The best thing about Poland is the landscape, weather, sports and culture of the Tatra region. Poland’s only alpine mountain range covers a tiny area and is easily accessible from the country’s second city Krakow yet remains wild enough to be home to wolves, bears, lynxes and golden eagles. Its foothills are populated by indigenous highlanders (Gorals) who in part thanks to the hilly terrain, poor soil and their fiercely independent spirit were, unlike people in other parts of Poland, able to hold onto their land and continue, largely unbroken, their colourful and vibrant folk traditions, such as horse and sleigh-racing (sometimes referred to as ‘skiring’ or ‘skijoring’). The region was a major source of inspiration, a home or a visiting place for many of the country’s greatest artists and winter sportsmen and women of the twentieth century and the main resort town Zakopane has its very own Arts-and-Crafts-era style of wooden architecture and applied arts, called the Zakopane Style. Thanks to the terrain, climate, vibrant folk and cultural life, there are things to do and visit in each season, and it’s even possible to get to appreciate the region’s infamous foehn wind – locally called ‘Halny’.
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