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Podlaskie, a natural work of art on the eastern borderland

Podlaskie, a natural work of art on the eastern borderland

About the region

The Biebrza marshes are just a fragment of the natural mosaic in this part of Poland. The most well-known phenomenon in Podlasie is undoubtedly the Białowieża Forest.

Several thousand years ago, almost all of Europe looked like this bastion of nature where Poland and Belarus meet. Tremendous oak trees, meters in circumference, look as though they are about to utter an ancient and incomprehensible language, the endless wall of trees on either side of the road changes forever the idea of what a forest can be. Early in the morning, perched above the forest in an observation tower where the forest meets a meadow you can hear the endless grunting of bison. These wild beasts will either go out to the clearing to graze on some grass, or they will do it elsewhere. It is not for man to decide.


The most conducive way to explore such a place is actively. When heading to Podlaskie province or Suwałki Region, be sure to take a bicycle. The entire region is covered by a dense network of cycling trails, including Green Velo – a 2,000-kilometer route connecting the six eastern provinces of the country. If you are unable to take your bicycle or do not own one, then you are in luck as there are plenty of places to rent bikes from – perhaps even from your hosts. Here are some suggestions for bicycle trips in the Biebrza region and around Lake Wigry.

Another more novel way to experience the might of the local wildlife is to hop in the saddle and go horseback riding. The territory of the Augustów Primeval Forest and the neighboring region of Masuria is crisscrossed by an impressive 400-kilometer-long horse trail, where specially prepared rest areas await you along the route. Sounds like a Western movie, right? but it is in fact northeastern Poland.



Perhaps the most unique experience, however, is the possibility to be at one with the nature of Podlasie and Suwałki from the vantage of a canoe.

The Biebrza and Narew rivers, as well as the Hańcza and Rospuda further north, are just a few of the rivers particularly charming for canoeists. You do not have to be an avid paddler to fall in love with the shimmering water and beautiful colour tones, the lushly moving rushes, and the idyllic landscape, which is sometimes diversified by cows grazing on the grasslands. Don’t forget to bring your tent! Smaller ones can be stowed in the cargo compartment of your canoe, enabling you to extend your trip for several blissful days. Evenings spent around a campfire by the river are absolutely compelling.



Podlaskie province is not only a realm of nature, but also the most multicultural region of Poland, and perhaps of Europe.

There you will meet Polish Muslims – Tatars, brought to the region many centuries ago by King Sobieski (the same one who helped save Vienna from the Ottoman Turks). Their community centered around two historic mosques in the villages of Kruszyniany and Bohoniki and they faithfully served Poland in every war and uprising. Vestiges of the rich culture of Polish Jews can also be found, for instance, in Tykocin, there is a synagogue with unique polychromes that has been well preserved.



“I am most likely to go for bird watching in very early spring. A whole host of ubiquitous starlings, shrieking lapwings, geese, cranes and a host of other winged migrants are then drawn to the marshes,” Paweł says.

Another beautiful region worth exploring in the Podlaskie province is the Suwałki Region with the Augustów Primeval Forest in the north, close to the Lithuanian border, where Paweł lives. The landscape here largely shows the imprint of the glacier that once covered all of northern Europe. Meadow-covered hills conceal crystal clear deep lakes, including the largest one, lake Wigry, at the edge of the Forest, which is entirely covered by a national park.


See the story of Paweł



How to get there?


From Vienna – by car in about 9.5 hours via Warsaw or by plane to Warsaw (1.5 hours) and further by rental car (3 hours).

From Zurich – by plane to Warsaw (2 hours) and further by rental car (3 hours).

Wo kann man übernachten?

Zagroda Kuwasy – a country hotel on the edge of the wild marshes of the Biebrza National Park, a starting point for many ornithologists going birdwatching. A perfect place for family holidays.


Przystań Trzy Jeziora – rustic-style cottages by a lake in the heart of the Augustów Primeval Forest.


Dalej Nie Idę – two wooden cottages in Buda Ruska, an old village of the Old Believers. Perfect to enjoy canoeing on the Czarna Hańcza River.


Domki na Wschodzie – an authentic Podlasie house in the depths of the Białowieża Forest. On-site “Ruska banya” – a local variant of sauna and hosts who know everything about the region. The website in Polish.


Nadbużański Dom – An old village school, which has become a secluded guesthouse with homemade food. The Bug River, a wonderful canoeing spot, is just outside the window: