Poland’s history is infamous, particularly given its unfortunate role in World War II, however, there is so much more to the country than just this. This underrated country is bursting with colour, fascinating stories, hospitable locals, excellent homemade cooking, stunning countryside, and picturesque cities. While history is not just confined to recent times, stunning medieval castles, eerie ruins on hilltops, plus beautifully crafted wooden churches in the Carpathian hills are just some of the standout points. Summed up, it is the perfect place to grab your bike and head out for one heck of a memorable trip.
Of course, your first question is naturally where to begin. And it goes without saying any trip to Poland must incorporate the architecturally stunning Krakow. Unlike much of the country, the former Royal capital survived the war relatively untouched and its exquisitely preserved medieval core is wonderful for pedaling around calmly. Naturally, there are many historical sights to enjoy in the city, while a visit to the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, south of Krakow is a sobering but worthwhile trip.
Away from the bustle of Poland’s favourite city, there are a number of excellent cycling routes including the fabulous Amber Trail that stretches across several European countries. Outside of Krakow, the trail passes through luscious forests, quaint Polish towns and also along the Vistula River, where you can marvel at Tyniec, a fantastic Benedictine Abbey.
This kind of blissful countryside cycling exists in numerous spots in the relatively flat Poland, though there are still some tricky hills to enjoy, especially if you want to enjoy the views in Beskid National Park. Riding along the Wisla River will lead you here before you finish off cycling in the lovely historical town of Zywiec. Also renowned for its delicious beer, you can visit the brewery here and round the day off with a richly deserved pint.
For those who love peaceful cycling and countless photo opportunities, riding into the Masurian Lake District is a must. There are numerous trails that encompass dazzling waterways, drifting hills, and atmospheric woodlands, all perfect for spotting wildlife and snapping photos.
However, hardcore mountain bike lovers will definitely prefer tackling the formidable Tatra Mountains. Thick fir forests, swooping valleys and exhilarating descents, all with awesome views of Poland’s highest peak - Rysy - make this a ride for the gnarly cyclists. You can even take on multi-day rides that lead you across the border into Slovakia.
Poland’s variety makes it a standout cycling location in Europe, and while its fascinating but difficult history dominates, anyone who explores further on two wheels will leave enriched by this multi-faceted and breathtaking country.