hunters’ inn (Karczma Myśliwska). Those who like active forms of recreation can go horse riding, take a ride in an all-terrain vehicle, or embark on a canoeing expedition.

Other sites

The Sioło Julianówka (Julianówka Hamlet) farm, located amid the wild forests and meadows of the Mińsk Mazowiecki Landscape Protection Area, specializes in the distinctive delicacies of the Mazovia region cooked by local chefs. The farm’s guests can try to cook such dishes themselves with the help of housewives from the area. The farm also offers recreational and sports activities, fitness classes and cultural events such as recitals, concerts, stage performances and feasts with music and dances.

The Pod Kogutem (Rooster’s) farm in Krępa near the Chojnów Scenic Park, Mazovia province, is a comfortable rural vacation center designed to give visitors a taste of living in the countryside. This farm is particularly appealing to families with children.

Near the town of Chęciny, Świętokrzyskie province, is the Gród (Stronghold) farm whose owners seek to help tourists explore the local history of knights and fortifications. The main draw of the site is a number of faithfully recreated medieval buildings, including a smithy with a large collection of old weapons and weapon-making tools. Accommodation is available in a “knight’s camp,” and guests can watch the staff forge iron, strike coins and use weapons and siege engines such as bows, cannon and catapults.
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