While most tourists to Poland stick to the cities and content themselves with the wonderful cultural sights that can be experienced in the Old Town areas of Warsaw and Krakow, a trip into the Polish countryside - and particularly, the southern Bieszczady Mountains - is a very rewarding enterprise. Bieszczady is a mountain range that runs through the extreme southeast of Poland, near the borders with Ukraine and Slovakia.
A land of snow-capped peaks, tall pine trees, vast green meadows and a rich array of native flora and fauna, the Bieszczady area is not only gorgeous, but offers plenty of well-maintained hiking and mountain biking trails, many of them wending their way through the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. Animal lovers should look out for the lynxes, bears and wolves that can be found in the mountains.
Apart from all this natural bounty, the Polish countryside is known for its human inhabitants: the internet is awash with tourist tales of being invited to share trout barbecues with friendly local families, of stumbling across eccentric villages and towns, and of snapping photograph after photograph of rural houses that look like they have been lifted straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales.