The Brda River - Things to do on the river in Bydgoszcz!

more than a year ago

While small and mellow, the Brda River is a picturesque tributary of the far-mightier Vistula (Wisła) and has played a key role in the economic development of Bydgoszcz. Nowadays, it serves less of a trade purpose and more of a popular sightseeing location, where you will find many of the city's main attractions.

New Orleans-style boardwarks along the Brda River in Bydgoszcz.
The Brda is as good-looking as it is practical! Since it joins with the Vistula (PL: Wisła), the country's longest river that flows from the very south all the way to the Baltic, getting trade-goods to Bydgoszcz was never a big issue. It wasn't until the late 18th-century when the Bydgoszcz Canal was constructed and things really started to get serious. Connecting the Brda to the Noteć River (German: Netze) just over 20km to the west, the canal meant that river-bound transport from Bydgoszcz could travel as far west as Berlin and Rotterdam! Thus, the economic boom of the early 19th century saw a huge increase in grain and timber exports. In fact, grain from Bydgoszcz was even getting exported as far as Brazil! Mill Island became Bydgoszcz's granary district around this time, allowing for grain to be easily transferred from storage to the transport ferries on the river. The 'grain channel' that separates the island from the mainland has since being nicknamed 'Little Venice', as the scenery reminds many of another, better-known canal city in Northern Italy!
The Brda River in the centre of Bydgoszcz.

Function and Form are key words for the beloved Brda, and you can certainly appreciate the latter. Bydgoszcz is often referred to as the 'Green City' of Poland and the banks or the Brda are no exception. As you can see in the picture above, trees compliment the riverside and provide lengths of recreational space for locals and visitors to unwind. Whether you're on land or in the water, there are many ways to appreciate these views and take in a bit of the energy that makes Bydgoszcz so special!

Drink on the Riverbank

As would be expected, a river-centric city is bound to offer some sort of waterside drinking establishments.
Most famously, Barka Club converted two barges into a drinking platform complete with classic cane furniture, which reminds one of Mr. Rat's home in Wind In The Willows. This is a real rite of passage and best appreciated as day turns to dusk.
Bydgoszcz Venice, a quaint and picturesque section of the Brda river where many bars, restaurants and cafés can steal a view!

Catch a Ferry

Once running regularly as a form of public transportation, these days the ferry (or Water Tram as they're known in Poland) offers two sightseeing river cruises:
Słoneczna (the Sunny Route, 50mins) - which takes you in the direction of Łuczniczka Hall
Staromiejska (the Old Town Route, 60-70mins) - which takes in most of the main sights from the river.
All cruises start and end a Rybi Rynek. Tickets are best purchased ahead of time at the Tourist Information Centre, or online at
Brda River, Katedra, and Wyspa Młyńska in Bydgoszcz. Photo by Robert Sawicki
One of Bydgoszcz's Water Trams crossing the Brda River from the museum district of Mill Island (Wyspa Młyńska), which features the Cathedral of Bydgoszcz (behind on left). Photo by Robert Sawicki.

Kayak all the way to Gdańsk!

It's true! Like we mentioned before: in theory, you could go all the way to Rotterdam in a Kayak if you wanted to. But let's focus on the shorter routes first:

The popular Smukała - Hala Łuczniczka route, which starts some 10 km outside city centre (as the crow flies - much further if you account for the many bends in the Brda) and finishes outside the Łuczniczka sports arena in Bydgoszcz. This single day trip costs about 50 - 65zł for a two-person kayak.
Then there's Koronowo-Bydgoszcz. This is a two-day route, where you can really experience the waterways and green surrounds of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian region. It's about 70zł/day for a two-person kayak, plus transportation 120zł to Koronowo in an eight-person minibus. Camp overnight on the riverbank and even make a bonfire!
For these two routes, check out Bydgoszcz Kayaks.
Kayaking on the Brda River in Bydgoszcz. Photo by Robert Sawicki.
Then, for the more hardcore traveller, there are kayaking excursions can take you to Toruń and Gdańsk via the Vistula River. For these longer routes, we specifically recommend Bydgoszcz Kayaking! (NOTE: Not the same company as the afore-mentioned Bydgoszcz Kayaks)


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