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Things to see along eastern Poland by bicycle


Bearnyboo
31 May 2011  #1
Hello dear polish folks!

This summer im going on a bicycle trip through a couple of countries, one of them is Poland. I will be entering Poland from Lithuania and will probably go from Suwalki towards Augustow, from there onto Suchowola and Bialystok, then Siedlce and finally toward Lublin.

Im wondering if this is a good route for me to take, I want to see as much of Poland as I can and I need advice from you who actually live in the country. Is there something in eastern Poland I absolutely have to see? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Kind Regards,
A Swedish cyclist
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
31 May 2011  #2
In the northern part, there will be mostly forests, lakes and fields, like in Sweden. In Białystok you'll see hundreds of churches, as Catholic and Orthodox compete with each other in the number of temples. Then my experience ends, I was not doing tourism south of Białystok at the Eastern Wall.
Marynka11 4 | 675
31 May 2011  #3
and finally toward Lublin.

I would say the nicest towns in the Lublin area are Kazimierz Dolny and Naleczow. Once you are in Lublin there is a nice open air museum of old village buildings (Skansen). I like it a lot. Close to the museum there is a Botanical Garden. It's very pretty in the summer time. And of course you should visit the old town in Lublin.

I haven't done much biking in Poland, but I can image it could be tricky. The roads in the Eastern Poland aren't that good. They are narrow and people drive fast. You can never be too careful.
gumishu 11 | 5,015
31 May 2011  #4
Then my experience ends, I was not doing tourism south of Białystok at the Eastern Wall.

I think it is worthwhile to go to Białowieża (Puszcza Białowieska - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa_Forest

(not far from Białystok) - then there is góra Grabarka - a specific place - a target of Orthodox christian pilgrimage -

you can consider visiting horse breeding station in Janowiec Podlaski south of Bug river
janow.arabians.pl/en - it looks like a nice place -
pl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plik:Jan%C3%B3w_Podlaski-stajnia_zegarowa.jpg&filetimestamp=20100212134742

I am not sure what is the best route from Janów further south to Lublin (in terms of touristic values) - but if you are in Lublin area I think you could consider paying a visit to Zamość with its historic old town - also close to Lublin lies the site of the former concentration camp Majdanek which is a museum now (I am not saying you have to visit the place) -

there are also some nice places to visit in Roztocze area south of Lublin (mostly natural beauty places)
Dominicus - | 23
31 May 2011  #5
You should be aware that Poland is NOT a bicycle-friendly country. There are no bicycle routes to speak of, and roads often do not even have a berm to ride on- the ditch is right at the side of the driving surface. Polish drivers are are not used to bicyclists and can be very rude. Most of all, the national sport is bicycle theft. Anything that's metal and unattended is considered abandoned and quickly stolen and sold for scrap by local alcoholics. Police are of no help in this regard. There are VERY few safe places where you can leave your bike unattended. Road conditions can be AWFUL, especially in Eastern Poland.

Unless you are experienced in cycling in bicycle hostile countries, my advice would be to vacation elsewhere. Try Bornholm. It's bicycle heaven.

When I lived in Germany and Denmark, I got around by bike. Now that I live in Poland, I have no desire to. It's just too dangerous, and, like I said, bicycle theft is rampant.

On the other hand, Eastern Poland is very beautiful and wild, though poor and backward. Just that cycling is unfornutately not the best way to see it.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,388
31 May 2011  #6
have a look at this and similar: cycletourer.co.uk/cycletouring/poland.shtml

don't leave your bike unattended for too long. there was a news item here a couple of days ago showing how easy it is to take a bike.
OP Bearnyboo
31 May 2011  #7
I appreciate all your kind answers so far and I will for sure look up all the places you've mentioned. As far as eastern Poland being a dangerous place to cycle at I do think you're exaggerating a bit aren't you? Perhaps people are slightly more reckless but it's Poland, I mean, it's not Lebanon. I do think I can handle it, I wen't through most of europe last year on my bike, except for Poland which is why im going there this year.

I mean if it would be considered highly dangerous to venture out on bike on the polish streets I wouldn't do it, fortunately I think this is not the case :)
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
31 May 2011  #8
I hope you'll be wearing the yellow fluorescent jacket and have strong lights on your bicycle? Only last Sunday I almost drove over two cyclist, one relying on a reflective red button at the rear of his bicycle, the other with no light or protective jacket, both at night. I was just thinking what the guy was doing 00:30 at a distant place, third rate road.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,388
31 May 2011  #9
read this: rowery.org.pl/practicalities.html
poland_
1 Jun 2011  #10
Last friday, at 1pm I was driving past Brodno cemetery - on my way to Marki, a person had just been knocked of their mountain bike by a lorry, he was dead in the road with a black plastic bag tied around half of his body, while the police awaited the arrival of the body snatcher. I will never ride a bike on a Polish road only cycle lanes, nor will I allow my children. Polish roads are NOT for bikes.
GrzegorzK
1 Jun 2011  #11
Puszcza Bialowieska, and northeast Poland has lot of bike trails there is one bike trail you can take that goes right to belarus border... you can see what a modern totalitarian state looks like... the border is pretty creepy looking. Not allowed to cross obviously. Bieszczady in south east.
hythorn 3 | 580
1 Jun 2011  #12
I do think you're exaggerating a bit aren't you?

ok hot shot, you come on a forum not knowing anything about Poland and then argue with people giving you sound advice before visiting a region which is one of the most poverty stricken areas of the EU

no really just leave your bicycle unlocked and unattended, it will be fine

don't forget to pack your cycle helmet, you may be needing it
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #13
don't forget to pack your cycle helmet, you may be needing it

Isn't it mandatory to wear the cycle helmet in Poland?

I will never ride a bike on a Polish road only cycle lanes, nor will I allow my children. Polish roads are NOT for bikes.

Really, not nowadays. I used to be an active cyclist until 1994, always having very strong lights on my bicycle in the dark. One evening I drove through completely empty Warsaw street (now Jana Pawła II). Some worker had left a black cable hanging from a street lamp/tree. My bike got entangled with the cable and I fell full speed... Luckily, the pedal straps on my sports cycle acted as if they were safety belts. So I banged the surface with my head lightly and my neck was never the same after. The elbow required surgical intervention. Mind you, it was a central avenue of Warsaw, technically lit by street lamps, no traffic at all, and still I had the accident. Now imagine 2011 with heavy traffic...

Warszawski has seen the corpse, I've seen many dead bodies of cyclists, and what is the most infuriating is two or three cyclists easily pedaling side by side, unlit, no protective jackets...
Palivec - | 380
1 Jun 2011  #14
opencyclemap.org

Looks like Poland didn't discover cyclists yet.
Harry
1 Jun 2011  #15
I think it is worthwhile to go to Białowieża

Yes, that is certainly worth a visit. I'd also suggest a trip to Włodawa, the city of three cultures.

There's lots of information about Lubelski bike routes here: szlakirowerowe.lubelskie.pl/index.php and a huge amount of information about what to see on the way.

Perhaps people are slightly more reckless but it's Poland, I mean, it's not Lebanon.

Quite right: your chances of being shot in Lebanon are significantly lower than your chances of being hit by a car driven by a Pole who has no respect for the laws of road traffic or physics.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
1 Jun 2011  #16
If he's on a bike, does he really have to use the main roads though? I thought half the fun was using local dirt roads / trails and stuff? Like when you go hiking, you don't hike out on the motorway?

trasy.info.pl
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #17
He has to cross quite wild areas, with a lot of rivers and streams. Have you been doing cycling on a long route, for example in Masuria, Magdalena? Something not shorter than 60 km per day?
alexw68
1 Jun 2011  #18
If he's on a bike, does he really have to use the main roads though? I thought half the fun was using local dirt roads / trails and stuff?

The problem lies between - the B- and C-class roads that get you to the trails in the first place. There is usually no retaining line painted at the edge of the road so cars often encroach into the very edge of the tarmac. Cyclists are often very hard to pick out against a dull background, especially in the villages where older cyclists never seem to wear any kind of reflective sash.

A friend and former student of mine from the old days went through quadruple bypass, retired from his post as a bank manager and lived the life of a reformed health and fitness aficionado ... for all of 5 months before he was taken out by a speeding white van while cycling on a relatively open stretch of road.
Dominicus - | 23
1 Jun 2011  #19
There aren't a lot of bike rails, and local roads are narrow, poorly designed and often do not have a berm between the driving surface and the ditch. There is not a good system of collateral roads, particularly in Eastern Poland. Getting from city to city on bicycle will involve travelling on some very busy roads. Contrary to what you might think, traffic is very heavy on roads in Eastern Poland compared to the rest of the country because there are so few roads there at all, and there is a lot of international truck traffic to Russia, Lithuania and the Ukraine. If you've ever been to Augustów, Suwałki or Białystok, you'll know what I mean. The amount of trucks on the road is incredible.

Looks like Poland didn't discover cyclists yet.

Exactly. Poland is not set up for bicycle tourism. It's just not part of their culture. If Holland is a 10 for cyclists, Poland would be about a 3. Closer to Lebanon than to Sweden.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
1 Jun 2011  #20
Something not shorter than 60 km per day?

No, I don't cycle and would never claim otherwise, but I did do a fair amount of hiking, and it seems to me that (at least in flat terrain) where you can hike, you can also cycle. You can catch a local train to get out of town, get off at one of those tiny stations in the middle of nowhere, and off you go. When you've had enough, you come back to the rail tracks, find another small station, and catch the next slow train to the nearest bigger town. I know eastern Poland hasn't got the most imposing rail network either, but I guess if you wanted to, you could cobble together a route this way. And get away from the traffic as well. Or you could just decide to cycle and camp out in the wild and forsake civilisation (including any traffic) altogether.
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #21
No, Magdalena, it's not that simple. An exercise I might give to you were you my guest would be to tell you to cross the Las Młochowski from Podkowa Leśna to Nadarzyn Refugee Camp, very short route. You would almost die trying to cycle over the paths of the Las. Then, there would be no way to get to the Refugee Camp than cycle along the 720, no cycle lane. While you could do it easy by going via 719/720 risking your life in the traffic. I know, I tried both routes... Flat terrain, picturesque, only 25 km SW of Warsaw...

Use maps.google.pl to show you this route:

Podkowa Leśna, Słowicza
Nadarzyn, Cyprysowa, Strzeniówka

Then look at the map and note there is a forest (with hiking routes!) and even Google Maps cannot help you with a hiking route via the Las Młochowski ;)
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
1 Jun 2011  #22
I do sympathise with your predicament, but I thought we were discussing travelling in eastern Poland, where - I am convinced - there are miles and miles of local tracks and trails which are only used by horse carts, bikes, or people travelling on foot, and which, when combined, would lead in a general north-south direction. How did people cycle from place to place before bike trails were invented, I wonder?
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #23
miles and miles of local tracks and trails

Nothing more wrong. Rivers, lakes, swamps, forests. We call it "Poland B" or The Eastern Wall due to underdevelopment.

I go yearly to the Rock-Szanty/RockWater Festival in Serwy near Augustów, so I think I know. It is easier to travel with a kayak.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
1 Jun 2011  #24
We call it "Poland B" or The Eastern Wall due to underdevelopment.

You must be kidding me. You need infrastructure development for people to walk along certain paths? Or drive their cows home from pasture along certain routes that had been in use since who knows when? OK, maybe you don't understand what I mean by dirt track or trail. I mean "ścieżka", "dróżka", "polna droga". BTW, if you tell me where I can travel by kayak in the vicinity of Białystok or Lublin, I'd be much obliged ;-P
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #25
Magdalena, you sound a non-cyclist to me, especially with no feeling about the reality of the Eastern Wall.
The Swede needs to cover the distance of 380 km, meaning over 50 km daily, and he has to take rest sometimes, make a bivouac too.
You simply do not realize what 50 km daily means in off-road cycling. Going through the forest paths, sandy village roads, mud when it's raining, crossing streams and bypassing swamps... He would be crawling if he does not take somewhat normal roads.

If you are so excited with encouraging our Swedish friend, why don't you try yourself? I can only tell you: 60 km on normal roads in full Summer sun is already a challenge. Now, you suggest the Swede crawls over the Poland B paths? This is a survival task.

Taking water paths in the whole Augustów area is quite reasonable. Have you ever heard of Kanał Augustowski? Look at the map and see the waterways.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
1 Jun 2011  #26
I never realised that our cyclist had a deadline to keep. That's one. Two, I suggested he could keep relatively close to a railway route, and use local trains to get out of and into towns (I checked the map, there is a railway line all the way down). All in all, he could do some cycling out in the countryside as well as see a few sights. There is no reason for him to careen at breakneck speeds for 60 kms every day - or cycle in heavy traffic.

Taking water paths in the whole Augustów area is quite reasonable. Have you ever heard of Kanał Augustowski? Look at the map and see the waterways.

Did I ever ask you about that? No, I did not. ;-p

BTW, I used to live that-a-way for over 10 years, so you can get off your high horse now.
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #27
Im wondering if this is a good route for me to take, I want to see as much of Poland as I can and I need advice from you who actually live in the country.

Subject closed, Magdalena?

This summer im going on a bicycle trip through a couple of countries, one of them is Poland.

It would be quite natural to ask Beanyboo how long time he plans using for Poland.
He could of course send his bicycle as postal shipment by train and then enjoy trains, buses, hiking...
Dominicus - | 23
1 Jun 2011  #28
OK, maybe you don't understand what I mean by dirt track or trail. I mean "ścieżka", "dróżka", "polna droga".

You obviously haven't done much cycling. Trails like this are not good for long-distance cycling. I get the impression you've never cycled yourself. Riding 100 km a day on "dirt tracks" like these would be a real challenge, and going from Puńsk to Lublin on such trails would be impossible. Cycling is not like hiking. For longer distances, you need a paved or at least even surface. Touring bikes are rather delicate. Hiking trails and farm tracks are not good enough except for short excursions with a heavy duty bike.

I took a student of mine on a biking trip to Bornholm, a Danish Island not far from Kołobrzeg. I told him that Danish bike paths are better than Polish Autostrady. He didn't believe me. Once we got there and started to ride around, he yelled out "These bike trails are better than Polish autostrady!", and I said "I told you so". We went around the whole island (110 km) in a single day. That would be impossible in Poland. You would be forced to use roads. There aren't many roads in Eastern Poland, so traffic is heavy, especially trucks going to Russia and Lithuania.

I take it you haven't spent much time in Białystok, Augustów or Suwałki. And based on some of your other comments, I wonder when you last lived in Poland. Your picture of the country is a little distorted and outdated. Things have changed a lot in the nine years since I've lived here, particularly as far as cars and traffic are concerned.

BTW, if you tell me where I can travel by kayak in the vicinity of Białystok or Lublin, I'd be much obliged

Antek was talking about Augustów. And yes, kayaking is a much better way to see the Suwalszczyna than cycling. The Czarna Hańcza and Kanał Augustowski are excellent kayaking trails- the best in the whole country. And there are plenty of great kayaking areas near Białystok. Czerwone Bagno is superb, and the Narew and Bug rivers are, too. I have kayaked several times from Suwałki to Warsaw. Great trip. Don't know about Lublin, cause I've never kayaked there.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
1 Jun 2011  #29
Subject closed, Magdalena?

Sure, as usual; you have nothing to say about my suggestion, so you trot out the old "she doesn't live in Poland" story.

It would be quite natural to ask Beanyboo how long time he plans using for Poland.

He didn't tell us, but he sounded quite relaxed about it, so I assume he doesn't want it to be a race against time.

I take it you haven't spent much time in Białystok, Augustów or Suwałki.

That takes the cake, I actually lived in the area for a long time.

Antek was talking about Augustów.

The problem is, I wasn't.

Things have changed a lot in the nine years since I've lived here, particularly as far as cars and traffic are concerned.

Like all the drivers with any experience died out, you mean? ;->

The Czarna Hańcza and Kanał Augustowski are excellent kayaking trails- the best in the whole country.

I beg to disagree. Try the Brda for a change.

Czerwone Bagno is superb, and the Narew and Bug rivers are, too

Thanks for the tip, I might give them a try.
Antek_Stalich 5 | 997
1 Jun 2011  #30
Magdalena, I am perfectly aware you are afraid to lose face but it is nothing wrong to admit you were wrong when two seasoned drivers/cyclist/kayakers living in Poland tell you the same story... You see, I was 10-yo when my Dad took me for a day long bicycle trip near to Ruciane-Nida on the dirt trails and I was crying from being so tired... And then I have been an active cyclist for next 23 years.

My best kayaking trip was by the river Obra in West Poland, by the way.


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