Lake Malta | Poznań's Outdoor Activities & Recreation Hub

20 Jun 2023
Of Poznań’s many lakes it’s Malta - to the east - that is the best known, and its surroundings are well worth further investigation. Formed in 1952 as a result of damming the Cybina, this 2.2km long lake is the largest man-made lake in the city, with an average depth of 3.1 metres. Surrounded by parks and woodland, it is today one of the principal recreation areas in the region - in both summer and winter - with an ice-rink, ski slope (the first in former communist Europe), a world-class regatta course, zoo, water park, and dozens of other attractions, including several historical sights. Just east of the centre, but miles from the madness of the market square, if you’re in town to decompress, head to Malta.
Lake Malta just outside of Poznań is a must-do for summertime outdoor activities in Greater Poland!

History of Lake Malta

What you see before you wasn’t always a lake, but rather more of a river running by Poznań. In 1178 Prince Mieszko invited representatives of the Knights Hospitaller to the region, and they in turn built St. John of Jerusalem Church - now regarded as the oldest brick place of worship in the country. By 1530 the West European branch of the Knights had resettled on Malta, and so their order found itself renamed The Knights of Malta. The chaps who had come to Poland followed suit, and soon the locals were also referring to the area they decamped to as ‘Malta.’

View of Malta Ski and the 'Freedom Mound.'
For the next few hundred years Malta went largely unnoticed, and it was only in the 19th century that the people of Poznań suddenly realised they had a great place to head for a weekend stroll, or wobble around on a newfangled contraption called a bicycle. Adding to Malta’s appeal was its dense greenery and relative isolation from prying eyes, making it popular with frisky couples. After WWI numerous ideas for Malta came to the fore, but all eventually hit a wall with the exception of Adam Ballenstaedt’s ‘Freedom Mound.’

Not ones to faff around and wait for planning permission it was the Nazis who actually changed Malta to the Malta we know today. It was on their initiation that thousands of slave workers were drafted in and began damming the river to create a lake, and while they never saw their plans realised, the communists who took over did. The job was finished in 1952, and the results you can see for yourself.
Lake Malta in October 1993; photo by MOs810

Between 1980 and 1989 the lake was completely drained, and the surrounding area given a facilities facelift in time for the World Canoeing Championship in 1990. Today it’s still regarded as a top-quality course, as proven during the 2009 Rowing World Championships and the 2015 European Championships, both hosted here. An enormously popular leisure destination for people throughout the region, new attractions and facilities are constantly being added as the area’s allure continues to grow; keep scrolling to see the top activities to do at Lake Malta...

Annual Malta Festival

If there’s one highlight on the local cultural calendar then it has to be the Malta Festival, staged each summer, typically over multiple weeks in June. A Poz cultural institution since its inception back in 1991 as the 'International Theatre Festival,' past years have seen musical performances by Nine Inch Nails, Goran Bregovic, Jan Kaczmarek, Elvis Costello, Sinead O’Connor and the Buena Vista Social Club. Strangely, however, the musical focus is something of a recent trend. When it started the festival focused on theatre alone, and was promoted as something of a Polish version of the Edinburgh Festival – full of fringe acts performing abstract plays. Fortunately, and in spite of the growing pull towards the mainstream, alternative theatre still plays a huge part in the Malta Festival. On top of that, there are plenty of film screenings, workshops and exhibitions, both at Lake Malta and other venues across town. To keep up with all the plans for the festival each year, check the official website - www.malta-festival.pl.
Lake Malta Festival, 2021; photo by Beata Wenceawek

Getting to Lake Malta

Lake Malta is situated just to the east of Poznań's city centre, and Rondo Śródka - at the lake's northwest corner, is the best place to access it. Below are the public transport options from three main points in the centre. Alternatively, a taxi from the centre to the north shore will cost about 30-35zł.

From the Main Train Station: Take tram number 6 from the 'Poznań Główny' stop (walk just past the Avenida shopping centre going east) directly to 'Baraniaka'. The journey takes about 14 minutes.

From the Old Town Square: Take tram number 3, 4, or 17 from either 'Pl. Wielkopolski' or 'Małe Garbary' to 'Rondo Śródka'.

Top Attractions & Activities at Poznań's Lake Malta


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