Most of the people come to Białowieża just for one or two days. See the forest and go further. Big mistake, there is plenty to see and do in there. It’s a part of Poland that doesn’t feel like Poland anymore. It’s wilder and the catholic churches are replaced by the orthodox ones and time has stopped. So can youJ
Search for bison!
Except for in the Reserve it’s quite easy to spot them in nature. We had really bad luck (that’s what everyone said) and we didn’t see any bison and we devoted many sleepless mornings to search for them. Anyway… The best times to see them is around sunrise and sunset then they are easily spotted close to the border with the Strict Reserve so the restricted part of the forest. If you want to know the exact places that people recommended to us, look on the map below 🙂
If you can choose the season then go in the winter because that’s when the bison get fed so it’s easier to spot them. Good luck! And remember, even if you don’t see a bison, the views will be spectacular.
Go to the Strict Reserve, it is different!
Strict Reserve is a small part of the Białowieża forest which is extremely protected and nothing can be altered there so when something dies or falls it’s left as it is. We thought forest is forest, but the strict reserve is not just a forest. It’s a different world! It’s just greener, thicker and way more interesting, it even smells different. Not to mention all the weird mushrooms and plants we saw there.
To go to the Strict Reserve you need to have a guide and you can go on tour with a group (144 zl per group so you share the cost, up to 12 people). You can also take a private tour that starts from 280 zl (for polish speaking guide) and you go pretty deep for total of 6 hours walk.
We took the regular group one and we were pretty happy, the guide was really in love with the forest so she would tell us all about the history of it and interesting plants we saw and animals we heard.
Sleep or at least see The Carska Hotel
The hotel used to be an old train station. Now it’s simply stunning. It’s like you travel in time when you’re there. Everything is maintained so well in the Tsar XXth century era. You can either sleep in your own train wagon furnished Tsar style or you can choose in one of the apartments in a nearby tower. I’m sure the views are breathtaking. You will also have the best restaurant in town just next to you, in an old train station building.
Enjoy a tasty cup of coffee or beer surrounded by suitcases
During our stay in Bialowieza we discovered a magical café. It’s called “Walizka” café and it’s filled with suitcases, interesting books, nice pictures of bison and an amazing atmosphere. It’s quite small, just few tables so if it’s busy it’s really worth waiting for your turn. Homemade cakes and delicious coffee will reward it.
Visit their Saint Nicolas Orthodox church
It might not be the most spectacular of them all and if you’re going by car you can visit more spectacular ones in other towns but if you never saw an orthodox church and you don’t have a car it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s just such a different experience than the one you would have in a catholic church.
Walk around the town
Białowieża is just such a charming, little town and it definetly doesn’t get the attention that it deserves! We really enjoyed just walking around the town, admiring the wooden houses and beautiful forest surrounding.
Just bike around
There are plenty of biking paths around Białowieża that will take you through the forest. I think it’s the best way to explore the surroundings as you are not too fast so you still see a lot but you’re fast enough so that the mosquitos don’t get you. I wouldn’t recommend any route in particular as they are all pretty much the same. Even though some say you need to see “The Trail of Royal Oaks” as it has really huge, old oaks, I would say that one is all about the journey, not so much about destinations. And so are most of the routes.