So the idea of visiting a forest on vacation might not sound like the most popular tourist attraction out there, but what if I told you that this is not a normal forest; there are dozens of trees that are crooked — oddly bent in the exact same way, all pointing north? Oh, and scientists have no idea how or why this happened.
A bizarre forest in Poland might not make it to the top of your bucket list on a two week trip, but if you’re living and volunteering in Eastern Europe for a whole semester, you’re going to have lots more time to check out lesser known places like this.
Speaking of wanting to spend a semester volunteering in Europe …. We’ve got schools all over, but you can get a pretty good idea of what life is like with this guide about living in Ukraine!
So, when you’re actually living in Poland (or around there), you can plan weekend trips to explore the more traditional things to see (like Krakow's Old Town) and use some of your vacation time to trek over to the Western part of your country and see these crooked trees for yourself:
What’s This Forest All About?
Right on the western border of Poland is a tiny town called Gryfino, surrounded by a forest. Not too unusual for this part of the world, right? But what makes this forest special are the trees — there are about 90 that are bent into this bizarre shape.
Why Are They Crooked?
The short answer is that no one is quite sure, but that doesn’t stop some weird theories from floating around. Aliens have been blamed, but a slightly more plausible option is that an enormous snow storm flattened the young trees at their base. The slow spring melt caused more pressure at the base of the trunks, so the trees grew into these odd shapes.
What's weird is that there are around 400 trees in the area, but only 90 are bent … a more widely accepted theory is that farmers bent the trees for a purpose, maybe for ship building or for furniture?? Scientists guess that the curves happened when the trees were only a few years old … but were never used because Poland was invaded after the start of WWII, in 1939. The town of Gryfino was destroyed.
This is a slightly more plausible theory ... though we aren’t sure that aliens are completely out of the running.
When Should I Visit?
Poland does get some pretty cold weather, so visiting in the warmer summer weather might be better, but the trees do look eerie all year round. For an extra uncanny picture, visit the forest in the morning, where you can see the sun just barely streaming through the trees.
How Do I Get There?
There are a few options, but the easiest is to get to Gryfino, first then take a bus or taxi to the forest (called Krzywy Las in Polish). How to get to Gryfino? You can fly into nearby Szczecin, then take a bus over to Gryfino. There is also a train straight to Gryfino from Krakow. Or you can travel there from Berlin — the forest is about a 2 hour drive.
Ready to hang out as a BYU volunteer (or a volunteer from another school) in Poland for a whole semester? You’ll be teaching English to cutie kids for a few hours a week, but will have time out of class, weekends and scheduled vacation time to see this country and others in Europe — volunteers love vacations to places like Italy, Greece, Switzerland, England, Ireland, Croatia and other favs.
Come see what a semester with ILP is like by discovering Poland: