Małopolska is a historical area in the South East of Poland. Małopolska has always played an important part in over 1050 years of Polish history. And the city of Kraków was the capital of Poland for over 500 years. Polish kings were crowned and buried here and the oldest Polish university – the Jagiellonian University has its seat in Kraków.
Małopolska Region has the largest number of protected natural and cultural objects in Poland. The highest Polish mountains – the Tatras stretch out in the region’s southern part and the valley of the largest Polish river, the Vistula, runs across Małopolska. The region’s natural heritage consists of 6 national parks, 11 landscape parks, 10 protected landscape areas, 84 nature reserves and over 2000 natural monuments. Additional tourist attractions are quarries, closed mines, rocks, peat bogs and caves. Until this day, several dozen castles, nearly a thousand churches and other temples, historic villages and cities with unique architecture have survived.
The Region has also very varied folklore, that can still be observed in many places. In order to get familiar with it, a couple of thematic routes have been developed, such as: the Małopolska UNESCO World Heritage Trail, the Wooden Architecture Route, the Salt Trail, the Papal Trails and the Oscypek Trail.
Małopolska has a lot to offer in the field of high-quality food production, which is a result of non-industrial production methods, combined with the natural rural landscape, high biodiversity and the richness of cultural traditions. Today, as many as 15 products from Małopolska are registered in the EU register of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) and Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG). Among them the most famous is a mountain cheese called oscypek (PDO). It is made from sheep's milk and is produced only in the Polish mountains. You should also try bryndza podhalańska (PDO) – the first Polish regional treat registered in the EU, a soft cheese with a spicy, specific taste. In the capital of Małopolska local bakers make obwarzanki krakowskie (PGI) – braided ring shaped breads sprinkled with poppy seeds, salt or sesame seeds. In the vicinity of Kraków, since at least the 15th century, the bread from Prądnik (PGI) has been baked. Its loaf is a meter long and weighs even several kilograms. Fresh bread tastes delicious with honey, for example małopolski, sądecki or from Beskid Wyspowy (PDO) honeydew honey, coming straight from fir and spruce forests of the region.
On the long list of treats from Małopolska, you can also find the cheeses and dairy products, the following are worth mentioning: redykołka (PDO), żentyca, ser gazdowski and bundz. And only in Małopolska you can taste original strong drinks, including one which is made from plums – vodka śliwowica łącka.
The most delicious cold meats include the lisiecka sausage (PGI), made in Liszki and Czernichów near Kraków. From meat products, the carcasses of zatorska goose and podhalańska lamb (PGI) deserve special attention. The best regional fruits and vegetables are the charsznicka sauerkraut, the "Piękny Jaś" beans from the Dunajec Valley (PDO), the suska sechlońska prune (PGI), traditional varieties of apples from Raciechowice and Łącko (PGI). The Małopolska speciality is also zatorski carp from the vicinity of Zator (PDO), where the fish is bred in the so-called "Carp Valley".
Since 2005, the Małopolska Region has been organizing the Małopolski Festival of Taste, an event promoting the culinary heritage of the region, including traditional and local products. The festival has become the most recognizable culinary event in the region. Producers present and sell their treats. The festival is accompanied by chefs’ live cooking, tastings, competitions for exhibitors and rural housewives' associations.