Several ecological lands can be distinguished within the city or its surroundings: the forest area in Rząska, Łąki Nowohuckie, Dąbski Pond, Prądnik Valley, Pond at ul. Kaczeńcowa, marsh of the Rzewny stream, forest area of Kowadza and the forest in Witkowice. Their purpose is to protect the ecosystem, including the endangered animal and plant species.
There are 43 parks in Krakow alone with a total area of almost 400 ha! Residents prefer to rest in the Jordan Park, Krowoderski Park and the Tadeusz Kościuszko park. One of the best places for a walk is the route along Planty – a city park founded in 1822-1830 “enveloping” the Old Town. Vistula Boulevards are very popular (especially in the summer).
It is also worth mentioning the natural areas outside the city boundaries. Unlike the mountainous south, the areas of northern Małopolska region are characterised by gentle hills, lots of meadows and fields. It is the most “agricultural” region of the voivodeship. Rare species of plants and animals can be found in the Miechowska Upland. Tourists come here primarily to admire the floral xerothermic grasslands – unique on a European scale – composed of charming orchids – every year the “Orchid Festival” takes place here. The second important area is the Niepołomice Forest – a forest complex with 6 nature reserves covering a total area of 94 ha. Tourists are encouraged to visit not only by wonderful specimens of fauna and flora (a bison breeding centre operates in the forest), but also by numerous forest paths (including an educational path) and the Niepołomice – Szarów bike path.