Southern Poland attracts more visitors than any other region in the country, and its appeal is clear from a glance at the map. The Tatra Mountains bordering Slovakia are the most spectacular in the country, snowcapped for much of the year and markedly alpine in feel. The former royal capital of Kraków is an architectural gem and the country’s intellectual heart. Pope John Paul II was archbishop here until his election in 1978, but equally important are the city’s Jewish roots: before the Holocaust, this was one of Europe’s most vibrant Jewish centres. This multicultural past echoes in the old district of Kazimierz, and its culmination is starkly enshrined at the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, 50km west of the city.