Top tourist destinations awarded for excellence. TFN takes a look at the winners
Thirteen locations in Poland have been awarded the country’s best tourist sites of the year by the Polish Tourism Organisation.
The winners of the Best Tourism Product 2021 competition were selected from a total of 72 entries: 49 entries in the main competition, 9 entries for the Gold Certificate and 14 in the Special Certificate categories.
Each year, certificates are granted by a special committee comprised of leading experts in tourism, marketing, and building and promoting tourism products, as well as representatives of academic communities and the media.
This year’s top award, the Gold Certificate, was awarded to the Hydropolis Centre for Ecological Education in Wrocław, a modern multimedia exhibition about the history of water located in a revitalized 19th century clean water reservoir.
Containing seven thematic zones on topics like ‘Planet of Water’ which includes a 360 degree projection on a 65 metre high screen, the exhibition also features a relaxation zone and kids zone and sees visitors walking through a unique 46.5 metre long water printer at the start, the longest installation of its kind in Europe.
Following the Gold Certificate, 10 sites received certificates distinguishing them as the Best Tourism Product 2021:
Translated as Professor Inkblot’s Fairy Tale, Bajka Pana Kleksa is a site based on a popular series of children’s books about a professor who takes his students on various adventures into magical and fairy-tale worlds. The site sees 1,000 square metres organized into eight activity zones involving sensory and multimedia exhibits through which children have to solve riddles and participate in experiments as they are led through various worlds by a guide mimicking Professor Inkblot.
Receiving UNESCO status at the end of 2020 in recognition of its geological significance within Europe, the Holy Cross Mountains Geopark offers visitors the chance to see rocky outcrops from 360 million years ago and spectacular geological features including quarries, caves and nature reserves as well as remnants of stone tools used in Palaeolithic and Neolithic times.
Organised in September each year, Juromania Festival is associated with a picturesque trail along a chain of 25 medieval castles in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland in Southern Poland, known as the trail of Eagle’s Nests, owing its name to the fact that the castles are perched atop high cliffs, like eagles' nests. Juromania is an event that brings all lovers of the trail together and involves a variety of events, re-enacting an atmosphere from Medieval times, including the presentation of medieval costumes, cannons, instruments of torture, historical reconstructions, dance shows, workshops, tournaments and concerts plus the most excellent regional cuisine.
Located in Wrocław and Gliwice, the miniature model worlds of Kolejkowo were set up by modelling enthusiasts who sought to imitate the real living world in miniature, complete with the smallest and most lifelike details include moving trains, trams and cars and even streetlamps switching on at night. Kolejkowo are also the creators behind two gingerbread towns, open during the Christmas period, one of which is the largest in the World.
Located in an over 400-year old still functioning paper mill, the only monument of its kind in Poland, the museum of papermaking offers visitors a chance to discover the history of papermaking in Duszniki-Zdrój and see paper made using a traditional method used since the Middle Ages and even make their own.
Located in the historic centre of the city with fantastic views, the Poznań Croissant Museum gives visitors the chance to learn more about, sample and make one of the symbols of the city, the St Martin’s Day Croissant, a local speciality produced in the city since 1891, with a recipe now protected by EU law.
A unique monument of defensive architecture first built in 1806 by the French under the orders of Napolean, the barracks located inside the fortress are the longest building in Europe, with a length of 2,250 metres. The site offers the chance to visit the fortress with a guide or without and runs a series of events throughout the year including reconstructions and open air games.
Located on the Narew river, Tykocin is town dating back from the Middle Ages, which is known for having so many monuments and legends that the whole town is itself considered a monument to history. Its main attractions include Tykocin Castle and the Baroque Tykocin Synagogue dating from 1642, the best preserved in Poland from this time period, one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Poland as well as other baroque monuments including a church, monastery and manor house.
The organisation offers those who love being active outdoors the opportunity to take part in pontoon river trips down the river San in the Bieszczady mountains.
Part of Kraków’s history for over 600 years, parboiled dough rings, called ‘Obwarzanki’ remain a characteristic feature of Kraków in the form of street sellers selling them from wheeled carts on street corners and along the tourist trails. The Interactive Bagel Museum close to the main market square, offers visitors the chance to participate in an obwarzanki making workshop and make their very own traditional obwarzanek.
Outside of the 10 certificates for Best Tourism Product 2021, the Polish Tourism Organisation also awarded two special awards: a Special Mention award for organic gardening academy ‘Angelic Gardens’ who promote organic gardening projects engaging the community and a Special Certificate for the Underground Olkusz Exhibition, a multimedia tourist route in the basement of the old town hall of Olkusz.
Alongside receiving a certificate for Best Tourism Product 2021, Juromania Festival of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland was also voted as the best product by internet users in a vote held on the National Tourism Portal.
Rafał Szlachta, president of the Polish Tourism Organisation said: “There is no doubt that the places awarded Polish Tourism Organisation Certificates are the most distinctive tourist attractions on the map of Poland.
“We want them to be explored by domestic tourists, Polish families, as well as international visitors. I encourage everyone to visit the polska.travel website and read about all the recipients. The regions where such certified sites are located can be the perfect holiday or short stay destinations”
All the certified tourism products will be included in the Polish Tourism Organisation’s special promotional program.
In addition, the Gold Certificate comes with a dedicated promotional campaign worth PLN 150,000.