4. From Warsaw: Small-Group Tour to Bialowieza National Park
Bialowieza National Park is a real phenomenon on a European scale. The oldest national park in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe has an extremely diverse variety of flora and fauna. You will find here a whole variety of plants and animals that exist nowhere else. According to specialists, Białowieża Forest is home to 25,000 species of animals and more than 1,000 species of plants. If you want to experience nature at its best and see how the world looks untouched by civilization, take part in this full-day trip to the Bialowieza National Park. During this trip, you will see the best sights and attractions of the place including the following:
- Strictly Protected Area: The heart of Bialowieza and its most precious area was created by nature itself without any human intervention. It is hard to believe but almost all of Europe was once covered with this kind of primeval forest. During this 3-hour walk through the protected area, you will be accompanied by a professional tour guide (it is not possible to explore the reserve without a guide).
- The European bison Show reserve: No trip to Bialowieza Forest would be complete without a visit to the European bison show reserve. Despite its name, the reserve is inhabited not only by bisons, also known as the kings of Bialowieza, but several other species such as deers, elks, wild boars, wolves, tarpans, Polish horses, lynx, żubron (hybrid of the bison and domestic cattle) live in semi-natural conditions in this area. Please note that the European Bison show Reserve is closed on Mondays from October 15th until April 15th.
- Park Palace: This glorious garden located in the heart of the wild forest served as a hunting residence of the Russian tsars. As its name suggests, there was once a palace in this area. If you are lucky enough, you may encounter wild animals like deer, wild boar or fox while walking in the park.
- The oldest building in Bialowieza: Through the years this wooden manor house performed a variety of functions. It used to be a seat of the Governor of Grodno and one of the favorite places of relaxation for Tsar Alexander II. It also served as a museum, field hospital, restaurant, casino and even kindergarten.
- Orthodox Parish of St. Nicholas: Built in the late 19th century, the church impresses with its red brick architecture. It was founded by Tsar Alexander III and served for a long time as the tsar’s private temple. The interior is decorated with a beautiful porcelain iconostasis, the only one of its kind in Poland.
- Bialowieza Towarowa: You will be invited to the Tsar’s restaurant located in an old building of the railway station. It will be a great opportunity to admire (from the outside) the luxury railroad wagons transformed into a Tsarist saloon which is now a hotel.
- Hajnowka: Make a stop in Hajnowka, a town located on the western border of the Bialowieza Forest to see the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church – Poland’s largest two-tier Orthodox Church. The cathedral is also known for its International Festival of Orthodox Church Music.