The systemic transformation of Poland's entire economy and its accession to the European Union have given the countryside new opportunities for development. In the recent years, proponents of the conception of multi-functional development of rural areas have grown in numbers. Non-agricultural businesses set up by country people allow them a fuller use of the existing resources, e.g. a surplus of labour or premises. A change of economic activity to obtain alternative sources of income is often the only way out of an economic impasse for the rural population. Naturally, a common barrier to establishing a non-farming business is the lack of financial means. Non-agricultural activity is known to diversify the functional structure of an area and improve the living conditions of its inhabitants. A dense network, diversity and good location of the elements of technical, social, cultural and tourist development (i.e., infrastructure) provide the necessary skeleton for the multi-functional development of the rural economy. However, the chances of introducing changes are not equal for everyone. There are a number of factors controlling the growth of the Polish countryside, including the geographical location, natural conditions, and spatial development. Poland's accession to the European Union has opened up new prospects, especially before the frontier rural areas in the west of the country. Of some importance for the activation of a place is its close location relative to a major settlement unit, although it may also pose a threat in terms of the form, way and intensity of spatial development. Another factor determining the chances of and barriers to the growth of a unit is infrastructure, since it provides a basis for any economic activity and is responsible for spatial differences in economic growth. The natural conditions of a substantial part of rural areas are favourable to the development of agrotourism, which may help improve the living conditions of villagers and the quality of the local landscape. The distribution of agrotourist farms is closely connected with the natural and cultural attractions of the given area. Tourists prefer regions with a diversified relief, a high percentage of woodiness, and the occurrence of water bodies. It should be kept in mind, however, that an uncontrolled development of tourist traffic may lead to a degradation of the natural environment. Naturally, agro-tourism helps to stimulate the rural economy and allows villagers to augment their incomes. It should be kept in mind, however, that only some farmers can engage in agrotourist activity. Hence, even rapid development of agro-tourism will not solve all the rural problems that Poland faces today.