Szczawnica – spa and active tourism centre
Dietel Square, created following the urban plan envisaged by Józef Szalay, the founder of the spa in Szczawnica, is considered the most beautiful corner in Szczawnica. The magical place is surrounded by beautiful spa buidings in Alpine style from the 19th century. The white plastered facades with wooden ornaments look charming. Among the buildings, it is worth noting Dom nad Zdrojami, Willa Szwajcarka or Willa Holenderka. One of the impressive buildings at the square is also Willa Pałac – the seat of the Museum of the Szczawnica Resort. The nearby restaurants and cafes are bustling all year round.
In the central place of the square, there is a fountain with a bronze sculpture: "A Woman with a Jug". As many as six types of mineral water can be tasted in the Pump Room of the historic "Dom nad Zdrojami". It is worth peeping inside this beautiful building and having a look at the ceiling that’s decorated with a wondrous wooden rosette. One should remember that the name of the square was created in honour of the Kraków physician Józef Dietl, a regular visitor to the spa who was a friend of Józef Szalay. Dietl, the president of Kraków and the rector of Jagiellonian University, where he was also a professor, created a new field of medicine – balneology, which studies the effects of underground waters on the body. It is to him that we owe the Polish spas.
Sacral monuments and more
The most famous religious attraction in Szczawnica is the neo-Gothic Church of St. Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr. The building, dating from the end of the 19th century, was designed by Stanisław Eljasz Radzikowski, a proponent of highland culture and the Zakopane architectural style. It is worth taking a moment to look inside the single-nave temple with a high bell tower and admire the neo-Gothic decor and beautiful paintings. On the trail of religious attractions in the Szczawnica area, there is also the Church of Our Lady Mediatrix of Graces, which is considered the oldest church in Szczawnica and owes its characteristic appearance to the fact that it was erected as an Orthodox church. On the other hand, one of the famous non-sacral buildings in Szczawnica is the wooden Eglander House at the corner of Zdrojowa and Szalaya Streets. The building consists of a turret and covered balconies, and its name refers to the former inhabitants who ran a restaurant there. Today it houses flats, shops and a café.
Walking around Szczawnica – the town of two parks and a promenade
The calling card of Szczawnica is undoubtedly the Count Adam Stadnicki Upper Park, the oldest spa park. The park can be reached by walking down the steps next to the Pump Room, located close to Dietl Square. It is a highly picturesque place decorated with contemporary park sculptures. Also, there is the Inhalatorium in a beautiful historic building at the heart of the park. Interestingly, it is one of the oldest spa houses in Poland. The place offers various types of treatments, including inhalations, and it offers accommodations. In Upper Park is a bust of Józef Szalay, the spa founder in Szczawnica. The neo-Gothic chapel of Our Lady Queen of Heaven is also a unique object.
The second park, Dolny, is located near the bus station. In its central part, you can see the historic octagonal chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa, a viewing arbour and a pond. A walk along the tree-lined avenue is a delight at any time of year. The place is for those who appreciate peace and tranquillity.
Another alternative for strollers is the revitalised promenade along the Grajcarek stream, running on both sides. Interestingly, the 1,800-metre-long Szczawnica promenade is considered the longest in Poland. However, there is plenty of benches allowing visitors to take a rest along the route. From spring, the boardwalk delights with decorative flowers, and in the evenings, thanks to the backlight, it encourages romantic walks, especially in the area of the Bridge of Lovers.
What’s more, the Pienińska Trail begins in Szczawnica. The extremely charming route leads along the Dunajec River to Sromowce and Czerwony Klasztor (the Red Monastery) in Slovakia; bicycle paths also split off the trail.
Museum of the Szczawnica Resort and the history of the Pieniny region
The Museum of the Resort, located in the elegant Willa Pałac, brings the history of the place – the Szczawnica resort – closer. Although the Museum is closed, the exhibition available to visitors is in the Pump Room Gallery at Dietla Square. The exhibition presents the more than 200 year-old history of the health resort and the history of the Stadnicki family. The first exhibition shows the history of the village; the exhibits presented are related to the healing treatments used in the 19th and 20th centuries. Valuable and interesting healing collections are interspersed with information about the spa and the history of the place. The second exhibition is devoted to the old Stadnicki family from Małopolska, whose ancestor Count Adam Stadnicki – permanently entered the history of Szczawnica. He was, among others, the owner of the spa and bathing establishment in Szczawnica. After regaining the rights to the property, the Count's descendants, the Mańkowski family, started renovations and investments in Szczawnica, which is becoming more and more beautiful. The Museum also organises temporary exhibitions in the Pump Room Gallery and other places in Szczawnica. One such display is the one in the new building behind Willa Holenderka, which is devoted to the methods of travelling in the olden days.
The village's cultural life also revolves around the Pieniński Salon in the historic Dworek Gościnny. Theatre performances, symphonies, opera and jazz concerts and many other cultural events occur here. It is worth becomingacquainted with the current events program before your arrival! In the vicinity of Szczawnica, in Szlachtowa, there is also the Józef Szalaya Pienińskie Museum, which presents the history of the region and the history of the place even before the establishment of the spa. The museum presents the history of fortified castles, rafting, the costume of the Pieniny highlanders and healing methods used in the spa.
Palenica – a paradise for skiers
One of the viewpoints and peaks of the Little Pieniny Mountains closest to Szczawnica is Palenica (722 metres above sea level). You can get to the top by the chairlift of the Polish Cable Railways or make it on foot in less than an hour. There is the Palenica ski station. Snow-covered ski slopes with a length of 1,000 metres and 1,800 metres are strong temptations for winter sports enthusiasts. There is also room for snowboarders to try their skills in a specially prepared chute. The mountain is also accessible by two ski tows, and at the top is the Groń mountain shelter, where you can warm up by trying local specialities.
Surroundings – high and low mountains
Szczawnica is famous for the attractions of the Pieniny National Park. One of the most famous attractions is rafting down the Dunajec River gorge, open from April to October. The rafting route is 18 km long, starting in Sromowce and ending in Szczawnica. The town is also the starting point of many trails in the Pieniny Mountains, among which the most popular is the route to Sokolica, with its famous pine trees and the extraordinary panorama of the Dunajec Gorge, the Pieniny Mountains and even the Tatras. Szczawnica is also the start of the route to Trzy Korony, the most recognisable peak in the Pieniny Mountains. It is worth taking an about 40-minute walk from the town's centre, Dietl Square to Bryjarka, towering over Szczawnica, offers a picturesque town view. What is more, the area around Szczawnica is home to some beautiful cycling routes, such as the famous VeloDunajec, an incredibly scenic path with no shortage of historical monuments and stunning panoramic views.