Visit Masuria – a Guide to the Lakeland of Poland
Poland’s Masuria Lakeland is a region of impressive natural beauty with more than 2,000 lakes, dense forests, organic farms and charming resort towns. It’s a place for those looking for peace and quiet, with an emphasis on relaxation. And I know it well: Mazury (Masuria in Polish) is the place where I grew up. The small, lovely town of Ryn, set right in the center of the ‘Land of a 1000 Lakes’ is my hometown. Let me guide you around this nature lovers’ paradise: Masuria.
- Activities in Masuria
- How to Get to Masuria
- Where to Eat
- Where to Stay
The Masurian Lake District is set on the North-Eastern corner of Poland, nestled up to the Lithuanian border. There are a few main towns and areas to explore. The distance between the cities isn’t big. Therefore you can choose to base yourself in one of them and do day trips around the area. Alternatively, you can spend 1-2 days in each location to get the most out of this stunning district.
Giżycko is one of the biggest towns in Mazury. There is a fair choice of hotels and restaurants here.
Wander through the city and let your feet guide you to the port- the main attraction. All summer there is a funfair happening everyday. Here you can rent bikes, karts or play arcades as well as walk on the beautiful, long pier right by the lake. There is also a public beach where you can just relax on the sand and swim in the Niegocin Lake.
In Giżycko there are 3 main sightseeing spots:
The Water Tower was built in 1900 in the neo-Gothic style. It was in use until the late 1990s. Now however, it is wonderful for the panoramas at the top, accessed via lift.
The Rotary Bridge was opened in 1889, this is the only one of its kind in Poland. Visitors can watch it being opened for boats six times a day. It opens and closes apx every hour and a half.
Boyen Fortress in Gizycko was built in between 1843 and 1855 for army strategic purposes. It served as an important defending spot during both World Wars. However, is it used nowadays as a tourist attraction. Furthermore, it holds some summer festivals like the “Hip Hip Polish Festival” or the “International Motorcycle Rally”.
For those who would like a bigger thrill, we recommend the powered hang glider. The Land of a 1000 Lakes is best viewed from up.
Mikołajki is known as the most important sailing port in Mazury. Surprisingly however, the town is rather small but it there is a real charm to it. It’s the best place to rent a sailboat and explore the Masurian Lakeland. You can also try a lake jet ski, water ski or just relax on the public beach.
If you do not plan to sail, then board a ferry that cruises around the lakes. Admiring unique natural beauty of the region from the deck of the ship is an unforgettable experience.
A very fun attraction located just 15 min drive from Mikołajki is kayaking down Krutynia River. You start your excursion in Krutyń and kayak all the way to Ukta. It’s a very fun activity for the whole family. Get the details here.
The Łuknajno Lake is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and ideal place for those who love birdwatching. There are a few observation towers set around the lake, guaranteeing beautiful views of the lake and the landscape.
Ryn is the smallest of the resort towns, nevertheless it’s a charming place with not one, but two lakes located just 5 min walk from each other. It’s also located right in the centre of Masuria, with just 20 min drive to the nearby cities and attractions.
The Lake Ryńskie is connected to the Great Masurian Lakes. You can arrive here by sailboat or start your sailing trip here. Right on the pier, you can find the restaurant Ryński Młyn which serves traditional Polish dishes in the typical ambience.
The second, smaller Lake Ołów located just 5 min walk from Lake Ryńskie, is a closed lake and has a public beach. There is a beautiful passage of 5 km all around the lake. You can hike or bike admiring the natural beauty of this region.
However, the biggest attraction in Ryn is the 14th century castle, the second biggest one in Poland. Nowadays it has been turned into a luxurious hotel. However, it kept its style and classic decor.
Masuria, the festival of medieval culture
Once a year, Ryn is host to Masuria, a festival of medieval culture. During those 3 days in August, tons of enthusiasts of the Medieval era arrive to Ryn. There are big bonfires, sword fights, knights tournaments and typical market with delicacies from the Middle Ages. Tourists can rent traditional costumes, join the parade and participate in games and plays.
Ryn is also located just 17 km from the Wolf’s Lair. It used to be Hitler’s secret base where he spent most of World War II. The site is open to tourists to explore. People can enter or climb on top of the bunkers spread over 18 hectares. You don’t need a guide to visit Hitler’s headquarters of Masuria.
Another attraction located just half an hour drive from Ryn is Święta Lipka. The stunning baroque church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, situated in a monastery complex has been a site of pilgrimage since 17th century.
Those who want a bigger thrill can try the ballooning. The balloons take off from Krzyżany, just 2 km from Ryn and fly all around the area.
Next on this guide of Masuria: Olsztyn. It’s the capital city of Mazury. You can start your visit by exploring the charming Old Town. Pass through a marvellous gate structure known as the Wysoka Brama (‘Upper Gate’) and walk to the main square surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants.
The Lake Ukieł is located on the edge of the town and it’s a beautiful spot for an afternoon. You can rent small boats to row around the lake, or hike in the nearby forests. There are also good restaurants with views on the lake. Try the restaurant Przystań serving great polish and international dishes.
A really fun activity is the adventure park Hardcore or Forest Rope Park in Olsztyn. Here you can spend a great day climbing the trees, zipline, quading and shooting paintballs.
Activities in Masuria
All the activities that can be done outdoor are below:
- Water sports like sailing, windsurfing, jet ski, water ski, kayaking, fishing and of course swimming.
- You can also actively enjoy the land by hiking, biking, riding a quad or motocross.
- For those wanting bigger thrill we recommend the ballooning or flight with the powered hang glider.
How to Get to Masuria
In this guide, we will show you the best ways to get to Masuria.
The nearest airport Mazury Airport is located in Szymany, 60 km from Olsztyn. However it operates only few flights, 2-3 times a week.
Another way is arriving to Warsaw Chopin Airport and taking a train to Olsztyn. The trains are fast (2,5 h) and comfortable. They depart from West Station, just 15 min away from the airport.
Alternative is taking a bus from the central station to Olsztyn. You can also go directly to Giżycko by bus (find details here).
↬ TIP : The best way to check train and busses connections in Poland is via E-Podróżnik website.
Traveling from Gdańsk is also a possibility. There is a direct bus going from the airport to Olsztyn. The journey takes approximately 3h.
From Olsztyn there are multiple connections per day to different parts of Masuria.
However, we strongly suggest renting a car at the any of the airports. Driving is definitely the easiest and fastest way to get to Mazury and around. The drive takes about 3,5 h and the road passes many villages and beautiful locations giving you a chance to watch the natural surroundings already on the way.
Read: How to save money on your travel bookings to discover how to find the best deals for the car rentals.
Best time to visit
The Masuria Lakeland is definitely a summer destination. The season starts in May and finishes by early September. That’s the time when hotels and restaurants are open. The highest chance of getting good weather is between July and August.
Good to know
Polish is the national language. Nowadays kids start learning English at school at the age of 6. However, the practise was not the same in the previous century. Therefore, if you have troubles communicating, just look for a younger person or a teenager.
Currency and prices
Polish currency is Polish Złoty and the exchange states at 1 PLN = 0.23 Euro at the moment of writing. There are ATMs in every town. If you need to exchange some currencies, you can do it in every bank. Prices in Poland are very inviting for travellers from abroad. A good typical lunch for two people should cost around 60 PLN (15 EUR) and dinner around 80 PLN (20 EUR).
Where to eat
Gospoda Pod Czarnym Łabędziem, Rydzewo, Giżycko offers great views on the Boczno Lake. This restaurant also serves great typical polish dished.
Karczma Stara Kużnia, Przykop, Giżycko is located 10 minutes drive from Giżycko. It’s a truly idyllic place with good cuisine.
Tawerna Marina located right on the port of Giżycko, is a typical stop for sailers. Try the polish barszcz and pork chops.
Restauracja Na Wodzie in Mikołajki. It’s a restaurant with a fun concept and great food: the restaurant is floating on the lake.
Restauracja Przystań is right in the heart of the port of Mikołajki. Pleasant environment, lake views and good food.
Restaurant Ryński Młyn is located on the pier in Ryn. It serves traditional polish cuisine in typical ambience.
Hotel Zamek Ryn try out the restaurant in the 14th century castle.
Pierogarnia Bruner you can’t leave Poland with trying the famous pierogi(stuffed dumplings). This place has a great variety of pierogis, always freshly prepared and delicious.
Restauracja Przystań located right by the lake, this place offers great views as well as good quality polish and international dishes.
Where to stay
We made for you a little selection of 2 of our favourite hotels for each city. As well as a little bonus selection at the end.
CountrySide Spa Oriented Luxurious Hotel
We recommend: Narie Resort & SPA – Hotel SPA Dr Irena Eris Wzgórza Dylewskie
Mikołajki & Giżycko
We recommend: Hotel Mikołajki Conference & SPA – Stylish Studio with Lake View
Ryn & Olsztyn
We recommend: Hotel Zamek Ryn – Przystań Hotel&Spa
Last but not least: if you visit Masuria, consider staying at Martyna’s parents Airbnb Apartments in Ryn. The flats are charming, have great location and there is a chance that we will meet!