We always promote cycling in all of our cities and areas across Poland, simply because the relatively-flat geography of this part of Europe is quite favourable for those who must peddle. Greater Poland is no exception! There are around 71 cycling routes that can be found across the region, 30 of which are classified as 'mountain biking' trails (Keep in mind, however, that the highest elevation in Greater Poland is Kobyla Góra at a mere 284 metres). Those of you who are particularly pedal savvy should consider one of the 8 long-distance routes in the Wielkopolski System Szlaków Rowerowych (ENG: Greater Poland System of Bicycle Routes) which offer a truly visceral experience of the region. The longest of these is the Trans-Wielkopolska Cycling Route (PL: Transwielkopolska Trasa Rowerowa, TTR) a 480 km trail that links the northernmost and southernmost areas of the region. The route has been divided into two sections: northern (200 km) and southern (280 km). Both start in the Poznań Bicycle Hub at Malta Lake, from which you can either head north or south:
CYCLING AROUND GREATER POLAND
The northern section follows the signs to Szamotuły, and then on through Obrzycko, Czarnków and Trzcianka to Piła. It ends in the town of Okonek – the northernmost town in Wielkopolska. Aside the picturesque provincial countryside, the castle in Szamotuły and the old brewery in Czarnków are highly recommended. There are also kayaking options around Piła.
The southern section heads towards Koszuty, with a very interesting wooden manor and then to Środa Wielkopolska, where you have the opportunity to ride on the Środa Narrow Gauge Railway. The route passes the pristine areas of the Żerkowsko-Czeszewski Landscape Park. Further along, you will pass the castle at Gołuchów and a unique wooden Palace in Antonin. and through the historic city of Kalisz! Finally, the route leads to the afore-mentioned Kobyla Góra.
For the less-committed cyclist, here are a selection of our favourites:
The Wolsztyn Loop - this is a very moderate route of 32km that will take you out west into the from Wolsztyn, around 9 villages in the nearby provincial county and back within 2.5 hrs.
Kórnik to Lake Goreckie - Stepping it up a little, this is a more challenging 70km bike route that will take you from Kórnik, through Greater Poland National Park to the halfway point at Lake Goreckie, where you can cool off! Fortunately, for you the rider, the second half of the total 6-hour trip is less demanding than the first! There is a Poznań-based route that covers many similar points, but is 30km longer and an additional 2 hours of cycling.
Notecka/Sierakowski Forest - This one is quite demanding. 125km and varying elevations and surfaces over an 8-hour period. The trade-off is, however, that you will be travelling through two of the most beautiful forest areas in Greater Poland - the Notecka and Sierakowski Forests. So why not consider breaking it up over a couple of days?
Click here for a comprehensive list in English of cycling routes in Greater Poland.
HORSERIDING IN GREATER POLANDGreater Poland loves horseriding. In fact, horseriding has such an associated history with this region, that there's even a 'Wielkopolski' horse-breed! You'll find appropriate trails for you and your steed all over the region, including 30 km of designated track through Greater Poland National Park, and notable horseriding centers in Szamotuły, Nowe Miasto nad Wartą, Racot, Hermanów, Baborówko, Sieraków and, of course, Poznań. There are 3 horseriding trails around Leszno that appeal to a range of different riders:
The Barycz River Valley Route - this is a 300km trail close to the Greater Poland / Silesian border and has a focus on touring the natural surrounds
The King Stanislaus' Horse Route - For history buffs, this is the trail for you! This 155km trail focuses on the small historic localities of southern Greater Poland, characterised by their stunning architecture, not to mention those fantastic windmills!
The Wielkopolska Horseshoe - This could be described as a mix between the previous two, except shorter. 125km in length, this is a great way to sample the regional landscape of Greater Poland, without needing too much dexterity on a horse.
In the far west of Greater Poland, closer to the Land of 100 Lakes, there is an adventurously-sounding Wolf Horse Trail, that winds through the fantastical woodland areas of the Notec Primeval Forest!
Fans of kayaking can flex their biceps in joy as we inform you that the fun doesn't end on The Great Waterway Loop of Wielkopolska. Pro-paddlers should take note of the very pretty-sounding The Lily of the Valley Trail (PL: Szlak Konwaliowy) which traverses the 19 lakes of Przemęt National Park , all interconnected by small canals and waterways. Its name is attributed to the island reserve in the middle of Lake Radomierskie that is gorgeously carpeted in pink lilies during the springtime. However, this fragile ecosystem is off bounds to visitors, which is why admiring it from the seat of a kayak is your best bet! It doesn't end there either. This divinely-graced part of the country was inhabited by the Monks of the Cistercian Order for many centuries, which is why there are so many canals interconnecting everything. Fortunately, the old monastery still stands in Przemęt and it can be visited as well! Elsewhere in Greater Poland, there are options for those who enjoy the rush of rafting. The mighty Gwda River is particularly choppy in areas, thanks to the mills and hydroelectric plants that crashed the party upstream. This rafting trail is well-developed and marked, great for experienced canoeists, but perhaps a little demanding for beginners. The Rurzyca River trail, a little further to the north, is a friendlier waterway, with a good mix calm and more-accelerated waters - a rafting option recommended for families, shall we say! Once again, springtime eminates in the natural surrounds, most notably the Diabli Skok reserve, which protects the beautiful old beech trees on the slopes of the ravine. This is also where Pope John Paul II (then Bishop Karol Wojtyła) used to take youth groups on kayaking expeditions in the late 1970s. Subsequently, his visits to the area have been commemorated on Lake Krępsko Średnie with a monument, featuring two oak oars making a sign of the cross.
KAYAKING IN GREATER POLAND
THE LAND OF A HUNDRED LAKES
Whilst Warmia-Masuria in the north-west of Poland often hogs the title of being the country's 'lake region', people often forget that Greater Poland also has its own decent splash of lakes too, and they're just as stunning, if not more graceful and easier to get to! The Land of 100 Lakes (PL: Kraina 100 Jezior) refers to the area between the localities of Sieraków, Międzychód and Kwilcz, around 75km to the north-west of Poznań, where these great bodies of water create a mesmerising illusion with the sky's reflection - Speaking of which, visit at sunset (see below) and you'll not be disappointed! In the summertime, several hundred Poznanians will relocate here to reset their brains and enjoy this magical little paradise, and who can really blame them? You'll mainly find them around Lake Jaroszewskie, one of the two major lakes to the south of Sieraków, which is ideal for a dip or working on your tan whilst lazing on the beach! The second body of water is Lake Lutomskie, with gorgeous natural surroundings that offer an escape from the more-touristy beach-goer crowd and can be enjoyed on a short walk or extensive hike! Lake Jaroszewskie and nearby Lake Chrzypskie are highly recommended options for sailing and other water sports.