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The Carpathian Culinary Trail

Culinary tourism occupies a prestigious place in the modern world. Tourist attractions connected with traditional cuisine are becoming more and more popular. This is also being bolstered by the current trends and culinary programmes in the media anchored by celebrities. New publications about dishes and culinary traditions are emerging, and they serve as an invitation to visit a given region. There are also lifestyle magazines, which shape consumers’ tastes and ignite this interest by publishing articles about culinary traditions and cooking in general. read more

Tourists who go on vacations admire beautiful landscapes and monuments, enjoy attractions and sporting events, but also indulge themselves in culinary products. The culinary package characteristic of a given region is one of the key factors in deciding on the place for a vacation. This factor can be the fundamental or secondary objective of a journey to a given region or country.

In Małopolska “the tourism of gourmets” falls on good soil. The culinary heritage is one of tourist attractions there. The traditional cuisine in Małopolska is diverse and pronounced. You will find region-specific dishes in its every part.


The taste of Małopolska – traditional and regional dishes


Małopolska prides itself on having a long list of traditional products, and new ones are being added systematically. As many as 53 traditional products – among 969 registered on the list of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – come from Małopolska. This list features foodstuffs and agricultural products which have been manufactured in the given area in accordance with old recipes for at least 25 years. The complete list of traditional products can be found on the Ministry’s website


Ten traditional products from Małopolska have made it onto the list of regional products of the European Union among the total 34 Polish products, which were awarded with the “European quality passport” for foodstuffs and regional dishes.


One of the first was oscypek – smoked sheep’s-milk cheese made in mountainous areas – the Podhale – by sheep farmers. It is a staple souvenir from Zakopane. You can also find its variety called redykołka – a small cheese whose name derives from redyk, which means trailing the sheep. It is usually intended to be a gift.


Śliwka Suska sechlońska – traditionally-dried plums from around Iwkowa. Where there are produced, there is a trail “Let’s meet on the plum trail.” Along its route restaurants serve special dishes, hold events and shows, and guests receive gadgets.


The carp from Zator with its kingly pedigree has been bred from the 12th Century in a complex of ponds in the Carp Valley, which are simultaneously a paradise for ornithologists. Smoked and roast carp “Zator style” are true delicacies of this local cuisine.

Kiełbasa Lisiecka (sausage) – this used to be the favourite titbit of Pope John Paul II. It is produced in the Liszek region, and the butchers (reprised during the period of partitions and the communist rule) are considered heroes for protecting old recipes for future generations.


Fasola “Piękny Jaś” z Doliny Dunajca (the Piękny Jaś bean from the Dunajec Valley) combines taste values with location in the beautiful vicinity of the Dunajec river, which peacefully trails the region between Czchów and Tarnów, with “the bean capital” of Zakliczyn.


Jabłka Raciechowickie (apples) – in the Raciechowice area, there are ca. 1.5 million apple trees, and the annual harvest amounts to ca. 300 thousand tonnes of fruit famous for its taste. Similarly, in the Sądecki region there are łąckie apples (soon to receive their EU certificate) from the regional capital – Łąck – and they have become the basis for the exquisite local cuisine.


Chleb prądnicki (bread) and obwarzanek krakowski (pretzel) are the culinary showcases of Kraków. Bakers’ traditions date back to the Middle Ages, where their products were valued on royal tables. Today tourists can find obwarzanek in mobile sales stands found at stations and fairs.


The trail’s route


Podbabiogórze (Kocierz – Wadowice – Sucha Beskidzka – Zawoja – Jordanów – Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – Lanckorona – Krzywaczka) – Zakopianka (Rabka – Nowy Targ – Poronin) – Podhale (Białka Tatrzańska – Bukowina Tatrzańska – Zakopane – Kościelisko) – the Pieniny Mountains (Kamienica – Niedzica – Krościenko – Kluszkowce – Szczawnica) – the Sądecczyzna Land (Sądecczyzna) (Lipnica Murowana – Stróże – Nowy Sącz – Krynica) – the Lower Beskid Mountains (Wysowa Zdrój – Regietów)


Podbabiogórze draws its power from the incredible Babia Góra, which used to be called Diablak, and also finds in its domain the magical Lanckorona – “the town of angels” and the John Paul II Trail leading from Kraków to Wadowice and the area around Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. As we can see, this is an area where culinary traditions are being strengthened by paranormal forces. The culinary tradition comprises the cultural and ethnical heritage of the Kliszczaks, the Beskids highlanders, and the residents of the Orava region. The tourist attractiveness of Podbabiogórze is further increased by the presence of the Orawski Ethnographic Park in Zubrzyca, featuring structures of traditional regional civil engineering. There are also workshops and artistic events held there. The picturesque Sucha Beskidzka, with its castle called “The Little Wawel”, is the capital of Podbabiogórze. Nature protected in Babiogórski National Park, the green fields of the Beskid Wysoki Mountains, the gentle hills around Jordanów, and passes leading to the Beskid Żywiecki Mountains in Silesia, all this encourages you to go mountain hiking. There are also elements of folk art in the form of toymaking activity gathered around Stryszawa, where you will find a toy museum.


The characteristic dishes of the traditional cuisine of Podbabiogórze include

polewka lanckorońska (soup from Lanckorona) with the addition of lovage,

żurek stryszawski ( sour rye soup from Straszewo) – based on vegetable-meat stock with country ham, egg, and baked pork loin,

kwaśnica po koszarawsku (sauerkraut soup from Koszarawa),

zupa kwacanka (soup) made from the rutabaga, or in other words, from Swedish turnip,

kulasa i kloska (scalded flour with gravy)

kołoc zawojski – a leavened pie with cheese or potato stuffing,

kołoc sidziński – a pie made from bread and cheese dough with pepper and onion,

bukta z borówkami – a leavened pie with blueberries and other dishes with blueberries (The Zawoja Blueberry Trail),

kluski bulate z łoskubnikami – potato dumplings with łoskubniks,

bąble z jabłkami – apple bubbles

bugle zembrzyckie – small, hard, baked goods made from leavened dough, shaped in a ring, sprinkled with salt, caraway or poppy seed. Served as a beer snack,

syrek susony (cottage cheese dried at the oven),

pyzy beskidzkie (potato dumplings from the Beskids),

doszonka z kwasnym mlykiem (stewed dish with soured milk)


The papal cream cake from Wadowice became famous after the Polish Pope, John Paul II, mentioned during his visit to his family town – Wadowice – how he had gone with his friends to get some cream cakes after the high school finals. From that day, the cream cake from Wadowice has been known as the “papal” cream cake, and has become a tourist attraction on the Małopolska culinary trail.


The Podhale along Zakopianka (the road from Kraków to Zakopane)


You can get to Zakopane – the capital of the Tatra Mountains – using the famous Zakopianka. This is one of the most popular tourist routes in Poland, and it leads from Kraków, along the Raba river, through resort towns Rabka, Stróża, Pcim, and Lubień. Before it arrives in the capital of the Tatra Mountains, it leads to Nowy Targ – the capital of Podhale. You can find many attractions there, aside from the eponymous market (the Polish Nowy Targ means New Market) you can also taste there famous Nowy Targ ice-cream produced using a traditional recipe. Along Zakopianka, there are numerous regional taverns giving the travellers the foretaste of the traditional highlanders’ cuisine. Near Zakopane you can spot villages with the tradition of receiving vacationers, such as Gliczarów, Biały Dunajec, and Poronin. Both winter- and summertime visitors cannot miss the culinary package of regional tastes offered in stylish taverns.


The Podtatrze – around Zakopane

Zakopane – the capital of the Polish Tatra Mountains, with the famous Krupówki promenade, can make all gourmets dizzy with the abundance of regional taverns, sheep’s-milk cheese stands, and highlanders’ burgers. Krupówki and Równia Krupowa are the places of concerts and folk events. In the Tatra National Park, by Morskie Oko, and on Giewont, numerous tourists stroll along mountainous trails. Around this cult capital, there have grown centres offering their clients an all-year relaxation package, including Białka and Bukowina Tatrzańska, where large ski stations supplement the complexes of thermal pools. Regional cuisine is served by hostesses in numerous boarding-houses and lodgings in Kościelisko, Witów, Chochołów, Harenda, Murzasichle, and Małe Ciche.


The characteristic dishes of the traditional cuisine of Podhale include

kwaśnica z baraniną – sauerkraut juice soup with ribs or goose meat,

polywka – mutton broth with vegetables and garlic, eaten with potatoes,

fizoły – soup of red beans with groats and sour cream,

zaproska – browned soup with caraway and mint,

moskol (moskolik, moskalik, moskal) with ewe's cheese or bacon – a boiled potato and whole-wheat flour pie baked on a cooktop, used as a bread substitute,

gałuski ze spyrkom i cebulą – raw potato dumplings with smoked fatback,

hałuski tarciane – grated potato and whole-wheat flour dumplings with smoked fatback,

broad beans with cabbage on smoked ribs,

tripe with rutabaga, peas, or beans

roast lamb, lamb with plums

kołoc – leavened pie with cheese and potato stuffing


At the meeting point of the Pieniny and Gorce Mountains, and the Spiš Region


These three lands - the Pieniny Mountains, the Gorce Mountains and Spiš - meet in the surroundings of various vistas created by mountain ranges. You will see there the picturesque Pieniny Mountains, crossed by the band of the Dunajec, fastened together with a dam stretched between two silhouettes of castles in Niedzica and Czorsztyn over the waters of Lake Czorsztyńskie. Going north through Krościenko, Czorsztyn and Wdżar Mountain with a dragon’s nest on a dormant volcano, we arrive at the Gorce Mountains. In the south you can see distant peaks of the Tatra Mountains. Behind a gorge on the Białka river, there are Spiš villages - Kacwin, Łapsze Niżne, and Niedzica, and a gorge on the Dunajec ends with a charming Szczawnica Zdrój health resort. Gorczański and Pieniński National Parks protect the local unique forms and natural species. These are remarkable places, which create substantial opportunities for the development of the local cuisine in this cultural borderland. Dishes here are seasoned with legends of St. Kinga of Poland and Janosik, and also with the interesting history and traditions of the highlanders from the Pieniny Mountains, the Podhale, and from Spiš.


The characteristic dishes of the traditional cuisine of the highlanders from the Pieniny Mountains include

śliwanka – soup, a kind of plum compote with groats or potatoes,

cyr – cooked whole-wheat flour with potatoes,

lettuce with whey or żentyca (a drink made of sheep-milk whey),

kapusta po góralsku (highlander-style cabbage) – sauerkraut with fatback with the addition of peas and hulled barley

gulaś (goulash) pieniński,

podpłomyk – flatbread baked on a cooktop made from potatoes and whole-wheat flour.


The characteristic dishes of the traditional cuisine of Spiš

bryjka (cyr) with milk or fatback – hasty pudding from wheat and barley flour, and farina,

zufka spiska – lettuce with whey, cream, and fried bacon,

dziadki – boiled potato and flour noodles served with gravy,

gałuski ściskane – petite noodles made from squeezed potatoes,

grulownik – leavened pie with potato and cheese pulp,

duck with groats and beans,

sołdra (sołdżyna) – pork ham with bone, naturally marinated and smoked

derkliki – leavened cakes with cheese


The tasty Sądecczyzna Land (Sądecczyzna)


One of the tourists’ favourite places of the Małopolska regions – the Sądecczyzna Land – is a really tasty part of this region. “Water, honey, and gardens...,” this is how you can summarise the Sądecczyzna Land with the neighbouring Limanowa Land. Mineral waters are a tourist and curative attraction drawing health-resort visitors to the waters in Piwniczna-Zdrój, Muszyna-Zdrój, Żegiestów-Zdrój, and Krynica-Zdrój, called the pearl of Polish health resorts. Orchards that bloom in the spring, heavily-showered with fruits in the late summer, famous apiaries offering honey-based cuisine and apitherapy, agritourism farms specialising in herbal medicine – all this creates an image of land that is full of attractions. Nowy Sącz, located in its centre, with such highlights as the Sądecki Ethnographic Park and the Galician Town, is a tourist attraction which will introduce you to the arcana of its cultural heritage.


Dishes of the Lachs’ cuisine

sour rye soup made from leaven with white sausages,

sour rye soup with broad beans and fatback,

soured red borscht, red borscht with small dumplings,

jucha (animal blood) with potatoes, fatback, or cream,

dumplings with cabbage,

sweet dumplings with cheese,

golonka (ham hock) with cabbage, peas and cabbage, cabbage and the “bomba” variety peas,

compot made from dried plums,

roasted grain coffee with milk


The dishes of the Łącko and Kamienica highlanders – the so called White Highlanders

kwaśnica – soup made from sauerkraut based on smoked lamb, mutton, or pork ribs, or on goose meat,

polywka – lamb (mutton) broth with vegetables and garlic, eaten with potatoes,

horseradish sour rye soup on smoked bacon

tripe with rutabaga, peas, or beans,

zaproska – browned caraway soup with mint,

fizoły – bean soup with groats and sour cream,

lamb with plums,

hałuski tarciane – grated potato and whole-wheat flour dumplings with smoked fatback,

gałuski ze spyrkom i cebulą – raw potato dumplings with smoked fatback,

broad beans with cabbage on smoked ribs,

moskol with ewe's cheese or bacon – a boiled potato and whole-wheat flour pie baked on a cooktop.


The Lower Beskids (Beskid Niski) (Wysowa Zdrój, Regietów)

The Lower Beskids, called the “country of tenderness”, encompasses the lands of Pogórzans and Lemkos in the east which gently transform into the Lower Beskids with the Magurski National Park. This is accompanied by nostalgic reminders of the culture of borderlands such as small Orthodox Churches, cemeteries dating back to World War I, and oil wells which still remember the time of Ignacy Łukasiewicz, the founding father of the Polish oil industry. “The Saffron milk cap’s holiday” celebrated in the Wysowa-Zdrój health resort, surrounded with forested hills, in the autumn fits into the regional cuisine. The cultural heritage of Lemkos influences the modern tourist attractions, which are focussed around small wooden Orthodox Churches along the Wooden Architecture Trail, and also on the Maziarz farmstead in Łosie, as well as on culinary traditions, including the dishes of Lemkos cuisine.


The dishes of Pogórze cuisine

ukropek – soup based on fried fatback and sausage, with crouton,

święconka – Easter sour rye soup on whey, with sausage, bacon, egg, horseradish, and cream,

bean soup made from “Piękny Jaś” beans with meatballs, dumplings with cabbage, and blood sausage,

Bean-based cuisine pâtés, roulades, croquettes, breaded beans, beans in honey, cakes and layer cakes from “Piękny Jaś” beans from the Dunajec Valley,

bordy – raw potato noodles with smoked fatback, served with milk,

prozioki (proziaki, prouzioki) – crumpets made from flour, egg, water, and baking soda, baked on a baking tray.


The dishes of Lemkos cuisine

homiłki, homyłki – specially pickled and dried cheese balls,

mastyło – a type of milk soup,

kisiełyca – traditional oat sour rye soup,

warianka – kwaśnica-type soup based on sauerkraut,

adzymka – crumpets baked in a baking tray (Lemkos variety of proziaki and moskole),

dumplings with dried plums,

kiszeniaki baked with bacon (Lemkos meat-stuffed cabbage)

mutton in honey,

dumplings with wild garlic


Culinary Events

For several years now there has been held “The Taste of Małopolska” festival, whose four semi-finals take place in the field from June to August, and the finale is held in Kraków on Wolnica Square in the second half of August.


Other popular culinary events that take place in Kraków include the Dumplings Festival, the Soup Festival, and the Bread Holiday. There are many more culinary events scattered throughout the region which promote the heritage of traditional cuisines, which are usually connected with original local products. These include the carp, cabbage, bean, blueberry, and plum festivals, and many other.


Recommended websites




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