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On the water


Kayak & Canoe

Poland is a dream come true for kayakers. River beds paved with stones and those wonderful, twisting lakes just waiting for audacious adventurers. And for those more curious there are always the water labyrinths of Narwia and Biebrza. For the lazy, the Radunia lakes are spread out to explore in a gentler manner.

There are about 150 kayaking routes and 10 000 paddle friendly lakes in Poland – nowhere in Europe will you find such a dense network of waterways. Among the most popular and best equipped (equipment rental, stores, camp sites) are those on the Czarna Hańcza, Rospuda, Krutynia, Drawa, Brda, Wda and Drweca rivers.

Polish waterways are good both for long trips as well as for one-day expeditions. One day is all it takes to sail half the Raduńskie Circle or the Kowaliowy Trail in the Przemęcki Natural Park. Boatmen wait for visitors on the River Krutynia and take them down the prettiest parts of the river at a good pace and with no effort. The Dunajec has its traditional raftsmen –– called Flis –– who can take you on a breathtaking rafting excursion.

If you can’t get enough emotion on the water, you can join rafting trips on the Odra, from Nowa Sol, all the way to Szczecin. Or paddle your way from Bory Tucholskie to Hamburg; the route about 900 km going through Brda, Bydgoski Canal, Notec, Warta, Odra and Laba.

A kayaking excursion is a great opportunity to see historical hydro-technical sites (passing through the lock on the Augustowski Canal, a part of the Czarna Hańcza Trail, is an unforgettable experience) and through unspoiled, untamed nature. Bird watchers are particularly enchanted by the labyrinths of waterways on the Narwia and the zigzagging of the Jegrznia and Biebrza and Plocizna, fast as a mountain creek.
Kayakers looking for that special, intense experience should go down one of the three true Mountain rivers, best suited for kayaking. For example the Białka running through Tatry and Podhale – horrifyingly cold, rushing, foamy and strewn with granite rocks. The Week of Wild Waters on the Dunajec and the Poprad rivers in Beskid Sadecki, in June is a mountain kayaking moment not to be missed.


Winrich von Kniprode, a Teutonic Grand Master is known as the boating pioneer in Mazury. He sailed his wooden boat across the Great Lakes from the north to the south in 1379. His boat had to be carried between the lakes in those days but 400 years later the lakes were joined by canals and locks and the most popular Polish yachting waterways were created.

The Great Mazurian Lakes route starts in Nidzkie Lake and goes to Węgorzewo on Lake Mamry and is about 80 km long, but with its many winding branches – this can reach 200 km. The Pisa and Narew rivers are its natural prolongation, along which, through Zegrzynski Bay and along the Zerański canal created in the 16th century, Warsaw can be reached.

You can’t go yachting in the Mazury district without visiting a tavern. They are usually dark, filled with long tables, where the singing of the yachtsmen is boisterous and loud as they compete with different shanties. Zeza in Sztynort is one of the best known taverns.

Interesting cruises can be taken not only in the Mazury. Polish yachtsmen also like the long and twisting Jeziorak or Wdzydze, in the shape of a cross, in Kaszuby, and the star-like Drawsko Lake. White sails can also be spotted on Gopło Lake as well as on the waters around Myślibórz and Barlinek in the west of Poland.

Yachting on the Solinski Bay, encircled by tree clad hills, is also a beautiful adventure. There are islands, fjord shore lines, lots of quiet bays and large empty spaces on a lake as big as a sea. The most important shanty festival in Poland takes place here in summer and very often the most famous maritime celebrities participate in it; for example the goddess Proserpine and her husband Neptune.

To sail – particularly on the sea – a license is required. These can be obtained after completing a course organised in cooperation with the Polish Sailing Association. Without a license you can only use small inland sailing vessels or be piloted by someone who possesses all the necessary documents and has the experience to navigate in these waters.

Windsurfing & Kitesurfing

The Polish record for speed gliding – almost 62 km per hour – was set on Pucka Bay. To achieve this you need to be an advanced windsurfer. For those amongst you who are mere beginners an hour with an instructor is enough to learn how to stand on the board, set off from the shore, and make it back by yourself.

It is best to take your first steps on the surf board in shallow waters; the learning process is less painful when you land in waist deep water. The best conditions can be found in the shallow waters of the north-east shore of Śniardwy Lake and on Pucka Bay, near Chalupy, Kuznice and Jurata. Windsurfer beginners also like the Baltic Lakes: Sarbsko in Leba and Miedwie near Szczecin. There are vast shoals there some of them which can go as deep as 200 meters from the shore into the lake.

You should choose licensed schools, which have professional instructors. You can also rent the equipment from the schools. Licenses are given by the International Association of Water Sports and the Polish Association of Board Surfing.

The experienced surfer needs only the wind and an open space to gather speed to be happy. Real enthusiasts claim a one-and-a-half kilometer long lake or bay is enough. Zegrzynski Bay (where the Polish medalist Wojtek Brzozowski has trained), almost all of the artificial lakes in the south of Poland, the lakes of the Warmia and Mazuria district, the Drawsko and Kaszuby regions are dotted with sails during the season.

The windsurfers in the Lubuskie Lake District are also well organised, the elongated shape of the rivers allows incredible speeds to be achieved. If the weather permits, a New Year’s party on surfboards takes place on the Niesłysz Lake. During winter the frozen lakes are used by ice-yachts and ice-boards.

Kitesurfing requires more space, and is therefore performed only in a few places in Poland – Zegrzynski Bay, Wislany Bay and Pucka Bay, where a separate Kite Zone has been created, so the kite-surfers don’t collide with windsurfers.

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Polish National Tourist Office
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Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 1 (551) 344-3057
e-mail: info.na@poland.travel