The best in Poland: Warmia and Masuria

Warmia is a delight for all lovers of adventures, Gothic castles and sports, summer and winter alike. It offers an attractive diversity of both   tourist sights and landscapes, with large expanses of woods separating a lake belt in the south from quiet plains in the north.


Dominating the town, Frombork's Wzgórze Katedralne (Cathedral Hill) is occupied by a fortified cathedral complex, which bristles with spires and attracts multinational crowds. Quiet, winding lanes lead downhill to a tiny jetty from which pleasure boats operate in summer.

Visitng Frombork see necessarily: Copernicus Observatory - a massive square tower topped with a tent-like cupola; the Planetarium in the Oktogon - it presents 40-minute astronomical shows; the impressive Gothic cathedral; three-winged Copernicus Museum which was bishops' palace in the past.

The Trail of the Great Masurian Lakes

the Trail of the Great Masurian Lakes (Szlak Wielkich Jezior Mazurskich) is Europe's longest and most alluring waterway of its kind. Magnificent forests, nature reserves and the famous Cormorant Island on Lake Dobskie are just a few of its numerous attractions.

Giżycko-Węgorzewo (25.2 km) - starting at Lake Niegocin, the route runs through the northern part of the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes. You will pass a string of lakes which are collectively called Lake Mamry. The final 2.6km section runs along the Węgorapa River and Węgorzewo Canal.

Giżycko- Mikołajki (37.2 km) - southwards, through the central part of the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes, taking in the region's third biggest lake (Niegocin) and a number of smaller ones, connected by a series of canals. From Lake Niegocin you can enjoy a panorama of Giżycko, with the resort of Wilkasy to the right. The lakes are home to a profusion of water birds, including swans.

An entirely different attraction on the way is Gospoda Pod Czarnym Łabędziem (Black Swan Inn), a peculiar restaurant-cum-museum in Rydzewo, perched on a scenic headland between lakes Boczne and Niegocin. The restaurant serves Polish, Prussian and Lithuanian food and holds regular events such as feasts, bonfire parties, lake trips, chaise rides and sleigh rides in winter.

Mikołajki-Ruciane Nida (19.2 km) - southwards through lakes Mikołajskie and Bełdany and the smaller Guzianka Mała and Guzianka Wielka. Almost all the way along, the Pisz Forest extends on both sides. One special attraction is the Guzianka lock, where you negotiate a two-metre difference of levels between lakes Guzianka Mała and Bełdany.

Mikołajki-Pisz (25 km) - south-eastwards through Lake Śniardwy, Poland's biggest, and the Jeglin Canal (5.25 km), the longest canal stretch in the Great Masurian Lakes.

Mikołajki-Ryn (20 km) - north-westwards, with 7.5 km overlapping the Giżycko-Mikołajki route. Despite different names (lakes Mikołajskie, Tałty, Ryńskie), it is actually one lake which fills a long glacier-shaped trough between Ryn, Mikołajki and Ruciane-Nida.

Święta Lipka

Situated between lakes Dejnowa and Wirowe (Wierzbowe), Święta Lipka is a well-known Marian sanctuary and one of the finest examples of Baroque religious architecture in Poland. The church's highlight, though, is the Baroque organ from 1721. Its most unusual feature is a set of figures such as an angel playing the mandolin and cherubim with bugles, which move when the instrument is played.


The tiny village of Gierłoż, 23 km east of Święta Lipka, is best known for its Wolf's Lair (Wolfsschanzet), Hitler's main war headquarters. Concealed amid dense woods, it was eventually blown up in January 1945 by the retreating Germans, but large fragments survived.

The complex was divided into three zones with some 80 constructions, including 50 concrete bunkers. There was a power plant, central heating system, train station and an airfield, all ingeniously camouflaged. The central zone contained the quarters of the top Nazi leaders, canteens, a cinema, teashop and sauna.


Set on Lake Niegocin (the third biggest in Masuria), Giżycko is the region's summer capital, the liveliest and most fun-oriented town in the entire lake district. Although somewhat characterless following wartime destruction, it makes a great base for yachtsmen and kayakers alike.

Worth seeing points in Giżycko: The centre concentrates along ul. Warszawska , where several original houses from the turn of the 20th century have survived. South of the centre, on the shores of Lake Niegocin, is a jetty from which Żegluga Mazurska offers boat trips to Mikołajki, Węgorzewo and Ruciane-Nida (several hours long). An isthmus in the western part of the town is guarded by the 19th century Boyen Fortress , hidden amid forests and morain hills.


Dubbed, somewhat poetically, "the Pearl of Masuria", Mikołajki is a neat and snug town on Lake Mikołajskie (branching off Lake Śniardwy), which boasts enjoyable architecture and three bridges. In high season it transforms into one of the busiest and liveliest tourist centres in the region.

Mikołajki's townscape is defined by the trough of Lake Mikołajskie with its string of beaches and swimming spots. The eastern shore is low and treeless while the western one is high and wooded, offering a pleasant panorama of the town. Behind the pedestrian bridge you can have a great stroll along the promenade on the other side of the lake.

Worth seeing points in Mikołajki: plac Wolności is a main square in the town. Decorated houses and the former town hall stand around; main Kajki st, lined with one-storey houses, is arguably the most beautiful in Mikołajki.

Iznota, a Galindian village

Galindia, called also Masurian Eden , is an extraordinary tourist complex established in Iznota on a Lake Bełdany peninsula. It comprises not only a hotel, restaurant and guest house, but also a number of rather unusual facilities and sites such as caves, baths, dungeons, hunger wells, sacred forest sites, a ritual stone ring, a museum of Galindian architecture and a labyrinth. The owner's goal was to revive the customs and cults of the region's ancient inhabitants.

All visitors are active participants dressed up in costumes that have been modelled on traditional Galindian attire. Attractions are plentiful and include searching for ancient burial mounds, amber picking, drumming lessons, tracking animals, feasts with torches, trips in Galindian boats, kayaking down the Krutyń River, lake cruises, horse riding, cart trips to the most charming spots in the Pisz Forest, biking and hiking around the nearby reserves of wolves, beavers, tarpans and eagles and visits to a game park (photo safaris). In winter there are sleigh rides, sled dog races, iceboat regattas, ice surfing, skating and skiing.



Embraced by the scenic Pisz Forest, where it's possible to meet free-living polish horses, Popielno lies on the western shore of Lake Śniardwy, far from the bustle of civilization. The village has some fine traditional wooden houses, but is best known for the research station of the Polish Academy of Sciences, at which Polish horses are bred. Occupying an old manor, the complex also contains a deer farm and Poland's only beaver farm.

Horse and chaise riding is possible here, as are motor-boat cruises around the lake.

Other sights

Kayaking down the Krutynia - widely acclaimed as Poland's most scenic kayaking route. See more on: or

Source: Poland - an ilustrated guidebook. For more information look at Pascal

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