Poznań boasts a dense historic Old Town directly between two of Poland’s largest man-made urban recreation areas in lakes Malta (to the east) and Rusałka (to the northwest). While it’s the more developed and commercialised Lake Malta that grabs most of the tourist attention, the largely unheralded area surrounding Lake Rusałka is rich in history (most of it tragic), natural beauty (both tamed and untamed) and opportunities to escape the urban patter of Poznań.
If lakes Malta and Rusałka were siblings (and in a sense they are), Rusałka would be the athletic and attention-seeking Malta’s mysteriously beautiful and slightly introverted sister. Indeed, the lake’s very name - derived from Slavic mythology and denoting a water nymph or mermaid - belies the area’s natural wonder and allure. While Lake Malta is favoured by families and sportsmen, and characterised by an artificial ski slope, adrenaline rides, mini-golf, a zoo and other diverting amusements and activities, the slightly smaller Rusałka (36.7 hectares) has long been favoured by naturalists and fishermen, hikers, cyclists and photographers, and is characterised by 3,300 metres of largely wooded coastline woven with intimate walking paths, ancient trees (a group of which near the north shore are a designated natural monument), misty streams, and several forgotten war memorials. Like Lake Malta, Rusałka is a man-made reservoir initiated during WWII, but in contrast to her younger brother, Rusałka’s shores are almost entirely devoid of commercial development and provide a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in a natural setting without leaving the city centre.