The Republic of Poland, situated in Central Europe, is known for its main cities of Warsaw and Cracow, filled with energetic urban experiences. But one of the more hidden and lesser-known treasures in Poland is its abundance of natural outdoor activities, which can be performed in its beautiful rolling hills, lakes, and rivers.
One of the most popular outdoor activities to take in the natural sights of Poland is kayaking down one of the many rivers (some of the most beautiful in Europe), ranging from small and remote rivers to larger rivers reserved for more experienced kayakers. There is a river for everyone to experience kayaking in Poland. Kayakers will be able to view nature from a completely different perspective and have an opportunity to see fauna and flora in a unique way.
Kayaking is a wonderful way to experience Poland and its glorious nature, and an opportunity to kayak down one of its many rivers should not be passed up.
Due to the length of most of the rivers, such expeditions will be coupled with camping, so those interested will need to ensure they have the proper equipment, or ability to rent such equipment. Shorter trips can be arranged, however, there will need to be careful consideration on the start and endpoints of the trip.
Here we look at our top picks on which rivers should be included in your itinerary for your kayaking trip to Poland and how you can partake in this experience.
Running through the Mazurski Landscape Park and the Pisz Primeval Forest, this 102 km long route is by far one of the most popular rivers to kayak on, with cult status amongst kayak tourists. The flow is slow (perfect for beginners) and has many bends, and those wanting to kayak the whole stretch can expect to take 7 to 8 days. The river also passes through numerous lakes, canals, and other waterways, helping to make it a truly memorable experience.
The Bierbrza River kayak route has a very slow current. It is, therefore, perfect for beginners as it is both an undemanding and safe route. As one of the most beautiful routes in Europe, with various bird species (ideal for bird watching enthusiasts), it is often called the Polish Amazon. The journey of 100km’s takes about 8 days to complete.
Rospuda is considered an easy and safe river to swim. With a route is 67 km long, the full river can be completed in five days, but experienced kayakers can complete it in 3 to 4 days.
The Łyna River is one of the biggest in the province of Warmia and Masuria and has a varied flow – both mild and slow, as well as wild in parts. This mixture of conditions helps make it an interesting 8 days of travel. Its location also means that kayakers can visit cities along the way, including Olsztyn, Lidzbark Warmiński, Bartoszyce, which provides welcome sightseeing.
Perfect for beginners, this easy trip takes around 3 days to complete. The Pisa River is connected to the Great Lakes District, and allows kayakers to experience the Piski Forest.
Czarna Hańcza River and the Augustów Canal
Because this route begins in Lake Wigry, weather dependent, there can be some challenges with waves, as well as a crossing of the Augustów Canal. Therefore only more experienced kayakers should take on this route. In total, this trip will take about 9 days to complete. Kayakers are often greeted by locals selling produce on the river bank, allowing travelers to try local products.
The Drawa River is situated within the Drawa National Park. As such, there is a small fee payable (at certain times of the year) to kayak it. The Drawa River also crosses 19 different lakes. Due to its size (186 kilometers), there can be up to 700 kayakers on the river at any one time. In certain parts, the river runs slow (due to a sandy floor). In other regions where the river flows through the mountains, it can run fast with rapids and various rocks and trees to be avoided.
White Water Kayaking
Those looking for a greater adrenaline rush can also partake in white water kayaking, however, will only be able to do so at certain sites.
Beginners should never attempt white water kayaking alone, and should rather partake through an organized tour operator. There are various rivers perfect for white water kayaking, particularly in beautiful mountainscapes, with some of the locations being the Kamienna River, the Beskid Mountains, and on the Białka and Dunajec Rivers.
For those not venturing out of city centers on their trip, Bydgoszcz has had a white water kayaking track since 1996. This track is called Farny Weir, and is currently the only one in Europe.
How to Partake
The easiest way for a tourist to partake in a kayak trip on one of the many rivers mentioned above is to book through a specialized kayak tour operator. Much like a bus tour operator, these companies will help arrange the necessary logistics (including arranging for campsites), including the rental of a kayak, ensuring proper safety, and preparing a guided tour throughout the kayaked trip.
For more experienced kayakers, or those that know the relevant areas or are a bit more independent and brave, kayaks can be rented independently, and solo trips without any guidance can also easily be arranged.