Why visit Ojcow National Park?
Discover the Jurassic landscape of Ojców National Park just outside Krakow. A land of castles, caves, and nature-filled hikes.
The Jurassic landscape of Ojcow National Park is a haven for outdoor activities. Home to caves, castles, and limestone valleys, it’s an idyllic day trip outside Krakow when you want to reconnect with nature and discover more of the region’s heritage.
Ojcowski Park Narodowy (Ojcow National Park)
Covering 8.29 sq mi (21.46 km2), Ojcow is Poland’s smallest national park. Its southernmost point is only 9 mi (15 km) from Krakow. An abundant biodiversity, with butterflies and beetle species flourishing, adds color to a nature reserve shaped by ravines and limestone formations.
A hike here follows in the footsteps of Paleolithic pioneers who arrived 120,000 years ago. While the once widespread forests have mostly disappeared, other natural features would be recognizable to those early settlers.
In 1956, this unusual geological pocket earned national park status. Threaded around the park are easy-to-follow and color-coded trails, some suitable for all ages. If you’re searching for things to do in Krakow for all the family, caves and castles might lure for little ones.
What to do in Ojcow National Park
There’s also a delightful mix of activities to tempt all ages when looking for activities in Krakow that’ll get you closer to nature. Lazy hikes and geological wonders are just part of the package.
Castles in Ojcow Parks
If castles maketh the vacation, you’ll be woozy on the Trail of the Eagles’ Nests. The 117 mi (188 km) path links 25 castles, passing through the heart of Krakow at Wawel Castle and Ojcow National Park. If you’re considering an extended trip to Krakow, tempting day trips are found all along the route. Two of those clifftop castles are in Ojców:
- Ojcow Castle – built in the 14th century to defend the realm of King Casimir III the Great, later renovated and eventually abandoned to ruins. There is still a tower and fortifications to explore, plus some panoramic valley views.
- Castle in Pieskowa Skała – also raised for Casimir III in the 14th century but renovated in style during the Renaissance period. Now carefully restored, this architectural jewel is known for its refined Italian gardens, museum and art exhibitions, and simply looking dreamy. The Herbova restaurant is on hand to refuel between hikes.
Caves and Natural Landmarks in Ojcow National Park
Over 400 caves pepper the landscape in Ojcow, many along park trails. Highlights include:
- Grota Lokietka (King Łokietek’s Cave) – At 320 m long, the park’s largest grotto was once a dank refuge for king on the run, Władysław Łokietek. Entry with tours leaving every 30 minutes for 30zł/15zł (2023 prices).
- Jaskinia Ciemna (Dark Cave) – Head up on the green trail from Ojcow to reach this accurately named cavity once inhabited by Neanderthals. Atmospherics are dialed up with candlelight tours, lifted by rewarding views over Prądnik Valley and some half-hearted caveman displays. Hourly tours cost 20zł/10zł.
- Jaskinia Krowia – small, free-to-visit den near the Dark Cave and Krakow Gate.
- Krakow Gate – Towering limestone rock formations and a natural gate to pass under in awe.
- Hercules’ Club – An immense limestone column that fits the name to a tee. Therefore, a must-see for many. Find it within sight of Pieskowa Skała Castle.
Ojcow Trout farm (Pstrąg Ojcowski)
A gourmet surprise for hikers who didn’t pack a nosebag is the Ojców Trout Farm. After converting unused ponds in 2014, the mother-daughter team behind the concept has quickly earned acclaim for their brown trout. Here, you can sample it with zero fuss. Bread, local wine, and only the award-winning trout served grilled or smoked.
Hiking in Ojcow
A balanced mix of well-signposted, color-coded paths makes it easy to explore Ojcow National Park. Keep things chilled on the – mostly – flat Green Tourist Trail, an undemanding 2-hour route past limestone pillars and Dark Cave. Or head on a moderately demanding 2 ½ hour loop that passes through Złota Góra car park as it dips into ravines, past caves, and up to soaring viewpoints. Other trails crisscross the park and are moderately challenging.
How to get to Ojcow National Park from Krakow
Many visitors enter the park at Ojcow village, 17 mi (27 km) from the center of Krakow. Parking with payment meters sits beneath the castle ruins (GPS: 50.211242, 19.831218). Arrive early on weekends when parking fills up quick.
Alternative metered parking can be found at Złota Góra in Ojcow village and at the castle in Pieskowa Skała.
Hire a car for a day or even just a few hours. Otherwise, regular buses connect city and park in 30 minutes.